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Have you ever wondered, "What IS The Meat Hook?" Well, The Meat Hook has. And after a little bit of soul searching, the Williamsburg butcher shop, famed for its commitment to working exclusively with local, pastured meats from small farms, has come up with a mission statement.

The Meat Hook has been doing some soul searching since opening in the fall of ‘09. The Williamsburg purveyor of all-good meats has apparently been on an existential journey, trying to flesh out the meaning of the meat, or, in their words, “Over the last couple of years and more seriously over the last several months we’ve tried to peg down–for lack of a better term–our identity.”

The result? The very first Meat Hook Mission Statement, published yesterday. Here’s a taste:

“Well, we’re a lot of things but, at our core, we are now what we were the day we opened the shop doors for the first time: three best friends jumping into the void and trying to figure out not what a butcher shop was but what a butcher shop could be.

What we came up with was the idea that a butcher shop could sell local, properly raised meat from small family farms but without all the piety of the farmers market and without all the preciousness of boutique restaurants who served that meat to the dining elite. Good meat, we decided, could be fun. Everyone, it seemed, had a fancy påte with a pedigree but we wondered if there wasn’t a bigger market for a hot dog you could feel good about feeding your kids? As it turns out we now make both fancy terrines and grass-fed hot dogs but the hot dogs outsell charcuterie twenty to one.

The Meat Hook is a pretty strange animal, even in the context of a city full of strange animals. It is a chimera that is equal parts NYC restaurant culture, psychedelic rock band and old-school butcher shop. Its structure is a democracy, a dictatorship and pure anarchy depending on the hour of the day and the only law is that whoever has the best idea at the time is in charge.”

Why does buying local, pastured meat from small farms matter? The Meat Hook boys break it down:

“The best way to understand the difference between spending your money at our shop or the supermarket is to look at how much of every dollar you spend ends up in the hands of the farmer who raises your meat.

When you buy a family pack of steaks at your neighborhood chain store about 11 cents of each dollar you spend goes to the farmer. Where does the rest go? Multi-national corporations, out-of-state distributors, giant packing houses and all manner of middle men in the complex supply chain that bring the package of meat in your hands thousands of miles from where it was raised.

At the Meat Hook 32 cents of every dollar (or roughly 300% more) goes directly to our farmers giving them a financial incentive to continue properly raising local animals on pasture. Where does the rest go? Small, local, family-owned slaughterhouses, our local trucking companies that bring the animals from slaughter to our door and to pay our rent, taxes and the people who make the Meat Hook worth shopping at. The important thing here is that all of this dollar (well, except the part that goes to pay federal taxes) stays in our local economy, creating more and better jobs that, hopefully, end up as more people who want to buy local meat.”

Brooklyn is blessed to have a few new-school butcher shops that traffic exclusively in locally raised, pastured animals from small farms – Marlow & Daughters, also in Williamsburg, and Fleisher’s Meats in Park Slope share the same dedication to doing it right. Here’s to hoping that some day, every neighborhood will have their own band of butchers dedicated to breaking it down ‘good.’ Long live the Meat Hook!


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