Whilst it can be convenient to buy everything under one roof, supermarket shopping tends to be an impersonal experience that often lures us into buying more than we really need.
Though we end up spending more, the quality is no better than many independent retailers and, in some cases, it’s nowhere near as good.
As Graham Hawkins of Woodford & Sons points out, the way an independent butcher sources and handles meat is very different to a supermarket chain. He can tell you where every cut of meat has come from (usually a local Isle of Wight farmer) and will hang meats like beef and lamb long enough to let them mature, resulting in a better flavour than meat that’s been fast-tracked to a supermarket shelf.
Your local butcher is also more likely to stock unusual meats such as game, veal, goat and mutton, whereas a supermarket will only stock the most popular meats that they know will sell well. A butcher is happy to sell you the exact quantity you need – whether that’s two lamb chops or twenty sausages – rather than a pre-packaged amount that’s convenient to the retailer. And it’s all part of the service to source special requests, advise on cooking methods and have the hands-on skill to deftly butterfly a chicken or bone, stuff and roll a joint while you wait.
If you’re lucky enough to still have a high street butcher, enjoy shopping locally while taking advantage of an expert’s knowledge and experience.