DISCOVER: THE BUTCHER & GROCER
Written by Amelia Jeffers
Photography by James Henthorn
Stepping into The Butcher & Grocer’s small retail location at 1089 West First Avenue (just steps off of Northwest Boulevard) in Grandview is a little like climbing into a time machine, with neat rows of a curated selection of Ohio-centric cheese and other groceries, beer, wine, and a massive assortment of fresh meat. Reminiscent of a simpler time, when milk was delivered in bottles and phones had cords, the quaint shop is one man’s effort to bring back the classic butcher shop tradition with a Twenty-first Century mission: to provide clean, wholesome organic food provided by farmers who are committed to sustainability.
After Rob “Earl” Young lost his battle with cancer in late 2014, Tony Tanner reflected on a conversation he had shared with his close friend while the pair turkey hunted earlier that same year. Earl had been convinced that his cancer was related to carcinogens rampant in the mainstream food supply. For years, studies have shown that certain additives (like sodium nitrite), the use of hormones and antibiotics in farming, and even process intended to limit germ contamination (like irradiation) can be linked to cancer. As a result, much emphasis has been placed on products labeled as “organic,” though conversations about sustainability and the environmental and health benefits of local sourcing have only gathered steam in the past 10-20 years.
Motivated by Earl’s death and fascinated by the link between the devastating disease of cancer and the foods we eat, Tony began a quest to find local, sustainable, antibiotic-free, growth hormone-free, farm raised meat. He didn’t find much. Not one to accept the status quo, he decided to open his own butcher shop. Whether he knew it or not, Tony was joining the growing and sometimes called “silent” revolution of permaculture farming and farm-to-table practices.
Columbus has proven to have an incredible appetite for everything Tony and his partner farmers bring to the table. Beef, lamb, and pork are never frozen or stored in any type of box or bag. Chickens are rotated on pasture every 12 hours (not provided limited access to the outdoors, a practice used by many large manufacturers to skirt labeling issues). Free-range is the name of the game. Browsing the descriptions of his source farms on The Butcher & Grocer website will make you want to switch careers, unless you already watch baby pigs “graze wooded hills and clover fields” and “nestle in straw-bedded huts.” And if the mission, story, and sheer quality of product doesn’t win you over, I challenge you to surf the Facebook pages and websites of his partners, including Six Buckets Farm in New Philadelphia, Ohio. You will thank me later.
For more information about Tony’s important work, or to learn more about the farmers with whom he partners: