By Regina Kenner
If you have not shopped for meats at the Olde Towne Butcher in the historic district of Fredericksburg, you should give it a try. Owner Keith Lebor has a clear message; Eat ‘Clean Food’. Simply stated, put the best foods possible in your body.
So, what exactly is ‘clean’ food’? As Keith explains, it’s foods produced locally on farms that meet strict humane and sustainable standards. The animals are reared on farms without the use of growth hormones or nontherapeutic antibiotics. They are free to graze and carry out their natural behaviors, so they live without undue stress and cruelty. He goes on to say that foods locally produced have a limited shelf life. Clean foods should be quality foods, “What you see in the case today, will not be there in 4 days, unlike most grocery stores. It’s fresh from the farm to your table.”
Keith addressed the philosophy of farm to table. Sustainable farms leave a small ecological footprint. The business of buying and selling locally, literally ‘feeds’ the community. Consider this; the farmer raises the animals. He sells the meat to local markets. Local customers buy the meat. Local markets employ local personnel. The markets replenish inventory from the local farmer. This cycle naturally fuels the local economic engine. Still, the need for mass production farming exists, as one in nine people globally are chronically undernourished*. In contrast, mass production farming aids in eradicating world hunger, even as the environmental impact is debated.
As a society, we’ve become obsessed with cutting corners to save money and salvaging a few extra minutes in our day. Thus, the term, ‘fast food’. Budget conscious, busy parents will often choose feeding a family from a drive thru window vs. expending the time and effort of home meal preparation. The prospect of standing in line at the grocery store after picking up children from day care and then cooking at home after a long day at work may not be appealing. And who could blame them? The question then begs to be asked, but isn’t the quality of food just as important as cost in terms of time and dollars? I am quite sure that there are a wide variety of opinions on this. So, I raised this concern to Keith.
His answer to the cost, quality and convenience debate was simple and unique. He opened the Butcher’s Table, a café located on the lower level of the Olde Towne Butcher. The space was completely renovated and includes a state of the art kitchen. Customers can buy quality, reasonably priced meals, prepared quickly for take away or eat-in. Alas, Clean Fast Food! If seeing is believing, then tasting is convincing. If you like what you’ve eaten downstairs, more is available just one flight up. Foods at the Butcher’s Table are prepared with very few added ingrediencies allowing the natural flavor of the meats to be savored. The menu changes to the availability of meats, the season and method of preparation. The Olde Towne Butcher is now stocking complete prepared meals for take home and heat for even more convenience.
Quality, clean and convenient. The Olde Towne Butcher delivers on all accounts.
“I am by no means a food critic. My palate is not adventurous. I simply savor the pleasures derived from sharing a meal that brings me together with others.”
Regina is a long-time resident of the Fredericksburg area and the founder of Flavors of Fredericksburg, A Food Tour, Garnished with History.