In recent years, there has been a local meat renaissance going on in Wisconsin. At the center of the movement was a business called Black Earth Meats. The operation, owned by Bartlett Durand, or the Zen Butcher, included a retail space, a buyers club and a community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription service, as well as a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected slaughterhouse.
Black Earth Meats served as an important support for nearly 200 farmers, most of whom raised animals in small numbers on pasture, free of antibiotics and hormones. After moving into a local slaughterhouse in the 1,500-person town of Black Earth seven years ago, the company grew considerably, allowing the “good meat” economy in the area to scale up alongside it. “We took the plant from 70 beef a week to 140-150 a week, supplying the local food scene,” says Durand.