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Mother Earth News Fair

Our FAIRS bring living wisely to life with hands-on workshops in organic gardening, country skills, renewable energy and more.

Seven Springs Speaker Spotlight: Cole Ward, Butcher

Get to know Cole Ward of The Gourmet Butcher.

Cole WardHi Mother Earth people… I’m really looking forward to meeting you in Pennsylvania.  I’m honored to be speaking at the Fair, and thought you might like to know a little more about me.

I’m Cole Ward of Vermont, and I’ve been a master butcher for (cough) more than forty years.  Ancient but I like to think, still cute.  I’m a private butcher, teach culinary butchering at culinary institutes, agricultural and trade colleges, and give butchering demonstrations for organizations like NOFA (the Northeast Organic Farming Association)… or for anyone who asks me.  Can’t help myself.

I’m a charter member of the just-formed national Butchers’ Guild, and was featured as one of the USA’s top fifty butchers in Welcome Books’ “Primal Cuts:  Cooking with America’s Best Butchers”.  I write about meat issues on my blog ColesCuts, and recently launched the first culinary butchering course ever produced on DVD, titled The Gourmet Butcher.

I’ve worked in supermarkets, in Hollywood (but that’s another story), and in small gourmet butcher shops.  In all those years, I’ve seen trends come and go, and witnessed the increasing dominance of factory farming, and – what really concerns me – the gradual disappearance of the neighbourhood butcher.  It’s my dream to see that trend reversed, which is why I can’t keep my mouth shut about the importance of understanding where your meat comes from, knowing how the animal was raised and treated, and how cleanly and safely it was processed.  I cannot stress this enough.

These are just a few things I’ll talk about during my presentation at the Fair, as I demonstrate a few ways to turn cheaper cuts of meat into tasty, tender dishes.  I’d love to show you how to cut up your own entire pig, lamb, or cow, but that’s a little ambitious for a 45 minute presentation!  But I do hope you’ll see that it’s eminently possible for anyone to learn how to cut their own meat;  I’ve taught many non-butchers how to do it. 

I’m an informal guy, so it’ll be an informal presentation during which I’ll answer your questions about anything meat:  how humane treatment affects meat quality, the costs versus benefits of local meat, challenges faced by small farmers who wish to raise and sell their own meat, the carbon footprint of the industrial meat industry, and… my personal hobby-horse… what to know and beware of in supermarket meat chains.

I think that anybody who cares about the food they feed their family will enjoy this presentation.  It may open your eyes to practices out there that ought to worry every one of us, but hey, knowledge is power.  If we’re going to eat animals, then we ought to raise them humanely, keep them free of antibiotics and hormones, seek out and patronize the best local farmers, and honour the animal by eating all of it. 

I’ve also got a few tasty recipes that I’d love to share with you. And I’ll tell you how to get your meat for much, much less… $ 3.50 per pound (using beef as an example)… no matter what cut (and that includes sirloin!).   So this is really a presentation for everyone:  farmers and homesteaders, foodies and home cooks, animal advocates and lovers of good eating.

I’m really looking forward to meeting you – both at the presentation and at my booth The Gourmet Butcher.  Come visit with me, and feel free to ask me anything.  Even if it has nothing to do with meat! 

Finally, the Mother Earth folks asked me to answer the following question:

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only one thing, what would you choose? 

Tough one.  My gut reaction is to fire back:  What kind of island?  Tropical? (so, coconuts for eating)… or temperate?  (lack of coconuts, probably only squirrels, yuk).  So guess I’ve got to go for food – like a big ‘ol steak and some matches for a fire to cook it with.  But wait!  I’ll get lonely out there.  Squirrel’s not that bad.  Final answer?  A lady butcher.

Thanks, Cole. We'll see you at the FAIR! 


Please visit the FAIR website for more information about the Seven Springs, Pa. FAIR September 24-25, and upcoming FAIRs in other locations. Tickets are on sale now.

You can also get FAIR updates on our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Keep an eye out for Trivia Ticket Tuesdays and Trivia Ticket Thursdays for your chance to win two tickets to the FAIR!