Great article out of West Cork, Ireland, about traveling artisan butchers.
Why might this matter?
One of the first things I learned while becoming an official Beef Geek (aka The Steak Lady): You can do everything right on the farm but the moment that cattle walks onto a truck, a lot of things can go wrong.
First, no sharp corners, no slippery ramps, no cattle prods or yelling. Spooking cattle is not only ethically wrong, it = tough, dark, dry beef. No kidding, stress directly impacts taste and texture.
And bruises hurt and also ruin the beef - the bruise shows in the meat and has to be cut out.
Second, at the slaughterhouse itself, very special care must be taken. Cattle are herd animals, they're okay with their group but you cannot introduce them to another herd in the yard. A good slaughterhouse will be specifically designed to minimize stress and likely come with a stamp of approval from Temple Grandin.
Bottom line: one of the most important things that influences taste and texture is low-stress handling.
Now these totally cool traveling artisan butchers in Ireland offer a fabulous solution for minimizing stress. The slaughterhouse comes to the farm, no trucking needed. There are a few pioneering folks trying to do the same thing here in North America, but I think what's intriguing is that these folks are real butchers - they know how to age and cut beef, too.
How might we support these folks? I say we should create a new reality show, America's Next Artisan Butcher!