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Re: butchers - lots of real butchers in Portugal and they frequently have their own farms in the middle of the country to raise the cattle and pigs they sell. I love that in addition to all the meats, specialty cuts, sausage, etc, there is a big ol' bucket o' bones. Need bones for stock? They'll hack them up on the band saw for you for about 50 cents/lb. You can't get soup bones here for anywhere near that. Chicken feet are super cheap too.

Here, we are lucky to have 2-3 non-chain stores that still operate butcher shops. One is just a 1/4 mile away. They will even do free knife sharpening. Providing complete butcher services is one way they distinguish themselves from the Stop & Shops of the world. We find they provide better tasting, fresher meat too.

One of the other stores, about 20 minutes away, even offers periodic classes on how to butcher up various large cuts of meat yourself.

And we also have a shop that will butcher up and wrap deer and other wildlife hunted by license. But we are suburban/rural, so that certainly makes a difference over NYC ;) Location, location, location.

But even at Stop & Shop, if I needed something cut up, I could moat likely get one of the guys in the back to do it. The teenagers working the counter, no. But at any place that gets full sides of beef in and cuts them up themselves, there's *someone* that knows at least the basics of cuts. If they are selling stuff packaged elsewhere, then no.
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