Familiar local faces at Carolina Craft butchery

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 18, 2017

Being a local food agent for Cooperative Extension, I am able to experience many of the flavors that our county growers create. Sometimes, that does require a little bit of travelling but to support our local growers, I am willing to go that extra mile.

In this adventure, I was able to visit a new hot spot with local fares from all over, including our very own Rowan County. I visited the butcher shop, Carolina Craft Butchery, in Davidson, where our local farmer, Lee Menius, of Wild Turkey Farm has started his own butcher shop.

Our livestock agent, Morgan Watts, and I took the scenic route to get to his location, all the while doing visual inspections of our other local growers.

Getting to Carolina Craft Butchery is really a pleasant drive through the country and reminds me of when I would get to go on Sunday drives with my family.

Carolina Craft Butchery is located at 605 B Jetton St., Davidson, and it is literally out of the countryside and into the heart of Davidson. We arrived a little early, and things in the shop were just getting started, which is a perfect time for photos.

We weren’t the only ones wanting to get into the shop, as there were customers hoping to get in to buy a few knick-knacks. Through the windows, we saw the butcher, Jay Turczany, cutting the local meats. We begged the manager, Jane Felts, to let us in for some photo ops; luckily for us, we got a pass to get in early.

When you first walk in the shop, you see a nice country yellow with antique butcher knives and equipment. It was like stepping back in time to when your local butcher provided you fresh, local meats.

I was like a kid in a candy store, wanting to know what was available and asked a million questions about what was being done to the meats behind the glass doors.

Turczany was working on a few briskets that had been in the brine for about a week, along with some new bacon brines like Maple and Bourbon style. It made me want to go back soon, so that I could purchase some of the new varieties.

Luckily for Turczany, Lee Menius showed up so that I could bombard him with all of my questions about the new business and where he was getting all of his local goodies. I looked at almost every piece of merchandise to see where they came from, and all of the meat was of course local.

Wild Turkey Farms in China Grove provided the pork, lamb and eggs. Rogers Cattle Co. in Roxboro provided beef, and Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview provided the Grass Fed Beef. Sharon Hill Farm provided the chicken, and they are located just across the state line in Sharon, SC.

One of the unique features is that Carolina Craft Butchery purchases whole animals, so that they can create the custom cuts and specialty meats for their customers. They also provide other local fares such as nut butters, butter, jellies and jams. I was even surprised to find some specialty vinegars in the store.

One thing that I enjoy while working with local food is that it is a family affair, and Carolina Craft Butchery is that. Menius and his wife, Domisty, and sons, Rosty and Charlie, are often found in the shop helping out with the new family business.

Carolina Craft Butchery also strives to teach people how to do their own butchery by holding classes on the second Thursday of every month. Recent classes included breaking down whole chickens and sausage making. These classes are extremely popular and fill up quickly so if you are interested, I would suggest calling 704-897-7290 and getting on their lists quickly.

Farming is a tough job, and opening up a small business can be just as trying. This made me ask Lee Menius why he did it. He said, “It was to utilize as many local people and growers to help them as well and support everyone involved as best as we can while providing a reasonable price.”

All of that brought me to the question that all those in local food hear, “Why does local food cost more?” Menius answered it best, “A commercial operation owns everything from the birds, feed, even how the chicken houses are run and operated and own half a billion birds. They can afford a 15 cent profit.”

When you compare, “Local growers have to pay at least 75 cents a pound for feed, buy the eggs or birds to raise, pay the processer to clean the birds, and then market and sell for a profit. It is tough and limited in what they can sell at that price.” This is one of the reasons why Carolina Craft Butchery exists, to educate consumers on why this is a better option, to support local and explain why it costs what it does.

I mention this often in my articles — farming is not an easy job, and it takes someone with strength to continue the fight and be sustainable. Lee Menius, his family and his staff are an example of the local strength from Rowan County.

If you have any questions about local food and growers in our community, contact your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danélle Cutting, at 704-216-8970 or email her at danelle_cutting@ncsu.edu.

For more information on Carolina Craft Butchery, visit them at 605 B Jetton St., Davidson; call them at 704-897-7290, or visit their website at www.carolinacraftbutchery.com.