Butcher assistant Dan Putnam and head butcher Kevin McCann cut into some freshly-delivered beef at Side Hill Farmers in Manlius, which is expanding this summer. “We probably can get eight or nine steaks out of here, maybe some brisket and short ribs too – lots of different items. It’s somewhat time consuming and pretty intricate,” McCann said.
Manlius It’s 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, and Side Hill Farmers Head Butcher Kevin McCann is still cutting pork chops.
“I’m a little behind today,” McCann said, as he prepares the meat to be put on the top shelf of the glass display case for the day. “This morning I got caught up doing some research.”
McCann explained that recently, there have been a number of customers coming into the shop asking about nitrates and nitrites, and more specifically, whether they’re present in his products. He pulled out a few sheets of paper which were printed earlier that morning.
“The saliva in our mouth contains more nitrates than I will ever put in our bacon,” he said, then pointed to the piece of paper on top. “I love this one right here, it says that if you ate 467 hot dogs, or one serving of arugula, or four servings of celery or just swallowed the spit in your mouth, you’re getting the same amount of nitrates into your system.”
McCann and the rest of the staff at Side Hill Farmers have taken it upon themselves to make the shopping experience as educational and transparent as possible – whether it be about educating people about where their food comes from geographically, where it comes from anatomically or the different processes a butcher uses to make the meat safe – it’s all a part of what makes the market/butcher shop unique.
“Even though customers come in and they want to be able to trust the butcher to cut their meat properly, and to cut their sausage properly, and so forth, they still look at me and say, ‘You’re not a scientist. How do you know these things?’ And I say, ‘Well, I read too. I’m a butcher - I make it my business to know these things,’” McCann said.