I get asked a lot if I'm vegetarian, because when we're out I don't always order stuff with meat in it.  No, I'm not, though.  Whatever a person who boycotts factory farmed animal products is, that's me.

So, when I heard Fort Collins is opening a new butcher shop - not another bland, corporate deli/meat counter - I had to contact its owner, Nick Chase.

Friendly Nick's Butcher promises its own recipes for things like ribs, jerky, bacon, pork, that are either smoked or marinated, in addition to complete take-home meals.

This will be the first of its kind in Fort Collins.  Nick was a chef in New York City for seven years, working his way up through different Michelin starred restaurants, which look for only the absolute best quality products.

There, he discovered the animal farming practices that shaped his business philosophy:

I found through both tasting and education that animals raised in a “traditional” farm, ala Old MacDonald style, tended to have better flavor than those raised in CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). The book Righteous Porkchop by Nicolette Hahn Niman really helped drive that concept home. I really despise the factory farming practices that feed most of the nation’s livestock. When I saw the need for a butcher shop here I realized there was a way I could help change that culture and promote less centralized, more traditional farming. I’m not ever going to be vegetarian or vegan so this is my way of “being the change I want to see in the world.”

He believes the Fort Collins community is really excited and that people have been wanting a business like this for some time.

As a result, Nick's products will be sourced from 200 miles or closer to Fort Collins.  He'll be personally inspecting every farm he does business with to make sure he's comfortable with how the animals are raised.  He wants to see an appropriate diet rather than just high-protein grains meant to add fat and weight.  While antibiotics are overused to bulk up food animals as well, he would only be okay if they're used to keep the creatures healthy.  He realizes that the speed and quality of the slaughter is paramount to the quality of the meat, i.e. a stressed animal produces tougher, worse quality meat. He even cites CSU Animal Science Professor Temple Grandin's detailed studies on the process.

Friendly Nick's Butcher will be opening soon in the Scotch Pines Village at Drake and Lemay.

After discovering how horribly animals get treated in factory farms, I tried the vegan route, and what I've found is that I really crave meat; so for about eight years now, I eat the meat and dairy stuff that, like Nick, I know some essential facts about where it came from and how it got to me.  As a relatively intelligent species, I think humans should respect the animals and minimize its suffering as much as possible.  This keeps me from eating too much of the stuff, but when I do, boy is it amazing!  A couple of great sources at my house are Family Pride Meats out of South Dakota, with inexpensive grass-fed bison; and Applegate when I'm really wanting to make my fried chicken recipe.  I could also swear that the best eggs in the world come from Taft Hill Dairy.