Since the dawn of time, the butcher has always been a vital resource with regard to any civilization from the humblest of villages to the most metropolitan of cities.
From the earliest human hunter-gatherer tribes and villages, the art of the butcher has always been present and has steadily evolved to become one of the worlds oldest and most respected of professions. Recent archaeological digs uncovered in Florida revealed the 12,000 year old remains of a butchered giant tortoise as well as that of a giant sloth.
As tool making improved, so, too, did the art of the butcher. They were more able to cut up meat into smaller pieces so as to make food prep and consumption easier, cleaner, and less time consuming especially when the primary means of cooking was an open fire. The butcher and his trade apparently began to thrive and flourish in ancient times. There was recently discovered artwork dating back to about 975 AD which showed a local Roman butcher plying his trade. Ancient Rome, apparently, had many butcher shops that contained tools, tables, and even large hooks for properly dressing the meat.
The profession began to thrive and flourish during the medieval period in Europe. It was a highly respected profession because the butcher had begun to understand and employ hygiene long before it was adopted by the general populace. During a time when most people died from disease, the local butcher was able to prepare and dress their meats under sanitary conditions which helped keep down the prevalence of disease and accidental food poisoning.
Butchers began to meet with one another regularly to talk shop, discuss new techniques, and to form trade guilds. By the 1200’s, in Europe, the trade of butcher was as esteemed as that of mason or physician. As the 20th century dawned in both Europe and America, The local butcher, and his shop, was a major neighborhood fixture. He was a major figure in the neighborhood and his shop was a focal point for the neighborhood.
Today, most butchers ply their trade at food processing companies and supermarkets but there remains that small pocket of neighborhood practitioners that are a vital, and integral, part of their communities.