Our want of a good, local butcher is a source of endless grousing at our house. The grocery store just doesn't measure up -- the meat's just too chewy -- and the high-end specialty stores aren't enough of an improvement to justify the extra cost or the longer drive.
Worse, we know our disappointment is unlikely to diminish unless our options expand. We've seen a shrinkage in both grocery chains and independent markets over the years, even as the population of South Florida boomed.
My complaints, though, were tempered by some recent meat-safety news from Armenia. The Web site ArmeniaNow.com reports that animal slaughter commonly takes place in people's yards, not in slaughterhouses.
“Yard slaughter is fraught with the danger of spreading various infections,” consumer rights expert Victor Abrahamyan was quoted as saying. He noted that such slaughter is carried out without professional supervision, in unsanitary conditions.
Apparently, safer and more sanitary slaughter houses were more common in Soviet times but the meat industry has regressed since then. Abrahamyan's consmer protection group, with backing from UN food experts, is urging businesses to build proper facilities.
The story notes that authorities are also trying to stem the sale of unrefrigerated meat. That brought my attention to two other news items.
Eighteen villagers in the Ararat region were reported poisoned by eating boiled meat. They were hospitalized, and luckily all survived. The health ministry suspects the meat was stored above proper temperature.
Meanwhile, the head of Armenian's Food Safety Service, Grigory Grigoryan, has been dismissed. No reason was given, although it was noted that he had been given an "unsatisfactory" evaluation.
I guess the good news is that it all points in the right direction: Armenia is apparently becoming more conscious of food safety and trying to improve conditions.
At least, it makes me feel a little better about our local supermarket.