Tomboy Butcher sells natural, humanely raised meat
By Sarah Lavender Smith
Standing at a wooden butcher table in a remodeled industrial workspace on Ilium Road, Sadie Farrington hoists a skinned pig in her muscular arms and traces a finger along the animal’s fat-marbled leg.
“We utilize the whole pork, and this part will become prosciutto someday,” explains Farrington, who singlehandedly runs Tomboy Butcher, which she opened in September of 2019. She was speaking to a small group gathered next to a two-foot table saw and a meat grinder for a sausage-making class.
Farrington looks nothing like the stereotypical brawny, blood-spattered male butcher. Standing 5’4” and at just 33 years old, she has a shape to her face and a smile that resemble Scarlett Johansson.
The pig she is holding, of the Mangalista breed, came from a small farm only about 75 miles southwest of Telluride. Unlike much of the pork sold at a supermarket, this one was raised humanely and without antibiotics or hormones.
As the only whole-animal butcher shop near Telluride, Tomboy Butcher has become an influential link in the farm-to-table and locavore movements by striving to educate consumers about where their meat comes from while supporting ranchers and farmers in southwest Colorado who promote sustainability.
Asked about her business goals, Farrington says, “I want people to have a connection to the food they are putting on their tables, to advocate for local farmers and ranchers who are making positive environmental changes to their farming practices, and to promote eating less meat with better quality.”
Eat less meat? That’s an odd thing to hear a butcher say. But Farrington explains, “I would probably be a vegetarian if I was unable to get clean local meats.”
Noting that the scale of beef eating in America is environmentally destructive and unsustainable, she says, “I’ve chosen to work with ranchers and farmers that are small and doing amazing work trying to find ways to be carbon neutral. This only works and can be profitable if people pay attention and support these ranchers.”
Her business model works on a subscription basis, rather than through a storefront. Consumers subscribe through her website, tomboybutcher.com, to receive a box of choice meat cuts a couple of times a month, and they can buy a la carte items. Each subscription comes with recipes for the meat and information about the animal’s breed and where it was raised. Her business has grown to over 75 clients ordering 500 pounds of meat per month.
Each animal comes straight to her shop from a regional processing facility and has been killed less than 14 hours prior to its arrival. “I let it hang for a few days depending on the carcass, and then I break the animal into primal cuts, sub-primal cuts, then ready-to-prepare cuts. At that point, I will begin to plan out how to distribute the meat among the clients,” she says. Aiming for zero waste, she strives to use every portion of the butchered animal. Customers therefore are treated to jars of lard for baking and broth made from bones, as well as the meats.