The World Health Organization's warning that processed meats increase the risk of colorectal cancer and that red meat 'probably' does too has put noses out of joint. Some New York shopkeepers worry that a boom in artisanal meat could be on the skids over heightened cancer fears. However, well-heeled customers say they have no intention of ditching bacon.
A staff member at one of New York's most reputed charcuteries said, "It suck's. You can get cancer from a lot of things." The charcuterie business has boomed in New York thanks in part to German, Polish and Ukrainian immigrants. Also, a trend toward quality foods with a veneer of sophistication has added to this boom.
‘New York shopkeepers worry that a boom in artisanal meat could be on the skids over heightened cancer fears. However, well-heeled customers say they have no intention of ditching bacon. ’
George Wright, head monger at Murray's, a smart cheese and charcuterie outlet at Manhattan's glitzy Grand Central station, said, "It has definitely grown as interest in cheese has grown. As they (cheese shops) expand their cheese displays they expand their meat displays, and yeah, I think it is something that has become a lot more popular."
The niche market in New York is not governed by price, but by quality and a perception that artisanal products are preferable to mass-produced meats. Christina outside Schaller and Weber, a famous charcuterie on New York's well-to-do Upper East Side said, "I thought that to buy it there would be better than from the supermarket. The demand for quality comes at a cost, with artisanal products more expensive to produce than those on the mass market."
Ben Turley, a founder of The Meat Hook, a butcher-charcuterie that opened in 2009 in Williamsburg, the trendiest neighborhood in Brooklyn, said, "We are absolutely at a disadvantage compared to brands like Boar's Head or Smithfield, but their concerns are different from ours. They look to the bottom line. They want to make their product as cheap as possible to make their accessibility greater. The Meat Hook sources meat from local farmers who grass-feed their livestock, which represents only 3% of the US market."
Turley further added, "The cost of his products are not far from Whole Foods, the organic US supermarket chain which has since expanded to Britain and Canada. Studies such as this one and the one last month by Consumer Reports are much more damning of the conventional system than ours. Other customers stress quantity over quality."
Archana Dwivedi, who works at the United Nations, said, "We very rarely buy processed or cured meat, so this is a one-time special. I think what the news told us was everything in moderation, as long as you don?t have too much. I think I'm in line with that, so I'm not too worried."