Meet Walden Local: Your South End Butcher Shop

Photo credit: Holly Rike

Grab the charcoal, your favorite protein, and your hungriest friends because summer grilling is officially in season! With the Fourth of July fast approaching, now is the time to get your barbecue recipes in order. And South End residents, a helping hand is just down the street!

At the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Union Park Street is the Walden Local Butcher Shop. Walden is the prime stop for cuts of all shapes and sizes, ready to meet all your summer cookout needs. “July is a time to cook outside,” said Walden co-founder Kristen Cummings, “Whether it's a platter of chicken wings, some of our house-made sausages, steaks, or chops, this holiday is all about being with good friends and filling the grill with all your favorites.”

While they opened in their South End storefront just this past November, they aren’t new to the meat business. Kristen and her husband, Charley, founded Walden Local in 2013 with a single principle at the heart of their operation: local. This has been a buzzword in the food industry since the resurgence of the farm-to-table movement in the early 2000’s. Dedicated to working with  the highest quality meat in the New England area, Walden started out as a subscription delivery service, before opening its South End storefront. “We work with some awesome farmers who have been with us since Walden's start in 2013,” said Kristen, “They steward their land to promote healthier soils, and encourage the natural behaviors of their animals. They know that raising animals the right way is work worth doing, and that it yields better-tasting and more nutrient-dense food that is better for the environment and better for us.”

In short, this is product you can enjoy guilt-free. While most grocers stock their shelves with meat that might have been packed on the other side of the country, staying local cuts down on transportation emissions while supporting the efforts of farmers who choose to focus on grass fed animals raised in an open area without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or antibiotics.

“Our products are far different from what you might find at a regular grocer like Star Market, or even Whole Foods,” Kristen explained, “All of our animals are raised outdoors on pastures in New England and New York by highly principled farmers we know personally.” For Walden it is almost a courtship, a focus on making sure the personality of the farmer and Walden’s philosophy align as closely as possible. As a certified B Corp, a for profit business that includes a societal or environmental benefit in its legally defined goals, Walden proudly represents farmers with a strong emphasis on sustainability. This ensures less damage to the environment, more wholesome lives for the animals, and tastier meat for the consumer.

Photo credit: Walden Local Meat Co.

Part of their technique focuses on utilizing every part of the animal to ensure nothing is wasted. “We use whole animals in our butcher shop, which introduces our customers to cuts they may not have tried before,” said Kristen. Upon entering, customers are faced with a display case of the shop’s best, while Head Butcher Jason Savard breaks down entire beef quarters, sides of of pork, and whole lambs in the back. A sample menu of Walden’s nontraditional offerings includes cuts such as Beef Ranch Steaks, Pork Coppa Steaks, and more. Kristen encourages customers to ask Jason for a personal recommendation. “Ever try a Denver steak? It comes from the Chuck section of beef (the shoulder) and is quite tender, but also packed with flavor,” Kristen said. In this spirit of education, Walden offers butchery demonstrations and hands on workshops.

Ultimately, Walden is there to serve the neighborhood the best possible meat raised in the best possible conditions. While the shop offers traditionals cuts, house-made sausages, and freshly ground beef on a regular basis, any large orders should be called in ahead of time. If you have questions or want to try something new, all you need to do is walk into your neighborhood butcher shop and ask. Meat is Walden’s bread and butter, and Kristen stresses the importance of her company’s philosophy. “By partnering with small conscientious farms instead of industrial factory farms, we are reinvigorating our local agricultural economy, in support of healthier and happier animals,” she said, “Walden is a community of people who want to eat locally, nutritiously, and sustainably.”

Pop in Monday-Saturday 11-7, and Sunday 11-5 at 316 Shawmut Avenue to see what Walden is about in person. They’ve got recipe recommendations as well, all you have to do is ask. Here is just a taste of what to expect.


Walden’s featured recipe of the month

Lemon Rubbed Chicken

For Rub:

  • 4 chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Optional: basil or mint leaves for garnish
  • 1/3 oz salt
  • Zest of 4 lemons
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Make the Rub:

Spread lemon zest evenly on a baking sheet, bake in a 200 degree oven, mixing every 15 minutes until completely dry. Put the dried zest through a spice grinder or work in a mortar and pestle until a fine powder is formed. Mix in salt, pepper and paprika.

Prepare and Grill Chicken:

Place chicken breasts between two sheets of parchment paper. Using a mallet or rolling pin, pound each to an even thickness of 1/2 inch. Apply rub and coat with olive oil. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours. Remove chicken from fridge while you heat the grill. Place chicken on grill and cook, about 3-4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned. Transfer chicken to a platter. Drizzle with remaining oil and garnish with basil or mint leaves.