By Sara Sullivan
Giuseppe Agapanti doesn’t have signs in his Cagli, Italy butcher
shop advertising “naturally raised beef” and “free-range
chicken,” and he doesn’t boast that his meats are antibiotic-
and hormone-free. His customers simply take these things for granted.
While in the United States health-conscious people must search for naturally
raised and organic meats – and usually have to pay a premium for
them – in this Italian town such healthy meats are the norm.
Agapanti came back to his hometown in 1969 after working as a mason in
Switzerland and taught himself a second profession, that of butcher. He
bought a shop from the previous butcher, who served as a mentor and taught
him the tricks of the trade.
Agapanti, 62, a father of four grown children, has passed the craft onto
his 35-year-old son, Stefano, who also studied to be a butcher at a school
in Pesaro. In their shop on the corner of the main piazza of Cagli, the
father and son sell only meat from local farms. No antibiotics or hormones
are used in raising the animals; in fact, the European Union prohibits
farmers from using hormones in the production of meat.
Once the animals are butchered, butchers can either pick the meat up at
the slaughterhouse or have it delivered to their shops. Every piece of
meat that comes into Agapanti’s shop has a certificate that details
the age and type of animal and the location of the farm.
His butcher shop supplies the meat that is used in all Cagli school cafeterias.
The schools restrict him from selling meat from animals more than two
“Here, there are lots of controls on the meat to guarantee that
it’s healthy and natural,” Agapanti says.
The most popular meat he serves is veal, made from calves that are five
to six months old. In addition, he sells pork, chicken, beef, lamb, rabbit,
liver, and even pigeon on special occasions.
In recent years, Agapanti has seen meat consumption declining, in part
a response to disease outbreaks linked to meat.
“Although there was no danger, Mad Cow disease and the Avian Flu
scares have made people fear there might be some danger,” Agapanti
says. “Because of that my business has declined by over 50 percent
over the past decade.”
However, people still rely on him to provide them with the healthiest
meats available. Even though local meat can be a little more expensive
than meat imported from Germany or Holland, it is higher in quality, he
Not only does Agapanti offer excellent meat, but he also makes a pork
specialty that locals love. The porchetta is a pork dish that causes many
mouths to water. It is made by taking the bones out of the pig and putting
salt, pepper, and fennel on the meat. Next, it is rolled up, tied with
a string to form a cylinder, and cooked in a wood-burning oven for seven
The local slaughterhouse in Cagli butchers pigs that come from the nearby
town of Urbania as well as Urbino. The pigs are raised naturally, and
they eat natural foods. Authorities check on the animals to make sure
no laws are being broken when raising them. Beef cows are typically raised on a diet of hay, corn, barley, soy and
Whenever Agapanti purchases meat from the slaughterhouse, he makes sure
to buy it in small portions so that it stays fresh. A local farmer delivers
free-range chickens regularly.
Agapanti is proud of the relationships he has built with his customers. “Over 37 years, of course your clientele changes,” he says.
“But yes, I have many people who are steady customers.
Video by Rebecca Albert
Photography by Michael Paine
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