By Jordan Gerard
Editor, The Caledonia Argus
A new butcher shop in Houston is bringing locally-sourced meat to hungry consumers.
Stinson’s Country Style Meats may have opened up shop on March 20, 2020, at a time when most businesses temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but as an essential business, they’ve maintained a booming business.
Michelle Stinson, one of four owners at Stinson’s, said ever since COVID-19 hit and large meat processing plants shut down temporarily, more customers have been driven to find the source of the meat and have it locally processed. Or they’ve been coming to Stinson’s to buy it fresh from the case, which comes straight from local farms.
“We can buy from farmers and sell it locally through our case,” Stinson said. Thanks to an “Equal To” certification, the meat market is able buy from the farms, process the meat and sell it, all at the shop located at 402 W. Cedar St. in Houston.
The butcher shop can process just about any kind of meat from beef and pork (their specialities), sheep, goats, elk and deer. The only type of meat they haven’t done yet is buffalo.
Customers can have their meat processed to order with options such as steak, roast, burgers, sausage options, hot dogs, bologna, snack sticks and more. They also have an in-house smokehouse for smoked meat options.
With hunting season upon the region, Stinson’s Country Style Meats is looking forward to processing venison for customers, however, they won’t be taking whole carcasses this year.
According to Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules, whole carcasses of deer taken in the southeast Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) zone must remain inside the zone until a “not detected” test is confirmed. Only “quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; the main leg bone in each quarter; meat that is boned out or cut and wrapped; hides and teeth; and antlers or clean skull plates with antlers attached” can leave the zone before the test result is confirmed.
Not only does that rule contribute to keeping CWD in check, it also protects Stinson’s employees from potentially being exposed to COVID-19 by limiting how far people have travelled to bring their meat to be processed, Stinson added.
The family also recognizes the importance of having a local meat option. Dave Erdmann, Stinson’s father, said there wasn’t a market for farmers to have their meat butchered locally.
Stinson added Houston was a good, centralized location that is easily accessible by two state highways.
“The town has been very supportive,” Erdmann said. “Houston was more than willing to go along with it.”
The Stinson’s have 32 years of experience in the meat business. Michelle and her husband Jamie, have been around meat processing for a while. They have worked at Pete’s Meats in Lewiston and Ledebuhr Meat in Winona, in addition to helping out other butcher shops as well.
With a labor of love, they decided to set out and open their own shop, with the help of Stinson’s parents, Dave and Kathi. Along with a crew of employees, the shop is bustling with activity every day.
“We thank everybody for their support. Thank the local farmers, community members for getting going during this trying time,” Stinson added.
Stinson’s Country Style Meats is open Monday through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon. They are located at 402 W. Cedar St. in Houston.