It was a fairly cold and wet morning when we made the drive from Perth’s southern suburbs up to the beautiful hills town of Mundaring.
The Aboriginal name of the area ‘Mindah-lung’, said to mean ‘a high place on a high place’, was anglicised to become ‘Mundaring’. Mundaring is a pretty little place with some great little shops and meandering lanes.
One of these shops is one of our most loved in the whole of Australia, The Naked Butcher.
We’ve been customers of The Naked Butcher for several years now having discovered it when we first adopted our new Paleo lifestyle. We regularly trek the 150km round trip to fill our freezer for the month.
It really is worth the trip. It is full of ethically raised, pastured and, if applicable, grass fed and finished meat, sausages without fillers and nasties and a large selection of things like nitrate free bacon and other such wonders.
The Naked Butcher is owned and run by Gary Hine. Fuelled by the knowledge that everyone has a story, we wanted to get to know what motivates Gary to do what he does with such a passion.
We grew up in the south east of England before supermarkets had really taken over and the butcher’s shop was always seen as a place of wonder.
I remember riding my bike to the shop when I was small and excitedly coming back with a paper wrapped parcel that I knew mum would turn into something marvellous for tea
Mel remembers going to get liver and kidneys(which you can hardly ever find nowadays) which her mum would make into a pie and order the hams and a turkey for Christmas.
The Naked Butcher is a nod to our childhood memories, and we hope you enjoy Gary’s story…
So Gary, tell us a bit about your childhood and where you grew up.
I was born, the first of four children, in Sydney. My father was a motor mechanic, and my mother was a registered nurse. We left NSW when I was 5, and the family moved to Rockhampton in the coastal region of central Queensland.
I did all of my schooling in Queensland and consider myself as a Queenslander.
My parents moved around a lot and I went to 13 schools in 11 years. School was never really “my thing”. In fact, I often say that I only went to school to eat my lunch, play sport and socialise.
I finished my schooling in Lowood in the Lockyer Valley, just west of Ipswich.
What made you think of becoming a butcher?
For as long as I can remember, all I wanted to be was a butcher.
I remember going into the local butcher shop with my mum and seeing and hearing how the butchers interacted with each other and their customers and I felt that that environment was the one for me.
Where did you start off and what are your early memories of those days?
I was fortunate enough that, when I left school at the end of year 10, the local butcher shop was trialling for an apprentice. I was the last candidate and was fortunate enough to land the job. I signed my apprenticeship indentures on my 15th birthday. I also left home on the same day.
It was a real baptism of fire with the first two weeks of the trial being in the slaughterhouse. Probably no surprise, but the 5am starts and 10 hour days at work were a huge shock to the system. As I did not have a license or a vehicle for that matter, I rode my push bike to work. I found the work physically challenging, but the thing I hated most was the 45 minute ride to work and home again. Especially in the middle of winter when the temperature was often below freezing or it was pouring with rain.
But I persevered as I loved the work and camaraderie between the butchers.
I did the first two years of my apprenticeship in the slaughterhouse, only working in the shop on Fridays and Saturdays.
When it came time for me to go to trade school, I was told to wear my usual work uniform. So I go off to the the big smoke of Brisbane and rock up on the first day of trade school wearing a blue singlet, a pair of football shorts and rubber boots. I must have really stood out as all the “town” apprentices were all dressed up with bow ties and cute little hats. My lecturer rang my boss and asked him if I was serious or if I had a “special gift”.
My boss explained that what I turned up wearing, whilst not totally appropriate, was what I usually wore to work. Fortunately, my boss put some money into my bank account and I was able to go shopping for a more appropriate uniform that afternoon.
That’s classic! Tell us why you chose the path you have, selling ethically raised products as close to the farm as possible?
One of my most vivid memories of my time as an apprentice was when the cattle in my bosses feedlot ate wet grain. We had had a lot of rain from Friday morning and all over the weekend. The cattle feed got wet and when the cattle consumed it, the acids in their stomachs made the grain ferment and bloated the cattle. They seriously looked like balloons on legs. I was certain that the animals were in agony and was very distressed at what I saw. I thought at that time that if I ever were fortunate enough to own a butcher shop, I would not support an industry that treated animals in such a way.
When we purchased the butcher shop in Mundaring in 2007, I was determined to venture down a different path to what the majority of other butchers, and certainly the supermarkets, were happy to wander along.
The key philosophy that underpins every business decision we make is that the animals we source must be raised “as nature intended”. This means that we do not source any product that has been caged or imprisoned and/or fed an unnatural diet of additive laden grains. We source as much certified organic product as we can. If we cannot source organic, we purchase genuine free range products. If free range is not an option, we will go without until I can source the products that meet our criteria.
We are totally transparent with our customers and our suppliers. If we are claiming that we are selling organic products, we have the documentation to substantiate our claim. The last thing I need is for a customer to ask my staff or me for proof that a product is organic and I cannot provide the proof to them.
There’s a lot of mistruths in the industry, for example, some people sell ‘organic’ produce when in fact it’s not. How can people avoid these pitfalls and know their products are genuine?
I always encourage people to ask the question at any retailer, be it the butcher, green grocer, cafe or health food shop, to see their organic certification if they are claiming that they are selling organic products.
A lot of primary industry growers are claiming that their products are organic because they don’t spray the crops or feed the animals what they believe are nasties. Without certification, this claim should never be made as it akin to fraud.
How do you see us getting away from the feedlot factory farming methods? Do our dollars really influence the way in which meat is produced?
I believe, and have seen first hand, that consumers are more aware today of the providence of their food than at any other time that I have seen in my 36 years in the meat industry. I am enthused that people want to know the story behind what they serve to their families and are actively doing their own research to make informed choices. As this groundswell gains momentum, the fiscal pressure of changing eating habits will encourage more growers to embrace a “more as nature intended” way of farming. This will further expose the lot feeding industry as being unsustainable, unethical, morally corrupt, cruel, environmentally destructive and producers of nothing more than fake food.
Consumers hold all the aces in their wallets. They are the ones who can protest with their dollars and support the growers and retailers who are doing the right thing.
They are not only supporting sustainable industries but also their families by feeding them healthy food, rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Food as medicine is not a fad; it is a fact that is being scientifically proven with more and more supporting evidence coming out each week.
We’ve got to ask, what does a butcher love for dinner? What’s your favourite treat?
My favourite protein source is a nice thick Blackwood Valley organic T-Bone steak or some juicy grass fed lamb loin chops. When we go out, I usually go for seafood or a hot, spicy Thai dish.
It can’t have been easy, taking the path you’ve chosen, to sell ethically raised meat. What drove you to want to be different and making a change?
Apart from the aforementioned evidence, what really drove me to be different to other retailers was the desire to create something unique and to cater for a market that was seriously lacking quality diversity. When we began our journey, organic meat was only stocked in a couple of Perth butcher shops. Now, most of the quality shops have an organic option.
We, as always my wife Kirsten and I, believe that we ahead of the game by using Blackwood Valley organic, 100% grass fed beef exclusively. This brand is only available at a retail level in our store, and it is the highest graded organic beef grown in WA. All of this brand is graded to the highest levels of Meat and Livestock Australia’s MSA grading program that guarantees eatability.
So where next? Where do you see The Naked Butcher in the future?
The future for The Naked Butcher will continue to be a lot of hard work, a lot of product development and a continued commitment to offering our customers a genuine healthy alternative to what others are prepared to offer. Hopefully, as I am well aware that things can change dramatically, we will be celebrating our 20 year anniversary in 2027.
We think it’s a brilliant name by the way, just about sums up what you do, but who thought of the name, The Naked Butcher and what does it mean to you?
Kirsten must take full credit for the name of our business. We were trying to think of a name that conveyed our philosophy of being natural. Well, there is nothing more natural than being naked is there?
Gary, as you might know, we’re mad Fremantle Dockers supporters at Paleonutter. We ask everyone this….if you had to choose would it be Freo or West Coast?
I’m a footy lover and a Collingwood tragic, but have always had a soft spot for the underdogs. It’s part of being a Queenslander. I love to see the Dockers doing well and always support whoever is playing against the Eagles.
Gary, thanks very much for baring your soul today, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and are inspired by our produce o create the yummiest weekly meals, please keep up the great work!
So refreshing to speak to someone so passionate about doing things right.
We think it’s incredibly hard to find well-sourced products in Perth that you can really trust and we highly recommend doing what we do.
That is, plan a day out around buying your meat once a month. We travel 150kms in a round trip to visit Gary, which only takes an hour tops each way, and we fill our eskies and then portion everything for the freezer. We usually combine it with lunch out or a walk somewhere interesting and kill two birds with one stone.
If you can’t travel, remember The Naked Butcher delivers far and wide. Details are all here…
For general details click here…
And don’t forget to like their FACEBOOK PAGE to get updates of specials and delicious meal ideas and recipes.
So whatever your favourite lunch, dinner or snack, Gary has it covered!
SPECIAL OFFER!!!! BEGINNING AUGUST 1ST – AUGUST 12TH! DON’T MISS OUT!
Oh and did we mention Gary has a 7.5 per cent discount card to loyal customers? Full details and conditions are on the website.
However, if you mention either online or in store PALEONUTTER between these dates, Gary will give 10 percent off your order!
All customers that subscribe to The Naked Butcher mailing group from his website will not only have notification of every weeks specials but they can use these weekly specials to build an order over a four week period and have it delivered or can pick it up in store.