Mike from ButcherBox – Episode 52: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast

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So excited to chat with the owner and creator of ButcherBox! I have been receiving ButcherBox since March and have absolutely loved it. I constantly have meat in my freezer and everything always tastes amazing. Hope you guys enjoy his story!


Big Thank You to Our Sponsor – ButcherBox

ButcherBox sources and delivers the best quality grass-fed, grass-finished, antibiotic and hormone-free, pasture-raised beef, chicken and pork straight to your doorstep. And getting your ButcherBox is super easy – just select your box, customize it to your liking, and then set your schedule of how often you want to receive your ButcherBox. They offer free shipping to the contiguous 48 states and each classic box is filled with 8-11 pounds of meat. They also just launched their custom box so customers can actually choose everything that comes in their box! And right now, PaleOMG Uncensored listeners can get $10 off their first order PLUS 2 FREE grass fed, grass finished ribeyes! Click here to receive this special offer!


Support the podcast by clicking the Subscribe button on iTunes and please a review only if you love the podcast! There is enough negativity in this world, don’t spread more. I love hearing about what YOU want me to talk about so feel free to leave on comment here or on social media with topics you’d like me to cover! And don’t forget, some posts have affiliate links which I may be compensated from. This compensation helps with keeping this blog and up and running! Thank you so much for your support, you guys are amazing!


Episode 52 Transcription!

I am so excited to tell you about this month’s sponsor, because it’s something I use in my daily life and have loved so much that I’ve talked about it on my blog and Instagram a ton. If you’ve ever had a hard time finding high quality, grass-fed, and pasture raised meat at the grocery store, ButcherBox is here to make the experience so much easier.

Not only does ButcherBox source the best quality beef, chicken, and pork that is humanely raised and free of antibiotics and hormones, but they also deliver straight to your doorstep. They take any of the guess work out of finding high quality meat at the grocery store, and instead all you have to do is open your box filled with dry ice and find different cuts of meat.

The process is super easy. All you have to do is select your box, customize it to your liking, and then set your schedule of how often you want to receive your ButcherBox. They offer free shipping to the contiguous 48 states and each classic box is filled with 8 to 11 pounds of meat.

They also launched their custom box, so customers can actually choose everything that comes in their box. Right now, PaleOMG Uncensored listeners can get $10 off their first order; plus two free grass-fed grass-finished ribeyes. I’ve loved all of the different cuts of meat I’ve tried. I’ve heard their breakfast sausage is amazing. I’ve loved their thinly sliced beef and their ground beef. I use it almost every day. And you guys can now try it, too.

All you have to do is go to www.ButcherBox.com/paleomg and pick the perfect box for you. That’s it. Www.ButcherBox.com/paleomg and you’ll get $10 off your first order plus 2 free ribeyes. And since I love ButcherBox so much, I asked the creator, Mike Salguero, to come on the podcast and share his story of creating such an amazing business. I hope you guys enjoy.

This is Juli Bauer from PaleOMG and you are listening to PaleOMG Uncensored.

Juli Bauer: Hey everyone! Thank you guys for coming on to PaleOMG Uncensored, another episode. I have no idea what number we’re on at this point. Because today I have a very special guest. His name is Mike; how do you say your last name, Mike?

Mike Salguero: Salguero.

Juli Bauer: Ok, that’s how I was going to say it. So I’m glad I wouldn’t have butchered that. But we have Mike Salguero from ButcherBox on today. I’m very excited to talk to him because I have been using ButcherBox for I would say 6 to 8 months at this point, and have absolutely loved all of the products. So we’re going to talk about how the company came to be. I talk about a special discount at the beginning of this episode, anyway.

So let’s talk about ButcherBox. So Mike; thank you so much for being on today.

Mike Salguero: Yeah, thank you.

Juli Bauer: I really appreciate you talking the time out of your busy schedule. So will you just give people listening just kind of a tour of you. Who you are, how you came into ButcherBox, and just a little background about the company and how you started this business; I think starting a family at the same time.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. Sure. So I live in Boston. That’s where our company, ButcherBox, is headquartered. And I got into grass-fed beef really through different diets. So I was looking at your blog. I was looking at Whole30. And diet after diet would say you should eat grass-fed beef. And I couldn’t really find a great way to buy grass-fed beef. At the time, my wife was pregnant with our first child. I started becoming obsessed with, “Alright, let me find some really amazing beef.”

I ended up meeting a farmer who was in New York, and used to sell what they call cow shares. Like an eighth of a cow or a quarter of a cow, where that’s like a trash bag of meat. And they would deliver it to my house. And it never fit into my tiny city apartment, into the freezer. And it was just like; this doesn’t make sense. This doesn’t work.

So over the course of about a year and a half, I had bought three different times, I bought more and more of this farmer’s cow share, and I was selling it off to my friends. Because they were like, “These steaks are amazing, can we get more.” And then it dawned on me one day; maybe this could be something that’s delivered to people’s door, and maybe we could make grass-fed beef accessible. Because everyone I talked to about grass-fed beef was like, “I love the idea of grass-fed beef, but I don’t know how to find grass-fed beef.”

So I then became obsessed with, how do you make that happen? How do you ship nationwide? How do you ship frozen? I ended up meeting a guy who used to work at Omaha Steaks who opened up a bunch of doors. Omaha Steaks doesn’t do grass-fed, but it’s kind of the same thing in terms of how you cut it, and package it, and ship it. And then we were off to the races.

We started with a Kickstarter campaign, because I still wasn’t convinced that there was a real market. So I took $10,000 out of my savings account to buy some meat, and create a video, and push Kickstarter forward. We went out to raise $25,000. Where you’re really doing pre-sales; so you’re selling your product. And I think day one we raised like $40,000. And then by the end of the campaign, which was 30 days, we did $225,000. So it was like; wow. There’s definitely a market here.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Mike Salguero: We definitely struck a nerve. And that was two years ago. So we finished our Kickstarter at the end of September two years ago. And we’ve been growing ever since. It’s been quite a wild ride. It’s been incredibly informative. And really fun to build a company where we’re involved in something that’s so important to so many families. Which is meals and dinner and eating well. It’s just been really awesome to be a part of it.

Juli Bauer: So do you have another job? Or did you have another job when you were starting ButcherBox?

Mike Salguero: No. I had actually just left; before ButcherBox I ran a company called CustomMade.com. which connected makers of things custom. So jewelry, furniture were two main ones. We were a marketplace that did that. We had raised a bunch of venture capital, and played the whole kind of startup game. So I left that. My cofounder still runs it.

I started ButcherBox as my pastime hobby type thing that I was going to do while pursuing something else. And then it became pretty apparent, pretty fast that, oh this is the thing. This is what I’m going to spend my time on. It was more of a passion play to start with, and I didn’t really believe that it could be a big business. And then it was like; whoa. Every point of validation was, not only could this be a big business, but also we’re solving a real need that people have. Which is trying to eat healthier, trying to put their dollars towards better raised quality meat. And for us to be able to do that was just like; this is it. So since then I’ve focused on just this.

Juli Bauer: So, will you tell people kind of how you go about sourcing your meat? Did you start just wanting to do grass-fed grass-finished beef? And then you were like, maybe we can do chicken and pork. Or was that the goal from the beginning, was to do all three?

Mike Salguero: No, yeah. Totally wasn’t the goal to do all three. We started saying 100% grass-fed grass-finished. And I’ll probably use 100% grass-fed and grass-fed grass-finished. They’re the same; they’re interchangeable. We can get into grass-fed grain-finished in the future. Which is not the same.

So when I started, it was just we’re going to do a monthly box of 100% grass-fed beef. And then we started talking to customers and they’re like; “Yeah, that much beef. I don’t eat that much beef every month. So can we do it every couple of months? Every three months? And by the way, I have a real problem ordering pork.” Or, “I have a real problem ordering chicken. What should I be looking for for these things?”

So it became pretty apparent quickly that we needed to be an all three protein. So we offer pasture raised, heritage breed pork, 100% grass-fed beef, and then organic, free-range chicken. And then we have specials for stuff like lamb, fish, or turkeys for Thanksgiving. Stuff like that.

Juli Bauer: Oh, I didn’t know that.

Mike Salguero: Yep. That will be coming up soon. And what we want to do is essentially make it really easy for you to get this stuff delivered to your house, rather than having to go to a butcher and try to read labels or understand where things are from.

As far as sourcing is concerned; our baseline mission is we only; or our position, rather. We only want to serve our members meat from animals that were raised as nature intended. So what does that mean? That basically means a cow was put on earth to eat grass. Unfortunately, what’s happening in this country is most cows now end up in a feedlot being fed corn. And even within grass-fed, there are people who are playing around with what they’re feeding cows to make them grow better. To make them more consistent. To make them taste more like a corn-fed cow. And that’s not how we roll. We want things that are fed the way that nature intended.

So when we do sourcing, a lot of what we’re looking at is we’re vetting the farms. We’re vetting humane treatment to animals. So we’re working on getting an overall certification for our company. Because all of our products currently are humane certified. So we’re looking for that. We’re definitely looking for never-ever antibiotics and hormones. Meaning, if the cow got sick, it will be given an antibiotic, but it will be taken out of the program. We will never cut a piece of meat that was given an antibiotic, was given hormones.

And then, you know, we’re kind of looking at capacity. We’ve grown very quickly, so we’re making sure that whether it’s a farm or it’s a collective. So a lot of these farmers will sell through a collective, which will kind of represent them and a bunch of other farmers and sell directly to us. It’s a fine balance of finding the right places, doing the right thing, and also making sure that we have a product that tastes great.

Chicken, I think, is a pretty interesting story. When we started, we were doing pasture-raised chickens, and our customers didn’t really like it. So I think a pasture-raised chicken tastes different. The meat is tougher. Breasts are smaller. Legs are tougher. So we do free-range organic. Which is as close as we can get to pastured without being pastured. And we’re still not as far along on our chicken as I’d like to be. I think there’s got to be a pasture raised bird out there that tastes more like a conventional chicken that everyone is used to.

So it’s an ongoing; we have spent the most time and money and effort making sure that we have an amazing product that’s safe to eat. That checks off all the boxes. Because we know that that’s what our customers are looking for, and what’s really important to them.

Juli Bauer: So how many different farms do you work with, and how do you find these farms when you’re trying to find? I’m sure you’re getting new customers on a regular basis. So then you’re constantly trying to find new farms to source this meat from. So how do you find it? And do you go out to these farms to try to find the meat? Or do you have them sent to you so you can taste it and see what it’s like beforehand? How do you balance all of that? I can’t imagine doing all that. That’s insane.

Mike Salguero: {laughs} Yeah, so. The taste testing is the good part. That’s the fun part.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. {laughs}

Mike Salguero: Yeah. So we work with hundreds of farms. And we haven’t gone to see every single farm. And as we’ve grown, what we’ve done; we started with individual farms. And then these farmers were like; “I can’t actually make this supply. But I’m part of the Wisconsin Farmer Association, or farmer co-op. Why don’t you talk to them about purchasing from more people than just me?” So then we would go into a larger co-op and purchase from them. And they’re the ones kind of making sure the farmers meet all their protocols and standards and go out to the farm and make sure things are of proper standards and whatnot.

So, we do buy from a number of individual farms, as well. And frankly a lot of that has been happenstance. Like, somebody introduced me to John Arbuckle, who is Singing Prairie. He makes an amazing pork product. And now he does all of our breakfast sausage. Which is incredible. It tastes amazing. People love it.

We’ve just grown and grown and been able to focus on one product, and he’s been able to grow his business pretty tremendously off of our orders on a monthly basis, because we’re predictable and whatnot.

In other cases, when you’re talking about pork tenderloin, or a beef tenderloin. Like a filet. There’s only; on a pig, there’s only about 4 pounds of pork tenderloin that comes off a pig. So you’re talking about a lot of pigs in order to meet a monthly demand if we were going to put pork tenderloin in a box. So in that case, you’re dealing with a collective that’s able to balance across all of the different farms that they’re working with.

The good thing about collectives, too, is that they have people on staff who go out to these farms on a regular basis. Oftentimes unannounced. It’s much harder for us to be able to do that. It would be hard for us to show up and say, “Hey. Show us those feedbags. Are those actually free of animal byproducts?” So we found it to be more effective and better for us to leverage buyers in collectives that are making sure that we adhere to the protocols that are important to us.

Juli Bauer: Ok. Well I want to get a little bit more into the business. But before; I think this is just an important piece that I probably should have led with. But can you talk about why grass-fed and pasture raised and grass-finished. Grass-fed versus grain-finished. Can you talk about why this is so important, and why people should be eating grass-fed versus the normal meat that you get at the everyday grocery store?

Mike Salguero: Yeah, sure. Very important for people to pay attention here. So basically 98% of the beef consumed in the United States is grass-fed, corn-finished or grain-finished. So every cow starts out exactly the same. 6 months it’s cow-calf. So it’s the mother with its baby. And then about 12 months of weaning off of milk, and just eating grass in a field. And then 98% of the cows go to a feedlot. Some go to a smaller feedlot, but oftentimes these feedlots have hundreds of thousands of animals. And they’re all being fed corn, grains, silage. Basically whatever possible to get them as fat as possible, or to gain as much weight as possible, as quick as possible. Oftentimes they’re given hormones or antibiotics to help speed that along.

It’s incredibly; just from whatever perspective you want to look at. If you want to look at the cow’s perspective. They’re eating something that’s foreign to their body. Oftentimes have issues with stomach issues. Oftentimes get sick from being near other animals. It’s a very stressful environment. It’s not a place where they’re really happy, and eating and doing whatever they want.

Versus grass-fed, or 100% grass-fed. Where after those 18 months of cow-calf and being out on a field, they basically leave them on the field for another year. So the cow is only eating grass. And gets up to its natural weight, at which point it ends up basically at the time that it’s slaughtered, it has never eaten anything other than grass.

So that is better for the environment. There’s lots of stuff about carbon emissions and the fact that if we had more grass, more cows eating grass, it would be much better for the environment. It’s much better for the cow. It’s what they were designed to eat. It is way less stressful. They’re not around a whole bunch of animals. They’re not around their heard. And it’s, in my opinion, a much tastier product.

On the health side, there’s a whole bunch of health benefits to grass-fed beef. Vitamins, fats, minerals, that are way better for the human body rather than grass-fed. So I think lots of people who are following a paleo diet know to avoid grains, or are avoiding eating certain things because it’s inflammatory. Because it doesn’t work well with their digestive system. So it seems; it’s pretty easy for people to grok why it would be important to not eat animals that have a similar experience.

So, grass-fed is becoming more and more popular. Which is great. Our vision for the world is that grass-fed beef is accessible to everybody. We have a lot of work to be able to do that. But the meat industry, these feedlots, kind of the way the system works, it’s all set up to; it’s just really hard for the farmer to choose to raise their cow just on grass. And the system is kind of set up to make that even more difficult. So there’s a lot of changes that need to be made. And we’re hoping to do our part to help move those changes along. And get the customer something that they’re looking for, and find hard to find right now.

Juli Bauer: And can you kind of talk about pork? Because I feel like beef is talked about all the time. Grass-fed, grass-finished. They are like those trigger words. Everybody knows those words if you’re kind of in the paleo community. But I think; even with chicken. People are understanding chicken a little bit more. But I feel like pork is still just unknown. People don’t know what to look for when they’re looking for pork at their grocery store. So can you explain how chickens are usually brought up versus what you’re sourcing?

Mike Salguero: Yeah. So, if you think about a pig. The way that pigs grew up with humans, if you think about a village. Let’s go back to the 1400s. So you have a village. Generally the cows are out, way out in the fields, eating grass. And the pigs are in town eating food scraps. So what’s happened over the past 500 years is that pigs, as they became domesticated and grew closer to humans, have actually; one, their body and their organs are very similar to a humans. They oftentimes dissect pigs in anatomy class. Two, their jaws, like their mouth, looks like a human. And their brain has adapted so that they know whether what they’re eating is poisonous or not, because when somebody threw their trash into a heap 500 years ago, the smart pigs were the ones that didn’t eat the poison. So those have, over time, gotten smarter and smarter and smarter and smarter.

And why that’s important is because the life of a pig is one of the most important in terms of humane treatment and in terms of letting them be a part of; do what they want to do and what their body is designed for, rather than how a traditional pig is raised.

So a traditional pig; and we’re talking a conventional pig. Is in a concentrated feeding operation. So we’re talking about a barn where the pig has very little room. Oftentimes they can’t even turn around. They are in metal crates. And they go; they go crazy. They literally freak out because they’re just confined. That’s not what their body was made for. So there’s tons of stress. It’s just not a very good situation. And then they pump them with antibiotics because pigs actually; because they resemble a human so much, they can get diseases which transfer over. So there’s lots of antibiotics, etc.

So just from the humane treatment side, something like a pasture-raised program. Or at the very least, if you’re listeners are looking to; “Whoa, that’s scary. Let me do something better.” If you look for certified humane or humane treatment; those are good things to, at the very least, look for.

So pigs eat a lot of corn. Even pigs that are raised in pasture. So oftentimes, like our pigs, are out in the pasture. So they’re eating grass. But they’re also eating a tremendous amount of grains and corn. And that’s just what their body is designed for; unlike the cows.

But a pasture-raised pig, which is what ours are, essentially they’re out in a field. Mothers are able to have their piglets out in the field, or in these little huts that are built rather than in these cages. They’re able to be social. Pigs are a very social animal, but in large feeding operations they’re not able to be. And a lot of it has to do with the stress, antibiotics, and in the pasture-raised program you’re not getting any of that stuff.

I really feel like, at least for me. This is my own thing. On the pig side; obviously, I want to avoid antibiotics, so there’s that. But then it’s really, to me, it comes down to the way their brain has adapted and thinking about not eating something that was raised in a way that is not great for the animal.

Being in a meat company, there is the reality that everything has to die. And you want to make sure that they live their life the best way possible. And also that the whole processing of that animal was done in the best way possible. And that’s really important to me, and something that I know is important to our members. So it’s something that we spend a lot of time making sure is up to snuff as well. Does that help?

Juli Bauer: Yeah, that’s so interesting. I’m so excited you talk about that stuff. Because we are just; most of us, just don’t know about that stuff. I don’t know what a feed lot looks like, other than maybe what PETA put out online, that type of stuff.

Mike Salguero: Yep.

Juli Bauer: So it’s just really interesting. Especially, I had no idea about pigs, their being social animals. Anything like that. Most of us would not know that.

Mike Salguero: Yeah, it’s fascinating.

Juli Bauer: That’s super fascinating. So, as you’ve come into this business, and you’ve added chicken, and beef, and pork, and you’ve really grown this business from the start. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve run into; as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, and how have you dealt with those challenges along the way?

Mike Salguero: That’s a great question. I mean, aside from; so our business. We’ll just take our business for a second. We’ve dealt with a lot of challenges in terms of shipping a frozen box of meat into multiple places across the country. Once it leaves our facility, we can make sure it’s packed as well as we can, but then we’re kind of at the mercy of UPS and FedEx.

Juli Bauer: Big time.

Mike Salguero: And they mess up every once in a while. So it’s, how do we build a member-obsessed organization, where if somebody calls in and complains, and we’re like, “No problem we’ll take care of it.” How do we solve people’s problems, and all that stuff? Which is big, and hairy, and hard. We have a lot of people who have a lot of experience in those areas, because it’s the place where experiences; buying meat and shipping boxes and making sure that that’s done well is critical to having an amazing experience for our members.

So that’s been hard. We had to learn the hard way. You get going; and it’s a few hundred boxes, then it’s a few thousand boxes. And it’s like; oh geeze, we’ve got to make changes and figure out what’s working here.

As far as the business itself goes, I think the hardest part has been just; I’ve learned. I didn’t know anything about pigs before I got into this. I literally knew; I ate bacon, thought it tasted good. Probably had only had a pork chop, and that was it. It’s like, making sure that we’re doing is what’s best for our customer while also learning on the fly has been interesting and challenging. Especially for me. I mean, I love it. I love that I get to learn so much about meat. Which is so important. But I sometimes have trouble with; what’s the right call to make here, because we want to do what’s best for everyone involved.

As far as the company goes, I think the hardest part is, a company, when you’re small, it’s very much about; I have this analogy of, when you start a company it’s like hacking through the jungle with machetes. And basically, you just find people who can hack a machete all day long. You’re like; “Here’s a machete, go hack!” And eventually, you get to a dirt road. And you’re like; “Do any of you guys know how to drive a car?”

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Mike Salguero: Because your machete swinging skills are great, but I don’t know if I trust you behind a car. And that’s the big change that happens in companies. Trying to train your staff, and trying to get people up the curve so they can make the leap from small company into larger company. And that’s really hard to do. And something I think we’ve done pretty well this time around, versus my last company where I think I didn’t do that well. I didn’t really recognize that that was going to be an issue until it was.

Juli Bauer: How many people work for you at this point? Work for ButcherBox; other than, obviously, all of your small farms that you’re sourcing from.

Mike Salguero: We don’t have the farmers, the cutters. So after the animal is processed, it goes to a cutter who cuts it into a 10-ounce pork chop, or whatever. A 6-ounce filet. And then they freeze it, and then those get shipped to distribution facilities. None of that; we don’t have staff for any of that.

Outside of that, we have 50 fulltime people working for us right now.

Juli Bauer: And are you planning to grow bigger than that, or do you feel comfortable where it’s at right now?

Mike Salguero: We have a couple of positions that are open in email marketing and analytics. But we feel pretty good. The place where we’ve grown a lot is customer service. So actually, of the 50, I think it’s like 18 are customer service. And mainly because we’re trying to overinvest in making sure every customer has an amazing experience. So I don’t know how big that will be. I imagine we’ll get efficiencies at some point. But at this point it doesn’t matter. What we want is to be a resource. So if you have any question on how to cook it. If you have any question about your order. I want responses immediately, and I want people to feel like they get the level of service that they would require from a company like ours.

Juli Bauer: I think customer service is so important. Because just based on me working with different customer service, I completely go back to that company or that brand over and over based on the customer service.

Mike Salguero: Totally.

Juli Bauer: I think if anything a business can do, if their customer service is awesome then you’re going to keep going back. Even if they mess up in something, you’ll want to work with them continuously.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. There’s this whole thing. And this is a part where I’m obsessed with now. We’re not at a size and we’re able to really tackle it. But the experience of your customer is the most important thing. What does it feel like when they receive their box? What does opening it feel like? When they call, how fast does someone get on the phone? How friendly are they? It’s all about that experience.

Even if a box arrives late, but it’s still cold and it’s still good to go. People are willing to forgive a lot if they have a great experience. But it’s all about making sure that that experience is as perfect as possible. And I think there are a lot of online companies that do a really good job of that. Zappos is the one everyone talks about. So fortunately, we have some good models to look at. But it’s certainly something we just want to make sure that we build out an amazing, incredible experience for our customers.

Juli Bauer: Will you walk people kind of through the process of getting their first ButcherBox. Where do you ship to? What kind of different box options do you have? Can you personalize? Just kind of walk people through the process of getting their first ButcherBox.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. So right now we ship to the lower 48 states. So any state, any address we’ll ship to. So we have now five options. You can buy a monthly box or every other month, depending on how much meat you eat. And you can do all beef; beef, chicken, pork, which is our most popular; beef, chicken; beef, pork. And we’ve just launched a custom box where you essentially can go in and choose 6 different cuts of pretty much anything you want. So some people are like, “I only want chicken.” And just get chicken breast, and do that. Or some other people have mix and match.

We actually launched the custom box; when we started, we were just curated. So if you’re in the beef, chicken, pork box, we send you what we think you’ll like. Which works really great for some people. We include recipes inside. Some people love that. They love the experience of opening and not knowing what’s going to be inside. But we found a lot of our customers didn’t like that.

And we also found, which is interesting, is a lot of it came down to access. So if you live in a rural community and you can’t find this product otherwise, that seemed to be the person who most wanted to choose 2 pounds of ground beef, because they want to make sure they can cook those burgers this weekend. Or choose the tenderloin. Or choose whatever they were choosing. So we launched a custom option to help those people have the experience that they want to have with us.

So those are the options. And then you can do add-ons, as well. So what we try to do with add-ons is basically pass on really great deals to our members. So once you’ve purchases, you can always add stuff to your box. Whether that’s bacon, or that’s more ground beef, or more pork chops. I think we have 25 different add-ons that you can put in your box. And those can come on a monthly basis afterwards.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome.

Mike Salguero: So that’s pretty much it. And we try to take a lot of the guesswork out of it. We try to make it as easy as possible to just click on the button and get started.

Juli Bauer: So you said you’re going to have; I don’t know if you’ve done this in the past, since I haven’t worked with you for more than 6 to 8 months. But have you done shipments in the past where you did turkeys, like around Thanksgiving?

Mike Salguero: Oh yeah.

Juli Bauer: Or fish.

Mike Salguero: Yep.

Juli Bauer: So how often do you add those other items in, and what are they?

Mike Salguero: So we’re definitely gearing up for the holidays because that’s the time where people are really looking for the large roasts, or they’re looking for the turkeys. So we’re going to do a big turkey push. We’ll probably do duck. We’re going to do lamb. We’re going to do some large beef roasts, like a rib roast.

Juli Bauer: Oh, cool.

Mike Salguero: I think we’ll probably do a rib roast. So those, for our members, will be offered at a really great price. Like, better than you can get in the store. And you’ll know that it’s the same quality that you’ve known and loved from ButcherBox. We have done turkeys twice now; two years in a row we’ve done turkeys. Supermarkets never make money on turkeys. They’re always like, it’s a loyalty thing. And it’s the same for us. We’re not looking to make a lot of money on turkeys. We’re just looking to continue to be your butcher. So if everyone is like, “I need a turkey for Thanksgiving.” Then they can say, “I got it from ButcherBox.” That’s better for us. We want to just continue being the leader source for meat.

We’ll be launching; I think in a week or two, we’ll be launching our holiday menu and plan. Make sure the people know well in advance where they can get great quality stuff.

Juli Bauer: Do you guys have a newsletter, or do you send out emails, or do you just have this on your website whenever any of these specialty products come in?

Mike Salguero: Yeah, we do. You can go to our home page and just enter in your email, and get newsletters and offers and specials and stuff like that. We’ll definitely be broadcasting that pretty wide. Maybe we can do something with you. But certainly we’ll make it known that what we’re doing and the types of products that we’re going to be offering.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Because I had one of those questions. I think I had maybe one or two. And someone was asking if you were going to add fish to kind of the normal. Would you ever do that? Expanding into wild caught salmon or any of those options?

Mike Salguero: Yes. So we are looking into salmon for sure. I think we’ll probably start with just salmon. We might do one other fish. But we have a lot of people who are asking for fish. And it’s certainly something that we want to offer. We haven’t found a product that we’re super thrilled with yet. So that’s been the biggest hold up. But certainly it’s coming.

Juli Bauer: Do you guys hope to ship outside of the US? Do you ever hope to ship to Canada? Is that kind of a goal, like farther places? Or is it good to stay in the US because shipping, I’m sure, is just a freaking nightmare.

Mike Salguero: {laughs} Shipping is a freaking nightmare.

Juli Bauer: Seriously, I can’t imagine dealing with shipping. And then everyone blames it on you, when you’re like, “I shipped it out the same time I do every time.” I can’t imagine. That would be such a pain in the ass.

Mike Salguero: I’ve been told the only thing that’s more of a pain in the ass than shipping is getting meat over the border, in Canada.

Juli Bauer: Interesting.

Mike Salguero: So we want to do it. Actually, our head of logistics and operations is Canadian. So we’ve been like, “When are we going to Canada?” it’s been tough to prioritize that when we have all these other burning fires in terms of a growing company and all the things that we want to do. So it’s like; do we offer salmon, or do we crack Canada?

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Mike Salguero: I do think Canada; it would be great for us to do it in ’18. I think that would be awesome. We actually have a huge list of Canadian people who are like, “Please tell me when you can provide this in Canada.” And the list is growing. It’s certainly something that we know is needed. We just need to figure out how to actually make that happen.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Well, I did a podcast about paleo on a budget, and how I did paleo when I was making $17,000 a year. And my main focus wasn’t meat quality, because I also didn’t understand the importance of meat quality. Because this was 7 years ago, and I was straight out of college, and shopping at super sketchy places anyway.

Mike Salguero: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: But, do you think ButcherBox is budget friendly when you’re comparing to maybe local grocery stores or big chain stores like a Costco. Do you think it’s a budget friendly piece that someone can add into their monthly budget, really?

Mike Salguero: I do. I’ll answer that question two ways. I do think it’s budget friendly. One of the benefits of the way we ship our stuff is it’s portioned, and it’s frozen. So if you want to take out one pork chop, you can take out one pork chop. What tends to happen in a store; in a Costco or something like that. You buy something, and it’s like 4 or 5 pounds, and then you might waste some of that. Some of that might go bad. So there’s definitely that. That’s one piece.

The second piece is if you are eating grass-fed beef and organic chicken and pasture-raised pork, and you’re already spending that money, we tend to come in below the cost of retail, and it’s delivered directly to your house. So that’s kind of a no-brainer if that’s the way that you’re eating already.

Juli Bauer: Gotcha.

Mike Salguero: If you’re not, we’re definitely more expensive than convention. Than purchasing conventional. And if people don’t feel like they can move from conventional to something better, what I would tell people. Or what we do tell people, is animals store toxins in their fat. So if you’re going to have that grain-fed, or that antibiotic piece of meat from a sketchy place, as you said. Go for lean cuts. And that’s the best way you can stay paleo and do as well as you can on the tightest budget that you have.

So what that means is if you’re going to ground beef, do the 93/7. And if you’re going to buy something, get a sirloin or get a tenderloin. Get something that’s very lean, not a lot of fat. Because that will help limit the amount of toxins that you could be ingesting into your body. That’s if you’re like, “No way, ButcherBox not accessible.”

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Mike Salguero: That’s what I would tell people.

Juli Bauer: Yeah, I think that’s great. When I was getting crappy sources of meat, I was always trimming off the extra fat on any of the meat that I was using.

Mike Salguero: Yep.

Juli Bauer: ` Just making sure I got rid of that. So, do you get ButcherBox sent to your house every month?

Mike Salguero: Oh yeah. Absolutely. We have to do the double box. I didn’t mention that, but you can get twice as much meat.

Juli Bauer: Oh cool. I didn’t know that.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. I have a wife and a 3-year-old daughter and twin 1-year-olds.

Juli Bauer: OH my gosh! How is that going Mike? Do you want to talk about that here?

Mike Salguero: Sure.

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Mike Salguero: I’d be glad to.

Juli Bauer: My friend has a 3-year-old and twins, and man. Her life is tough right now. She loves the sh*t out of them, but it is absolute mayhem going to their house.

Mike Salguero: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: There is so much vomit and poop everywhere.

Mike Salguero: Oh. Yeah. There’s not that much vomit anymore.

Juli Bauer: Ok that’s good.

Mike Salguero: {laughs} That’s good.

Juli Bauer: I got threw up on last time. She threw up right on my shoe. Right on my boob, and right on my shoe. I’m like, come on. I held you for 14 seconds.

Mike Salguero: {laughs}

Juli Bauer: So you’re past the throw up stage.

Mike Salguero: We’re past the throw up stage for sure. Those twins threw up for the first 6 months.

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Mike Salguero: Yeah, no it’s great. All girls, too. Which I’m thrilled about. I was really scared of having a son.

Juli Bauer: Really?

Mike Salguero: Yeah. Yeah.

Juli Bauer: Oh my gosh. Did you have sisters?

Mike Salguero: I had one sister and two brothers, and no father. So I had a little bit of head trash about being a dad to a son. But also, I just. I don’t know. I was really close with my sister. We’re the closest in age, so I used to play girl talk and put on makeup and get my nails painted.

Juli Bauer: {laughing}

Mike Salguero: And like, I know I can do that well. So I look forward to when my girls are old enough for that stuff.

Juli Bauer: So kind of talk about; are you a good cook? Do you do the cooking in the family? Kind of talk about that.

Mike Salguero: Yeah sure. So I do a lot of the cooking. My wife works half time. And this job has definitely given me the opportunity to basically make my schedule however I want to. So I’m typically leaving at 4:45, going to CrossFit, and then coming home, cooking dinner. I would say; my wife is a much better cook if its following a recipe. I’m a much better cook if it’s like, open the fridge and just make something happen. So if it’s the weekend, and we have time, and there’s a recipe to follow it would definitely be my wife. But I love putting on music and just cooking. My whole thing with cooking is I like as few ingredients as possible.

So my wife is gluten and dairy free. My kids aren’t, but we limit the gluten and dairy. And we’re probably serving ButcherBox four times a week. I don’t know; my favorite cut is short rib. That’s my favorite recipe. I love short ribs.

Juli Bauer: Ooh. Yeah. I love that thinly sliced beef.

Mike Salguero: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Juli Bauer: It’s like paper thin. It is so, so good. It would be so good in like a Philly cheesesteak. Even though I’ve never even had a Philly cheesesteak, I’ve just visualized them many times in my life. But I feel like it would be so good in a Philly cheesesteak. You could so some gluten-free bread. But it is so, so good.

Mike Salguero: How would you do the cheese? Would you do the cheese with like goat cheese?

Juli Bauer: No.

Mike Salguero: Or nutritional yeast?

Juli Bauer: No, god no. I would say f*ck it and I would do the real deal cheese. Real deal. All the way.

Mike Salguero: You’d have to do like Cheez Whiz.

Juli Bauer: {laughs} No. {laughing} Oh man. So I’ve never tried the breakfast sausage; is that something you’ve added recently? Or have you had that for a while?

Mike Salguero: We’ve had that for a while, yeah. It’s an add-on all the time. It’s awesome. It’s just sage and salt. It’s really, really good.

Juli Bauer: Yum! I need to add that. I just added some filet mignon, because I don’t think I’ve tried your filet mignon yet. And then some; I love the hamburgers that you guys have. Just the individualized hamburgers. Just to make it easier. I know making your own hamburger patty is just as easy. But it’s so nice to just be able to throw salt on, put it on the grill pan or whatever, and have a burger instantly.

Mike Salguero: Yep. They’re great. I think they’re way better on a griddle pan rather than a grill, anyway.

Juli Bauer: They’re so, so good.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. I agree. That’s one of the really cool things, I think, about it. It’s nice to be an avid user of the product of your company. But one of the things I love about it, it’s just so convenient. Even if you forgot to take something out of the freezer, you can soak it in some water for like 10, 15 minutes. It will thaw right out, and then just cook it. It makes dinner so much easier.

Juli Bauer: It seriously does. I just keep pulling things out of the freezer when I’m like, “OH, I forgot to get anything at the store.” I just pull that out of the freezer. I always have something on hand. Which is really awesome. I just pulled some chicken out to put in a crockpot tonight. So we’ll have shredded chicken tacos for dinner. Since we’re both working late.

Mike Salguero: Oh, nice.

Juli Bauer: It’s so easy! So one of the main things that I’ve noticed when I’ve talked about ButcherBox and people have contacted me about it. I’ve seen this myself, but I’ve also run into this issue with meat that I’ve bought at the store, as well. People will say that there was, say a cut in the packaging so it leaked.

Mike Salguero: Leakers!

Juli Bauer: Yes. And I always, no matter where I buy my meat, I always put it on a plate in my fridge. And someone will be like, “It leaked all over!” I’m like, “Have you never had meat before? That’s what it does.” It thaws out, and then juices go everywhere. So I always have it on a plate. So what have you done to deal with these issues of any tears that have happened in the packaging, or if something spoils. What do you recommend people do who are using ButcherBox and have run into any of these issues? And moving forward so they’re not like, “Oh, f*ck this, I don’t want to work with this company.” What do you recommend them do to move forward and to deal with any sort of issue they’ve run into?

Mike Salguero: Yeah, first and foremost, you should definitely. Like you said. Thaw things in a bowl or a plate. And that’s not just us; that’s pretty much any meat that you purchase.

Juli Bauer: Ever. Yes.

Mike Salguero: That’s fairly easy. Or a frisbee. Turn a frisbee upside down.

Juli Bauer: {laughs}

Mike Salguero: Yeah, I mean, that’s just kind of standard. But, that doesn’t negate the issue that we have. A leaker is from a hole in the packaging of the meat. And that hold can happen for a whole host of reasons. I mean, we’ve gone through a tremendous amount of science on this, and process improvement and whatnot. We are making it better. But it’s still not nearly as good as I want it to be.

So some of the issues that we have; one, we’re shipping things. So now you have plastic on top of plastic in terms of the packaging. And if that jostles, or if a corner goes into the other one, it can create a tear or a hole. Which then unfortunately sucks.

It also can happen if things are too close to the dry ice; it can actually get too cold. So there’s something called a microfracture, which is caused by it being too cold in there. Which is totally safe for the meat, but not good for the plastic packaging.

And we’ve seen crazy stuff, like meat that literally shattered and a whole bunch of weird stuff. Our policy is, if you are not happy with the product, just write to us at support and we will make it better. So whether that’s put it in your next box, or give you a refund for that item; no problem. We want people to be thrilled with the product.

One misconception that people tend to have is that it’s somehow not safe because of the hole. That’s not true. The meat maintains its safety. It’s just a pain in the butt to clean out your refrigerator again. Which goes back to step one; which is thaw in something. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Mike Salguero: Because that’s the easiest way to make sure it doesn’t leak everywhere, is to thaw it in something.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. And I’ve had one or two packages that had a little cut from rubbing up, whatever happened to it. And when I defrost them, I always defrost them on a plate. And I’ve cooked all those items, and never had any sort of issues. I mean, unless you’re leaving your meat out for a week straight, which no matter what you should not be eating it, cut or not, in the packaging. But I’ve never run into any sort of issues, even if the packaging was a little bit weird. So I’m just saying that.

Mike Salguero: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: Feedback with that. I’m sure that’s the hardest thing to kind of deal with that you’ve run into what that customer service.

Mike Salguero: Totally. And actually the hardest thing is when UPS just doesn’t show up. Or FedEx. And somebody is like; “I was expecting this this weekend.” And then they do deliver it the next week and it’s a stinky box of meat. That’s the worst. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Yeah, that’s super frustrating.

Mike Salguero: Which, unfortunately, it happens. And like you said; it’s not really our fault, but it is our fault. So it’s just something we have to own.

Juli Bauer: Deal with. Yeah.

Mike Salguero: But we are making improvements. Our percentage of leakers has gone down quite a bit. But it continues to be one of those areas that, going back to building an amazing, remarkable customer experience. We need to exceed people’s expectations on that.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Continually improving. So, do you guys have any big projects you’re working on for the future, other than obviously trying to improve your business, improve customer service. Whatever else. Are there any big projects you guys kind of have lined up? Or you’re hoping to do?

Mike Salguero: We do. We have a couple of really big ones coming up. So we’re actually opening our first retail store.

Juli Bauer: Oh! That’s awesome.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. So, we won’t sell meat. It will be more like a brand experience. But that will be in Harvard Square in Cambridge, which we’re pretty excited about. And we’re also opening a test kitchen where we are building out basically a studio with a kitchen. And we’re just going to shoot videos on how to cook stuff. Bring in people. Maybe we can convince you to come to do a demonstration. Here’s how I cook this, or create recipes. Because we know that our customer; one of the things we really want to embrace is helping people feel empowered to cook the food that they receive.

Juli Bauer: Yeah.

Mike Salguero: So the more we can empower you to be like, “Oh, I know how to make this.” The better that is. So we want to do that via video, which is going to be pretty cool. And the third one is that we are trying to get a B-corp certification. Which, I don’t know if you know what that means.

Juli Bauer: I don’t.

Mike Salguero: Essentially it’s a certification where they look at environmental impact, impact on workers, impact on social issues. It’s kind of a stamp of approval; like you’d get an organic stamp, but it’s for the company and how the company interacts with its employees and with its customers, and with the world. We’ve been working on that for a while, and it looks like we’re pretty close to actually being able to get that.

Juli Bauer: Very cool.

Mike Salguero: That will be special.

Juli Bauer: That’s awesome. Congratulations. That’s so cool that you’re opening a little store front. That’s sweet.

Mike Salguero: Yeah. We’re going to put a big cow in the window. {laughs}

Juli Bauer: Nice.

Mike Salguero: We’re on the search for a cow.

Juli Bauer: Ok. {laughing} So, I know in every ButcherBox you put recipes in there. And a reader asked if you guys were going to add in more recipes, for especially cuts of meats that aren’t the common ground beef or pork chops. If you’re planning to add more recipes to that. And are there any recipes on your blog at this point, or on your website, that people can find ways to cook meats that they’re like, “I have no idea what to do with this.”

Mike Salguero: Yes. We launched an early version of our recipes, which is ButcherBox.com/recipes. It’s also in the header. And what we’ve found. We’ve done a bunch of interviewing of customers, and we’ve found that people actually don’t use our recipes {laughs}. They look at our recipes to know how not to mess it up. But they don’t actually read the recipe and follow the recipe.

So what we want to do is actually build out more; lean more towards online. Drive people to the website. So if you get a tri-tip roast, and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do with this.” You can go to our tri-tip page, and see some recipes that we’ve created. See some recipes that other people have created. We have links to other websites. And just try to empower the person with as much recipe knowledge as possible.

We also, on that page, will give really quick cooking instructions. Which is what we’ve found most people actually want. Which is like, “Put a grill on medium high and cook for 8 minutes on one side, and flip it over.” That’s kind of what we’ve found most people are looking for with a cut they don’t know what to do with, rather than use this rub and do this, and do this. So we’re in the process of really rethinking the way that we send recipes to people. Try to make it a better program. But the majority of it is going to be online stuff rather than off-line.

Juli Bauer: Yeah. Well I love getting the random pieces of meat, because that’s what I like to do is figure out different ways. But I think people should know they can always turn to Pinterest. Pinterest will give you all the details, if you’re like, “I have a top sirloin steak. I don’t know if this is supposed to be slowly cooked or just a quick sear.” Just go to Pinterest. And there will be new ways to find different recipes all the time.

But I’m on that page right now; on your ButcherBox/recipes, and you can find that on the website. And I love that, you just say. Here is a pork butt, and here are the different ways you can braise it, you can roast it, and just gives you overall cooking instructions. I think that’s really cool.

Mike Salguero: And then if you scroll down, you’ll see a bunch of links to other people’s recipes.

Juli Bauer: Yeah! That’s awesome.

Mike Salguero: Yeah.

Juli Bauer: I love that. Those look really pretty, too. The website is seriously beautiful. You guys have done such a great job with website stuff.

Mike Salguero: Thank you.

Juli Bauer: It’s managed really well. Well thank you so much for being on! Everybody, you can check out ButcherBox.com. I will have a little discount for you, as well. And then you can always go to my website, www.PaleOMG.com. If you just search ButcherBox, I have a post all about it. And kind of different recipes I’ve used with ButcherBox.

Is there anything you want to tell anybody before we leave, Mike?

Mike Salguero: No. So first of all, I was saying before we got on this that it’s such an honor to talk to you. I’ve literally followed your blog for years and years; my wife and I. You were the introduction to paleo for us. So huge honor to actually get to be able to talk to you.

Juli Bauer: Oh! Well we can thank Torrie, because she is the best, and I love working with her. With you. She’s been so amazing on your team.

Mike Salguero: That’s good. I’ll definitely pass that along to her.

Juli Bauer: Alright. Well thank you so much for being on. Remember guys, you can check out ButcherBox and see all of their different cuts that they have, and different offerings, and see any of the specials they have coming up. And then get the special offer with PaleOMG. I will talk to you guys soon. Thank you, again Mike for being on. Just stay on the line as I end this. And I’ll talk to you guys later. Bye-bye for now.

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Oh, Hi! I’m Juli.

I’m a food hoarder. And a really bad dancer. If you don’t know me well, you will probably not understand my humor. Therefore, I apologize ahead of time. Thanks for listening to my ramblings of my ever-changing life and trusting my kitchen mishaps. Your trust in me is appreciated.


18 thoughts on “Mike from ButcherBox – Episode 52: PaleOMG Uncensored Podcast”

  1. I LOVE these podcasts, but I couldn’t get all the way through this one. So much meat. Couldn’t hold my attention. I’d rather hear you answer listener questions and talk about random things in your day-to-day life. Keep kicking butt and making us laugh!

  2. Loved this interview. Thank you both. Great to learn more about companies like Butcher Box who are making healthy, natural food more accessible to people no matter where they live in the US. Would love to see these factory farms go out of business one day as more people become aware of how the animals are treated and how unhealthy the meat is. Must be rewarding for you guys to know you are making a difference.
    Looking forward to more interviews.

  3. I just received my first order of butcher box. It is good but I’m highly disappointed in the customer service!!! I didn’t receive everything I ordered and they haven’t addressed the problem in a week. No one answers you have to leave a message and no return call yet????

    1. Any problems I have had with Butcher Box (which hasn’t been many), I have emailed them and received a response very quickly.

    2. so weird!! i hear really mixed reviews about customer service, but based off what Mike said, it’s something they are really working hard on to improve!

  4. Juli, I love your Podcast! I look forward to it each week. I love the casual, chit-chatty and listener question podcasts, but I also really enjoy the meatier (pun intended!) episodes like this one sprinkled in the mix. I ordered my first Butcher Box while I was listening to the show! Just an FYI, I used the link on this page to order, but nothing came up about a discount/free ribeyes. Hopefully, I didn’t do something wrong! My husband won’t be happy if those ribeyes don’t come in our order LOL

    1. can you tell me what link you’re using because i checked all links, including the one i voiced on the podcast and the ones i linked on the blog, and they all link to the discount with free ribeyes. if you placed your order and the discount didn’t show up, you can always contact butcher box (or I could contact them for you) to make sure you get that discount!

  5. Best podcast yet. So informative…I love how he broke everything down so clearly. Sometimes, people just assume that everyone knows the “why” behind a movement, but that definitely is not the case. (And I do think it is up to the interviewer to ask point blank for an explanation, which I so appreciated, Juli). I’ve been slowly converting and am now a firm believer. I am definitely going to give Butcher Box a try!

    1. thanks so much for the feedback! i thought it was extremely informative, i definitely learned things i never knew before! thanks for leaving a comment, i really appreciate it! and i hope you love your butcher box once you try it out!

  6. Listened to the podcast, enjoyed it and also used your link to order. I ordered the big box and received it today. It only had 17# of meat which with your discount amounts to $13.40/lb. I realize there is a pound range but would hope they would err on the higher side rather than the lower. I also didn’t receive the complimentary ribeyes. I expected a larger variety of meat in the big box but just received more of the same type, e.g. 8 ranch steaks, 6 chicken breasts, 2 pork shoulders… I would have preferred more variety. I haven’t eaten any yet but expect it will be delicious! Nice concept but will not work for me in the long run.

  7. I loved this episode! So much so that I finally ordered my first Butcher Box today. I ordered the mixed box so I can try a variety of their meats. You can tell Mike has a real passion for what he does, what he’s built. Because my first assumption (and why I waited so long to even look up prices on their website) was that they’d be astronomical. I priced the boxes as compared to our local farm where we have ordered meat boxes from and Butcher Box was $12 cheaper. Plus, with your awesome offer, our first box is even cheaper and we get 2 free steaks. I mean, c’mon! Thanks for this podcast. I always love to listen. You make me literally LOL in my cubicle all the time. I’ve enjoyed the interviews speckled throughout your regular episodes. Keep it up, Juli!

    1. That’s AMAZING!! i hope you absolutely love all the meat you get from butcher box. they really are such an awesome company and it’s so true that you can really tell Mike truly cares about what he does! thank you so much for supporting the podcast!

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