In a carnivorous world, a butcher is a necessary link in the food chain, carving a carcass of unsavory flesh into mouthwatering cuts. We trace the grisly trade’s evolution–from yesteryear’s butcher-on-every-corner to today’s industrial butcher working on a “disassembly” line. We tour the infamous remains of the Chicago Stockyards, where Upton Sinclair, Clarence Birdseye, and refrigeration changed butchering forever; witness high-speed butchering; and travel to a non-stop sausage factory. And if you’re still squeamish, a USDA inspector offers the lowdown on HACCP–the country’s new system of checks and balances on everything from quality grading to E. coli, Salmonella, and Mad Cow Disease. Finally, we visit the last bastion of old-school butchering–the rural custom butcher, who slaughters, eviscerates, skins, and cuts to his customer’s wishes.