Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Palmer Durr
A fifth-generation Indiana farmer from Montgomery County, Adam Moody has been a fixture in the Indianapolis community for years, having farmed for more than five decades and, for the last 14 years, running Moody’s Butcher Shop.
“I realized that something’s wrong with this system if the people raising food can’t afford the food they’re raising,” Moody says.
That’s when he decided to take the farm in a different direction, growing his animals, having them processed and selling them directly to consumers.
Moody and his wife, Lucy, started selling at the farmers market in Zionsville and Lafayette in 1997 — the first vendors to bring meat to the venue. In 2000, Moody and his dad purchased the harvesting facility where they had been processing their animals for the farmers market. Moody, eager to learn how to run a retail meat case with perishable products, began schooling himself on business practices. Back then, he had two employees. Now, 17 years later, he owns stores in Avon, Zionsville and Geist and employs 38 people.
The company raises and harvests the animals. They dry age the meat on the beef side. They make their own sausages, smoke their own bacon and set the fresh meat case daily.
“That’s where our uniqueness comes in,” Moody says. “The control we have over the product and the knowledge base that’s there from gate to plate.”
Customers appreciate the story behind the product. They like learning about where the food comes from and how it was made because such knowledge is lacking in today’s world.
“We’ve had this chasm that’s been driven between ‘agri’ and ‘culture’ in our society,” Moody says. “It’s my passion to bring those two back together so people can reconnect with their food supply again.”
Moody refers to his business as a “simple, old-school system” that isn’t layered in depths of distributorship and transfer of lines. The meat is not sitting in warehouses or being hauled across the interstate.
“We’re reverse pioneering the food system by [only engaging] the farmer, the processor and the retail store,” says Moody, who references a study that found that 92 percent of the food Hoosiers eat comes from outside the state. “It’s my passion to lower that number.”
One way Moody aims to do so is by enticing customers with his state-of-the-art smoking facility where he smokes sides of pork bellies, hams, pork loins and six specialty bacons, including three-pepper bacon and sweet bacon.
“We also make killer jerky,” Moody says.
Moody’s Butcher Shop not only sells a selection of beef, pork, chicken and occasionally lamb during holiday seasons, but they also market high-quality Indiana products from artisanal growers that complement their meat offering. These items include condiments from Batch No. 2, spicy pickles from Indiana Pickle Company and yogurt from Traders Point Creamery.
“So, this is an exciting and challenging time for local food purveyors,” says Moody, who shares the time a man came into his store, perused the case and asked why the rib-eyes cost so much.
Moody replied, “I’ll tell you why they’re worth so much.” Then he proceeded to explain how diligently his small team works to create such savory goods. Ultimately, the customer bought four rib-eyes and told Moody that he wasn’t charging enough.
“There’s a big difference between what something costs and what something is worth,” Moody says. “There’s so much more benefit to the community, to the land and to your people with a small, local and regional food system.”
Moody’s Butcher Shop is located in Avon at 235 N. SR 267, in Zionsville at 20 E. Cedar Street, and in Geist at 10106 Brooks School Road.