Kitchen designer and author Deborah Krasner says butcher block is extremely practical when used in a limited way. It's her top choice for a food preparation counter because it's versatile, it's great for chopping and rolling out dough, and for working with bread. Butcher block is made from "end grain" pieces of hardwood that are glued together. "End grain" butcher block is the best quality. Sometimes you can find "edge wood" – which is not as hard as "end grain" – and it will always be marked as such.

Surprisingly, butcher block is naturally inhospitable and resistant to bacteria. In fact, studies have shown that Salmonella bacteria actually live longer on plastic than on wood.