This may come as a surprise to a lot of people who have been in my life for a very short while, but I was a vegetarian for several years.  And while I’m learning to not look at life experiences as either good or bad, but rather as learning opportunities, I can say that a plant based diet was not a good experience for me.  In short (and to avoid a tangent I can expound upon later), this style of eating left me nutrient depleted, hormonally imbalanced, and created a compromised immune system.

The reason I went to a vegetarian diet is because I stumbled into some reading on how factory farmed animals (which current estimates range between 80% and 90% of the US meat supply) were raised, fed, and slaughtered.  And I’ll spare you all the gruesome details, but to translated it into human terms,  imagine having to live in a college dorm room with 15 unhealthy and digestionally compromised line backers while being force fed McDonald’s injected with growth hormones and antibiotics all day every day.  If you haven’t seen the new Chipotle commercial, you can check out their take on this industry.

I am a firm believer that most people need animal proteins to thrive.  But I understand the objection to allowing any living thing to be treated in such a horrible way, much less the living things that will be fueling your life and performance.  But there is hope because there are still plenty of small family farms that understand and embrace the humane and ethical treatment of our food supply (and even a couple of large ones such as Polyface Farms).  The good news is that most family farms are easily accessible through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or a farmer’s market.  About 2 years ago, the Hubby and I decided to change our primary meat source to Triple S Farms.  Triple S is a family farm located in central Illinois, and they sell their meat all across central Illinois (including Collinsville, for all my Metro East peeps).

The best part of being involved in a CSA is that I can source exactly what conditions my meat endures.  And having visited the farm a few weeks ago for Customer Appreciation Day, I can say that their animals look pretty darn content.

Case in point:
Chickens rooting for bugs and plants (their natural diet),

cows with access to pastures and natural grazing,

and piglets with room to run and embrace their inner pigginess.

Triple S also raises heritage breed pigs, specifically the Large Black.  Heritage breed can be traced back to the days before factory farming and human intervened breeding.  They are able to be pastured and therefore are able to derive nutrients from their environment (a quality that most factory farmed pigs no longer possess).  And best of all, these pigs taste better than pigs confined to feedlots.  For more information on these wonderful breeds and opportunities to support the movement to bring these pigs back to the mainstream, check-out Cochann 555 or reference their pamphlet on heritage breed pigs.

I’ve often heard that livestock can be mean or unfriendly, but I’d like to say that I made a couple of friends on my trip to Triple S.  I guess that proves that animals raised in happy, natural conditions  have a better outlook on life.


I recognize that this lifestyle can be perceived as more expensive than  heading to the local grocery store, but a few thoughts on that….
  • It’s all a matter of perspective.  To paraphrase a quote I’ve heard recently, “Pay the Farmer now or pay your Doctor later.”  Eating this way will keep you healthier longer than food which is mass produced.
  • Start small.  Start by buying a couple of cuts of meat from a farmers market or local health food store.  I think once you start to taste the difference, you’ll find it hard to go back.
  • Buy in bulk.  Go in on a half of a cow or a pig and save tons of money.  If you don’t have a deep freezer, you can usually find a decent chest freezer for under $200.
  • Be smart about your cuts of meat.  Hey, I’d love to eat a top sirloin every night,but that’s pricey.  Get more cuts of dark meats and roasts.  They tend to cost less per pound but in my opinion have a superior flavor profile.
  • Make it a priority.  If you’re paying for iPhones, 200+ plus channels on TV, designer handbags, clothes, video games, etc, but telling yourself you don’t have the budget for quality food, you’re probably right.
  • Quit wasting food.  I am personally guilty of this and am making a conscious effort to stop.  I shudder when I think about how many meals I’ve wasted because I got too lazy or too busy to worry about what is in the back of the fridge.  Every week when you’re writing your grocery list, go through your fridge and see what you can re-purpose into a soup, stew, or

Switching our primary food source to a CSA has allowed me to become more connected and appreciative of my food.  Not to mention is all just tastes way better.  To find a local CSA near you, I encourage you to check out  If you can’t find one in your area, there are great online delivery options available such as US Wellness Meats and Pete’s Paleo.

Just curious, do you use a CSA?  If so, what has this food source done for you personally?  Also, give them a shout out in the comments below (remember to link so other people can connect!).  And as always, please use the comments for questions or thoughts!  I enjoy hearing from you!

2 thoughts on “Meet Your Meat (Happy Animals Just Taste Better)”

  1. LOVE this post. A few years ago, I watched the movie “Temple Grandin” (amazing movie and true story; I think you’d really like it after reading this post!) and it totally changed my perception on the meat market and made me more aware of the ethics, or lack there of, in most of the food production world. I’ve been wanting to buy local and ethical meats for a long time, but the task seemed daunting and scared me away, so THANK YOU for this post! -Caroline W.

  2. Caroline-

    I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post and I’m even more glad that this will help you get into locally sourced meat! I really do recommend Triple S. My favorite thing about them is that you can order the exact cuts you want for their monthly delivery.

    And I’ve never even heard of that movie, but I’m definitely going to check it out!

    And I’d love to chat more about this is you have any more thoughts or questions!


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