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Posted on Tue, May 24, 2011 : 7:48 a.m.

12 local places to get meat that has been raised ethically

By Kim Bayer


Sheep at Old Pine Farm in Manchester, MI

Contributor | Kim Bayer

In Pablo Picasso's painting called "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon," the viewer looks in on a scene of five prostitutes framed by a red curtain. The women make direct eye contact, drawing you, as viewer, into a relationship that makes you at best a voyeur, at worst a john or a pimp. It's a sly and masterful commentary. And a reminder that even the simple act of observing creates who we are in the world.

The experience of Les Demoiselles is shocking because the viewer participates in the implied relationship without awareness or consent. Just by looking the viewer becomes complicit.

I think about this unwitting participation in an uncomfortable relationship in regard to meat. At one level, I'm just having dinner. But by eating meat, I become complicit with everything that happened to grow, feed, house, slaughter and cut up a living creature.

With meat from most grocery stores, I am sure that I don't want to know what happened to it before it got to me — the life of imprisonment and the frightening end to what is usually a wretched existence.

I'm not sure I'll always be an omnivore, but right now I still love bacon. And roast chicken. And steaks on the grill. So I've been trying to learn about how the whole meat system works and whether there are options, outside the factory farm model, that I can purchase without feeling like I have to shut my brain off before I can take a bite.

It turns out there is the one main category of meat production, but also a tiny sub-category in addition. Obviously the majority of animals raised for meat are put through the large batch continuous-run processors of "animal units" with full-time on-site USDA inspectors. The output of USDA inspected plants is the only meat that can legally be sold in grocery stores. And according to the Farm Animal Rights Movement, approximately 10 billion land animals are killed every year for food in the United States alone. That's for about 300 million people.

Of Michigan's 68 meat processing plants, only three are listed as USDA inspected for slaughter and processing. That means a Michigan farmer who wants his meat sold in grocery stores needs to truck their animals likely several hours to a USDA plant.

But outside of this large-scale system there is also, still, remarkably, a patchwork of small state-inspected and "custom-exempt" processors who can sell directly to consumers and process meat for small farms. They must comply with regulations based on type of animal, how many animals, and whether their risk category is high, medium or low.

From what I understand from interviewing farmers, the decision about which processors to work with is usually based on their cleanliness, willingness to openly show the process, butchering skill and packaging capability and location.

The system of small producers and processors is one that I'm interested in understanding, because it's where I believe I can get meat from animals that led healthy lives and were slaughtered humanely; whose employees have a better chance of being paid a living wage for work in safe conditions; and whose animals were raised on farms that did not create biohazards with sewage lagoons polluting the watershed.


Shelly - a Scottish Highlander at Old Pine Farm

Contributor | Kim Bayer

Paying what it really costs to produce this meat is not cheap. But I agree with ranch owner Nicolette Hahn Niman, who says “To really improve the way food is being produced and the way people are eating in this country people should eat less meat, but eat better meat. All food from animals — meat, dairy, fish, eggs — should be treated as something special.”

We pay about $15 per week for the meat from our Old Pine Farm meat CSA. I know that it's from animals who had space to roam in an actual pasture, who ate grass and organic feed, and who were slaughtered without fear and without being trucked for hours. I also know and respect Kris Hirth, and her commitment to her principles in regards to her animals. We don't eat meat every night, and it's something special when we do.

The meat is leaner than what I could buy in a grocery store, and more flavorful. I get different cuts every time, and I have to think a bit differently about how to cook it so we don't end up with shoe leather for dinner. In general that means either cooking it less, or cooking it low and slow.

These changes have been worthwhile. I know I don't like the feeling of being duped into participating in a system of food production that Ruth Ozeki called the largest death-dealing machine ever created, in her book "My Year of Meats."


Chicken doing chicken things - pecking in the dust.

Contributor | Kim Bayer

So, I appreciate it when we do have meat. To test my ability to be aware of what I'm eating, I think I might need to try slaughtering a chicken this year. If I'm willing to rub a bird with olive oil and herbs and roast it in the oven, it seems like I should be willing to see the entire process through.

And I've been working on compiling a list of options for getting our meat outside that industrial death-dealing machine. I've got over a dozen so far in our area.

Back Forty Acres - Meat, all kinds
Proprietors: Kevin and DeAnn Doll and Larry and Stephanie Doll


Dawn Farm - Turkey
Facilities coordinator: Ted Thiry 

Phone: 734-485-8725

Ernst Farm - Chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and lamb
Proprietors: Joan and Alvin Ernst
Phone: 734-662-8085
Website: N/A

Firesign Farm - Chicken, beef, lamb, pork
Proprietor: Ruth Ehman

Website: N/A

Hannewald - Lamb
Proprietors: Rex and Judi Hannewald

Website: N/A

Harnois Farm - Chicken, turkey
Proprietor: John Harnois



Needle Lane Farm - Beef
Proprietor: Beverly Ruesink



Old Pine Farm Meat (and Poultry) CSA - Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, buffalo
Proprietor: Kris Hirth


Our Family Farm - Chicken, pork
Proprietors: John and Lois Hochstetler


Steinhauser Farm - Beef
Proprietor: Dave and Susette Steinhauser

Two Creeks Organics - Chicken CSA
Proprietors: Mark and Amie Sanford

VanNatter Farms - Chicken
Proprietors: Aric and Kirk VanNatter

Website: N/A

Farms outside of Washtenaw County, but still nearby:

Parmanian Acres - Mulefoot pork
Proprietor: Mark Sponsler

Website: N/A

Ambry Farms - Lamb
Proprietors: Amber Hoover-Smith, Bryan Houttekier
Phone: 517-403-1424
Website: N/A

Black Oak Farms - Pork
Proprietor: Chuck Cornillie

Website: N/A

Pregitzer Farm - Beef, chicken
Proprietors: Wade and Shannon Pregitzer



Kim Bayer is a freelance writer and culinary researcher. Email her at kimbayer at gmail dot com.


free form

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 11:08 p.m.

I guess I don't understand why anyone thinks buying meat that is both healthier for us to consume and has less negative impact on the earth is a bad thing.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 8:02 p.m.

The problem with buying a whole, half or quarter animal, as necessary from some producers, is that the cook is faced with cooking unfamiliar cuts, or even unwanted ones. One can buy single cuts from some of the producers listed, either at the Farmers' Market or Lunasa, but they will be frozen and packaged in plastic and there is generally little opportunity to choose the individual piece. (But I have bought meat from local producers, both ways.) I'm grateful to Arbor Farms for offering the alternative of fresh local meat that one can choose from a display case. They have several suppliers, but much of the beef and lamb comes from Lamb Farm in Manchester <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. I have found their meat to be wholesome in appearance and quite palatable and this allows me to choose &quot;what's for dinner tonight&quot;.


Wed, May 25, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

Agreed, two thumbs up for Arbor Farms. They also sell pork products from black oak farms. Seriously the best brats and bacon you've ever had - infinitely better than the GMO, non-organic, tortured life factory farm stuff that you find at Kroger. But why stop at meat? You can get natural, local maple syrup, local corn chips, local CHEESE! and so much more at Arbor Farms. The produce is the only sore spot, but that's what the farmer's market is for anyway.

Kay L

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

Interesting. However, if none of us were creative cooks then there sure would be a lot of waste of an animal. I've purchased a quarter cow before and always got to put in butcher orders for how I wanted it cut. We can't all eat porterhouses and bacon....or maybe with the grocery store model (and industrialized meat production), we can.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

The author's concern(?) for animals is laudable. Likewise, it would be laudable if would post a warning of the inane drivel that permeates this article. It would save many of the simpletons among us from the urge to kill ourselves after inadvertently stumbling into and reading such overblown tripe.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 5 p.m.

I know that it's from animals who had space to roam in an actual pasture, who ate grass and organic feed, and who were slaughtered without fear and without being trucked for hours. I also know and respect Kris Hirth, and her commitment to her principles in regards to her animals. We don't eat meat every night, and it's something special when we do. Besides the massive amount of fecal waste created by and water used in animal farming, the trucking and end at a horrific, unsanitary slaughterhouse which is *also* how most &quot;ethical&quot; animals are turned into meat (thank you, Kris Hirth, for doing something different in that respect) is the yuckiest part. Please, ethical farmers, publicize it if you DO NOT send your animals to the same slaughterhouses that factory farms use.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.

The first paragraph was a quote from the above article, please pardon the lack of quotation marks. I would edit this in if I could.

Will Warner

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

Excellent writing, Kim. Your opening paragraphs are very good. I only wish quibble with the paragraph that follows them: "With meat from most grocery stores, I am sure that I don't want to know what happened to it before it got to me — the life of imprisonment and the frightening end to what is usually a wretched existence." My reaction is to quote from the introduction of "Covenant of the Wild: Why animals chose domestication" by Stephen Budiansky: "Ignorant of the realities or nature, we imagine a paradise where all is well but for the cruelties inflicted by man…" "Farmers [understand], even in their little tame corner of the natural world that nature is a force larger than themselves, with its own rhythms, its own purpose, its own sense of morality that makes a mockery of man's…" "[There can be] a galling naiveté in those, far removed from nature, who see in farming the 'exploitation' of animals -- I don't demand that those who would dictate to farmers how to treat their animals lie on a cold barn floor with their hand up a ewe's uterus to save the life of the ewe and the lamb; I don't demand that they see a goose beheaded by an owl; I merely note that they haven't." I eat locally produced meat, "hand-crafted" meat, if you will, because I can afford to. But I doubt that the world's people can be fed without industrialized farming.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.

Douglas Adams had it right, we should breed cows to be ok with being eaten. That would be the most humane. &quot;The quadruped Dish of the Day is an Ameglian Major Cow, a ruminant specifically bred to not only have the desire to be eaten, but to be capable of saying so quite clearly and distinctly. When asked if he would like to see the Dish of the Day, Zaphod replies, &quot;We'll meet the meat.&quot; The Major Cow's quite vocal and emphatic desire to be consumed by Milliways' patrons is the most revolting thing that Arthur Dent has ever heard, and the Dish is nonplussed by a queasy Arthur's subsequent order of a green salad, since it knows &quot;many vegetables that are very clear&quot; on the point of not wanting to be eaten — which was part of the reason for the creation of the Ameglian Major Cow in the first place. After Zaphod orders four rare steaks, the Dish announces that it is nipping off to the kitchen to shoot itself. Though it states, &quot;I'll be very humane,&quot; this does not comfort Arthur at all.&quot;


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

This might actually happen with lab raised meat. Clever quote :) (you've reminded me that I've put off reading Douglas Adams for too long, thanks)


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 4:44 p.m.

I agree with belboz, and I agree with eliminating government subsidies. Also, I can't imagine eating &quot;Shelly,&quot; although someone probably went ahead with that already!


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

&quot;Ethical&quot; in this context generally also means correctly raised: pasture fed as much as possible instead of grain fed, not crammed into pens and thus not nearly as prone to disease, much healthier fatty acid profile in the meat, etc. You are what your food eats. There are practical reasons to buy from competent local farmers in addition to warm-and-fuzzy ones. Also, for food security reasons it makes sense to mostly buy local and organic. Dependence on multi-state supply chains is risky. In the event of fuel and/or synthetic fertilizer inflation and/or shortages, disruption to supply chains (pandemics, terrorism, transportation strikes), etc, relatively self-sufficient organic local farms will be a really good thing to have. And it's better food.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

We also offer local, ethically raised beef for sale. We are family owned and operated out of Dexter Township. Check us out on the web! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 8:41 p.m.

Cool, I hope they update the story to include you. You might also want to check out the Real Time Farms website, it could be good free advertising for you: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Home Cow

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 2:03 p.m.

Bringing people back to the farm to purchase their food is a wonderful endeavor. The list you provide is a great start to finding local sources. We've been purchasing our meat from a couple of farmers we found on home grown cow. We grilled grass fed Kobe beef burgers last weekend, and didn't have to break the bank to do it either!


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 5:28 p.m. PETA will come in accusing those of being accessories to murder...yep...that's what all of us meat eaters are...just those that eat ethically raised animals know the butcher on a first name basis. Did you get Kobe beef locally? Last I knew Kobe was in Japan.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

Seriously? I think it is actually worse for a person to sit down at a meal and say &quot;Well, this Cow lived a good life. Now lets EAT!!!&quot; If you are going to eat meat, which yes, I do, then there is no purpose in trying to hide behind eating an animal that lived an Ethical Life. Ethics probably went out the window when you decided to KILL it so you could eat it.


Thu, May 26, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

It's worse for someone to care whether an animal faces inhumane treatment during its life than to not care? Did I read that right?


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

normal, happy life? in what context? painfree I assume...I love venison and have hunted for many years before I got I guess I was ahead of the curve here...I know my deer taken lived a &quot;normal, happy&quot; life...I can only assume, except during rut where one buck will fight to the death with another, or the doe that stomps on her fawn when food is scarce...


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

The point is to avoid inhumane treatment during their lives. If they are going to end up as food anyway, is it better for the animal to lead a &quot;normal&quot;, happy life or to be confined and basically tortured? With your reasoning, we are all going to die someday, so why bother trying to live our lives?


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

Raised ethically? Tax meat? Where do these people come from?

Will Warner

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

@free from: &quot;Actually, it is only in the land of lollipops and sugar drops (AKA The USA) that people believe it is our god given right to eat inexpensive meat in huge portions at every meal.&quot; It falls under the right to pursue happiness. We don't get to dictate others' diets. If I can find someone to sell me inexpensive meat, you're going to have to butt out.

free form

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

&quot;Only in the land of lollipops and sugar drops (AKA Ann Arbor / San Francisco) is food thought of as a &quot;luxury good&quot;. WOW is all I can say.&quot; Actually, it is only in the land of lollipops and sugar drops (AKA The USA) that people believe it is our god given right to eat inexpensive meat in huge portions at every meal. Meat is scare and a LUXURY in many places across the planet. It's really scary to me that so many here can't see that...


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

Actually Rork Kuick raised the tax notion, I agree with him, but would be happy just to see the subsidies pulled. Some people seem to think cheap sirloin and hot wings by the bucket are some kind of right. JSA, you seem to have a very narrow definition of &quot;ethically.&quot; I think raising livestock ethically means not polluting groundwater and streams with leaking waste &quot;lagoons&quot; and aggressive manure spreading regimes, it means not over-grazing land, especially land you don't own, it means not feeding your livestock antibiotics they don't need (and which promotes drug resistant strains of bacteria). Are these things not part of ethics?


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

Tom, Epengar did raise the issue of taxing meat. I do not claim that the article did. I grasp the concept of rasing food animals humanely that the definition of that may need definition. But ethically? Don't make me laugh.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

JSA, American Family just went on a rant about &quot;TAXING EVERYTHING OMG&quot; when taxes were not even brought up in the article. It made absolutely no sense.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Nobody proposed taxing meat except one person in the comment section. Obviously that's not the point of the article. I really don't understand your flippant remark about raising animals ethically. Are you against the ethical treatment of animals on principle? My question is where do those people come from?


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

Epengar, American Family said it well. I read the article but that does not mean the article makes any sense. It reminds me of those stupid adds about happy cows from California. To be accurate there are 5 facilities in Michigan. If I remember correctly USDA is required for interstate shipments, not intrastate. Michigan also inspects slaugherhouses for intrastate shiupment

American Family

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

I agree with you JSA. Only in the land of lollipops and sugar drops (AKA Ann Arbor / San Francisco) is food thought of as a &quot;luxury good&quot;. WOW is all I can say. Maybe the people that want to tax "living" can move to Europe, and live in total happiness with the TAX EVERYTHING people :)


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

Did you even bother to read the article? Do you understand what raised ethically means? I don't think so. Also, why not tax meat, we tax all kinds of luxury goods.

Rork Kuick

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

I care mostly about the pollution and alteration of the landscape, not the &quot;death-dealing machine&quot; rant. I propose we tax meat. It would reduce consumption, and be better for the environment. It would let the costs of the environmental damage be reflected in the price, and gets the job done better than voluntary do-gooding by a few individuals. (I eat domestic animals, just not very many.)

Atticus F.

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 9:26 p.m.

People have been eating meat for 1000s of years. In what way is the waste an animal produces in its lifetime any different from what it was 1000 years ago? Also, taxing protein (in any form) is so egregious, it's like something out of a 1941 police state nightmare... I cant believe any sane person could look themselves in the mirror after suggesting it.

Rork Kuick

Wed, May 25, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

Maybe you have a point. We should be free to pollute air and water at no cost and at whatever level we wish and let others pay for the cleanup or suffer the damages - it's part of the very foundation of our great country.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Tue, May 24, 2011 : 3:20 p.m.

&quot;I propose we tax meat. It would reduce consumption&quot; Controlling the citizens is not the purpose of taxes. At least it wasn't when the country was founded. Good Night and Good Grief.


Tue, May 24, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

I'd settle for just eliminating the government subsidies that keep the price artificially low. We should stop subsidizing corn (used for animal feed) and enforce grazing limits that prevent damage to publicly-owned rangeland. Some grazing is fine, better than nonea, as the land had wild grazers on it once and the plants evolved with that. But too often there are too many animals on public lands (private lands too, but that's a different problem).