Green SanctuaryEthical Eating for Omnivores
By Pat Nelson and Bob Swicker

Vegetarianism may be the “greenest” diet, but omnivores can also eat more sustainably. Triple benefits may accrue from considering how we buy our meat.  Buying local (1) helps the environment; (2) is healthier; and (3) offers options that are more humane than the incredibly cruel practices of factory farming.

We are lucky to live in an area where locally produced/raised meat and vegetables are readily available. Farmers markets, People’s Food Co-op, and even some traditional grocery stores offer local meat by-the-piece. In this article we want to highlight CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) options for meat, which can be practical for some of us. Many take bulk orders at this time of year. The website, “” is a good place to start. In the site’s “search” box, enter “grass-fed beef” (or chicken, pork, lamb) or “free range chicken” (geese, turkey).  We’ve checked out several places over the years and have found people who are sincerely trying to make the world a better place by raising animals in ways that ensure their quality of life while also producing healthier food for humans.

An investment in a small stand-alone freezer will pay off within a couple of years, given the general difference in bulk vs. by-the piece prices. For example, Sand Lily Farms charges $4.50 per pound ‘hanging weight’ for a quarter or more beef. You have some options as to cuts, but can expect a lot of hamburger and/or stew meat, but also a rib roast or two, porterhouse steaks and other expensive cuts.  The final cost is about $6.50/lb.  That’s more expensive than the grocery store, but remember the triple benefits above.

A quarter beef lasts us a year; the flavor seems as good to us at the end as at the beginning. If you have questions we might be able to answer, feel free contact us.

Local meat CSAs we can recommend from personal experience

  • Sand Lily Farm in Fennville (packager is in Byron Center) for beef
  • Fair Weather Farm in Grand Junction for chicken
  • Crisp Country Acres in Holland for pork
  • Bearfoot Farm in Paw Paw for various meats


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

—Mahatma Gandhi


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