Itty Bits: Eat Better Meat

Posted on April 2nd, 2010 by Tonia 12 Comments

I’m sorry for the lull in posts lately.  Mr. Itty Bitty and I have been busy helping my family make maple syrup for the past few weekends. 

My family has been making syrup for 23 years now, and it is a wonderful activity that brings us together every spring {nothing bonds people like the outdoors, honest hard work, and a sweet treat to reward you in the end.}  I am excited to share the process with you and hope that maybe you’ll give it a try with your family.  You will hear more about all that soon…but first, let’s get on with a new Itty Bits post.

Our last Itty Bits Challenge was to NEVER FORGET TO BRING YOUR REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO TO THE STORE!!  I used all caps so that hopefully you can feel my frustration a little.  Because, the sad fact is, this is the hardest bad habit for me to break.  Why?!?  It seems like such a simple thing to do!  But somehow I am so used to just using the paper/plastic bags at the grocery store, and it is really, really hard for me to remember to bring in my reusable bags.  This is my major eco-sin, and I am confessing it to you all in hopes that embarrassing myself is what it takes for me to finally change my ways. 

Alright!  That felt good!  Moving on! 

Recently, the Mr. and I went out for beer and wings at a local restaurant {yep, we occasionally indulge in the fantasy that we’re still in college}.  It was a delicious, cheap, and satisfying dinner.  Until we noticed something that grossed both of us out beyond the point of return: the chicken wings were SO tender.  They were SO tiny. They SO did not come from any real-life chicken I have ever seen before.

Now, we’re no strangers to the fact that most of the meat served at restaurants come from huge farms/huge factories where the meat is chocked-full of hormones and other wonderful things, and the treatment of animals is complete and utter horse-crap.  It is for this reason that we avoid chain restaurants and usually eat at places that serve meat from local farms.  We kind of pride ourselves in our level of “awareness” on the topic of meat…which is why it was a shock when we realized what we had just eaten, without even thinking twice about it.  How many other awful things are we consuming without a worry in the world?  Shiver.

 So, without further ado, this week’s challenge is to eat better meat.  And if you can’t find good meat {no hormones, grass fed/vegetarian fed, family farm, local, organic, free-range} then eat NO meat. 

This is no simple task, especially for Wisconsin-born-and-bred-brat-loving kids like us.  The Duluth Farmer’s Market is not open for the season yet, and although our grocery store does a fantastic job offering locally grown produce and all kinds of organic goodies, they are slacking in the meat department– they don’t stock anything but Gold n’ Plump {don’t be fooled by the packaging that claims their chickens come from family farms!}  So, I wrote the grocery store the following letter:

Hi Super One,

I am a loyal customer and never shop anywhere else for groceries.  Thank you for doing a great job to stock organic and locally grown produce.  It’s really important to me to support family farms.  Your prices on these types of foods are excellent- far cheaper than Whole Foods for the same brands. 

I just have one bone to pick…You only carry one brand of chicken:  Gold n’ Plump.  I have a problem with this because of how Gold n’ Plump treats the chickens that come to them.  Yes, they might come from family farms in MN, but once they arrive at Gold n’ Plump they are treated terribly.  I am really bummed that I don’t have any other choice but to buy this brand.  I would really appreciate it if you could stock another option in addition to Gold n’ Plump.  There are several excellent local farms that can provide FDA approved meat, all grass-fed and free-range:

Earthwize Natural Meats is a coalition of small-scale family farmers committed to sustainable, environmentally responsible farming and to providing healthy, natural foods for their customers. Beef is available year round in variety packs of 25 to 50 pounds. Pork is seasonal and is sold in variety packs of 30 to 40 pounds. Chicken is seasonal (spring through fall) and is available as whole chickens, which average 5 pounds and are packaged six to a box. All meat is frozen and processed at plants meeting USDA standards.

Earthwize Natural Meats – Mark Thell, 2100 CR 4, Carlton MN  55718 – (218) 384-9350.


Green Pastures Dairy, owned and operated by the Hedquist Family, offers Minnesota Farmstead™ 100% grass-fed, all natural, raw milk cheese. Spring through fall we milk our totally grass-fed cows and use this highly nutritious milk to make our hand-crafted cheeses.  May through September, 100% grass-fed ground beef, and pasture and whey-fed pork. No herbicides, pesticides, or chemical fertilizers are ever used on any of our pastures, and no hormones or antibiotics are used in our herd.

Green Pastures Dairy – The Hedquist Family, 2353 Bromfield Road, Carlton MN 55718 – (218) 384-4513.


Please let me know if buying from these farmers is a possibility.  Thank you so much!


…If you’re in the same boat, please write a similar letter to your local grocery store.  Stores should respond to the needs of their customers, so if enough of us do this, we might make an impact!


Now for some green inspiration from around the internets:

A good friend contemplates minimalism {and mentions Itty Bitty! Thanks Cheri!}

My cousin-in-law bikes across America in search of sustainable communities.

You never had me fooled, Wal-Mart.

Get green, be well.

Partake in a crunchy giveaway.

Have a bunny-friendly Easter.

Is there a Trash-to-Treasure contest going on in your town for Earth Day?  More info here  and here.


  1. […] Itty Bits: Eat Better Meat | Itty Bitty Impact […]

  2. beth says:

    Is gold-n-plump a real brand of chicken? It’s so much what someone in a Quentin Tarantino movie would order at a drive-thru on the way to do something pithy and unforgettable.

    If I were to tell you that I maybe grew some of my own chicken, would you freak out?

  3. Tonia says:

    Yep, it is a real brand, based right here in wholesome MN. And although they DO sell mostly all-natural chicken that was raised on family farms, the chickens are treated terribly once they arrive at the plant to be slaughtered. By the time they are finally killed, they are no longer recognizable as animals. It’s gross and sad and I don’t want to support that company any longer.

  4. Courtney says:

    This is exactly what my husband and I are transforming our diet to. It just makes me so excited that we can be a small part of this change that needs to happen.

  5. Misty says:

    I love your blog! I just awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award and gave you a shout-out on my blog! To see the post, here’s my link…

  6. Tonia says:

    That’s so nice of you, Misty! Thank you so much, and thanks for reading!!

  7. Caitlyn says:

    very great points Tonia!
    I hope when we move into a house we will be able to build a greenhouse. I am already looking forward to our summer garden and to be able to have fresh fruit and vegetables all year round would be amazing and delicious.

  8. Shana says:

    Hi Tonia! I just discovered your blog, and I love love love it!

    I hope you will write many more entries about your experiences with this process. My husband and I are also trying to make our diet more local. We live in Duluth – which we love – but I get very sad in February when the Co-op stops carrying local carrots. Someday when we have a real house with a real yard we hope to have a huge garden – and it’s always good to hear tips from someone else trying to extend the growing season in such a cold climate.

    Also, I grew up in Hawaii, and fruit is probably the thing I miss the most, so this greenhouse-within-a-greenhouse thing has me really excited. I look forward to hearing how the mangoes turn out!

  9. Tonia says:

    Hi Shana! Thanks for reading my blog! It’s great that you guys are trying to eat close to home. There is a new CSA, made up of 12 different farms (meat, fish, veggies and fruit, and dairy) forming over here in northern WI this summer, and they plan on offering their boxes through the Duluth Co-op, so keep your eyes out for that! It’s going to be pretty affordable, too! My husband is helping them put together a logo and some marketing materials to spread the word. It’s going to be called the Lake Superior CSA.

    Growing up in Hawaii and then moving to MN??? Wow!! That is brave!! 😀

  10. Shana says:

    We’ve been thinking about joining a CSA – I’ll have to watch for that one!

    I love snow and autumn leaves, so the move has worked out well. :)

  11. Emily says:

    Where do you find out information on how goldn’ plump treats animals?

  12. Bethani says:

    Thanks for the post!! I too shop at a Super One (northern Minnesota) and was am wondering if you’ve heard back from then and if so, what was their response? Thanks!!

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