A longtime vegetarian, Julie Bonney reintroduced meat to her diet last year as the next step toward better health.
The 50-year-old Ashland resident then took steps to ensure the animals she ate were just as healthy.
A hog raised on organic pasture and feed outside Ashland became the pork chops, sausage and bacon in Bonney's freezer. Ten custom-slaughtered chickens joined the pig. More than 40 pounds of salmon purchased in bulk from a farmers market fishmonger rounded out the year's supply of meat.
"I love it; I love knowing I'm putting healthy food in my body," Bonney says. "I love knowing the people who help create great meals for me because of their hard work."
The people are a growing number of small farmers and ranchers committed to humane, sustainable practices — sometimes circumnavigating prohibitive government regulations on slaughtering with on-farm exceptions — to bring a better meat to local customers.
"It's not wanting to participate in the feed-lot model," says Tracy Harding, manager of the Rogue Valley Growers and Crafters Market's Saturday sessions in Ashland.