Smile Politely

Looking your food in the eye at Triple S Farms

Triple S Farms’ customer appreciation dinner, which took place on Saturday September 12th, may well be exactly what you picture when you imagine taking the plunge into the local eating scene. On a gorgeous late-summer night, guests sat on bales of hay surrounding a long, communal dinner table and tucked in to some of the freshest and most flavorful food possible.

Dinner was brisket, chicken, and pork shoulder (all raised on site), and side dishes including vegetable kabobs, gnocchi, noodles, salad, and homemade pies, all made using local and organic ingredients.

Before dinner, owner Stan Schutte gave tours of the property. That is the part of the event that requires participants to (literally) come face to face with their decision to eat meat, as they see the free-range animals that are destined-someday for their plates.

For those who are used to not thinking about where meat comes from, it is certainly a reality-check to see fur and feathers instead of Styrofoam and shrink wrap. It’s thought-provoking, and in a really great way. Growing up, I always pictured the animals I ate being raised exactly as Stan does on his farm. I now know that most likely wasn’t the case, so it was nice to see that my ideal vision of the pre-dinner life of the animals we eat currently matches up much more closely with reality, at least when the meat comes from Triple S Farms.

The evening also served as a family outing. Even if Stan and company didn’t provide popcorn, hayrides, live music, and marshmallows to roast, the kids would have been more than content climbing bales of hay and petting kitten after poor, beleaguered kitten.

chickensThose who were invited to the event are all members of Triple S Farms’ buying club. They pay a fee to join ($50 for families, $20 for couples, and $15 for singles, which is deducted from the last order placed after canceling a contract) and then agree to buy a certain amount of his products each month ($50 worth for families, $30 for couples, and $25 for singles). Those amounts can be used up fast. Couples, for instance, can pretty much knock out their minimum monthly purchase with two ribeye steaks.

I’ll admit to suffering from a bit of sticker shock as a first-time customer. I had made a study of supermarket meat prices, and making the decision to pay approximately twice as much (more or less, in some cases) was hard. I gave myself permission to use our $50 minimum purchase each month to buy only those items that I thought were worth it because they were that much better than what the grocery store offered.

The problem is, that’s pretty much everything Triple S Farms sells.

I’ll admit, I still buy lunch meat from the grocery store (Stan sells deli ham slices and bologna, but my husband could go through about a pound of each a day), but for the most part being a Triple S Farms customer has completely changed the way our family eats meat. For example, bacon has pretty much replaced the boneless skinless chicken breasts in our diet. Really, that’s not as unhealthy as it sounds. Just the opposite, in my opinion. We use less meat overall than we used to, and when we do eat it, we truly enjoy it.

Triple S Farms’ buying club customers also enjoy a 15% discount on all of their purchases and are privy to sales before the general public is. They can purchase from Stan and company at the farmer’s market in Urbana each Saturday throughout the growing season (as can anyone else), and they meet him once a month at the Lincoln Square Mall parking lot to get their goods the rest of the year.

And, of course, we get invited to the customer appreciation dinner in September. It was a great way to spend a late summer day, and another awesome argument to support local farmers.

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