RYE, N.Y. -- Long before Whole Foods and the organic food movement entered into the public consciousness, John Johnston was pioneering the practice of supporting small organic farms from his neighborhood meat market.
"It was difficult back then," said Johnston, a Harrison resident and owner of Crisfields Prime Meats since 1976. "You'd find a supplier and they would be out of business two years later."
Since then, alternatives to industrial meat production have become more popular with American consumers but they still remain a fraction of the industry as a whole.
Johnston doesn't expect every customer who comes into his market to buy organic meat products, which tend to be more expensive, but he said he wants to provide them as an option.
"I'm not a militant environmentalist," said Johnston. "But I believe people have a right to try organic."
Johnston doesn't hide his disdain for supermarkets, which he described as being "notorious for buying based on price," eschewing concerns about ethical farming practices and environmental impact.
Crisfields Prime Meats carries grass-fed beef from upstate New York, Bell & Evans circular-farmed chicken and Niman Ranch humanely-raised pork.
A circular-farmed chicken is fed on organic corn and wheat fertilized with manure produced by the chickens. They are hormone-free, never de-beaked and never caged.
"Real farmers care about their animals," said Johnston.
For Johnston, it's as much about providing the best service for his customers as it is about showing respect for the animals we consume and fostering stewardship of the planets resources.
"The way the animals are treated and raised, the meat is just healthier for you, he said.
What do you think about organic meat? Is it better for you and is it better for the environment?
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