Black Earth Meats started with a simple mission: take a dying, small town locker plant and focus on organic, grass fed and heritage animals. To accomplish this, we obtained our organic certification, USDA-FSIS Inspection (a daunting task), and our Animal Welfare Approved certification for slaughter. We were one of the first processors in the country to achieve the trifecta, and our markets grew to include Minnesota, Illinois, and shipping across the country.

Along with the improved procedures and animal handling procedures, we trained our staff, providing a living wage and constant cross-training. We believed in our people, and in making the butcher part of the story of farm to table. The butcher is a unique profession, one which requires the taking of life. To focus our butchers on what this meant, we had a sign on the slaughter floor which stated: WE HONOR THESE ANIMALS, FOR BY THEIR DEATH, WE GAIN LIFE.” It was a constant reminder of the weight and responsibility the butchers had in how they treated the animals and went about their jobs.

We also had open access to our slaughter floor. Anyone could come and tour our plant at any time, and we had several video crews document our methods and approach. This is almost unheard of in the industry.

Transparency was, and is, our mandate. 

Unfortunately, with our growth we incurred the wrath of several neighbors who did not like slaughter being near their homes. [The building has been engaged in slaughter since the 1950s]. Although many more of our neighbors, customers, farmers, and business people came to our defense, the Village of Black Earth Board mandated that we cease slaughter. We lost our financing and had to close the doors.

Our mission remains, however. We are focused on our retail operation The Conscious Carnivore in Madison, and hopefully soon in other locations. These are whole-animal butcher shops with highly trained butchers who can work with customers to utilize an animal’s offerings fully. Transparency remains the cornerstone of the operation, and yes, you can still see full animal carcasses and the breakdown at the shop.

We are having to outsource the slaughter, but Bartlett Durand personally visits the processors and works with them to ensure and improve their animal handling. 

We continue to work with our core farmers, bringing you heritage, grass fed and “grandpa’s way” beef, pork, lamb and goat, processed locally in small plants.

Thank you for your interest. For more information about our history and struggles, please visit the links page. There is plenty of information out there.


Thanks to our generous supporters, the donations we received are keeping the bank from foreclosing on us! This is giving us time to piece out equipment at better value and utilize the inventory.Those pieces of equipment that would be junked, but are otherwise valuable, we are transferring to a new company as needed.

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