One of the fascinating Twin Cities community members featured in City Pages' People 2015 issue. Check out our entire People 2015 issue.
If you can't stomach another headline about animal cruelty on a corporate farm, turn your attention to Khati and Andrew French.
Factory farms produce roughly 99 percent of all U.S. meat. The Frenches are the 1 percenters.
Their Living the Dream farm across the St. Croix in Oceola, Wisconsin, specializes in permaculture, the notion that raising animals, vegetables, and perennial crops should be sustainable. They supply duck eggs, pastured poultry and pork, and Highland beef to the Twin Cities.
Most diners don't want to contemplate the pig in their pork chop. The Frenches are all too happy to pull back the curtain. They'll even guide you through your own turkey slaughter for Thanksgiving if you're ready to get intimate with the animal within your meat.
"The most important thing about what we do is transparency," says Andrew. "We're here, you can see our practices, and they're as good as we can possibly do them."
The couple met working at the Seward Co-op. Khati is a reformed vegan who decided eschewing meat wasn't the way to improve farm animal welfare. She wanted to make life for them as good as possible until they met their inevitable fate.
She doesn't believe providing nourishment for another creature is a throwaway life. A farm is the epicenter of the cycle of life, from harnessing the power of soil microbes to sheltering chickens from hawks.
"I never want to stop having reverence for my fellow beings and how they live and die," she says. The couple's passion is spiritual.
In a film shot at the farm, Khati could be seen stroking a turkey's head as if it was a cat, preparing it for death. As she positions the knife at the animal's jugular, she coos soft yet firm: "Thank you beautiful girl. We're very thankful to you."
With one slice, the turkey bucks as it dies. It's startling, she says, but "important to feel that life force leaving. A really important part of what goes on here is that the animals are not scared when they die."
She looks visibly moved as she contemplates the cackling turkeys at her feet, who won't see another Thanksgiving. "I love these birds."