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The Cruelty Solution on our Phones

Aug 25, 2016 ● By Heather Lalley

Priscilla Reynolds was by her own admission a “mindless meat eater,” but when a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) came to her central Illinois county, a switch flipped in her brain. Experiencing and then understanding the repercussions of its effects on the community, environment and the animals themselves brought her to a new awareness and caused a permanent shift to buying only ethically and humanely raised meat for her family.

       Now vice president of the nonprofit advocacy group Crate Free Illinois (, Reynolds hopes more people will make the switch to clean meat, thanks to the group’s Crate Free Illinois mobile app, listing local farmers that sell meat, dairy and eggs. They plan to add retail stores and restaurants, too. So far, approximately 1,000 people have downloaded the app since its rollout at the end of last year.

       Presently, about 450 farms across Illinois are listed in the app’s database, as well as a few from surrounding states. “People are so ingrained in their diet choices. Too may people are mindlessly purchasing and consuming,” says Reynolds. “I was just a thoughtless consumer; I’d buy whatever was the lowest price, and meat was a central part of every meal.”

       Crate Free Illinois, started in 2014, also wants to raise awareness of what they believe are the dangers of large-scale factory farms that can span thousands of acres and which have developed a reputation for polluting surrounding areas and confining animals in high-density living conditions. “One of the major problems is people who are completely unaware of what happens to food animals,” says Crate Free Illinois founder and President Jessica Chipkin. “People are very disconnected from what happens to the animals.”

Animals raised for food deserve a decent life.

~ Jessica Chipkin, Crate Free Illinois founder and president

       Chipkin, who does not eat meat, calls herself a realist when it comes to getting people to change their dining habits, noting, “Pushing people away from factory farms requires us to embrace meat eaters and encourage them to purchase from local farmers who pasture raise their animals. That’s the only way we’re going to make changes. If we did to dogs and cats what we do to pigs and chickens on factory farms, we’d be charged with animal cruelty. Animals raised for food deserve a decent life.”

       The Crate Free Illinois app came about last summer after Chipkin, who works in marketing and public relations, met with David Jelinek, one of her clients. His company, Creatix (, which designs apps and software, was in search of a nonprofit to partner with. The app filters entries by animal product type from bison to veal, as well as eggs and dairy, and allows users to contact small farmers near them that provide the food.

Crate Free Illinois is always looking for volunteers. Download the app at For more information, visit