Sandy Sorensen is not your average pork farmer. In the overcrowded field of meat vendors at the farmer’s market, Sorensen sets herself apart by inventing new, innovative sausages. Examples of her “wacky” products include sriracha honey chicken jerky, Total Eclipse (black, polish sausage with squid ink) and maple chocolate bacon skewers. She is well known at the Carbondale Farmer’s Market as “The Sausage Lady” where she regularly sells out in just two and a half hours. She is committed to treating her pigs with love and respect. They are never confined to a building and have about four acres each to free roam. They are provided a diet of bugs, grub roots, farmers market produce, acorns and nuts and alfalfa mix and hay in the winter.
How did you get into farming?
I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. My dad allowed me to have a horse that we boarded out at a local stable. I showed Hunter Jumpers until I was injured in a fall. I then took to exercising Standardbred Horses. In 1983, I purchased a small farm where I raised Thoroughbred horses, eventually started to train and race them I quit in 1994, because of my dissatisfaction in the inhumane treatment often seen at the track. I began teaching and one of the classes I taught was Environmental Science. In the class we watched a movie called Farm, Inc. I was appalled at the treatment of the animals. The very next day, while driving to work, I was along side of a livestock truck crammed with pigs. I thought what a hypocrite I was. I was supporting the industry I despised by purchasing meat from Walmart. It was condoning the industry I hated. When I got home, I told my husband, we’re getting pigs! He wanted to know what I knew.
What are some of the barriers you’ve faced?
When I first started it was a problem getting into the more established farmer’s markets. I started in smaller markets, who often balked at the price, comparing me to Walmart. In recent times, a barrier is the increase in the numbers of people selling pork, it’s a race to the bottom to see who can sell a cheaper pork chop. I have set myself apart by making and selling artisan sausages. I am called the Sausage Lady and now sell 27 kinds of sausage I make myself in a commercial kitchen. I have even just invented a black sausage, called Total Eclipse, for the great eclipse event in August.
What do you wish people knew about farms and farming?
Well, first it is a very labor intensive job. It can also be very emotional, swings from happy to sad in one day. Also, not all farmers treat their animals the same way, get to know who you are dealing with, visit the farm and see how they interact with the animals.
Follow Sorenson’s Heritage Farm:
Buy from Sorenson’s Heritage Farm:
Benton Farmer’s Market
City Park W. Huddleson
Benton, Illinois, IL 62812
May to October, 3pm-6pm
Buy directly from the farm-
Sorensen’s Heritage Farm
21661 Knob Prairie Rd
Thompsonville, IL 62890