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Ethical Meat in Lake Elsinore: A Q&A with Ashlie Pesic of Da-Le Ranch

Family-owned and operated, Da-Le Ranch is a local leader in sustainable meats.

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We talk to Ashlie Pesic, Farmers’ Daughter of Da-Le Ranch, about ranching, meat, and living both an urban and rural life in San Diego County.

How is Da-Le Ranch unique in the San Diego County region?

San Diego has been the forefront of the farm to table, slow food movement, and our team shares an appreciation for food, culture, and community: creating relationships, connecting the bridge between customer and farmer, and giving people access to local, farm- direct quality products.

Our clientele are our extended family, not just customers.

What’s your most favorite and part of your life on the ranch?

As an adolescent, I resented everything about ranching: the physical labor, responsibility, dedication, seclusion, work hours, social-life sacrifices, etc. Ironically, those aspects of the job are what I value most in my work now (minus the commitment, I'm still a millennial, after all.)

What should we know about wholesome meat in today’s world?

This was a really hard question for me. Some people my age get caught up in the dichotomous debate surrounding ethical and healthful eating—from die-hard raw carnivorism to rapidly trending veganism. I feel somewhere in the middle.

I believe in considering and acknowledging the value of what you consume and in eating with thoughtfulness. What went into that item you’re purchasing? There’s more to it than cost. What about heart & soul? Was it cared for? Were the people involved in the process cared for? I also think about the impact of our food choices. Was it sustainable, ethical, local?

Sure, “organic” and “certified inspectors” sound good, but we have to look beyond the labels.

Our small but mighty (65 acres) ranch puts into practice sustainable farming and natural concepts every day. We make our wholesome, lovingly raised meat products available at farmers markets all over Southern California and at a retail facility in Sorrento Valley.

Describe your professional trajectory. What’s your story?

The universe’s currents have taken me full circle; I started out as a city girl, moved to the country as an adolescent, then moved back to the city as soon as I became a legal adult.

Now I am content with getting back to the rural life. There will be a point in time where I will have to make an ultimate decision (sacrifice), to either be in the city for the business side of operations or to tend the farm and manage the ranch as a whole. Or change paths entirely.

There was a time where I didn’t want anything to do with farming, but once I was on the foodie side of things, I knew this is where I belong. Ultimately my ambition would be to bring three of my favorite things together into one; food, community, and nature. No matter what ends up happening, my passion for quality food will never subside.

What’s the toughest part about what you do, how do you deliver, and why is that important?

The toughest part of my job is forever evolving for me. Currently, it’s taking work with me —everywhere—even if its just in my head. There is no “turning off” what I am responsible for. There might be days where I’m not supposed to have anything planned, but I feel I must always be ready for the unexpected. It can feel easier in the moment to just do everything myself, but I’m learning that there is equal strength and leadership in entrusting my team, delegating responsibilities, and working together.

What’s your motivation in your work?

Acknowledging how far we have come, and manifesting what the future will look like.

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