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How a Retired MLB Player Turned Meat Rancher Is Fighting for Veterans

Adam of E3 Ranch with son Drake walking towards cattle.

For retired MLB player Adam LaRoche, the most satisfying aspects of his career have actually been outside the baseball field. “Baseball was a blast, I couldn’t have dreamed up a better career, but I’m really glad it’s over. It’s got nothing on this,” said LaRoche. The work that LaRoche is referring to is the E3 Foundation, an innovative program that’s just one aspect of his company, E3 Ranch & Co.

On the business side, E3 Ranch & Co. is a sustainable meat company specializing in responsibly-raised cattle free of hormones and antibiotics. Besides shipping beef directly to customers, cuts are also featured in LaRoche’s restaurants, while the trim is turned into high-quality dog treats, utilizing the whole animal and reducing waste. E3 Ranch & Co also has a mission that goes beyond superb meat and restaurants. Ten percent of the revenue generated from E3 Ranch & Co is used to support two missions that have become LaRoche’s passion in life — helping combat veterans and fighting human trafficking.

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Meet the Team

Grilled ribeyes steaks from E3 Ranch on cutting board.

LaRoche spent 12 years in professional baseball, playing for a range of teams including the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, and Chicago White Sox. The idea of raising his own meat was something LaRoche had considered for years. As a father, LaRoche was interested in feeding his family the best high-quality food. However, meat was an issue since most beef available at supermarkets was of low quality and further suffered from confusing labels. Even meat labeled “Natural” was often not as sustainably produced or as healthy as portrayed. Since LaRoche had a ranch in Kansas along with some experience with cattle growing up, LaRoche and his wife decided to try their hand at raising beef. Eventually, word got out among his baseball teammates and LaRoche was soon sending packages of his custom beef all over the country.

As business grew, LaRoche decided to take the next step. Together with a group of partners, he created the E3 Meat Company. All of the cattle raised at E3 are certified Black Angus beef, grass-fed, and grain-finished. All the cuts are then wet-aged for 28 days before being hand trimmed by the E3 Ranch butcher. Cuts are then flash-frozen and delivered anywhere in America. The meat also supplies their restaurant, E3 Chophouse, which has locations in both Steamboat Springs, CO, and Nashville, TN.

How the E3 Foundation is Giving Back

Veterans at the E3 Ranch for the E3 Retreat.

As passionate as LaRoche is about sustainable meat, his mission post-baseball has focused on two main things — giving back to combat veterans and fighting against human trafficking. While playing against the Nationals in D.C. years ago, LaRoche took a trip to Walter Reed Hospital. This was during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the hospital was receiving a constant stream of wounded military personnel. There, he met numerous wounded combat veterans and was impressed by their spirit. “I was always blown away by these young kids — 19, 20 years old, a lot of them really young,” said LaRoche. “The attitudes of these guys, of not feeling sorry for themselves and wanting to go back over there. Almost feeling guilty because their team was still over there. Just the selflessness of a lot of those guys was a real eye-opener for me.”

Following this life-changing experience, LaRoche decided he wanted to give back. What LaRoche decided to do was to host small groups of veterans on his ranch in Kansas. For five or six days, groups of six to 15 veterans would arrive on the ranch and enjoy a variety of activities ranging from hunting, fishing, and shooting competitions to relaxing and drinking beer. There’s no application process for this ranch retreat and so far, the program has spread among the veteran community strictly by word of mouth.

However, this retreat isn’t necessarily a vacation. The whole event is meant to stimulate camaraderie and to rebuild the lost sense of self and purpose often suffered by veterans. For many of the attendees, most of them special operations veterans, leaving the military can create a profound loss of identity. Without the uniform, mission, and camaraderie of other like-minded military peers, some veterans can become aimless. What LaRoche hopes to accomplish at these retreats is to promote an environment where these veterans feel comfortable opening up about the harder, emotional aspects of combat service.

For the human trafficking mission, LaRoche is a professional. Besides running the business and foundation, LaRoche works in law enforcement with Homeland Security and the Bourbon County Sheriff Department in Kansas. The world of countering human trafficking is complex, with countless law enforcement and civilian entities. To help streamline this work, the E3 Foundation acts as a vetting organization. LaRoche only partners with organizations that he has personally worked with on human trafficking operations. Therefore, every donation given to the E3 Foundation to help fight human trafficking goes to projects led by trusted and competent organizations such as the International Justice Mission based in D.C.

How You Can Support

If you’re interested in helping the E3 Foundation, you can choose to donate directly to the foundation’s mission. Recently, LaRoche and E3 have also become involved in the Afghanistan crisis.

Or, you can support the foundation by purchasing their meat products online through their website. Beef cuts vary from classic ribeye and tri-tip steaks to braising cuts like brisket and shank.

Hunter Lu
Hunter Lu is a New York-based food and features writer, NYU graduate, and Iraq veteran. His fiction has appeared in The Line…
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