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Month: December 2016

Farmers Driving BMWs

Posted in Food for Thought

I was watching a talk by Joel Salatin recently and he brought up this topic. It inspired me to take the subject and expand upon it.

I have a question to ask you.

What would you do if your farmer showed up at the next Farmer’s Market driving a BMW?

Would you be offended?:  “He’s gouging us!”

Would you be annoyed?:  “He’s making as much money as my lawyer.”

Now ask yourself this: Would you be offended if your doctor showed up in a BMW?

Probably not.

Why?

Because you want to know that your doctor is successful. Driving a BMW means that your doctor is successful. Being successful means that he’s smart and knows what he’s doing.

So why are some people against farmers making the same kind of living as their doctor?

What’s the difference between your doctor and your farmer? I would argue that your farmer is the more important one. Your farmers grows the food you eat everyday, your doctor only treats you when you get sick. Get sick after eating unhealthy food. You can live without a doctor, you can’t live without a farmer.

Why should your farmer have to make so much less than your doctor?

For the last 75 years, most of the major crops in the united states have been subsidized. This is because farmers cannot make a living wage selling their products at commodity prices. This has created a public that is used to cheap food. They don’t understand that it costs much more to raise this food than what they’re paying in the grocery store.

Smart & skilled people don’t work for minimum wage.

Farmers should be able to make a decent living. If they can’t, then unskilled people will be the only ones growing our food. We will have to worry about contaminants and heavy metals. E-coli in our spinach. Millions of pounds of contaminated meat being recalled. Not to mention all the food that comes from other countries.

Not all countries have strict laws on quality control of food items. You may remember the scare about arsenic in chinese apple juice. There was mercury in farm raised fish. Lead paints in children’s toys, dog chews, etc. Our government cannot check every container that comes through a port. In fact, they check less than 2%.

Underpaid people don’t care about quality, they have other things to worry about. Like how to feed their own family. They don’t care if your spinach ends up with E-Coli on it. They just collect their meager paycheck and go home.

This is the situation we have with industrial factory farming. The big corporations force everything into a system, then hire the cheapest people they can find to do the jobs. Much like McDonald’s. McDonald’s doesn’t have to pay more than minimum wage, because anyone can do each job.

Americans suffer from what I call the Walmart Mentality. They want everything: cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. And they don’t care about quality anymore. If it breaks, they’ll just buy another one. It’s cheap.

Let’s take a chicken farmer for example. Many of them make less than the average office worker. There are many chicken farmers that may have 20,000, 40,000, or even 60,000 chickens on their farm at a time, but the salary they earn isn’t even enough to quit their day job.

Is it really that important that you can buy 50 chicken nuggets for $15?

Quality Costs More

You may not like that Roto-Rooter charges twice as much as Dave’s Plumbing, but you can be sure that Roto-Rooter won’t put a hole in your pipes or track mud through your living room. That’s the cost of quality.

The same can be said about food. When local farmers charge twice as much as the supermarket, it’s not because we’re trying to gouge our customers. This is how much it really costs to raise high quality meats. It’s very labor intensive to make sure every chicken has fresh clean pasture everyday. It costs more to buy NON-GMO feed by the ton, instead of by the trainload. We don’t want the cheapest feed possible. We want quality feed.

Now I ask you, who should be driving the BMW?

 

10 Reasons to Eat Local Pasture Raised Meats

Posted in Food for Thought

You have a choice. You don’t have to support the industrial farming system anymore. There a plenty of local farms in your state producing pasture raised meat, ethically, while healing the environment instead of destroying it.

1. Pasture Based Farms are More Humane than Factory Farms

Conventional chickens and pigs live their entire life in a crowded building, stressed and desperate for fresh air. Even organic. Factory farms cut Chickens’ beaks off to reduce cannibalism in the crowded stressful environment. The same goes for pigs. A farmer will cut a pigs’ tail off to keep the others from chewing on them.

Even beef is not immune to the influence of the factory farm. Even though most cows spend a good portion of their early lives in the pasture, most are finished out in feedlots where they are forced to stand knee deep in manure. Feedlots feed the cheapest grains available mixed with various wastes from brewhouses, industrial food processors and even waste from slaughter facilities. So much for cows being herbivores.

This is not the case at pasture based farms. All animals live outside in the sunshine and fresh air. There is no need to feed animals antibiotics because they are not forced to live their lives wallowing in their own waste. Their beaks and tails can be left intact with no fear of fighting or cannibalism. This is accomplished by giving the animals plenty of room to move around.

Cows are kept in the pasture right up till the butcher date. As are chickens and pigs. This is where they want to be. All animals love grass, they also love sunshine. They get plenty of both on pasture based farms.

2. Pasture Raised Meats are Healthier than Conventional Meat

Animals were never meant to eat the same thing every day. Chickens are supposed to eat bugs, grass, and whatever it can scavenge. Pigs are meant to root in the dirt. Cows are meant to roam and eat grass. Many different varieties.

All of these things help pasture raised animals to have more nutrients and vitamins in their meat.

Wild animals don’t need antibiotics and synthetic vitamin supplements to survive. Why should livestock?

The only reason antibiotics are necessary is because conventional animals are raised in cramped conditions without moving. When animals are forced to live their life on top of manure that’s been there for days or weeks, can you expect anything other than disease?  Confined feeding operations are a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of disease and parasites.

Pasture raised animals can fight off disease just fine on their own. Their immune systems haven’t been torn down by constant antibiotics. Most of the antibiotics given to conventional livestock is given to animals that are not even sick.

All animals, including humans, have natural beneficial bacteria in their gut to help digest food. Antibiotics are designed to destroy all bacteria, including beneficial bacteria. This leads to animals that cannot digest their food properly. They can’t extract as many nutrients from it. Not that there is much to start with in the cheap grains they are fed.

Grass is very high in vitamins and other nutrients. When animals are allowed to graze on pasture, they are acquiring many times more nutrients than a conventional animal who may never see a blade of grass in their life.

Pasture raised eggs are a good example, they have: 1/3 less cholesterol, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, and over 4 times as much vitamin D as the eggs you find in the supermarket. All because we put them out on a pasture. The chickens do the rest.

Pasture raised Chicken has twice as many omega 3’s, 50% more vitamin A, 20% less fat, and 30% less saturated fat than conventionally raised chickens.

Grass fed beef can have as much as six times the Omega 3 fatty acid and up to four times the vitamin E than feedlot beef. Grass fed beef also has less fat, and the fat it does have is good for you. Unlike the fat from feedlot beef.

3. Pasture Raised Meat Tastes Better

It’s hard to quantify better taste. You just know it when you taste it. When animals are allowed to move and eat foods that are natural for them, they develop deeper, richer-tasting meat. Meat that doesn’t need a bunch of seasonings, marinades, or chemicals to taste good.

Years ago, before I got into pastured poultry. I came up with a recipe for chicken soup that had 11 ingredients. One of which was, chicken broth because store bought chicken doesn’t have enough flavor by itself. The chicken soup I make with pasture raised chicken only needs 5 ingredients, plus whatever vegetables you want.

If for no other reason, do it for your taste buds.

4. You get More Value from Pasture Raised Meat

I’ve had several customers tell me that our chicken doesn’t shrink up in the frying pan like supermarket chicken does. There is a simple reason for this. Exercise. Our animals get exercise. Exercise builds muscle better than hormones. It builds denser muscle. Conventional meat from the grocery store is less dense that pasture raised meat. This spongy meat soaks up more water. This water comes out in the cooking process.

Pasture raised meat therefore loses less water during cooking. You get more of what you paid for. Water displacement test have been done that prove that one pound of pasture raised meat displaces less water than one pound of factory farm meat. But you can do your own test. Simply fry up some pasture raised chicken along with some supermarket chicken. See which one give you more value.

5. You Can See Where Your Food Comes From

Most conventional farms have No Trespassing signs at their gates. Not the case with your local farmer. They welcome your visit. Customers are encouraged to come see how their food is raised.

If a farmer is afraid to let you visit, you should be concerned about what he’s hiding.

Is he afraid to let you see what conditions his animals live in? This is definitely the case for concentrated animal feeding operations. If you saw how these animals were living, you’d never buy one again.

This may also be the case for a few local farms. Some farmers get lazy and don’t give their animals the attention they need. Allowing customers onto the farm is a great incentive to treat your animals with the respect they deserve.

Is he afraid you will make his animals sick? If that’s the case, then his animals are probably not very healthy to start with. Our animals don’t drop dead after a customer comes to visit. You don’t want to buy any animals that need to be quarantined their entire life.

Does he just not want to be bothered? If that’s the case, then he should go back to selling his animals to the feedlots and at the auction for the lowest possible price. If he wants to make a decent profit off his animals then he has to deal with people.

You can only know your meat is clean and healthy if you see where it came from.

6. Pasture Raised Animals Don’t Do Drugs

Pasture raised animals aren’t fed hormones. The farmers don’t mind their animals taking a little longer to mature. The meat tastes better, and the animals stay healthier when they don’t grow too fast.

Pasture raised animals are not fed antibiotics because they don’t need them. They live in a clean environment with fresh air and the sunshine to naturally sterilize everything. They’re not living in yesterday’s poop, where most of the disease lives.

Pasture raised animals are not breeding superbugs like their CAFO counterparts. Bacteria reproduce exponentially. They can form millions of cells in as little as a few hours. That’s a lot of chances for them to form mutations that help them survive the harsh antibiotics that are meant to kill them.

The old weak bacteria are killed off by the antibiotics, leaving only the new stronger bacteria that are immune to the antibiotics. These bacteria continue to thrive and form new mutations that make them even more dangerous. It’s survival of the fittest. And the fittest are the most dangerous.

7. Pasture Raised Meat is Cleaner Meat

Conventional Slaughter is not as Clean as You Think. Most industrial slaughterhouses use mechanical evisceration. During this process 95% of the time the intestines and stomach burst and contaminate the meat. This is considered acceptable because the industry uses chlorine baths and irradiation to sterilize the meat. Never mind that the meat has poop on it, it’s sterile.

Many states allow up to 10% fecal matter in the cooling vat. Not the kind of marinade you had in mind? Don’t forget the chlorine, that’s tasty too.

Pasture raised chicken is butchered by hand. This keeps the intestines intact so the meat stays cleaner. The meat is also carefully rinsed before going into the cooling baths. This keeps the water clean.

Pasture raised poultry is processed in small facilities. They might butcher 600 chickens in a day. Then they clean up. Conventional giant processing facilities operate around the clock and  process as many as 140 birds a minute. In five minutes they butcher more chickens that a pastured poultry facility does in a whole day. That many birds create a huge mess. It’s impossible to keep these facilities clean. Hence the chlorine and irradiation.

Beef and pork processors have much the same problem. Beef slaughterhouses process up to 400 beef an hour. Pork slaughterhouses process up to 1000 hogs an hour. These animals are much bigger than a chicken. Most of them are covered in feces, but are not washed prior to slaughtering. The contamination is inevitable. But again, chemicals and irradiation will make everything okay.

Local meat processors slaughter less than 100 beef or hogs in a day. Then they clean up. Most of these processors are too small to butcher more than one day a week. The rest of the week is devoted to cutting those animals up. Plenty of time to keep stuff clean.

8. Pasture Based Farms are Environmentally Friendly

Factory farms have a problem. A manure problem. Raising thousands of animals at a time means lots of manure. To make matters worse, this manure is contaminated with antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals. It is toxic and has to go through extra processes to dispose of it.

On pastured farms, manure is not a curse, it’s a blessing. Chicken manure is spread thinly across fields by means of daily moves. A similar process is followed with pigs raised in the woods and cows on the pasture. Never is manure allowed to build up to the point of becoming toxic. The only pile of manure you’ll find is the compost pile. Instead of polluting the environment, the manure feeds the pasture.

In addition, buying locally means that your meat and produce are not trucked thousands of miles before getting to you. That’s a lot of pollution saved.

Pasture raised cows, when managed properly, can help sequester carbon from the atmosphere. When a cow eats a stalk of grass, the plant has to restart its growth cycle. You probably learned back in elementary school that plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. They consume much more carbon dioxide  when growing. Once a grass plant reaches full growth, it goes dormant. Waiting patiently for an animal to come along and eat it, restarting the process over again, and sequestering more carbon.

9. Buying from Local Farmers Keeps the Money in the Local Economy

When you buy from a multinational company your money flies off to some distant city, never to be seen again. When you buy from a local farmer, it stays in the local economy much longer.

Food in the store has multiple markups on it. First there is the farmer who grew the food, then he sells it, usually on the commodity market, to an aggregator. The aggregator sells the food to a processor who turns it into a product. The processor then sells the product to a wholesaler. The wholesaler sells the product to a store who finally sells it to you.

That’s a lot of different people making money off one product. Most of them don’t live nearby.

When a major chicken company contracts with a farmer to raise their chickens, the farmer ends up making relatively little. It’s not uncommon for a conventional chicken farmer to have a job in the city to help pay the bills.

10. More Farms Means More Jobs

The industrial farming sector is obsessed with efficiency. “Look how many chickens one farmer can raise at a time”. “Look how many pigs we can slaughter in a day.”

The problem with these super efficient models is that no one can catch every problem. When a farmer has 40,000 chickens on their farm, they can’t possibly know how many are sick, how many are dying. They can only count the dead ones they find. The only preventative measures they have are medications.

When you scale down to a local pasture based farm. It is much more labor intensive. But I would consider that a good thing. When a farmer has only 1,000 birds at a time, he can take the time to look at every bird. He can take any sick birds and nurse them back to health.

In this economy, we could use some more jobs. So please, support your local farmer. That’s one more person that can support himself and his family. Isn’t that what we all want?