There’s a reason most of America waddles…we eat too many foods grown/raised not as nature intended and too many foods of convenience made with ingredients that sound like the top ten reasons to call out the HazMat team. Seriously now, if it has four or more syllables and you can’t pronounce it on the first try do you really want to put it in your mouth?
Our family is trying to turn back the clock a bit and simplify the ingredient list of what we eat (you did notice that our Margarita recipe only had four ingredients didn’t you?) under the theory that all those preservatives are preserving everything but our health.
We are lucky to live where we do. Every year there is a great Farmer’s Market that runs two days a week and is stocked full of fresh fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products, natural meats and even flowers that are grown/raised regionally. That makes it easier for us to source great tasting, mostly organic, foods. What we can’t find at the Farmer’s Market is usually available at one of the local fruit stands or directly from the producer.
We’ve upped the ante this year and have quite literally put our money where our mouths are. We are part of two CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) co-ops – one for fruits and vegetables and one for raw milk and cheese. That means we paid some money up front for a share of the production and a share of the risk. If it’s a good crop, we get a good supply of food. If the weather wipes out the harvest we get our share of nothing. In an odd way it’s like an old fashioned barn-raising where neighbors help each other to thrive. Small local farmers can’t always take on the challenges of growing natural/organic foods without sharing some of the risk.
In our area we chose to go with Abbondanza Organic Seeds & Produce for our fruits and veggies (we actually sucked it up and made a multi-year commitment to them) and the Windsor Dairy for the milk & cheese. We have been customers of both and were comfortable with their quality and consistency and in the case of the raw milk, their commitment to safety.
Two other vendors we like are Wisdom Poultry and Rockin J Cattle. We don’t have a CSA relationship with them but we like their products. We are especially enamored with Rockin J’s 100% grass-fed beef. We’ve never had better tasting beef! Turns out that not all grass-fed cows are created equal. Some cows, like Rockin J’s, only eat grass (thus 100% grass-fed and finished) and others are grass-fed and then grain-finished to plump them up. None of the four stomachs God gave cows was designed to digest grain so, when they eat bucket upon bucket of corn, it does odd things to them. Forn one, the natural fat found in 100% grass-fed beef morphs from Omega-3 (what you find in fish) to Omega-6 (what you find in your arteries). We think grain-finishing changes the taste of the beef as well, and not in a good way. You’ve got to try beef as it should taste sometime. Heck, if you know us, stop over for dinner some night….we usually eat Rockin’ J beef at least 4 nights a week!
So, how do you get your hands on this really good beef? Since you can’t generally buy 100% grass-fed beef at the grocery store we are rounding up our friends and buying a cow. Fortunately we’ll get it in vacuum packed parcels rather than on the hoof – cleaning up after the dogs is bad enough. We are now eating our way through the current contents of our freezer to make room for our share of Bessie. Buying a whole lot of cow at once makes it rather economical for naturally raised beef – about $4/pound averaged over all the cuts.
So off we go to market to market…just not the one with the fluorescent lights and wobbly-wheeled carts. Not often anyway.
Mark and MaryBeth
PS. If you are interested in learning more about the way our food supply was meant to be, here’s some recommended reading. They will change the fundamental way you think about your relationship with your food!