We researched organic certification for some time and finally came to the following conclusion…
If we set aside the inherent inefficiencies and quality degradation that naturally springs from any sort of government involvement, like exists with “organic,” there remains the fact that labels simply cannot guarantee clean food any more than a PhD makes someone a good doctor. It’s much more important for our customers to know us and us to know our customers.
Trust, honesty, and transparency guarantee that our food is clean, not a government stamp. By building such relationships, all of our farm’s efforts move toward clean food and its promotion.
Our cows eat grass. That is all. We supplement their diet with a custom mineral mix. Electric fencing allows us to daily move our cattle to fresh pasture.
Ditto above. Grass.
Our pigs spend most of their time rooting in the woods. We supplement their diet with a non-GMO feed mix from Hiland Naturals. This feed must also test negative for insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides. And we’re not talking about grains that aren’t sprayed with these poisons. If they’re contaminated by even drift from another farm’s spray, they aren’t used.
When it fits into our rotation, we sometimes let our pigs graze in our pastures with the cows and sheep. Still, we supplement them with Hiland’s pig feed.
We feed our chickens a non-GMO mix from Hiland Naturals exclusively while we brood them the first two to three weeks of life. We then move them onto pasture where, along with their feed, they can eat grass, legumes, and bugs. We control their movement and protect them in chicken tractors (mobile pens), moving their tractors to new pasture daily.
GMOs are genetically modified organisms. For our purposes, we’re talking about grains (most widespread are corn and soybeans) whose DNA has been altered to survive or produce poisons. First generation GMOs were distorted so they could live through applications of pesticides. Now, the grains themselves have been altered to actually produce those poisons. Anything we feed our animals must be completely GMO-free.
We use no antibiotics unless it’s necessary to save the life of an animal. Those that we must treat are not sold to our customers.
Our animals aren’t given hormones in any form.
We use no chemicals on our animals or land unless, as stated above, it’s necessary to save their life. The closest we get is regular applications of compost tea — a microbial brew made with air, water, compost, beer malt, fish meal, mineral salt, humate, kelp, and molasses.
Because small farmers focused on raising and selling exceptional and uncontaminated food products usually do not accept subsidies from the government — subsidies would allow them to keep their prices artificially low.
There’s a great scene in a movie from the 80s called Time Bandits. In it, Robin Hood is handing out stolen treasure to “the poor.” Standing to his left is a fellow with a significant speech impediment. Next to that man is his interpreter. Every time Robin hands a bit of treasure to someone in the receiving line, the big fellow with the speech problem punches them right in the mouth. After three or four of these, Robin turns to the interpreter and asks, “Is that really necessary?” to which the interpreter replies, “Yes, I’m afraid it is.” Robin shrugs and goes back to handing out the treasure.
These subsidies have been punching the American farmer and consumer both in the mouth since they began. They have put so many farms out of business that now they’re no longer part of the census. And consumers? We’re the ones that really got duped, because we’re left eating garbage at 1945 prices and wondering why clean food costs so much, when what we are really facing in clean food are realistic food prices for the first time.
Now a buzzword in the local or clean food movements, the term “grassfed beef” is almost as watered-down as the word “organic.” What’s important is how the animal was finished because a lot of companies claim to sell grassfed beef, but actually pour large amounts of grain into their cattle for a few months before slaughter. It sounds obvious because it is, but in today’s double-speak culture, we must say it — Truly grassfed beef should only ever eat grass, period.