Today Kaiden and I went on our first farm tour!
About 2 months ago one of my Facebook contacts posted an article on the importance and health benefits of eating pastured meat. At the time I briefly looked at the article and quickly decided that it seemed a little extreme. I figured that all was good as I was purchasing only free range eggs and our meat came from a local butcher. Eventually I started to learn more about pastured meat and learned that cows should eat grass and that both pigs and chickens were actually omnivores who enjoy their bugs, worms, etc. I phoned up my butcher convinced I was going to hear the answers I expected but that was not the case. Ends up the cows that I thought were happy and spending their time outside in the sun frolicking were actually from feedlots and fed grain. My chickens and pigs weren’t pastured either and were fed only vegetarian diets.
Now came the task of finding local sources of pastured meat. I was convinced that this was going to be hard and that it might not even be possible. How wrong I was! I went to www.eatwild.com and was able to find local farms within 5 minutes. I quickly contacted two of them to enquire about tours.
Our first tour today was at North Valley Farms (http://www.northvalleyfarm.ca). All their cattle are pastured, fed grass and are not finished with grains. This sounded great, but I knew that it was important to check out the farm first had which is about 45 minutes from us. When I arrived I was quickly greeted by Lori, her daughter and a bunch of happy chickens. Lori gave me a tour of their entire farm, I got to meet their egg chickens, food chickens and the new batch of chickens. All live outside in pasture with mobile coops that they move to ensure that they get access to fresh pasture. Kaiden thought that they were interesting although I’m pretty sure he was annoyed with how sunny of a day it was.
Then it was off to find the cows. They have access to an open barn for shelter if they choose and have tons of grass to eat. But I couldn’t see a single cow, so off we went to the back of the property where there is a wooded area. As we approached I was able to see all the cows chilling in the shade in the woods, these were definitely not feedlot cows! As we got closer they all got up and came over to visit and Lori gave me a rundown of all the different breeds. It’s neat that in a month and a half one of the cows we met will be in our freezer!
I have to say I was impressed, it was everything I was looking for in a local farm. I happily ordered my 1/8th of a cow and left with a couple dozen eggs! Lori was great and told me to email her if I want any recipe ideas for some of the different cuts of beef. I am excited to get our order in November, I just wish it was sooner.
The benefits of grass fed include a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids, lower fat, more vitamin E & C. For a quick overview see http://www.eatwild.com/basics.html.