By Andrew Gunther
| August 29, 2009
A recent study by Kansas State University concluded that in terms of presence of E. coli O157:H7, there was no difference between “organic,” “naturally-raised” and conventionally raised beef. Feedlots provide all of the conventionally raised beef and the vast majority of organic and naturally-raised beef. Only a small percentage of organic beef is grassfed and finished on pasture.
The study reported that feces from 14% of the organic and naturally-raised cattle contained the pathogenic strain of E. coli, and that this number was comparable to conventional systems. What the study did NOT include were samples from cattle that were pasture-finished or grassfed, surprisingly, not a requirement of either organic or naturally-raised systems. I imagine that there are many consumers who will be surprised to learn this.
Bobby Tucker and the rest of his “Team Okfuskee” raise Animal Welfare Approved heritage pigs and laying hens on the Ofuskee Farm just outside of Siler City, North Carolina. Established in 2008, the 20-acre Ofuskee farm is a relatively young farm that is devoted to biodiversity and self-reliance. With a BA in environmental engineering and an MS in Biological Agriculture and Water Quality, Bobby has a deep passion and understanding of sustainability and permaculture.
| August 21, 2009
In 1994 the USDA counted 1,755 farmers markets in the United States. At last count, there were 4,685. Across the nation, direct marketing is increasing twice as fast as total agricultural sales (USDA Agricultural Marketing Service). President Obama just announced that he wants to start a farmers’ market at the White House.
So, what’s all the fuss about farmers’ markets? One of the main reasons is that farmers and consumers actually get to meet each other. Food usually travels hundreds, even thousands of miles to get from farm to table, making face-to-face contact between eaters and growers an all-too-rare event. However, the recent wave of farmers’ markets opening across the nation is changing that.
Rob and Michelle Stokes raise Animal Welfare Approved goats, hogs, and laying hens at Circle O Livestock LLC in Vale, OR. Rob and Michelle believe in working closely with their animals and the environment to create a sustainable enterprise. Handling animals with respect and compassion, while using a poly culture approach in their ranching practices, is the model they feel makes the most sense. By running a diversified operation and practicing rotational grazing, they make the best use of their land while maintaining and improving soil health.
Dale and Linda were looking for a retirement venture in 2001 and ended up with a ranch full of animals and a business based on nature. With a house and lots of land, there was plenty of room for goats to roam. “We got them just to clear some brush,” says Dale with a grin. The first four goats, however, were just the beginning.
Colette Nester owns and operates Crosscreek Farm in North Carolina. Under the Animal Welfare Approved label she raises Jersey cows as well as heritage breed hogs. Colette is committed to producing food that has not been given artificial growth hormones or non-therapeutic antibiotics, and her pork is always the freshest lean meat. She believes that healthy food raised on pasture is vital for people to maintain their own well-being, and that this symbiosis between her farm and her community is a natural and important part of life. She explains, “This farm has been in our family for over 100 years, and we are continuing the tradition while offering a more holistic farming practice.”
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Our State Magazine recently announced the winners of the 2009 “Best Dish in North Carolina” competition. The winning dish, chosen from over 60 other entries from the mountains to the coast, was lamb carpaccio prepared by Chef Shane Ingram of Four Square Restaurant in Durham. Ingram served grassfed, Animal Welfare Approved lamb from Captain John S. Pope Farm in Cedar Grove. Farmer Bob Pope said of the achievement, “We’re beside ourselves we’re so elated. It’s very exciting.” Cousins and farming partners Bob and Tommy Pope had pretty good odds during the final selection process – three out of the ten finalists featured their lamb!