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 Certified AWA sheep at Okfuskee Farm just outside of Siler City, North Carolina. Established in 2008, the 20-acre Okfuskee Farm is a mixed farming business 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. “Our farm is based on permaculture and agroecological principles, including ecological site planning, water-focused design, and bio-diverse and integrated livestock farming… all with a goal towards local sustainability,” Bobby explains.
| 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.
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!