Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More than Organic

At Old Heritage Farms: One of the most meaningful experiences on our trip up north was a visit to a local farm that does everything above organic.  The word "organic" is more of advertisement pitch to convince you that what you are eating is from an ideal and most natural source.  Often this just means that the "organic" milk you drank comes from confined cows that are fed corn grown without fertilizer rather than with, but comes nowhere close to the image in your mind of cows grazing in pasture.  Since the word "organic" is truly tarnished by industrial systems at work, one has to seek further to find a name for food created the way nature intended.  We drove up on a hot day to an old house, nestled in by nature and two other buildings, one as a sort of crude processing room and a smaller green house growing dozens of tomato plants.  At first I wasn't sure anyone was home or whether we would be welcome so I walked up to the small building next to the green house and peeking through the door I saw a man carefully washing and drying eggs.  He introduced himself as Andre and we soon got into a conversation about the uniqueness of his farm.  Andre, of course uses no fertilizers and he doesn't feed his cows or chickens corn which they are not meant to eat, but has a system which involves a portable perimeter that he uses to keep his cows on select area of pasture in the interest of maintaining the lush variety of grasses in his pasture.  The chickens, as "the clean up crew" are then moved to areas the cows have grazed some days before and they eat up the bugs, grass and the fly larvae in the cow patties, and help to spread the manure around to fertilize the grass.  The moving perimeters are part of a ecological system that aims to support the balance of life to all parties involved.  There is so much more to talk about but in essence Andre's farm is self sustaining which is great for the environment and on production costs for him.  The benefit for us is healthier and better tasting food.  His chickens make real eggs, eggs better than I have ever tasted anywhere and a difference you can see with your eyes; the yolk has a slight orange hue due to the beta-carotene the chickens get from the grass by the sun's energy and the white of the egg has a significant body to it (unlike the watery egg whites that are so common) giving you a heartier egg altogether.  I didn't even know such an egg exist, being so used to the commercial eggs that are everywhere.  The chickens which get to be chickens and do what chickens do have a happier existance and produce healthier eggs and tastier chicken.  I ended up buying a whole chicken, plus two dozen eggs and a morrel mushroom that Andre found growing wild in areas of his property.  What Andre does is unique and beautiful despite all struggles he faces by industrial efforts (he is not allowed to sell his at the market and can't process the chickens or animals at his farm due to regulations). 

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