Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Support Local Farmers

Many of you who are reading this blog are looking for the healthiest food options for your family. But I realize you don't want to eat food which harms the planet, the farm animals, or your own bodies.

Some choices are easy and obvious. How many of you are still eating margarine and Crisco shortening and trans-fats these days? I'm guessing (hoping!!!) you have eliminated all trans-fats from your diet as these products have clearly been shown to cause disease. If this is news to you, then today you can celebrate by eating some real butter! (Grass-fed, of course.)

However, other choices are not so clear.

Do you purchase organic berries at Costco to get the best price? (These berries might have been transported from California or Florida.) Or do you pick your own berries at a local farm which might not practice organic farming?

You want the very best quality meats which are raised humanely on pasture (grassfed and grass-finished) so do you purchase beef and lamb from New Zealand at Trader Joe's? Or do find a local farm which raises beef, lamb, chickens, and other animals on pasture?

I understand that the cost of these products might be a significant factor in your decision-making. I know it is in mine. I'm always looking for the highest quality foods at the lowest prices, while keeping in mind that cost might not always be the top priority. (If you can afford to spend a little bit more, what factors determine where you spend these extra dollars?)

In the past year or so, I have noticed a trend at both Costco and Trader Joe's toward carrying more grass-fed products. This includes beef, lamb, cheese, and butter. I'm hoping this trend will continue to grow to include pastured eggs, milk, cream, and chicken. But how do we make this happen?

How do we get these high-quality products we desire to become more available everywhere?

We vote with our pocketbooks.

The more people go out of their way (to local farms, farmers markets, pick-your-own places, and farm stands) to purchase pastured beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, milk, and veggies, the more the grocery stores and specialty stores will sit up and take notice. And the more consumers insist on eating grass-fed products, from animals raised humanely, the more money will move away from the confined feeding lots and into the hands of farmers who are doing things right. Although I have never seen locally-raised, grass-fed meats at Costco or Trader Joe's, perhaps it is just a matter of time before enough of these products are demanded that all groceries will carry local beef, lamb, chicken, eggs, milk, and other products.

In the meantime, you might need to do a little research. If you are local to my area (Howard County) then you are in luck! There are numerous farmers markets (practically one every day of the week during the growing season!) as well as many farms which sell directly to the consumer. Check out England Acres, Breezy Willow, and TLV Farms for locally raised, pastured beef, lamb, chickens, eggs, and dairy products. Pick your own fruit and veggies at Larriland. Join a co-op and receive a basket of goodies each week. Support your local farmers!

#hocofood
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