Why We Should Cook Reason #3: The Chemicals in Cans

Although I enjoy learning and consider it my duty to continually learn about our food system, ingredients and "byproducts" of our modern life (for lack of another way to put it), it's sometimes quite frightening and depressing. This weekend was one of those times, as I stumbled across an article on the "12 Worst Chemicals Lurking in Your Home." And I'm going to use one of those chemicals as reason #3 for why we should cook. 

 

Just in case 17 reasons why we don't cook and one reason why we should (our health), plus my argument for the shared meal (reason #2 for why we should cook) have yet to persuade you of the importance of cooking, I'm going the fear factor route, I admit it. But that's because this one hit me hard, this chemical, because it's found in cans and I do a lot of cooking but I also used canned foods. OK, I'm getting ahead of myself. First the chemical... It's called Bisphenol or BPA and it's found in tin cans as the lining on the inside of the can. You know, in direct contact with the food. 

 

Here's a little background on BPA, this lovely and dangerous chemical: 

 

Perhaps the most widely studied endocrine disruptor on the market, BPA actually started out in the 1930s as a synthetic estrogen given to women. So it's no surprise that this hormonal chemical has been found to act like estrogen, with current exposure levels leading to things like decreased sperm production in men, early puberty in girls, and fertility problems in both genders, or that animal studies have linked it to greater chances of miscarriage. BPA also interferes with metabolic hormones and plays a role in heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. 

 

OK, back to my cooking... I used a lot of canned foods even though I cook a lot. I use canned tomatoes when I run out of home canned. I use canned tomato paste when I need to increase the tomato flavor of home canned tomatoes. I use canned beans when I don't have time to cook up dry ones. Plus we eat a lot of olives at our house, and they come in cans, and our dog and cats eat food from cans. Then there's the refried beans I keep handy for when Miss Picky Eater is making us tacos for dinner (again!). And if I'm going to make something Thai, I buy a CAN of coconut milk, and so on and so on. 

 

All this time I thought plastic was my only kitchen enemy, and that canned foods were fine. Now I find out they're not, that they are one more convenience factor that is making us sick. 

 

I hate to tell you this, because I know there's a really good chance that you don't want to hear it, but, folks, this is just one more reason why we have to take back control in the kitchen! I'm foregoing the canned beans and making sure I keep a supply of cooked up dried beans in the freezer. Miss Picky Eater is going to have to get over her onion aversion so I can make refried beans from scratch. And so on and so on... There will be some changes in our kitchen thanks to this chemical! 

 

It's also imperative that we eat home cooked rather than canned because all we can do is minimize our exposure, not completely protect ourselves. According to the article quoted above, due to a lack of laws requiring companies to disclose how BPA is being used, "it's impossible to know all the places where the nearly 3 billion pounds of the chemical produced each year wind up." Lovely.

 

NOW are you ready to cook again? If so, find ways to buy food local in origin, like your farmers market, and make friends with some farmers raising pasture raised meats. Get away from the cans and get back to seasonally, naturally raised foods...that won't come in chemical-laden cans. 

 

 

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The Other White Meat?! But White Meat Sucks and Pork's not Supposed to Be White!

Berkshire pork tenderloinAs a vegetarian for 24 years, which is almost half my life, I’m fairly ignorant about a lot of things meat related, and I’m playing catch up, I admit. So when countless ads ran the popular pork marketing campaign claiming pork as “the other white meat” to compete against chicken, I didn’t think anything about it.

 

Heck, as a vegetarian, it didn’t even concern me.

 

But now after six years of eating meat again, learning about our broken food “system” and raising Berkshire pork, I have learned that:

 

Good tasting pork isn’t white. It’s dark. Berkshire pork, which is the best-tasting pork, is not only dark, but the darkest. (That photo at right is Berkshire pork pasture raised at Tyner Pond Farm. Looks dark to me!)

 

Dark meat tastes better than white meat, so being white meat isn’t a good thing after all! Only in America do consumers prefer the white meat of chicken and that’s only because we bought into this “white meat is healthier” marketing BS. The rest of the world knows the flavor is in the dark meat.

 

White meat is a bad thing, reason #1. The American preference for white meat means Tyson’s “farmers” raise Cornish Cross chickens with huge breasts that grow disgustingly fast…so fast, their legs can’t support their bodies and their chests end up bare and bloody from being on the ground all the time. (Don’t believe me? See this sterile looking picture and look at the chicken’s breast. Not so sterile after all, is it!)

 

White meat is a bad thing, reason #2. The pork you buy at the grocery store is white only because that poor pig never got a chance to go outside and run around.

 

farmer Chris checks on Berkshire pork pigs in snowOn chickens and turkeys, you only get white meat where you have inactive muscles. Since chickens and turkeys can’t really fly, they end up with white breast meat. That’s why ducks and geese are all dark meat. (OK, this one isn’t really relevant, but I only just learned this and found it interesting. The first time I cooked a goose, I was shocked to see all of the meat was dark, and I didn’t know why. I knew it was flavorful for sure! But I didn’t know why it was dark.)

 

Yeah, the other white meat was a fallacy from the very beginning, but we bought into it and this idea that pork must be a healthy meat alternative because we didn’t know any better and because the food “system” was only too willing to brainwash us to sell us more of their cheap commodity hogs.

 

The truth is, “white” pork meat is bad for you and everyone else because it has no flavor, and raising pigs that way is not only horrible for the pigs but also horrible for the environment.

 

Say no to white meat. So no to cheap meat. Instead, say yes to Berkshire pork and dark meat and your local farmer (like that guy on skis in the picture there, Chris, surrounded by his Berkshire pork in the making). 

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A Good Friday Reflection: Can Faith Bring Meaning Back to Food?

Last night was Holy Thursday, when we remember the Last Supper and start the Triduum as we approach Easter. It's also the night we eat the "Jesus Supper" at our house. 

 

Which got me thinking about faith and food and how the one might inform the other, to help us give meaning back to food so we want to cook and we want to buy local. 

 

First, you're probably wondering what I mean by "Jesus Supper." It's my silly name for what is a somber meal. As we enter into the Triduum, we Catholics strive to be present with Christ during his arrest and imprisonment on this night. Our churches and our homes are dark and quiet and will remain so until the Easter Vigil on Saturday night. 

 

But what did Jesus do before he was arrested? He ate a meal with his disciples. And so our family eats foods that he might have dined on that night: simply cooked fish, flat bread, dates and figs, olives, goat cheese, wine...

 

Why? In order to reinforce the significane of the day and what's to come (Good Friday). By sharing a meal similar to what he might have shared with his disciples, we are making ourselves more aware of and present in these holy days, especially as we start the journey to the Crucifixion. 

 

OK, calm down. I'm not trying to go all theological or mystical on you. I'm only asking you to consider how food can have meaning and play an active role in the rituals of our lives. Think about how a simple piece of fish can connect one in a deeper way to one's faith. That's powerful stuff! One that gives that piece of fish or bread or fruit value beyond simply sustenance. And it's that value we're missing. 

 

I'm not sure if it's a cause of or a result of the shift in our food "system" 50 years ago, but we no longer value food. Something that used to be rife with meaning, that could literally mean life or death even, is something we now take for granted. This is a uniquely modern mindset. 

 

Let's look at another example of food in the context of faith. In the Old Testament, sacrifices to God weren't leafy greens or ripe fruit. No, they were meats and grains, the two foods that were the most precious to people back then because they required the most resources to produce and they were the most calorie rich. Those foods had meaning and significance in part because they were so valuable. If God said only, "sacrifice food," some dates and olives would suffice. But God is very specific in the Old Testament about what makes an appropriate sacrifice. God sees the value of and meaning in the food! 

 

You don't have to have faith to recognize meaningful food. Before industrial ag "freed" us from the effort of food production and made chemical-laden and bland tasting food so easy to come by, real effort went into preparing feasts, and the foods of those feasts had value and symbolism as a result. Think pumpkin pie and turkey at Thanksgiving, for example, or an Easter ham or Christmas goose. (As proof that we don't even value our feast food any more, consider how much turkey we throw away after Thanksgiving dinner: In 2012, the National Turkey Federation estimated Americans would buy 736 million pounds of turkey for Thanksgiving, and throw away 204 million pounds of it.)

 

Meaningful food existed outside of faith and feasts too. When we lived--and ate--seasonally, even common foods had more meaning, because we only ate fruits and vegetables in season. The first tomato or strawberry or apple of the year was a very big deal indeed. Only picture a spear of asparagus pushing out the wet ground on a cold spring morning and imagine your delight at that sight if you couldn't buy asparagus year round at the grocery store. That asparagus spear would be a very big deal indeed, and something to celebrate!

 

Which brings me back to the topic of faith and food, and whether faith can help bring meaning back to food. Obviously food has lost is meaning and value in our industrially fed and fast-paced society. And it's just as obvious to me that we must stop taking food for granted or else we'll never be able to create a sustainable local food system, making us beholden to industrial ag forever. 

 

Maybe faith is an example of one way to give food meaning again. Maybe slowing down and buying food local in origin can become the norm if we start valuing food and stop taking it for granted. 

 

It doesn't have to be a "Jesus Supper" that changes our thinking...just a supper that's valued, shared and savored. 

 

 

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What Is Kurobuta Pork Anyway? Nothing but Berkshire, Baby...

kurobuta Berkshire porkIt simply sounds glamorous and exotic, doesn’t it? Picture those words on a menu: “Kurobuta pork”…mmmmm….just reading the name while considering dinner is enough to make one’s mouth water, because it sounds like some kind of rare and hard to find boutique meat. And yes, that is how it tastes: rare and wonderful. But guess what? It’s not exotic.

 

Kurobuta pork is simply the Berkshire pig breed with a Japanese name. And that’s what they raise at Tyner Pond Farm.

 

Make no mistake, however. Kurobuta pork is the tastiest of porks. Don’t underestimate the pastured pigs raised in Indiana. 

 

Kurobuta Berkshire pork is naturally the darkest, tastiest pork available with wonderful marbling and fat, and Tyner Pond Farm’s pastured pork approach to raising their pigs means the flavor is even better. That’s because an animal that’s free to move around and eats a varied green diet develops the darker meat, and an animal that lives a stress-free life produces better tasting meat. (Stress isn’t any better for animals than it is for humans!) we call it Freerange Pork.

 

If you’re tired of “the other white meat” (which isn’t even supposed to be white) being dry and tasteless, be willing to spend slightly more for Kurobuta Berkshire pork. You’ll get better flavor (by far!), better nutrition and support your local farmer (Tyner Pond Farm) and your local economy.

 

And....we'll deliver it for free!

 

                                                            

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Why We Paid More for Our Berkshire Pigs

Berkshire pigsSo I’ll admit it. We paid twice for our Berkshire pigs what we could have paid if we’d settled for the standard weaner pigs you can easily find on Craigslist. Why? Several reasons, but all originate from the fact that we wanted a heritage breed, not a commodity hog breed.

 

Reason 1 for pricier Berkshire pigs: We wanted a heritage breed pig, because it is a hardier breed. The common (and cheaper) pigs bred for factory farming might grow fast, but they wouldn’t make it living outside as pastured pigs. Our goal is to raise our pigs as naturally as possible--which means pasture--and as cheaply as possible--which means being outside foraging as much as they can. We don’t want to raise pigs in pens. We want our Berkshire pigs to have healthy, outdoor lives, enjoying every bit of sun and wind and rain until their last day. (As I’ve heard one farmer say, the animals on our farm have only one bad day.)

 

Reason 2 for pricier Berkshire pigs: We wanted a heritage breed for the flavor. Berkshire pork is reputed to have the best pork flavor of every breed, and that’s probably because it is a heritage breed. Back before factory farming, when everything became about cheap and fast (and therefore inhumane and environmentally harmful), livestock wasn’t rushed to market. If it took a year for a pig to mature to a good harvest weight, it took a year…and the weight was worth the wait. When money became the driving factor and farming became big business, breeding pigs and chickens to get bigger faster took precedence over flavor and quality. When you buy Berkshire pork, you’re buying pork with a reputation that’s over 300 years old.

 

Reason 3 for pricier Berkshire pigs: We’re not in a hurry. Just like I don’t want us raising Frankenbabies as our chicken breed, I don’t want us rushing our pastured pigs either. So if it grows slower, that’s okay by us. That means we’ve got an older breed if it grows slower, like a Rhode Island Red chicken vs. a Cornish Cross chicken.

 

Reason 4 for pricier Berkshire pigs: We’re rethinking how we value food, and trying to get others to rethink it too. (This is a tough one for my husband still, I admit! Our current food system has us trained to seek the cheapest foods, and he is having a hard time changing that programming in his mind.) We Americans have been conditioned to believe the cheaper the better, and we don’t consider the real costs. If potatoes are 10 cents a pound because migrant workers were exploited, who cares? Americans are just happy to get cheap potatoes. No one cares if pigs and cattle are raised inhumanely and pumped full of antibiotics as long as there’s really cheap meat at the grocery store as a result. This is the kind of thinking we’re trying to change in our own small way. If we can get one family to rethink the value of food by investing in a heritage breed and introducing people to a more natural, slower way of raising food—and tastier food at that—then we will have done some good. Of course, we hope to change the thinking of more than one family, but we’re not operating on a scale like Tyner Pond Farm. We’re just one small family. But maybe with Tyner Pond Farm as our role model and influence, our own influence can be huge. 

 

There will always be the “cheaper is better” people who think we’re idiots, but we’re not trying to persuade them by buying the pricier Berkshire pigs. We’re trying to sway the thinking people who care about what they eat and feed their families.

 

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Seriously, what is Bob Stallman Thinking?

Bob Stallman American Farm Bureau Federation

I'm not yet a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation and have never met Bob Stallman.   I sincerely doubt he's evil  But....

What makes me nuts is extremism on any front.  What's so dangerous about special interests is the simple fact that they have to support EVERY position related to the financial benefits or their constituents, even at the expense of society as a whole.

The Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA recently suggested a proposal regarding waterways & pollution as it relates to their authority to consider.

 

Here is what Bob had to say about the new EPA Water Rule proposal.  (read the proposal here...)

 

“Last week, the American Farm Bureau Federation carefully reviewed EPA’s March 25 release of the ‘waters of the U.S.’ proposed rule. The results of our review are dismaying.

“The EPA proposal poses a serious threat to farmers, ranchers and other landowners. Under EPA’s proposed new rule, waters – even ditches – are regulated even if they are miles from the nearest ‘navigable’ waters. Indeed, so-called ‘waters’ are regulated even if they aren’t wet most of the time. EPA says its new rule will reduce uncertainty, and that much seems to be true: there isn’t much uncertainty if most every feature where water flows or stands after a rainfall is federally regulated.

 

Bob's statement goes on, and you can read the entire statement here.  One of the first things you should also notice is that they don't include a link to the new rule...just like a nice big brother....."We'll tell you how to think".   

 

I'm a farmer,  I farm downstream from a Confined Hog Feeding Operation and I know my neighbor is a good guy and a good farmer who does the best he can given his situation.  

 

On this farm of ours that borders his, we also have several seasonal creeks.  We have lots of ditches and seasonal creeks on our property that all flow into Dilly Creek which is a major year-around creek in our county.  Dilly flows into the Big Blue River which flows to the White River and then the Wabash River and on into the Ohio and then the Mississippi and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.  

 

You can see it all here....start with Hancock County (just east of Marion county).   Keep in mind that the Wabash is recognized to have a significant pollution problem from various farm runoff sources.

 

River Map of Indiana

 

 

Here is an overview of one of our farms.   Note: this is just one farm out of hundreds in Indiana that comprise the watershed of the Wabash.   The Wabash is just one small river that comprises the watershed of the Ohio.  The Ohio is just one River that comprises the watershed of the Mississippi.

 

Tyner Pond Farm  Tyner Woods Watershed

 

 

Now let me share a slide from a presentation from Purdue University this winter.   This isn't some radical anti-ag organization, this is official Purdue research....

 

The subject was grazing and an argument to keep grass long to prevent soil and fertilizer runoff.  Note what happens with short grass.  Imagine what happens with bare ground...

 

What water runnoff looks like

 

So....my point here is expressed in the following photos I took the other day of all of the creeks & seasonal ditches on our farm.   I'll let them speak for themselves and ask a reasonable question:   Should people upstream be able to dump whatever they like into these things because they don't flow year around?   Would any reasonable person suggest that whatever was in the soil around these drainages isn't finding it's way into your drinking water?

 

Crop runoff

 

spring runnoff of crop residue

 

EPA water rule images

 

 

Water Pollution from Farms

 

 

So what do YOU think?  Since we live in a free market democracy you have the opportunity to comment on this.  Just review all the facts & data and submit your comments here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feeding Our Pigs Has Me Rethinking "You Are What You Eat"...Literally

Wow. Having pigs--or should I say, feeding pigs?--has really got me thinking about that saying "You are what you eat" because I'm realizing what they eat now, we will eat later

 

This isn't the first time we've done pasture raised meat. We've raised our own meat chickens and turkeys for a few years now. And I never thought about what we fed them, not really. Being pasture raised, they free range so a lot of what they eat is whatever bugs they find or grass they graze on. They also get apples from our orchard in the fall and any stale bread or leftover pasta...but all of that is stuff I'd feed my family anyway. The only thing they eat that I didn't ever check out or think about is the Flock Raiser poultry food they have available to them at all times. 

 

But even though they're also pasture raised meat, there's something different about the pigs, knowing that two of the three will be slaughtered to provide meat for our family and friends. I don't know if it's because it's more meat than we get from a chicken (about 160 pounds vs. 6 pounds), or because we have to feed the piglets three times a day, unlike the poultry that can fend for itself most of the time, but I see what we feed the pigs on a whole new way. 

 

And I don't want to feed them anything I wouldn't want to eat. Period. 

 

Yet feed them we must! They are outside and rooting and eating what's left of the grass they haven't dug up yet, but they need more calories than that. They're going to go from 20 pounds to about 300 pounds in a year. They're going to need some serious calories! 

 

In the two weeks we've had them, they've had barley, oats and potatoes. The potatoes are discards we got from a local farmer. I have to them up and cook them, but they're organic and the piglets eat them (as long as potatoes are the only choice, no oats or barley mixed in). More importantly, I'd eat those potatoes! 

 

I realize now that everything they're fed will need to be something  I'd eat...because I will eat what they eat a year from now when they are ham and bacon and pork tenderloin. 

 

And it's not just about what they eat but how too. After reading a frightening article on chemicals in the home this weekend, I realized just how much plastic is in our kitchen and used as food containers. 

 

I also realized the pigs are eating and drinking out of plastic bowls too. 

 

If I'm going to keep my family's food free of plastic, I'd better start shopping for metal pig feeders and waterers too! 

 

Now, my concern is obviously not shared by everyone, especially not those who raise pigs for cheap meat using industrial ag methods. No, they have no problem feeding pigs potato chips, it turns out! (That's a real article, by the way, about feeding potato chips to factory farmed hogs rather than corn because the potato chips are cheaper. At first I thought it was an April Fool's Day joke, but nope, it has a December publication date!) For me, if I don't want my family chowing down on BBQ flavored potato chips, I sure as heck don't want their future pork chops eating that junk food either! 

 

But that's why it's imperative to feed your family pasture raised meat from a sustainable small farm like Tyner Pond Farm! I'm not saying every local farmer is as concerned about a pig's diet as you are, but at least buying local means you can visit a farm and see for yourself the conditions and the feed! Plus you can look at that farmer in the eye and ask your questions outright. 

                                                           

 

With every passing day I become more and more convinced that the drastic change to our food "system" back in the 1950s and 1960s has been nothing but detrimental to our health, our environment and our farmers. Rethinking "you are what you eat" basically sums up the whole dang mess for me. 

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Slow Cooker Recipe: Chicken Noodle Soup Using Pasture Raised Chickens

slow cooker recipe chicken noodle soup using range free chickensMaking chicken noodle soup isn't hard, and there are several ways to go about it, all easy. (Check out Chris' chicken noodle soup recipe here.) But I wanted to change things up a bit and try it in the slow cooker, because I NEED more slow cooker recipes and I have lots of meat from our range free chickens in the freezer. 

 

Now, the first time I did this, I was going to be home from work right when we needed to eat dinner, so I wasn't going to be able to add the pasta for only the last hour. Therefore, I added the pasta that morning to cook all day and I'm here to tell you: DON'T DO THAT! Ugh, it was a soggy MESS. My husband and I ate the soup anyway, but not Miss Picky Eater, no way, no how. 

 

So today being a day when I was supposed to be in my office all day, I tried again...but sans the pasta. (As it turns out, I never made it to the office because Miss Picky Eater is sick in bed and the new piglets were loose this morning, getting my day off to a rocky start.) I added the pasta for the last hour and turned the heat on high and that worked, but be forewarned: The pasta is unforgiving! An hour was perfect, but the extra 15 minutes that it took to set the table and gather up the family meant soggy pasta. Just take that into account.

 

Slow Cooker Recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup Using Free Range Chickens

2 c cooked chicken meat from pasture raised chickens
5 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp celery seed
2 bay leaves
Pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
1 c dried pasta like bows or macaroni

 

Put all ingredients EXCEPT pasta and salt into slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 hours. Taste for salt and add if needed (this depends on your chicken stock). Then add pasta and turn slow cooker up to high for 1 hour. The pasta is unforgiving, so eat it right away.

 

If you won't be home to add the pasta, and dinner needs to happen as soon as you walk in the door at the end of the day, meaning you don't have the hour for the pasta, maybe one of the kids or your spouse can add it? Unless you like soggy messes--in that case, add the pasta in the morning. :-)

 

And if you need some range free chickens on hand so you can make this for dinner, you know where to go: Tyner Pond Farm!! 

                                                            

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"Meet the Berkshire Pigs!" Connecting Kids With Real and Local Food

Berkshire pigs turned out on to grass for the first timeI bought our first three Berkshire pigs while our teenage daughter was gone, and when she got home late that night, she wanted to get her rubber boots on and hightail it out to the barn first thing to see the piglets, which we did. Next day I find out three separate friends have texted her asking if they can come over Friday night to see the pigs. 

 

I love it! 

 

These aren't vegetarians, these kids. They come from meat eating families, and I'm pretty sure it's not locally raised meat they're eating. And despite our living in a small rural community, I'm thinking these kids are all townies, because otherwise the baby Berkshire pigs wouldn't be a big deal. 

 

But it is a big deal and I love it because this is EXACTLY what needs to happen: People need to reconnect to their food! Americans need to know where their food comes from and how it was raised. They need to know their farmers and ranchers and dairymen and cheese makers. They need to know how to cook! And most of all, they need to value food...which can only happen when they are connected to it. 

 

I've about given up on changing grownups. Somedays I wake up and feel too tired to try and change the world, because so few people listen. It's like what Chris just asked about how Tyson can get such a crappy score on their chicken meat and their stock still goes up, while a car manufacturer can get a crappy score and watch their stock plummet. Why? Because people don't want to think about their food, how it's raised, or that it might be full of bad bacteria and strong antibiotics. 

 

But the children, the children can still learn and change their way of thinking. They can still learn to value food. They can connect with their food in a way their parents can't (and won't?). 

 

So I hope we do get a small crowd out to our small farm on Friday evening checking out our new Berkshire pigs. And every single one of those kids will walk away knowing that someday those Berkshire pigs will be Berkshire pork...very tasty Berkshire pork. And I bet you it won't phase them a bit, and they'll look at bacon and pork in a whole new light from then on. 

 

P.S. That picture shows the Berkshire pigs the day we moved them from a pen in the barn out to grass. Can you say "happy as pigs in mud"?? 

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You Are What You Eat...So Eat Pasture Raised Pork!

organic free range pork digging in the grassWe bought our brand new Berkshire piglets from a young couple that recently got into the Berkshire pig breed. They were very nice and helpful, and boy, did they get me thinking about food...pig food, that is. 

 

This couple farms 500 acres raising non-GMO oats and barley. The pigs had only eaten non-GMO barley after being weaned, and they sent me home with about 50 pounds of the stuff which we are quickly going through. 

 

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I hadn't really thought through what we'd feed these Berkshire pigs. I mean, I knew we wanted to raise organic free range pork, but I hadn't thought through what that would mean. For some reason, raising pork has me much more aware of the animal's diet than raising meat chickens and turkeys ever did. I'm not sure why. Maybe because there is more meat involved in raising pork than chickens? 

organic free range pork piglets in barn before going out to pasture

 

I think I also assumed that raising pastured pigs meant food wouldn't be much of an issue because they'd be feeding themselves, much like our range free chickens do: They have feed in the chicken coop, but they hardly eat it if they weather is nice and they can forage and scratch for themselves. (In fact, you can tell if the weather has been nice or nasty by how fast the level of feed goes down in their hanging feeder!)

 

The day after we brought the pigs home, I went to the feed store and looked around at what gets sold as "pig feed" there. I looked at it all through the filter of, "Would I eat that?" and the answer was "no." Now I get it: If I'm going to eat organic free range pork which is the reason we bought these pigs, then I only want to feed the pigs what I would be willing to eat myself. 

 

I don't think the farmers raising commodity hogs for cheap bacon have that same attitude about what they feed THEIR pigs. 

 

That's why it's so important to buy your meat from local producers you know and trust, like Tyner Pond Farm! You can visit Tyner Pond Farm any time and see EXACTLY how the animals are raised and what they eat. You can see that the pigs are free to roam around and root and live natural lives. And then you can buy some of that pasture raised pork and know that you're eating something that was not only raised in a natural, safe and humane way, but tastes damn good too!!

                                                        buy pasture raised pork from Tyner Pond Farm 

 

 

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Turn Those Berkshire Pigs Out to Pasture, and Never Eat Factory Farmed Again!

pasture raised pork--Berkshire pigs turned out to grassYesterday we moved our new Berkshire pigs from the barn (where they spent the first three days with us) to an area of the garden we want tilled up. (OK, it's not garden YET but it's intended to be garden.) 

 

They aren't exactly tame, so it's not as if they'll come running and let you pick them up. Which is fine. They're not pets, after all. But that means they squeal like crazy when you do catch them and pick them up, which is what we did to move them from barn to pasture. And I don't mean a little squeal. I'm talking an obnoxious, deafening, almost blood-curdling squeal. (I can't believe no neighbors showed up. We live in a valley in which noise travels faaaarrrr...you can hear the neighbors WAY down the road arguing when conditions are just right.) 

 

So I felt bad scaring them as we carried the first one from barn to pasture, but I didn't need to. No sooner did that little Berkshire bugger's feet touch the ground, than he was nose deep into the mud and snuffling with delight. It was like an on/off switch. As soon as we put him down on the grass, his anxiety turned off. Completely. The same happened with the runt. And then the one we are keeping to breed who unfortunately has a very disagreeable temperament, omigosh she squealed loud and long enough to break open the sky, I swear! But same thing: As soon as her little piggy feet touched ground, she stopped and went straight to work. 

 

See how the runt is nose deep in the mud? That's how they've been. You can't even get a photo of a pig face, because they are constantly rooting. 

 

On the one hand, this scene made me smile, to see their boundless joy in doing what pigs do, and knowing this is how ALL pasture raised pork gets to live. On the other hand, it made me incredibly sad, thinking about the millions of pigs raised in tiny pens, never going outdoors, never seeing the sun, never getting mud on their noses, ALL SO AMERICANS CAN HAVE CHEAP MEAT! (Sorry for yelling right there, but this does get me really riled up. No animal should have to live like the millions of commodity hogs do, period!) 

 

Humans are omnivores, no way around it. Some will choose not to eat meat (but still do dairy, which mystifies me, but whatever) and some will choose to eat meat, and to each his own. But we are the stewards of the animals raised to provide us with meat, and we have GOT to take our role more seriously. Every pig should get the chance to do what our piglets are doing right now. (OK, maybe not RIGHT now. I just looked out the window and they are napping in the sun.) Every pig should get to feel the sun on its back and the mud on its nose. Every pig should get a chance to revel in the smell of fresh wet dirt and the thrill of tossing clumps of mud into the air!

 

Cheap meat be damned!! Go find yourself some pasture raised pork and help put an end to the cruelty. Buy from your local farmer or Tyner Pond Farm if you're lucky enough to be local to them. It's better for you, better for the pigs, better for the environment. Need I say more? 

                                                       buy pasture raised pork from Tyner Pond Farm

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It's a Scientific Fact: You Can Taste the Berkshire Pork Difference

pasture raised pork--Berkshire porkWe as newbie farmers dove into the Berkshire pig breed whole hog (pardon the pun) without even learning about the quality of the meat. We only knew we wanted a heritage breed, and that Tyner Pond Farm raised Berkshire pigs. Did we need to know more?

 

Well, beyond knowing that pigs are escape artists who will repeatedly try your patience along with your fences (which we did not know but do now!!), we didn't know anything about the flavor of Berkshire pork until the piglets were safely ensconced in the barn and I got to reading up on the breed. It turns out, Berkshire pork is literally world-renowned for its flavor! 

 

I should have known. Tyner Pond Farm regularly gets emails and Facebook wall posts raving about their Berkshire pork. 

 

Berkshire pork is known to be more flavorful, and juicier, with a darker meat. It turns out, the darker the meat, the better the flavor. It's a scientific fact, in fact, as you can see in this Cook's Illustrated article that compares the taste of Berkshire pork to others

 

According to Kenneth Prusa, professor of food science at Iowa State University, that color really is an indication of quality. It reflects the meat’s pH, which Prusa pinpoints as the “overall driver of quality” in pork. In mammals, normal pH is around 7. But Prusa told us even small differences in pH can have a significant impact on pork’s flavor and texture. Berkshire pigs are a bred to have a slightly higher pH than normal, which in turn makes their meat darker, firmer, and more flavorful. In fact, a high pH can be even more important than fat in determining flavor. Conversely, pork with low pH is paler, softer, and relatively bland.

In addition to genetics, pH is influenced by husbandry conditions, along with slaughtering and processing methods. Berkshire pigs are raised in low-stress environments that keep them calm. And the calmer the animal, the more evenly blood flows through its system, distributing flavorful juices throughout. 

 

There you have it! It's not just a rumor. Berkshire pork is truly more flavorful, and for a reason. 

 

So skip the,  pale and chewy options at your supermarket. Go for some pasture raised pork: Berkshire pork from Tyner Pond Farm. And taste the difference. 

 

 

                                                     buy Berkshire pork from Tyner Pond Farm

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Protecting Heritage Breeds--Why Keeping the Berkshire Pig Breed Thriving Matters

Livestock Conservancy logoWhen we bought our ramshackle falling down (literally) farm, we knew from the very beginning that we wanted to raise heritage breed livestock. We started with chickens, and only just this weekend moved on to pigs. If I ever get that family milk cow that I have wanted forever, she will be a heritage breed too. 

 

First off, what is a heritage breed? The Livestock Conservancy exists to protect heritage livestock breeds by, "Ensuring the future of agriculture through the genetic conservation and promotion of endangered breeds of livestock and poultry." This nonprofit group is working to protect nearly 200 breeds of livestock and poultry from extinction.

 

Yes, from extinction. 

 

Since the industrial age in the 19th century and especially with the advent of industrial agriculture, livestock breeds of pigs, poultry, cows, horses, sheep and more have become extinct, even though they still had redeeming qualities (such as hardiness, flavor, etc.). 

 

Today, the Livestock Conservancy keeps tabs on the endangered remaining breeds, listing their status as critical, threatened, watch, recovering or study. Not that every heritage breed is endangered! The Berkshire pig breed that Tyner Pond Farm raises is doing really well. And most of the chickens you're used to seeing in people's backyards are heritage breeds too, like the Buff Orpington and the Rhode Island Red. (I first learned of the Berkshire through a list of pig breeds I got from the Livestock Conservancy. I'm very happy to see the Berkshire pig breed doesn't show up on the list of endangered breeds! But not surprised, based on the flavor people are discovering.) 

 

Secondly, keeping these older breeds going is important because our current factory farming system is not sustainable. Raising tens of thousands of chickens in one small and smelly building, and pumping the birds full of antibiotics in order to keep them alive in these unhealthy conditions...well, does that sound sustainable to you? We need to get back to smaller numbers of livestock being raised naturally by more farmers. And it's the heritage breeds that can live outside and tolerate changes in weather and have enough fat to live on a pasture (like the Berkshire pig breed). 

 

Each breed is uniquely adapted to a certain climate or terrain or purpose. If we were to lose every old breed and have to rely on the poor, pathetic monstrosities raised commercially by the corporations, we'd be screwed because they couldn't live outside or adapt to a natural way of life. It's the same with our vegetables and fruits, that being so focused on so few types is setting us up for failure. We need diversity in our livestock for the same reason (and in the same way) that we need diversity in our produce too. 

 

So when you go shopping for free range pork for sale, keep in mind the heritage breeds like the Berkshire pigs and try to find a farm like Tyner Pond Farm that's doing their part to preserve the breed...and all the wonderful pork flavor that goes with it! 

                                                       free range pork for sale at Tyner Pond Farm

 

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About the Berkshire Pig Breed

Tyner Pond Farm Berkshire pigs in the fall grassAt Tyner Pond Farm, they've always raised heritage pigs, starting with Old Blacks and now with Berkshire pigs. So I was pretty excited to buy Berkshire pigs for our own small farm. In case you're wondering what makes the Berkshire pig breed so special that I'd get excited by it, here are my top three reasons for thinking Berkshires are the best...

 

Reason 1: History--Berkshire pigs are a heritage breed first recognized 300 years ago in England as a pig breed. In the U.S., the American Berkshire Association was founded in 1875, the first swine registry in this country. (There's a great history of the Berkshire breed in America here, including the fact that first hog ever recorded was the boar, Ace of Spades, bred by Queen Victoria.) Heritage breeds of livestock, whether pigs or poultry or cows, tend to be hardier and tastier because they pre-date the breeds developed for factory farming. From the very beginning, the flavor of the Berkshire pork was recognized as superior, which brings us to...

 

Reason 2: Flavor--Some people call it the Kobe beef of pork. Every where you look, people are raving about the marbling and juiciness of Berkshire pork, and how the flavor is flavorful, not bland like you get with commodity hogs. The meat is darker, and Berkshire pork has a shorter muscle fiber. People are noticing the difference and choosing to buy pasture raised Berkshire pork! For a good description of the flavor compared to that of commodity hogs (i.e. cheap pork), I turn to the American Berkshire Association

 

"Today, when many in the pork industry have emphasized carcass leanness while sacrificing meat quality it is important that we re-emphasize what the founders of the American Berkshire Association knew in 1875. Berkshires produce a whole carcass that is well marbled. It is consistently sweet, tender, juicy and palatable. When consumers want pork that tastes good the Berkshire above all others is their favorite, not only in the United States but also in the foreign market." 

 

Reason 3: Pasture Raised--An animal raised in a natural environment in a natural way, eating what nature intended for it to eat, produces better meat, period. A stressed out animal like a factory farmed commodity hog can't produce the kind of juicy, flavorful meat you'll get with Berkshire pork because of the horrid, unnatural and stressful conditions it suffers its whole life. Yet that same kind of pig would have a hard time on pasture because it has been BRED to spend its whole life inside in a tiny cage. The Berkshire pig breed, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to live outside like the pigs in the picture above, roaming the pasture at Tyner Pond Farm. That means a happier, tastier pig. 

 

I'm sure I'll find other reasons to think the Berkshire is the best as we go along and raise these piglets. But for now, I think my three reasons above should convince you to try Berkshire pork for yourself, by buying some from Tyner Pond Farm! 

                                                       

 

(If you're interested in pig breeds at all, or how we eat in the U.S., check out this article for a brief but fascinating history of pigs and pig breeds in America.)

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Why We Went With Berkshire Pig Breed for Our Small Farm

When I first started researching pig breeds a couple of years ago, I knew for sure we wanted a heritage breed, but that was all I knew. I also knew Tyner Pond Farm was raising Large Blacks and Berkshires, so I knew a little about those breeds, and I had researched the Gloucester Old Spot too. (In fact, it was Tyner Pond Farm that got me thinking about heritage breed pigs in the first place. Those pigs in the picture are the pasture raised pigs at Tyner Pond Farm.)

 

We don't live in an area with a whole lot of people raising heritage breeds for sale, so this winter when we went looking, I was pretty excited to find someone selling quality Berkshire pigs! In a way, we chose the Berkshire pig breed by default. But it was on the short list. :-) 

 

Plenty of people are selling your "modern" day pig breed, for half the amount we paid for our heritage breed Berkshires. We didn't want that. We wanted a heritage breed, not the kind that has been bred for factory farming, to get big fast. Those modern day pigs are too lean for what we could work with, for one thing, and they grow too fast too. (Not that it's the pigs' fault. They are bred to grow fast and stay lean.) 

 

But if you want to raise pasture raised pork, meaning pork raised the way nature intended, then it has to be able to live outside (you know, on the pasture) and it's the heritage breeds that have the fat that enables them to live outside in less than perfect weather. 

 

Besides that, no fat means no lard, and lard is a good fat to have around! 

 

Once our pigs are trained to respect the electric fence, they'll be out on grass. We couldn't have pigs if we didn't have pasture raised ones. Our barn is too rickety, too old, and too small to keep pigs in. (We barely get by using half of it for horses and the other half for hay.) But that's okay, because raising them on pasture is simply the natural (and right) way to raise pigs. 

 

Raising and eating heritage breed pigs like the Berkshire pig breed means better tasting meat too. It's like comparing the Cornish Cross chicken that was bred for raising indoors fast for factory "farming" to a naturally raised heritage breed chicken like a stewing hen. There's simply more flavor. 

 

That's because it's simply more natural. Think about it: If you want to move away from industrial ag then you need to seek out the breeds that pre-date industrial ag, the way Tyner Pond Farm did when they chose the Berkshire pig breed. And now so have we. :-)

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Adding Berkshire Pigs to Our Small Farm: Taking a Crash Course in Pigs!

our horse Chase checking out our new Berkshire pigsGot pigs this weekend. Well, piglets. They are three-month-old Berkshire pigs, the same kind Tyner Pond Farm raises, and our first pigs ever. So, it was an educational weekend…um, day…um, first couple of hours.

 

Don’t be fooled by their small size or cute faces. These are the Berkshire pig breed. That means they’re even smarter than your average pig breed. Not only that; these suckers are sneaky and fast. I will spare myself the embarrassment of sharing any details, but let’s just say they escaped the temporary pen I’d set up when I got them home, and I never did catch them. I only got them cornered in a stall until my husband woke up in the afternoon to help me both make a pen and catch the pigs.

 

(That’s our horse Chase in the photo, looking into the stall, fascinated by the little creatures…who were pretty interested in him too!)

 

To their little pork-y credit, they were scared. They’d never left their home before, and everything was new. Now I know. Now I know they’re flighty at first. Now I know they’ll try and escape to find their way home.

 

Now I know.

 

Watching them be squirrely and sneaky and smart, and then settle into rooting around and eating and sleeping, I got a sick feeling in my stomach comparing how these Berkshire pigs will be raised compared to the poor pigs that are factory farmed in tiny pens so Americans can have their cheap pork and cheaper bacon.

 

Our Berkshire pigs are in the barn for now, in a small pen eating non-GMO barley and rooting around in the hay and pushing each other around and sleeping soundly and in general acting like, well, pigs! Once they’re a little bigger and we get them trained to an electric fence, we have a shelter outside in the area where we want a garden, and they’ll get moved out there surrounded by the electric fence, free to root and dig and eat grass and bugs to their heart’s content. They’ll be able to nap in the sun and cuddle in the shelter on the rainy days. They’ll be dirty and muddy and happy. And then when they are a year old, two will be slaughtered for pork, ham and bacon, having lived a really good life as pasture raised pork.

 

Compare that to how commodity pork is raised. Commodity pork is a politically correct way to refer to the industrial agriculture way of raising livestock using factory “farming.” I am not going to delve into that manner of raising pigs. But I do encourage you—if you’re one of those people who is all about cheap meat—to consider the very short life that kind of pig lives, never going outside, never leaving its cage so small it can't even turn around, living in a stench so bad it makes humans ill…compare that to the pasture raised pork that a farm like Tyner Pond Farm raises and sells. Sure, you’ve got your cheap meat, America. But it comes at a price. You just won’t notice that “price” in your pocketbook.

 

For us, it’s pastured Berkshire pigs or bust! Oh, wait. I probably shouldn’t say that, or they’ll be busting out again, those dang Berkshires… 

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Americans Throw Away 90 BILLION Pounds of Food Each Year...Here's Why

It shouldn't surprise you to know that Americans throw away food. We throw lots of stuff. We are a disposable society. But it might shock you to know how much FOOD we throw away, so much that no one has a set number but all the numbers are high! According to a quick Google search, Americans annually throw away food at the rate of:

 

  • 33 million tons 
  • 90 billion pounds 
  • $165 billion worth
  • 21% to 40% of our food (depends on the study)

 

Like I said, the numbers might vary but they are all HIGH. And those are nationally. You can also find area-specific numbers that are tragically high. For example, New York City throws away 1.2 million tons of food which amounts to 35% of what's filling up landfills. 

 

And if you've ever been in your child's classroom at lunch time, you've seen how much food those kids waste!! Pounds and pounds of it every day! It used to sicken me to see! 

 

Or consider it on a per-family basis: The average American family of four throws away almost $2,300 worth of food every single year! At our house with our current grocery budget, that is the equivalent of four months of food for our family! 

 

Now consider the other side of this coin, not having enough food: one in six Americans doesn't have a secure food supply (which is a kind of technical way to say they are "hungry," I think). One in six--that's 17% of our population. Almost one-fifth of us are going hungry while another chunk of us are throwing away billions of dollars worth of food. Isn't it ironic? 

 

In addition to landfill waste created and the people left hungry, you have the costs on the production side too. We use a lot of petroleum and water to grow food in this country, and it is essentially "thrown out" as well when we toss food. It's not just the food. It's the resources that went into making that food too. 

 

OK, one last statistic, and then I'll stop, but this one is important: Food waste has increased by 50% in the U.S. since the 1970s. 

 

If you look at the reasons why Americans throw away so much food, you'll see that the food industry gets some of the blame because of "use before" and "best before" dates are misleading. A lot of waste also occurs at the grocery stores, where produce is tossed if it's not picture perfect. Restaurants are also to blame because the huge portions they now serve are simply too much for people to eat (and for some reason no one wants to take home the leftovers). 

 

But there's a big, huge, ugly reason that no one is talking about and we as the food wasters aren't owning up to: We don't value food. 

 

See that statistic above about how we throw away 50% more food now that we did in the 1970s? Well, guess what else has happened in that time? Food has gotten cheaper. (See the graph below.) And when things are cheap and easy to come by, they lose value in our eyes: 

 

                food has gotten cheaper

 

Yes, food is cheaper and it's more plentiful, thanks to industrial agriculture, and therefore it's much easier for us to overindulge in it and to throw it away. Like with the paradox of value, where water is necessary to life but we place a higher value on (and are willing to pay more for) diamonds, cheap food means disposable food. Although there is a real cost to that supposedly cheap food.

 

We can easily start cutting back on our own food waste, following good, common-sense tips for wasting less food, like in this article. But the real change won't happen until we stop insisting on cheap food and start being willing to pay for good food. We have to change how we value food. We have to give it a higher value. That is really the only way to cut down on the criminal amounts of food we are throwing away every hour of every day in this country. 

 

One way to start giving food more value is to be willing to pay more for it.

 

Before I sat down to start writing this post, I walked across the street from my office and spent $3.29 on a tall latte (it being 3:00 in the afternoon and a caffeine fix needed). That is more than it costs me to buy one pound of hamburger at the local butcher shop. I can use that one pound of hamburger to cook a dinner that will feed my family dinner, while the latte was mine alone and gone in 15 minutes. Don't you think maybe the hamburger has more value than the latte?? 

 

We as a society need to stop insisting on cheap food. Stop buying it and stop heading to the grocery store with the cheapest price on pork chops. Be willing to INVEST IN good food. You really won't spend that much more to buy from a local farmer, whether that's a farmer selling pastured meats or one selling produce at the farmers market. It's all relative. I can buy a head of lettuce for $3 at my farmers market, which might sound like a lot of money. But it lasts for 9 days as I pick away at it taking a few leaves at a time because it is HUGE and it's organic so I feel good about my family eating it.

 

When you pay more for something, you'll value it more and be less likely to toss it out. You'll cook with it more sparingly or make sure it gets eaten as leftovers. You'll be more careful about what you buy and more mindful of using it before it goes bad when you're spending more money on it. You'll sit down to eat it rather than gobble it up while rushing out the door. 

 

And you'll enjoy your food more, I promise. :-)

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Working Our Way Through the Pantry, the Seasons, the Year...

applesauceSee that? That's the last jar of applesauce from the pantry. I opened it this morning because our teenager wasn't feeling well and all that sounded good to her for breakfast was applesauce and toast. I think she felt a little guilty knowing it was the last jar, but hey! That stuff is in the pantry to get eaten! 

 

Our pantry is kind of like a calendar. At our house, we note the seasons by the changes in the weather and the holidays, yes, but also by the contents of the pantry and freezer. This is the last jar of applesauce I canned last summer, and I know we're down to one last jar of bread and butter pickles and four jars of canned tomatoes. In the freezer, we've got about six batches of green beans left and still a lot of blueberries. (Not that I did a lot of canning and freezing last summer, because I was on my own with a major renovation while my husband was deployed...putting up food was something I had little time for.)

 

I actually like when we get to the end of something like the applesauce because I know it means the NEW seasons will soon be upon us. The local sustainable farms in our area are sharing photos on Facebook of their seedlings in their greenhouses and freshly plowed fields. Soon there will be greens and strawberries and the farmers market will open. Soon we'll be back amidst the bounty and putting up for the winter once again. 

 

And we'll eat differently too. Fare will be lighter and meats will star in our meals alongside our veggies because we won't be eating soups and stews and braises while the sun is shining the produce is profuse. :-) Summer is when the taste of a range free chicken or pasture raised pork can really shine when these meats get a simple treatment and some time on the BBQ. 

 

Our major renovation meant no garden last year and we really don't have time to go for broke yet this spring, but this near-empty jar of applesauce has me pumped for the changing season and devising ways to at least get some raised beds in and greens planted... 

 

And then we'll have another way to work our way through the year, as the spring greens give way to the summer tomatoes and then the pumpkins of fall and the kales of winter. 

 

Food. It's the best calendar ever. :-) 

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Consumer Reports on Chicken (Includes Labels Demystified)

Chicken Labels Demystified

 

This Month Consumer Reports featured on the front cover their study  titled

 

The High Cost of Cheap Chicken.  

 

In the report they tested Chicken from every major manufacturer including the Organics and discovered that 97% harbored dangerous bacteria including many strains that have evolved  antibiotic resistant traits.  If this report was about a car brand or a furnace, those products would find customers abandoning them in droves.   

Yet here is what's happening to Tyson's stock since the story came out in January 2014..

 

Food Monopoly

 

Compare this to what happened to Ford Motor Company when Consumer Reports called out their cars as some of the worst of 2014.

 

Consumer Reports on chicken compared to cars

 

Why do you think this is?  I'm kind of at a loss.  Is it because people don't have a choice?  As the Consumer Reports story points out.  In spite of many different labels, all chicken in the grocery store comes from 4 companies....Tyson being of course the largest and most influential.  

 

Check out this CNBC Interview from Donnie Smith himself....

 

 

I'll let the article do the talking,  but this isn't coming from some left-wing anti-corporate fringe website.  This is coming from the most trusted consumer advocacy organization in America.  

 

Pasture Raised Chicken 

Meantime if you look at the label definitions....Pasture Raised is the only way to know your chicken hasn't been raised in a factory.   This is all we do here at Tyner Pond Farm. You can come and see for yourself anytime!

 

And...we'll deliver it to you for free.

 

High Cost of Cheap Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Fat? Great Fat! Bake the Best Brownies With Lard From Pastured Hogs

lard from pastured hogs makes great browniesBack in my vegetarian days (or should I say decades?), I avoided refried beans when dining at Mexican restaurants so I wouldn't be eating lard. That was a result of my ignorance and lack of thinking, just like I wrongly avoided eating soups made with chicken stock

 

When I started eating meat, I started learning about food history in this country, our eating habits, and the onset of industrial agriculture too. (I guess I realized if I was going to be a responsible meat eater, I was going to have to get educated!) Out of that came my realization that it makes more sense to use the whole animal, like the carcass for chicken stock and the pig fat for lard, than to make chemically processed substitutes (like shortening and margarine). That's what got me interested in lard in the first place. 

 

I started cooking with lard from pastured hogs a couple of years ago because the farmer down the road had jars of it and gave me some to try. At first, I used it primarily as a cooking fat for savory foods, but later I used it for baked goods too, like pie crust and chocolate cake. I have substituted it in my famous old-fashioned recipe for favorite oatmeal cookies. Most recently, I used lard to make my popular brownies (recipe below) in place of the shortening the recipe called for, and no one even noticed, not even the vegetarians.

 

So, why would I start cooking with lard when I had other options to use, like shortening? Because it only made sense. Here was the totally natural (and in this case free) fat that turned out to be a really good cooking fat! I thought it would be greasy or something, or make everything taste like bacon, but cooking with lard from pastured hogs does nothing of the sort. The lard I use smells a tad savory when I open the jar, but I've learned that that's only the smell and the lard does nothing to the flavor. But when you're cooking sweet stuff, boy does it make your cakes and brownies silky in texture! 

 

I actually prefer using lard now, for both stove top cooking to brown meats, and for baking with. The only time I didn't like the result I got was when I used lard to saute up some vegetables and I used too much (not being used to it). The vegetables were oily but that was all my fault. Every other time I've cooked with lard, I've been delighted with the result. 

 

Now, one caveat here: This is lard from pastured hogs, and I suspect that helps the flavor! Don't go buying lard at the grocery store unless you know FOR SURE where that lard is from. Reach out to your local farmer or pork supplier for lard first. 

 

And now for the brownies. Buy some lard from pastured hogs. Then bake these brownies. You can eat them plain and they are delicious. Or frost them with chocolate frosting if you want, or stir in some chocolate chips before baking...or both...and you'll be in chocolate heaven and never doubt lard again! 

 

Best Brownies Recipe

1 c sugar
1/2 c lard from pastured hogs
2 free range eggs
2/3 c all purpose (but unbleached!) flour
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

 

Preheat oven to 350 and grease your baking pan with lard. You can use a square 8x8x2 baking pan and cut the brownies into squares after cooking, or use a cake pan and cut the brownies into thin wedges when done. Cream together the sugar and lard. Add the eggs and mix well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Spread the batter (it will be thick!) into the baking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The brownies will be easier to cut into pieces if you wait for them to cool, but good luck with that. :)
 

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Keep Up With The Farm

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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