When we started the farm we didn’t think long about getting certified organic, it was a quick decision and one we don’t regret. Many sustainable farmers decide not to get certified; yet still practice the same guidelines and produce their food naturally. However, for us is a matter of staying 100% accountable. Many times it may not be easy to find organic feed, for example, during a drought or even a long winter like this one we struggled finding organic winter-feed for our cows, but we had to search high and low (and pay up!) until we found it. If we weren’t certified, perhaps these are times one might say… “oh, what the heck, just this one time I won’t get it organic”. It is also a way to support organic as a whole system for our country’s agriculture system. If we are certified organic and need certified organic feed, we are promoting others to grow feed and convert to organic. It is supply and demand and we are happy to be a part of and support a more sustainable way of growing our food.
While there was a push in DC to elevate the organic standard to include better animal welfare guidelines, the politics of food has set this higher standard back. With growing industries, we tend to see the influence of lobbying groups in Washington DC, and organic in not immune to their reach. Recently “Big AG/Big Organic” has lobbied to hold back some of these changes to the organic label that benefits them tremendously. The proposed Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule was withdrawn. This rule was going to upgrade animal welfare standards in the organic industry by defining outdoor access, space to move around, and proper treatment of animals. But this didn’t happen, which means that while certified organic animals will be chemical free and non-GMO, their living conditions can be compromised. We feel it’s the start of the industrialization of organic; turning animals into widgets.
For this reason, we pursued an animal welfare certification to keep us accountable and trustworthy to our customers, and we are proud to announce we got this new certification for our farm business. We are now “Animal Welfare Approved”; showing that our animals are being treated humanely, have ample space, and are outdoors where they can do what cows do!
We also got our “Certified Grass Fed” certification through “A Greener World”, as proof not only that our cattle are herbivores and only eat their natural diet of grass, but also that they do it outside on lush pastures- another aspect that is being compromised by some claiming to be “100% grass fed”. You can easily feed hay to a cow inside a barn or on a small continuously grazed pasture and still technically be called “grass-fed”!
For us it is important to strive for the Gold Standard in our farming practices and our quality of meat. There are a lot misconceptions and misrepresentations out there with wording used on food labels, which is why we believe and encourage you to know your farmers and ask questions on what’s important to you. We hope through our blog posts, emails, newsletters, and just talking to us you feel comfortable with our product and our farming protocols.
And remember, you are always welcome to visit the farm, just let us know- we’re happy to show you around!
Marisa usually writes about nutrition, grass fed beef, organic agriculture, as well as sharing delicious recipes; Paul writes about farm work- sharing his stories and experiences, and sometimes... we both collaborate on a story!