Archive for culinary politics

Bison, Rabbit, Chicken & Custom Processing for the Small Grower: Rain Shadow El Rancho

Rain Shadow El Rancho

Joe and Karen Schueller
40556 Providence Drive
Scio, OR 97374
(541) 259-5006
rainshadowrancho@aol.com
www.rainshadowelrancho.com

Located in the mid-Willamette Valley, this ranch raises bison (the American Buffalo), free range chickens for eggs, pasture-raised chickens for meat, rabbit fryers, and also offers custom poultry processing for the small grower. Visit our website for current price list.

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Meat Buyers Club for Portland, OR: Abundant Life

reposted from a welcome email from Abundant Life Farm: alfarm@q.com

Abundant Life Farm N. Portland Buying Club Information

First, a brief description of our farm is in order. Abundant Life Farm is a 210 acre family farm owned and operated by the Jondle family, which now consists of myself (Scott), wife Marilyn, and 18 year old son Andrew. Our middle son Luke was recently married, living in Salem, and our oldest son Wayne is serving in the Marine Corps, currently stationed at Camp Pendelton. Our farm is located 5 miles south of Dallas on the Kings Valley Highway.  A short video was made about Abundant Life Farm by Cooking Up a Story:

We are not certified organic, but we follow the organic principles of animal husbandry and land management. We do not use any chemicals on our farm – no chemical fertilizers, herbicides, or insecticides. Neither do we use any drugs or antibiotics or growth hormones. Our cattle and sheep are born and raised on our farm and are 100% grass fed, not just grass finished like many others. For those of you who may not be aware of the benefits of not feeding our beef and lambs grain, please ask us when you see us and we will be glad to explain the benefits. Or visit www.eatwild.com for an excellent explanation.

We do not buy feeder animals from other sources and raise them for a few months before slaughter like many others do. Our hogs are a heritage breed (Glouchester Old Spots) purchased from a breeder in Philomath as weaner pigs right after they are weaned.

Our poultry, which includes broilers (meat chickens, which are also called fryers), ducklings, and turkeys are raised outdoors on fresh pasture in portable field shelters, which are moved every day to a fresh patch of pasture. No confinement operation here! These arrive as day old chicks through the mail from a hatchery in Walla Walla, WA. We process our poultry in our state licensed processing facility, so we can insure the integrity and safety of our birds from beginning to end.

If at all possible, I urge everyone who has not yet visited our farm to do so, as that is the only way that you can be assured of knowing what you are getting. The proof is in the seeing.

A word about our prices. We get a wide range of comments about our prices from how can you sell so cheap to how come you are so expensive. It is largely a matter of where you are used to buying your food. If you buy mostly from COSTCO or Safeway, our prices will seem expensive. If you buy from the natural/organic food stores, our prices will seem reasonable. We sell a premium product for people who appreciate superior food – meat that is nutritious, tender, tasty, and safe – and are willing to pay for it. We are full time farmers, with no other source of income, so we need to earn an income that will keep us going. This is our eighth year in operation, and last year was the first year we showed a profit, so it has been a slow journey into the world of profitability.

While on the subject of prices, at times we are able to offer two broiler options: one fed organic feed and the other conventional feed.  The only difference is the organic feed uses certified organic grains, and costs almost twice as much as the conventional feed, which is reflected in the price of the organic broiler (which is about 75% more). We raise 10% of our broilers on organic feed, largely in response to customers who have asked for this and are willing to pay for it. We are often asked how this affects the end product. I often answer with this analogy. Most people would agree that a Mercedes is a better auto than a Ford. If I could afford it, I would probably buy a Mercedes, because I appreciate having the best. But I drive a Ford because that is what I can afford, and it is certainly adequate. You will not notice any difference in taste or tenderness between the organic and conventional broilers. The difference comes in the hotly debated topic of food safety – the organic feed does not contain chemical residues and is grown with non-GMO grains. So, if your budget can afford the organic broilers, buy those, if not, you will not be disappointed with the conventional broilers and you will be getting a vastly superior product than the confinement offerings sold in the super markets.

What about no shows: We do not send out reminder notices to those who have placed an order with us. Invariably, there are one or two people who forget to pick up their order. We have implemented the following policy that seems to be satisfactory to everyone involved. If you forget to pick up your order, we will charge you the delivery fee ($0.35/lb of meat ordered). This will be added to your next order. This compensates us for packaging and restocking your order, and it helps eliminate the guilt you have for forgetting to pickup. This policy does not apply if there is a genuine emergency that prevented you for making your pickup. If you provide us, when you order, with a telephone number where you can be reached during the delivery time, we will attempt to contact you about 15 minutes prior to the end of the delivery, if you have not yet shown up, as a reminder.

How does the buying club work?

About a week prior to delivery, we send out an email notice indicating what we have available and the price, along with delivery location and date/time.  Our delivery location is a home at 1607 N. Terry St. Portland, OR 97217.  You are free to order as much or little as you wish. There is no minimum order. To order, simply reply to the email notice we send out and specify what you want to order along with quantity (and size where appropriate). Then meet us at the specified delivery location and time with cash or check book (preferred) in hand. Please note that we can not take credit or debit cards.  Our deliveries are usually on Tuesday evenings, between 8:00 and 8:45 P.M.  We plan to deliver about once a month. We encourage you to let us know how we can better serve you. Also, if you are disappointed in anything you order, please let us know.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello friends and family! Just thinking of you on this holiday, so I thought I’d get motivated and post about our day and especially our meal. It’s all a work in progress, so I’m sure I’ll be posting all day about it. Feel free to comment and tell me what you are eating today.

Chris and I are chillin’ today. No big plans, nothing too social. It’s actually quite nice – I’ve been gone a lot for school and work and we’ve been keeping different schedules, so this will be some quality time for us . Heh. Plus, I’m not going to think about school or work all day, which is a treat for me.

Here’s what my menu plans are for the day…I got hooked up with a farmer out of Dallas, OR who models his farming practices after Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm…the name might ring a bell if you’ve read Omnivore’s Dilemma. My shortcut way to explain this is Happy Meat. I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch, but I want to know that my meat was brought up on a farm in a humane way by people who care about the animals and the land, something that is getting harder and harder to find these days with our food systems focused on factory farms and cheap meat. I’m not going to soapbox here, today anyway. If you want to know more, please ask me.raw duck

So I met my Abundant Life Farm farmer on Monday night and purchased a pasture-raised 4 1/2# duck. It was happy, at least until recently. 🙂 I’ve cooked duck before, but not very often, and there is only one dish I’ve made that I want to recreate – a smoked duck breast that we used to make at Viking Culinary in Franklin. I turned to a cookbook that my mother-in-law gave me a few years back that is co-authored by Jacque Pepin and Julia Child, Cooking at Home. Mom, remember our Julia Child cooking shows? I’ve used this cookbook before for some great recipes and instructions on traditional French-style dishes, and it doesn’t disappoint. I love Jacque’s Roast Chicken.

Anyhoo, in order to use the duck to its fullest, I am going to smoke the duck breast and serve it sliced with a fresh grapefruit sauce over greens and cranberries. I then plan to pan-roast the legs with parsnips and shallots, and make a killer sauce from cooking the carcass down into stock and then into a lovely brown sauce. And cracklins with the skin! squash

Also on the menu are a version of a sweet potato roll that some of you have had before – they are dipped in honey butter and rolled in graham cracker crumbs before baking. mmmmmmmm. This time I’m using butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes and I started the dough last night to get a jump on it. In fact, I should go shape those rolls and start the duck stock now. I’ll be back later to tell you about the additional sides and general updates. What are you cooking today? dough

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More on the “organic” milk front

I’ve always been skeptical that many of these store-brand organic milks were any good, but never had a real reason to back it up.  I didn’t like the fact that didn’t say what dairies produced the milk, and covered up the lack of information in some cases (Trader Joe’s) by just making their box look like Organic Valley’s box.  I’m currently trying to decide what I think if New Season’s version of a NorthWest storebrand.  They at least have info about their program on their website.  The following article is reposted from an email I get from a consumer watch program.

August 14, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark A. Kastel, The Cornucopia Institute, 608-625-2042

USDA Cracking Down on “Organic” Factory Farms

Country’s Largest Dairy Likely to Lose Certification

CORNUCOPIA, WI: The Cornucopia Institute has learned that the USDA appears about to revoke the organic certification of the nation’s largest industrial dairy operator, Aurora Organic Dairy, with corporate headquarters in Boulder, Colorado.

Aurora
operates several giant factory dairies milking thousands of cows each in semi-arid areas of Colorado and Texas. The company has been the subject of a series of formal legal complaints filed with the USDA by The Cornucopia Institute. The complaints from the Wisconsin-based farm policy group filed in 2005 and 2006, called for a USDA investigation into allegations of numerous organic livestock management improprieties on Aurora’s facilities.

“After personally inspecting some of Aurora’s dairies in Texas and Colorado, we found 98% of their cattle in feedlots instead of grazing on pasture as the law requires,” stated Mark Kastel, Cornucopia’s senior farm policy analyst. Cornucopia also found that Aurora was procuring cattle from a non-certified organic source in apparent violation of the law. “Our sources tell us that the USDA’s investigators found many other violations when conducting their probe of Aurora.”

But Kastel warned that the USDA is under intense pressure to scuttle the Aurora decertification order. “We understand that powerful political influence is being brought to bear on the USDA in an effort to delay or water down the penalties against Aurora,” noted Kastel.

As part of their investigation of Aurora, compliance officers at the USDA took sworn testimony from Cornucopia staff, visited Aurora’s facilities and interviewed their organic certifier, the State of Colorado. The Institute found out about the impending enforcement action, and the potential for its delay, from officials in Colorado, a political appointee at the USDA and a highly placed industry executive.

The organic industry is carefully watching what the USDA does with the Aurora matter because of its size and impact on the marketplace. Aurora doesn’t directly market milk under its own name, but it is the country’s largest private-label producer of organic milk. Aurora packages store-brand organic dairy products for Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Wild Oats, and other grocery chains. “The organic regulations are scale neutral,” added Kastel. “In terms of enforcement it shouldn’t matter if we are talking about a powerful corporate player, with thousands of cows, or a smaller family operation, bad actors in this industry need to be removed from the marketplace.”

Because of the delay in USDA enforcement against Aurora Dairy, The Cornucopia Institute today filed a Freedom of Information request (FOIA) with the USDA to secure documents that could uncover possible influence peddling and favoritism at the Department. “We hope that the USDA will issue tough sanctions, if warranted,” Kastel said. “And we want the agency to know that the organic community is very closely monitoring this case.”

Earlier this spring the 10,000-cow Vander Eyk factory dairy in Pixley, California lost its organic certification after an investigation revealed numerous violations of federal organic rules. The industrial-scale operation had been publicly spotlighted by The Cornucopia Institute for organic management irregularities. The Vander Eyk dairy had been selling its milk to Stremicks (Heritage-Foods) and Dean Foods (Horizon).

Based on documents recently received by Cornucopia through an earlier FOIA request, the Vander Eck dairy lost their ability to market organic milk not only because they lacked pasture for their cattle but also because they violated requirements for careful record-keeping to assure that all cows milked were eligible for organic certification and all the feed they consumed was actually organically grown.

“It now appears that our concerns about the giant industrial dairy cutting corners by confining cattle in a ‘factory-farm’ setting was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s research director. “The foundation of the organic certification process is the maintenance of a comprehensive farm audit trail which can be reviewed by independent certification inspectors and the USDA. The fact that Vander Eyk could not produce the documents requested by his certifier, and that he did not appeal the enforcement action, is just damning.”

The controversy about the growing number of factory-farms producing organic milk has come to a head this year as the number of farmers transitioning to organic dairy production has dramatically increased causing a surplus of organic milk for the first time. That surplus, largely attributed to the mega-farms, is now driving down prices to family farmers around the country endangering their livelihoods. It’s also become a tragedy for some family farmers around the country who have gone through the arduous and expensive three-year transition to organic management but now have nowhere to ship their milk.

“With at least 15 of these giant dairies operating, mostly in the arid west, they have succeeded in jeopardizing the livelihood of the 1500 or so ethical dairy farm families who are doing this right,” said Merrill Clark, an organic livestock producer from Cassopolis, Michigan and former member of the USDA’s expert advisory panel, the National Organic Standards Board.

“The good news for consumers is that in our survey of organic dairy brands (posted on www.cornucopia.org) a full 90% of namebrand products received very high ratings in our scorecard that critiqued the environmental and animal husbandry practices used in sourcing the organic milk for the dairy products,” the Cornucopia’s Kastel said. “With a small amount of research, consumers who care about maintaining the integrity of organics can easily find organic dairy products they can believe in.”

– 30 –

MORE:

Aurora
is owned by some of the same conventional factory-farm operators that founded the Horizon Organic brand and then later sold it to Dean Foods. Aurora’s largest equity stake is controlled by CharlesBank of Boston, which invests capital for the Harvard endowment fund.

Rumors have also been swirling in the investment community that Aurora’s owners are seeking to sell the company or to take it public.

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This is the kind of topic I’m focusing on in Grad School, for those interested (and if you eat, I’d read it)

And Barbara Kingsolver is such a great writer.

http://www.orionmagazine.org/pages/om/07-2om/Kingsolver.html

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