2017 CSA Registration

Registration is open! And already almost sold out. 
A perk of being a past member is getting the opportunity to register before it's available on our website. And they sure took advantage of it this year! 
But there are a few spots left. Check out our CSA Page for details. 

Something new for this year! An idea that I stole from Dustin (from Parsnips & Paddocks) who stole it from another farmer who was on Farmer to Farmer (I believe it's a podcast. Crazy kids...). It's a "Take It or Leave It" bin (I'm taking new name suggestions). Need extra potatoes for a recipe and still have cabbage from last week? Trade this weeks cabbage for a bag of potatoes. Someone else might come along and want extra cabbage for sauerkraut. They'd take that cabbage and leave something else. I thought it was a neat way to get a more personalized box. 

Last weekend we hung out at Sherwood Park's Seedy Sunday. Had a great time talking about seed saving and vegetable breeding.


We're at it again this Sunday for Edmonton Seedy Sunday!  I'll be accepting CSA registrations that day as well. 

Happy Spring!
Deb

 

Our Kickstarter is Live!

(I'm posting this from a phone instead of an actual computer, so please forgive the lack of photos and short post.)

This morning our kickstarter for a new walking tractor went live! 

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1652694547/market-garden-in-need-of-a-walking-tractor

Please share on your networks and pledge if you're able. We have some awesome rewards for backers! :) 

- Deb

Labels Don't Tell The Whole Story

The words surrounding our food have increasing been harder to navigate.

"heirloom" "hybrid" "open-pollinated" "heritage" "GMO-free" "free-range" "grass-fed" "pasture-raised" "cage-free" "grain-fed" "free-run" "antibiotic free" "vegetarian-fed" "cruelty-free" "organic" "certified humane"

It's often a little (sometimes a lot) confusing and while the internet is full of information it often ends up being a jumbled mess of opinions.

When it comes to produce (fruits, vegetables, nuts) it's fairly (kinda-sorta) straight forward, at least compared to meat products. I did a post on that a while ago, Talking About Seeds.

What about meat? 

(Here is where I would insert a page-break so you could click on a link to read the rest of the post, but I can't figure out how to on SquareSpace. If anyone knows how, please email me!)

I admit, I have a problem with A&W right now and their "vegetarian-fed, no animal by-products" chicken eggs. Chickens are omnivores! They NEED protein to create all those eggs. There is only one plant (that I know of) that could supply them with enough protein to continually pump out eggs and keep those chickens "healthy".

Soy

Since they're not marketing their eggs as "GMO-Free" that means it's genetically-engineered soy, plus many scientists believe that large amounts of soy can possibility disrupt the body's normal function
And they're in cages, definitely not allowed outside as then those chickens would be eating bugs and whatever small rodent wandered close enough and would no longer be "vegetarians". 
Also, now an avenue to use all the parts of industrial meat that can't be sold for human consumption has been cut-off. Those chickens would gladly eat all the cow and pig parts you don't want too. (I'm sure that all the off-cuts are put to good use feeding all the non-vegetarian chickens.)

Yes, I'm sure they get other grains with their soy (corn, wheat, maybe even a bit of alfalfa so the yolks aren't totally colourless) but if YOU were a vegetarian and all you ate was soy bean products and cereal grains (with maybe a garnish of kale), would you be healthy?


Next up... 
Free-Range. Grass-Fed. Pasture-Raised. Cage-Free. Free-Run. 

Some of these describe living conditions, some are feed choices, one is both.
I would love to go through all of these in detail, but instead I'm going to concentrate on one in-particular... 

Pasture-Raised

It's exactly what you think it means. The animals were raised in such a way that they always had grass under their feet.  Constant access to grass means they whatever other foods were offered to them they could always choose to eat grass and whatever they dug up in the soil (in the case of pigs and chickens). 
Often the animals are moved into new paddocks (permanent fencing) for rotational grazing (common for larger livestock like cattle or pigs), or they have portable shelters+fencing that is moved around a larger pasture (common with smaller livestock like chickens, ducks, geese, quail, rabbits). "All-In-One" units are known as "tractors".  

A photo of a chicken tractor from Wikipedia

A photo of a chicken tractor from Wikipedia

But even meat with a "Pasture-Raised" label on it needs clarification. Yes, they get constant access to grass, but what other foods does the farmer offer them?

That's why creating a personal connection with your farmer is vital. Talk to farmers! Go on farm tours. Ask questions.

"Why aren't you/Why are you certified organic?"
"I saw on your website your family were part of the industrial farming system. What made you choose a different farming model?"
"Do your cows ever get grain?" "Why/why not?" 
"Why did you choose to/choose not to use gestation crates with your sows?" (female pigs)
"I see your chickens are in movable shelters. What feed do they get in addition to grass + bugs?"
"Animal welfare is important to me. If an animal is sick and needs medicine, what do you do?" 

That last one is a big one. And again, I'm going to pick on A&W and their no antibiotic beef. Alberta Beef Producers recently put out an educational brochure. According to them, all beef in the Canadian market is antibiotic free. 

Many of the farmers (that I've talked to) that rely on direct-sales for their farm income often will remove the animal that needs medicine from their customers food supply. That animal, once treated and gone through the necessary withdrawal time, will go to feed the farmers family, sold at auction into the industrial food chain, sold for dog/cat food, or kept for breeding. 

Every farm makes different choices depending on their personal ethics. You, as a consumer, now have the choice of developing relationships with the farms who's ethnics match or compliment your own. 30 years ago developing those sort of relationships with the people who grew your food was nearly impossible. More than ever, you have a choice about where to spend your food dollars.

No matter what label a farmer or corporation is using to describe their product, you as the consumer have a right to know why. If they'll can't or don't want to answer, well, I think that already answers it....