RTF: 8 varieties and 3 generations

 

Honey is harvested from the hives at the beginning of each fall season. It is then bottled, processed and sold throughout the year until they can harvest the honey in the upcoming fall. By the time the honey is processed and being sold the new honey is starting to be harvested. Kallas Honey is a regional business so their distribution is not spread across the United States allowing them to work with only a small amount of farmers. The amount of honey they collect is sold by the time the next harvest comes around allowing them to collect and sell the freshest honey. Many larger honey processors work to sell their honey on national and regional scales as well as to many grocery stores. This causes them to harvest mass quantities of honey and process it much heavier since it is distributed far and wide. Many national honey processors provide the average honey bear many of us are used to seeing in grocery stores and often free from any crystallization or imperfections. This honey purchased in a grocery store was bottled many harvests before offering a more processed product that has a longer shelf life.

 

Perry Kallas along with the entire Kallas family business prides themselves on working with small farmers to bottle the honey as fresh as possible after harvest and sell that honey to local restaurants and other food establishments. Their honey is very pure when comparing it to brand name processed brands sold nation wide. The more processed honeys are striving to remove the effect of crystallization and instead ‘satisfy’ the customers. Perry Kallas touched on the issues about a lack of education around honey and how the products found in the grocery store can seem misleading. A more pure honey is bound to crystallize over time due to air entering the jar after many uses. Kallas honey tends to have a crystallization seen in their glass jars which unfortunately can have this negative connotation associated with it. The crystallization, however, is a pure sign of fresh, less processed honey, that is why the raw honey has a higher amount than other honeys. In fact, the Kallas raw honey is one of the most pure honey products on the market as they bottle it directly from the bee’s hives.

Driving up to Kallas Honey is an interesting experience when you realize you are stationed a couple blocks away from the heart of the city of Milwaukee – Wisconsin. This ‘farm’ is a place where three generations of Kallas family members pristinely process honey gathered from their local, Midwestern bee keepers. The Kallas Honey Farm is a building where these philosophies behind raising bees and processing, or simply bottling in the case of their Raw Honey, comes to a reality.

The Kallas family has built their business to maintain roughly 50 farmers in the Midwest region who are humanely raising bees under similar principles and philosophies that come with raising any other livestock. Perry Kallas simply touches on the science behind bee keeping along with the entire business behind the honey bears that are commonly found on grocery store shelves. The Kallas family strives to produce their honey each year so that it is the freshest and most pure. They keep their clientele small and manageable while sourcing locally to Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana food producers.

 

The Kallas business produces eight different varieties that are mainly sold to food producers in bulk, yet available as wholesale on site and throughout farmers’ markets and other specialty stores. The Kallas family strives to understand the nature of the bees and source a wholesome product while educating their customers.

      

All hail honeybees.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

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RTF: A walk in someone else’s hooves.

When walking through the pastures, barns and enclosures Temple Grandin strives to sense what the animals experience. Her autistic nature allowed her to understand the feelings of America’s farm animals. Her years of experience and research have helped farmers all over the country reconstruct their enclosures, pasture landscapes and even the route to which an animal takes as they exit the farm and head for the processing plant. Temple’s work has inspired many farmers to change their thought process from viewing the animal as a commodity but rather how to better treat the animals with respect. The approach Temple shares through lectures and literature, guides farmers to treat animals in a way that keeps them happy, safe and ultimately healthy. These animals are producing a higher quality meat that is raised more humanely with flavor that is greatly appreciated.

Today’s farming is shifting away from the ‘commodity farmer’ and moving towards a more sustainable and wholesome approach to farming. A commodity farmer is helping to feed America and produce high quantities of food. However, many farmers are starting to approach this differently and follow some of Temple Grandin’s suggestions. This allows farmers to consider the animals’ point of view in their day to day work.

      

Golden Bear Farm is located just outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin where their open pastures extend to roughly 200 acres. The slightly rolling meadows are home to about 50 cows, 100 Berkshire pigs and a handful of horses. The animals graze and incorporate each other as they rotate through various parts of these 200 acres. While one area of their land is being repaired and restored to grow grains for another season the animals are helping to graze the neighboring section. The animals manure along with hay and local fish help to create a fresh and wholesome fertilizer rejuvenating the land once again. Within five years Steve and Marie, founders of Golden Bear Farm, have cultivated their land to offer a home for the animals we currently view as food.

   

Steve and Marie first started looking into Temple Grandin’s work when they purchased some horses; hoping to truly understand the beautiful creatures and train them to some day assist with the farm work. The philosophies and psychology behind working with horses and their ability to sense human’s energy soon because how Steve and Marie approached their cows and pigs. The more they thought about this approach the better sense it started to make while today it is deeply ingrained in their approach to farming.

Golden Bear Farm follows the stages of farming all the way to the end – the butcher. They spent many years researching butchers to make sure they were able to offer a wholesome product through and through. Golden Bear Farm works very diligently to make sure the animals are raised 100% grass-fed, organic and with absolutely no antibiotics or hormones. Beck’s Meat Processing in central Wisconsin follows through the organic process by avoiding the use of nitrates and any other impure substances while processing Golden Bear meats.

The Golden Bear Farm’s success lies in an idea that Steve and Marie stumbled upon years ago, grass is not simply grass. They came to the realization that the animals raised should be treated like “you and me”. These two farmers said, “we choose to look at it from the whole picture, soil on up.” Their own philosophies regarding food and the land its grown on, Temple’s inspiring work and the animals themselves have all helped Golden Bear Farm produce a pure and divine product that is appreciated by all who enjoy it.

All hail the spirit of animals.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: The Golden Bear hogs

As a part of the food warrior internship a video is to be produced in order to help our journalistic skills evolve. While visiting Golden Bear Farms I spent some time with the happily grunting piglets and their trusting farming. Here is a look at the life of a pig.

RTF: ‘Dance while you can’

As part of this summers activities and adventures as a Food Warrior I am exposed to a variety of literature and documentaries offered from farmers, friends and our amazing Real Time Farms core team. The most recent review is on American Meat, a documentary discussing exactly that, the meat in America. This documentary dives into the good and bad about the animals raised to produce America’s meat from the view of ‘Commodity Hog Farmers’ to farmers practicing ways that resemble the work done generations ago. The documentary does a phenomenal job of showing all sides of meat and allowing the consumer to learn about what is happening in today’s society revolving the 59 billion pounds of meat consumed by Americans every year.

The producers arranged the content into three parts that cover today’s current farming system, compared to ‘A Different Path’ and ending with a portion that tells viewers that it is simply ‘Up to Us’. In order to feed America meat that is grass-fed and following the practices similar to Joel Salatin ‘we’ would need to have roughly 4 million people start farming that way. There is an increase in young farmers, yet there is also a skepticism that the urge of new farmers needed will not be pursued  by the majority of society.

The documentary starts with a woman completely disconnected from her meat, while stating she would ‘never’ eat her own chickens and prefers the grocery store meat due to the fact that it is packaged and ready to be cooked without needing to ever cross her mind. Traveling to a variety of farms, while meeting the farmers and food markets, restaurants and artisans it ends with a couple turning their backyard into a garden and farm in order to support their families diet. The story ended with them stating, “Get to the party when you get there and dance while you can”. They are a middle-aged couple that have changed their way of life and plan on fulfilling the American dream from here on out reducing the 4 million by 2.

All hail knowledge. Watch, learn and plant a seed.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: A food activist taking action

Standing up for the food America is eating and working to make a change was all a lot of talk until Jessica Weiland decided to take her activism a step farther, by planting some seeds. Rhine Center resident Jessica Weiland and farming partner Sam Hitchcock Tilton spend their days farming about 120 acres in an unincorporated part of Sheboygan County, in eastern Wisconsin. The two owners of Rhine Center Vegetable Club run a CSA farm with roughly 30 different vegetables changing seasonally. The CSA collection sometimes includes their free range chickens, along with the pristine eggs ranging in color and including the pale blue egg, laid by the Ameraucana chickens. Their farm also supports a handful of grass-fed Berkshire hogs that are sold as whole animals for a local pig roasts, or a friends’ wedding ceremony, as well as of course a few kept for themselves.

  

The way of life Jess and Sam live is a community based ‘off the grid’ style that allows them to nourish their bodies with the food they produce everyday. Their farm hands Seth and 14-year-old Nick help create a community and build the wealth of information running their business. Opening only two years ago, their CSA is helping them to succeed in crafting a community around food. An example of this type of community is exhibited by a local using their land to create a home for his bee’s that produce honey  sold locally and also helps to pollinate the farm’s plants. Or a mutual friend helping to weed baby carrots throughout a blistering summer afternoon in return for a basket full of vegetables.

When reviewing the way they farm Jess and Sam do not wish to claim a USDA organic product but instead strive to educate their customers on the organic land that the food is grown on. They view the soil as an important part of farming their produce and want to share that there are no chemicals, pesticides or impure substances used throughout any step of the process.

 

The Rhine Center Vegetable Club is located outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin and only 60 miles from Milwaukee. These cities help distribute their produce that is leftover after the CSA boxes are accounted for. The Goodside Grocery co-op is a deliver point in Sheboygan as well as the east side of Milwaukee and a drop off in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Their efforts are kept local to change the way people view their food and introduce home-grown vegetables along with unique varieties.

These young farmers want to live a life they are proud of and offer a product that they would consume. Their educational background at the University of Minnesota help them understand the business demands of a farm and their own activism efforts with Slow Food USA and WWOOFing encourages them to make a difference.

Cheers to them and all hail a CSA farm.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

RTF: Fox Valley Berkshire

NostranoCooper’s Tavern, Crema Cafe, Liliana’s as well as Graze and L’Etoile are a few of the well-known restaurants that are choosing to source their pork from Fox Valley Berkshire Farm. Bruce Braun along with a crew of about ten others raise a high quality Berkshire hog that is fed a completely vegetarian feed along with a variety of grains grown on the farm. The pigs are also offered fresh milk from six cows that graze freely on Fox Valley’s land keeping them happy and healthy year round.

  

While the land they are on has been a farm for many years the Fox Valley Berkshire productions are only about 5 years old. The community of local food establishments they have obtained in those few years is outstanding and very helpful for business. The Fox Valley crew is able to produce a very high quality while being able to know exactly where each product ends up.

The pigs are raised as a Berkshire breed that offers a redder meat that is of a higher quality than other pork on the market. Bruce and coworker Todd run the farm along with a small team that sources their pigs to Kewaskum Frozen Foods animal processing followed by delivering a majority of the meat themselves.

  

There are about 10 pigs on the land at a time that produce a liter of about 12 piglets. These animals are kept in a cool enclosure with the ability to roam outside as well. As they grow up they are given more room to roam around and graze on the grains grown. Similar to other Berkshire hogs their time on the farm is about 6 months allowing the farmer to source to as many food establishments as they do without mass producing their animals. At Fox Valley Berkshire the pigs nor cows are fed any hormones or antibiotics and the farmers find it very important to offer a variety of grains giving the animals all the natural nutrients and proteins needed to grow strong and healthy with the correct amount of fat content.

      

The community of food establishments that choose to support Fox Valley Berkshire do so because of the high quality product that is offered to them and the transparency that the farm promotes. The entire Fox Valley team works with the animals and the processors while distributing the final cuts of meat themselves so they are able to see their animals throughout the entire process. The team has also taken the time to dine at many of these restaurants to fully understand the product they are selling on the market.

For more information about Fox Valley Berkshire review their bio on the Real Time Farms website with pictures and contact information.

All hail a fresh milk-fed hog.

Amy Verhey

Summer Food Warrior 2012

RTF: Uphoff Family Farms

Bob and his two sons, Chris and Brian, spend their days raising 100% Berkshire bred hogs on land that has held the farming principles since the mid 1800’s. The Uphoff Family Farm was founded 1867 and has been breeding these types of hogs ever since. The family farm is able to follow the animals’ pedigree generations back due to their in-depth documentation that the Uphoffs have maintained.

Bob Uphoff and his family greatly enjoy the time they have spent being farmers but remark on the need to understand that farming is a business. ‘If you don’t treat farming like a business you will go extinct’ said Bob. His way of life has been ingrained in him and his sons as they all grew up on the Uphoff Farm learning how to raise hogs year after year to product a high quality Berkshire. However, as times changed for transpiration, processing, technology and even weather they needed to adapt. Over a hundred years later they are still able to hold their family farming values close to heart.

The 100% Berkshire certification is something outstanding that differs Uphoff’s pork from any other Berkshire farmers. The rules and regulations behind being certified 100% Berkshire does not always have the highest benefits but produces a phenomenal product. The business side of begin a farm is where Bob and his family have come to learn that it is not always possible to locally source their meats. While they truly wish to support the Madison community their meat is actually processed in Iowa after a large Oscar Mayer plant left the Madison area years ago. From time to time their meats make their way to a local Madison distributors where it can be found at downtown restaurants, such as Bakers’ Window and The Fountain. However, the majority of it is processed in Iowa and sold to a Japanese market. They are able to track their animals and take pride in their farming and animal practices but realize the local community is somewhere they would like to see more of their meat.

Bob and his sons are eager to market their meat and tell their story but with the business demands of managing their farm with a small family staff it is not always a top priority. They treat their animals with the best respect and offer them a high quality feed that helps them grow and stay healthy during their growing period. Berkshire hogs are born about 3 pounds and sold on the markets roughly 6 months later weighing around 280 pounds. The turn around is quite fast for this breed of animal but the Uphoff men take the entire process step by step to offer a pristine Berkshire meat.

The farm is located just outside Madison on Meadowview Road with plenty of acres to move the animals at each stage of their growth and offering them the ability to graze freely. The Uphoff men take outstanding care of the land allowing them to be environmentally recognized by the American Farmland Trust organization in 1999 for their preservation of land and farm principles. The area Uphoff Family Farm is located places them just outside the bustling city of Madison and in an area where land is prized and well taken care of by the Uphoffs.

For more information about their sourcing and distribution review their bio on Real Time Farms website.

All hail a family farm.

Amy Verhey

Summer Food Warrior 2012

RTF: Underground Meats

Collaborating on methods and experience is exactly how the team of people behind Underground Food Collective change the production side of our current food system. Jonny and Ben Hunter started bulding their name in the Madison food scene with their student run cafe on the University of Wisconsin campus years ago. From those early days in the kitchen they were able to branch out and bulid a community around their food. Over the years UFC’s core team has grown to incorporate restaurant work, bartending, catering and meat processing.

The Underground Meats portion of the UFC organization is striving to produce a high quality product that is sourced from a handful of local farmers. In 2007 UFC decided to expand and include Underground Meats along with a Meat CSA. This project allows UFC to offer a variety of uniquely cured and processed meats to local food establishments and consumers. The employees started teaching themselves the necessary skills needed to understand animals and eventually how to explore different processes and flavors. Today Underground Meats offers a variety of workshops including their popular whole hog breakdowns, allowing education to become a key component of UFC’s mission.

Underground Meats is invested with the entire process around meats as they have worked with many farmers to hand select animals and even help raise them in some cases. The experience gained over the years allows them to branch away from pigs and work with many other meats that are locally raised in Madison. The creativity has also allowed them to expand their sourcing across Wisconsin and throughout the Midwest.

To learn more about their meat products or join the Meat CSA email meat@undergroundfoodcollective.org. There are also a variety of events happening that allow consumers to engage with the entire UFC team while enjoying good food and good company. Follow their website or Facebook posts to stay up to date.

All hail meat … done right.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior

**All images are taken from http://undergroundfoodcollective.org/ with permission from Emily Julka**

RTF: Bakers’ Window

Baker’s Window is more than simply the name of Madison’s hit new bakery, instead it is a way for Midwesterners to peer into the world of Parisian artisanal baked goods. Karin and Brian have taken bread in America to a whole new level, the level at which Europeans consume. The best part about all of this is that they are a block from the Madison Capitol building and about four blocks from the University of Wisconsin campus, a bit of serendipity.

The large arched window with a stone brick border is a perfect frame for the passerby to peer in and see what is on the shelves that day. Tuesdays through Saturdays their sourdough breads and baguettes are hot and fresh along with an assortment of baked goods ranging from savory ham and cheese croissants with local meats and cheese to sweet yet tart lemon lavender danishes and so much more.

Beyond the rustic breads and croissants pulled out of the ovens all day, Karin and Brian spend time crafting pain au chocolat, pain aux raisin, foraged vegetables with thyme quiches, pies and more. Their baking skills have allowed them to craft a high quality product from the most pure and wholesome ingredients that are seasonal and full of flavor. The bakery sources their dairy and cheeses from Castle Rock along with Hook’s cheddar cheese, Sartori parmesans and Uphoff Farm’s Berkshire ham. Their sugar is a raw local sugar along with all the different flours they bake with.

   

Baker’s Window strives to uphold something that is becoming very popular in Madison and throughout the rest of the United States – homemade food from wholesome, organic and local ingredients. Karin and Brian stock the kitchen with local flour and homemade yeast starters that offer the most pristine product. They make everything in the back of the bakery, most by hand and in small batches. They pour their love into the baked goods which allows the rest of us to fall right back in love with each bite we take.

   

It would be an understatement to give them a ten out of ten, so if you are in the area or even in the lovely Wisco state make sure to stop by and if you want a wide variety of piping hot baked goods, come before 10 a.m.

All hail croissants, baguettes and baking experiences.

Amy Verhey

Summer 2012 Food Warrior