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: 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