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  • Cliff McConville

May Healthy Eating Newsletter

FARM HAPPENINGS

It's been a very busy spring as usual on the farm, and with all we had going on I missed getting the April newsletter out, so consider this almost a double edition. Even with the exceeding dry weather our dairy pasture near IL Route 31 has really been growing like crazy so the cows have been on fresh grass almost full time for the last few weeks. And giving us LOTS of golden creamy delicious raw A2 milk. In fact the girls are producing so much milk now that we have removed the 2 gallon daily limit per customer and have opened up the 5 gallon bulk sale discount in the store and online. If you ever wanted to make that raw milk cheese now is the time!


The hens share the same front pasture with the dairy cows, and they too have really picked up their egg production now that they've been out on the lush green pastures for the past month. With the young pullets starting to lay eggs as well we also have an eggapalooza on our hands, and so have removed the egg limit and even opened up the egg bundle sale for medium eggs. Our fresh eggs will last for up to six weeks in the refrigerator so time to stock up.


Spring is also the season for baby chicks. We have received six batches of broiler chicks (about 500 per week) from our hatchery since the last week of March and we now have four of our five Mobile Range Coops rotating around our beef pasture near the Fox River. They look like big white mobile greenhouses, and we move the entire set every morning to get those chicks onto fresh grass. The first batch came in the last week of March, and will be ready for harvesting in early June, when we will begin selling fresh chickens again.


One of my favorite "chores" is moving the beef herd to fresh pasture at our Elkhorn Farm every day. We are in the process of repairing all the water lines that run through this farm, so for now we bring the entire herd (about 100 head) back to the barnyard once a day to drink from 3 huge water tanks, then setup a new paddock for them to graze for the next day. The new farm has several miles of limestone lanes that lead to all the paddocks so moving the cows around the farm is really easy. And whenever they arrive at their fresh paddock most of the herd will break into a run and race around the fresh grass before settling down to munch on the sweet clover bunches first. I feel sorry for all the millions of feedlot cattle that don't get to experience this cow ecstasy every day.

Our Beef Herd on Fresh Grass at Sunset

BULK BEEF AND PORK ORDERS

We will be taking another load of grass-fed beef to Eickmans, and a load of pasture-raised heritage hogs to This Old Farm this week for processing. To order quarter/half beef or half/whole hogs from these loads please get your orders in by Monday evening for the hogs and Thursday evening for beef. To learn more about what products are available for online order please visit our online store.


FARM STORE UPDATE

As noted in the Farm Happenings we have a surplus of grass fed milk and eggs for the first time in many months so there are NO limits to purchase those items in the store. Online milk orders are also available.


As always we have some new items and specials in the farm store that folks may find interesting:


  • From our vegetable gardens we have a variety of organic seedlings and some lettuces and herbs in the store now.

  • Fresh goat milk cheeses from Prairie Fruits Farm including Chevre and Feta.

  • From the waters off Alaska we now have wild-caught scallops as well as salmon, halibut, and salmon roe.

  • All of our grass fed beef chuck roasts, sirloin tip roasts, round roasts, and rump roasts are still 15% off through the end of May.

  • Frozen pasture-raised chickens are now 15% off through month end.

HEALTH NOTES - PASTURE RAISED VS. "ORGANIC" CHICKEN?

One of the most frequent questions we get in the farm store is how our broiler (meat) chickens and eggs are different from the certified "organic" chickens found in most grocery stores today. They could not be more different.


Most consumers don't realize the extent the large poultry companies (Tyson, Perdue, Sanderson Farms) have managed to dilute the organic standards so low to be able to get their confinement-raised chickens certified as organic and therefore command a higher price from unsuspecting consumers. The organic standards do require "access to the outdoors" so they now cut a small doorway in their giant confinement chicken houses and put in a small fenced in concrete porch. Whala - the chickens now have "access" to the outdoors. Not that they will ever go outside onto that porch as all the food and water is inside the building.


Most of the organic certification agencies (who get paid by the companies they certify), as well as the USDA which regulates the organic standards, have gone along with this farce for many years. And so it continues and grows. Many savvy consumers have figured this organic scam out and started looking for "pasture-raised" chickens and eggs in the stores, so the big chicken companies are now starting to label their products as pasture-raised since there is no regulatory oversight of that term. And of course most of those pastures are a bare dirt lot outside the giant chicken house.


While there are a few true organic/pasture-raised chicken and egg products available in grocery stores, but they are hard to find. Your best bet is to find a local farm near you and check them out yourself on a directory such as eatwild.com. The gold standard in pasture-raised poultry is portable shelters and feeders that are moved regularly to fresh grass (at least several times per week).

Eggmobile and hens on our dairy pasture


RECIPE OF THE MONTH - SPRING INTO SUMMER SALAD

This recipe is from Edgewood Farm Organics in Princeton, Illinois, and published in the Band of Farmers cookbook. Now that we have goat cheese back in the store it seemed like a good one to share:

- 1 bunch spring radishes

- 1 cucumber, washed and skinned

- 2 cups edamame, steamed and cooled

- 2 cups peas (fresh, if possible)

- 1 cup green onions, chopped

- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese

- 1/4 cup olive oil

- 2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lime juice

- 2 tsp. local honey

- 2 tsp. cumin

- 2 Tbsp. fresh dill

- 1 tsp. turmeric (optional for extra health benefits)

Wash radishes, then chop or slice them and place in big bowl. Chop cucumber and add to bowl. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well. Refrigerate for an hour or up to a day for full flavor, ENJOY!


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Thats it for May, get outside and enjoy this beautiful weather while it lasts.


To Your Health,


Cliff, Anna, and the Farm Team

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