Tag Archives: farm

Mineral Tub

For years, we’ve been using a 3 compartment mineral tub.  In mine, i use YPS free salt, Thorvin Kelp, and Agri-Dynamic‘s Grazier’s Essential in the 1:2 ratio (Ca-Ph).*  All free choice.

Although the mineral tubs empty are not super heavy, they are bulky and awkward to lift and load and if there is any product still inside, it’s virtually impossible for me to load it.  So, years ago, i came up with a way to move it without lifting it instead by dragging.  After about 3 years, i’ve given up with the first method i invented because it kept failing about once a year and i’d need to rebuild it, so, i came up with a new plan.  Simpler and easier to replace or repair should the need arise.

  • i purchase the salt from ……, the kelp from Welter Seed & Honey, and the Calcium-Phosphorus mix from Agri-Dynamics north Missouri representative Shan Christopher
  • MISSOURI DEALERS/DISTRIBUTORS

    Rafter C. Ranch, Distributor

    Shan Christopher1441 SE Hwy 116

    Polo, MO 64671

    816-519-8512

    sjdchris@greenhills.net

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I cut a flat piece of old plastic  from a trashed calf feeding trough.  the flat piece is slightly larger in diameter than the mineral tub so that i can bolt it through the sidewall of the tub onto the plastic.  i cut old baling belts for the straps and use carriage head bolts so it will pull smoothly.
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I still use a short chain with a large ring at one end and a heavy duty carabiner clip on the other for quick hookup.
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Bolt old pieces of baler belts from the mineral tub to the plastic drag.

Mineral tub kelp

Mineral tub with salt

Mineral tub with Phosphorus

Starting a Ranch – Is it Viable?

Here’s another great blog by Dallas Mount who owns Ranching Consultants (Ranching for Profit).  He outlines the start up costs of beginning a ranch.  It’s never been easy to ranch or farm – even when US government was giving away land.  Most of that land was harsh and unforgiving and many families were starved off trying to make a living.  However, there have a been a very few years in the last century which might have made purchasing land to farm a viable option.  At today’s land prices, that is not an option.  Prices are way out of whack in regards to its agricultural productivity.

bakingCan’t be done. At least that is what conventional wisdom says. I’d agree that it can’t be done, if you follow the rules of traditional ranching – running cows the way everyone else does and owning everything. If you are willing to break some rules and challenge conventional wisdom maybe you can join the amazing group of people that have done it.

Let’s look at the economics of conventional wisdom for starting a ranch from scratch. You’ll need land. Of course, if you want to be a real rancher (so the thinking goes) you’ll need to own it. If you are going to ranch full time, you’ll need enough cows to support a family so let’s plan to buy a ranch that will run 400 cows. In much of ranching country, the rule of thumb is 35 acres per cow. Let’s push that to 40 and ask those cows to graze year-round.

The value of the land will be driven by things other than its forage producing value. Generally aesthetic value and proximity to a metropolitan center will drive the land values. Let’s say we found a ranch that will sell for $600/acre. We will need 16,000 acres so our purchase will be about 9.6 million. Of course, we need to own the cow herd as well. 400 cows, 16 bulls and 80 heifers will cost us about $700,000 in today’s market and we will need an arsenal of machines so let’s add another $300,000 to make it a round $1 million for livestock and machines.

If we find a bank willing to finance all of this, we will likely need to come up with 20% down at least. So we will need about 2 million for the land and $200,000 for the livestock and machines. It just so happens our great aunt just died leaving us 2.2 million! Now all we have to do is service the remaining debt! Should be easy right? If the bank finances the land at 5% for 20 years and the cows and machines for 5 years at 7% that will leave us with a payment of about $600,000 per year on the land and about $200,000 on the cow/machine note.

If we divide our total payments of $800,000 by our 400 cows then each cow will need to generate $2,000 annually for debt service not to mention covering her bills for feed, vet, trucking, and all the other overheads. We better wean some big calves! Are you ready to buy yet? Maybe we should just sit in the coffee shop and complain about all of this? Oh … I know … it’s the banker’s fault for charging interest!

Hopefully this demonstrates that ranching the conventional way is not a realistic path to ranching from scratch. So what is? Firstly, I think it is important that we make a separation in our minds from operating a ranching business and owning land. After all, you can run 1,000 cows and not own a single acre of land, and you can own a million acres of land and not own one cow! Being in the land investment business and being in the livestock business are two separate businesses. The land investment can be a great place to park money and enjoy appreciation and wealth building over time. It can be a terrible place to park money when you need cash flow.

At the Ranching for Profit School, we teach an economic planning process that requires any livestock you run to pay fair-market rent for the grass they consume. Not including this in your planning essentially subsidizes your livestock enterprises with free grass from your land business. Conversely, asking cows to make your land payment might subsidize your land investment by overcharging your livestock business.  You must do the economics right to know where you are creating value. If you want to buy land, let’s establish a profit target that you will need to achieve to reach your goals and develop a business around that profit target.

Many of our alumni get into ranching from scratch by custom grazing cattle on leased land. This is often a model with a strong cash flow and can allow the operator to build reserves that can be used to invest in livestock or real estate. This certainly isn’t a utopia. There are the challenges of finding leases, managing landowners, developing good grazing infrastructure and many others. The skills necessary to be successful in this path include:

  • People Skills – managing landowners, marketing yourself as a lessee and custom grazer, putting a team together to do the day-to-day.
  • Grazing Skills – planning, implementing and monitoring land health and reporting back to landowners.
  • Economics and Finance – planning for profit, budgeting, and cash flow management.
  • Livestock Handling – leading your team or managing yourself to meet livestock performance objectives.

I’d love to hear from those of you who started from scratch. What advice would you have for someone else looking to do the same?

18 Responses to “Ranching from Scratch”

June 24, 2020 at 3:57 amjames coffelt said:

Excellent discussion

Ranching is a great life style.

Is it a great business? Peter Drucker, the great business writer, suggests every business, every idea, every activity, and every employee, should be on trial for its life, every day.

Can a ranching business succeed? Yes, and there are plenty doing it. However, that is not the right question.

We should ask: How are these assets, efforts, labor, and risk, performing relative to other alternatives?

An S + P 500 index fund has averaged a 12% return for years.

So, is the equity invested in the ranching business, cattle and land, performing better than 12% ? Note, I used the word equity, not assets for the comparison. That is, net assets.

I would suggest the following:

The only management model to consider is a low input management model. Work toward eliminating or reducing, shots, worming, tagging, calf checking, weaning, machine work, hay. Let the cows rehab the land, and produce cattle genetically fit to thrive in the all-natural survival of the fittest, model.

Work from set stocking, to rotational grazing, to mob grazing, as able. Each step is better for the land, and permits an increase in stocking rate. Stocking rate influences profitability more than any other trait, more than performance, milk, growth, marbling, etc..

Find a way to sell into premium markets. A quality animal sold by the piece is 3-4 k retail, $800 at the sale barn. That spread requires sales and marketing effort.

The land is a separate business which can include revenue from gas and oil, hunting, fishing, timber, tourism, etc..

The choice to ranch for love of lifestyle is admirable. However, it is a business which requires economic performance.

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June 24, 2020 at 4:09 am, JOSH LUCAS said:

Learn how to be an effective communicator! (Like they teach at the rfp school) Managing the landowner relationship when leasing can be challenging if you don’t communicate your goals for the property well enough.
Oh and definitely don’t buy equipment!

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June 24, 2020 at 6:07 amShelly Oswald said:

Good points but where is the marketing component where you know the intrinsic value of your products, communicate that to your customers and obtain the premium you need to be profitable without cutting corners?

The other point missed is that your approach conserves capital investment in the land and treats it like the profit center it should be. In order to conserve our farmland and keep it in the hands of our citizens, we need to be paying fair rent to ourselves or our neighbors and not asking them to subsidize the food we produce.

I love the principles you teach!

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June 24, 2020 at 6:15 am, Rebecca Patton said:

My husband and I came back to his family ranch in the hopes of developing a succession plan and being able to take over and run a successful ranching business, however, we were stuck in the paradigm that there is such a huge barrier to entry in ranching that our only opportunity to make money with cattle was to be successors to a debt free ranch. Apparently the older generation had different priorities than ranch transition, so we are now looking to break away with the new perspective that we can do what we want through custom grazing and leasing, and we have never been more excited! Thanks for sharing Profit Tips with us!

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June 24, 2020 at 6:20 am, Clint Hoelting said:

If you are going to take care of other people’s cattle on other people’s land, you might as well get a job on a ranch. Same thing, except with Custom/Lease you will have to pay for overheads a ranch hand wouldn’t.

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June 24, 2020 at 7:42 am, Justin Tollman said:

I was stuck in the “How To Own It” traffic jam for a while, and then was introduced to Ranching For Profit. In 2014, my wife and I had no ranch, and no idea how to step into a ranch, but I knew I wanted to. We went to a RFP School, and that really sparked an idea for me to set up a business plan that I could get people to buy into: Leasing a ranch!
Prior to that shift in paradigm, we were stuck. You see, I grew up on the ranch that we now lease. But, so did my sisters. It’s been in the family for over 120 years, but my parents were stuck in the asset transition trap: How do you be fair to everyone? My wife was extremely scared of going into a huge amount of debt, and quite frankly was scared of what happens if it doesn’t work.
The lease model has opened many doors! It got us unstuck. Has it been perfect? Of course not! I don’t know a ranching family that has everything go perfectly. When the all of the cattle issues go right, people issues may flare, when the people are happy, water issues might pop up, this business has a way of humbling anyone who knows everything. And then, there are always customers to deal with, and luckily almost every “contentious moment” with my customers has been built up worse in my mind than in reality. But, I’ve heard it said that people get paid by the size of the problems they can solve, so if you want paid more, choose bigger problems.
I’ve heard so much “I don’t think you can do that!” Well, my favorite saying now is “You never know what you can do until you have to.”

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June 24, 2020 at 7:44 am, john marble said:

I think the biggest roadblock to starting or maintaining a successful ranching business is the commonly-held belief that ranching is somehow different than other businesses or industries. Loving to work outside, handle livestock, smell the new-mown hay…all of that is fine, but it doesn’t have much to do with running a successful business. People who want to enter the ranching industry need to do the same things that new entrants to the gas station or motel or bowling alley business have to do: market goods and services at a profit. Not very romantic, but clearly true. Successful business people study marketing and logistics. They develop relationships with other progressive, smart operators. They avoid enterprises that lose money.

Sorry to break the new: ranching is just not that special.

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June 24, 2020 at 11:02 am, Marc Cesario said:

John – love it!

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June 24, 2020 at 8:01 am, Davene Finkbeiner said:

I started from scratch at 50 years old. Now I am 62. I followed ranching for profit Allan Nation Joel Salatin Bud Williams.Turing the ranch over to my children. It has been one hell of a ride.

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June 24, 2020 at 8:48 am, Marc Cesario said:

It’s amazing how often you can hear advice, even believe the advice that’s been given, then somehow rationalize why your situation is different. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of machinery, equipment and barns but it’s a dead end more often than not. Grass, appropriate fence and a good water system is really all what most start from scratchers should focus on.
It’s good and necessary to believe in ourselves, but too often we think we can do more than we actually can. At best, I feel we can only do two things well, and more likely it’s probably just one thing. Often multiple enterprises just drain resources from the each other. Stay focused.

The word priority was only ever used in the singular until the 1900’s. There can only be one priority.

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June 24, 2020 at 8:52 am, Marc Cesario said:

Josh- yes, Managing expectations is extremely important. underpromise and over deliver.

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June 24, 2020 at 9:54 am, Ross Macdonald said:

Don’t get caught up in a recipe, what you know today will change/evolve over the next several years.
Let your definition of profit drive your decisions and recognize that it is never perfect but with effort, desire and experience it gets much better.
Soils, grazing, stockmanship, marketing, relationships are get better if you work to make them better but it is a journey not a destination, so your definition of profit had better include happiness.

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June 24, 2020 at 11:49 am, john marble said:

Gosh, Clint, I haven’t found that to be true at all. I’ve rented quite a number of places over the years, and the amount I pay in rent has absolutely nothing to do with land overheads. On occasion, I’ve had land owners express their desire for the rent to cover property taxes or some other irrelevant item. I try to be fair with owners, but in the end I will only pay a rental rate that allows me the opportunity to make a good profit, and that is often based on running “other people’s cattle” on that rental land. Sorry, but negotiating land rentals, signing contracts on custom cattle and designing business plans that result in profit are not “hired hand” jobs. Those are business owner jobs.

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June 25, 2020 at 9:45 am, Justin M Tollman said:

I think John and Clint may be looking at two sides of the same coin. To paraphrase Clint “you’re working for someone else if you custom graze on leased land.” I will say that the thought has crossed my mind over the last 3 years that I would be better off financially if I just worked for someone else. That’s on a cash taken home basis. But, when you look at net worth vs. cash flow, that isn’t the case. To John’s point, working on the business is different than working in the business. If I didn’t want to set direction, plan my own time, work on the big picture stuff, and play the virtual 3-D chess game that is forecasting, contingency planning,etc., then yeah, working as a hired hand on an outfit might be better. But, always know, you are always working for a customer. Whether that customer is someone who writes you a paycheck for labor, or a customer who writes you a paycheck for cattle that you sell, or a customer that writes a paycheck for custom care. But, ranching from scratch, to me it’s about setting the direction, the mission and vision, the building for a brighter and easier tomorrow, and taking ownership of that process. I’m not as excited about the ownership of land or things, but the ownership of happy business partners.

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June 26, 2020 at 6:14 pm, Amber said:

I totally agree. My husband and I and our two kids lead a great life on leased land, with custom grazed cows and building our own cowherd on the side. We work for ourselves, while functioning in a great network of relationships. It is all about how you treat people.

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June 27, 2020 at 12:36 am, Graeme Bear said:

A great topic Dallas. Often the most thought provoking topics are those that challenge traditional thinking and paradigms. Love the collection of views and contributions by everyone on this one. The fundamentals of successful business are the same whether it be a cattle ranch or transport or manufacturing business, exactly the same principle apply.

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June 28, 2020 at 5:12 am, Doug Dillon said:

It can be done! I have done it twice. I purchased my first ranch in 2009 after graduating college. Purchased another ranch in 2014. Sold the first ranch in 2015. I attended two RMC schools and was in the Executive Link from 2010 until 2015. The two biggest things I think any one starting from scratch needs to keep in mind is you have to be passionate about what you are doing, it’s going to be tough. Keep you pencil sharp and make the hard decisions that make you money.

The 2nd is don’t get married to a ranch. In 2015 Mike Hall spoke at the RMC summer meeting in Laramie WY. He talked about “not being married to a ranch.” I realize not all ranches are equal, and its hard to walk away from something you have built. He talked about making your land business profitable by selling land. Its a difficult thing for most people or families to do, but if you are starting from scratch you are going to have to do some of these difficult things to generate cash to get out of debt.

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June 28, 2020 at 7:15 am, Davene Finkbeiner said:

I started from scratch 10 years ago with leased land and share cattle. I agree about selling land. Bought pasture based on its resale value and now have it listed for double the price I paid for it. When cattle prices were at there peak I did not buy more cattle I took share cattle instead and put cash into rental houses.Now they are producing a income of 1200 per month.Biggest problem in our area is I am surrounded by inheritance ranching operations who spend a lot of time trying to derail the start from scratch operations. They are especially hard on young people just getting started.I am looking for a good support group for my 2 Kids just coming into the cattle business.

Reply

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Food System is Broken

Here, Joel is describing a legislative action in his state which might help consumers and producers both.  Other states have already stepped up to make these changes.  But, the back story as to why it is needed is the interesting part of his story here.

Self ascribed ‘Lunatic Farmer’, Joel Salatin, is a gifted speaker, writer, and farmer.  He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Virginia.  His blog is a fascinating and helpful insight into the difficulties farmers and ranchers of small holdings face.  During this time of renewed interest of purchasing locally from local abattoir, I’m going to reblog those of his which address why local butcher shops and farmers do what they do and charge what they charge.  I hope the series will be helpful.  However, we are realists and know that once the huge foreign owned packers are back up and running, consumers will be back at Wal-mart buying cheap imported meat processed, in some cases, by illegal aliens.

The comments are worth reading as well, but you’ll need to click through to his blog site.

 

PRIME ACT NOW

            Yesterday I did a podcast with Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie on Free the People and the discussion turned to his 5-year-old bill the Prime Act.  It has not gotten traction until now.  In the last ten days, he’s picked up 18 co-sponsors.  That’s pretty dramatic for a bill that couldn’t get a handful for 5 years.

             People want to know what to do that would be beneficial during these disturbing times.  Here is something you can do.  Call your Congressman today–yes, just pick up the phone and call–and ask if he/she supports the Prime Act.  This simple bill would unleash the full power of regional food security on the livestock sector, which you know is in complete disarray right now.

             When CEO and legacy family member John Tyson looks at a CNN camera and says “the food system is broken,” that’s a big hairy deal.  He and his ilk have spent their lifetimes creating this system that now can’t get burgers to Wendy’s and is foaming chickens, breaking broiler eggs, dumping milk, and euthanizing hogs.  So imagine that rather than 100 mega-processing facilities around the country handling 80 percent of the meat, poultry, and dairy, we had 200,000 small facilities scattered all over, distanced, if you will, doing this processing?

             That is where the Prime Act comes in.  Right now, custom slaughter houses that do beef, pork, and lamb are under health department and USDA sanitation oversight, but they do not have an inspector or the inspector’s paperwork on site.  These abattoirs service a person who brings in a live animal and wants it custom processed, like if you wanted to commission a woodworker to make a special table for your dining room.  Without all the onerous inspection paperwork and under-foot bureaucrats, these smaller community-based abattoirs can operate easier and cheaper.

             Inspection requires a host of additional licensing, infrastructure, paperwork (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point), bathrooms, inspector offices, and even prescribed hours of operation.  Minimal compliance to get a license, even for the smallest plant, is estimated at an average $1 million.  That’s a high entry fee.

             As a result, right now in most counties, including mine (Augusta) you cannot raise a cow and legally sell a pound of ground beef from that animal to a neighbor without exporting it to another county with an inspected facility and re-importing it.  But our county has a couple of operating small custom abattoirs within minutes of our local farms.  We used to have a dozen when I was a kid.  They can’t legally sell you a pound of ground beef; you have to buy at least a quarter of beef at a time.  That’s a $500 entry fee to buy local.

             The Prime Act simply says that custom slaughtered meat can be sold within the state.  Why should everyone who wants to get neighborhood raised and processed meat be required to buy it in $500 increments?  What if a neighbor only wants  T-bone and a pound of ground?  What if the neighbor doesn’t have a chest freezer?  The current regulations are both price and poverty discriminatory.  In addition, they force massive unnecessary transportation energy and time.

             What about food safety?  Folks, recalls come from the big plants, not these small custom places.  A burger patty at McDonald’s has pieces of 600 cows in it; a burger patty from a custom house has only one cow in it.  The risks are exponentially less in a smaller, community-based facility.  Scale exemptions exist throughout our country, from day care to elder care to requirements to provide medical insurance to employees.  Scale does matter.

             Congressman Massie told me yesterday that many former operators of these small facilities have assured him that the day the Prime Act passes, they will re-open their doors and gladly solve the processing bottleneck in our broken food system.  Few legislative initiatives could offer a more simple, comprehensive assurance of food security and marketplace competition to the 100 mega-processors that dominate our dysfunctional food chain.  It’s the Prime Act.  Massie says don’t email and don’t write a letter.  Call; he says if 12 people call on a subject, they own their congressman on that issue.

             Will you be part of the solution?

Surprise Marketing Strategy

The self ascribed ‘Lunatic Farmer’, Joel Salatin, is a gifted speaker, writer, and farmer.  He and his family operate Polyface Farms in Virginia.  His blog is a fascinating and helpful insight into the difficulties farmers and ranchers of small holdings face.  During this time of renewed interest of purchasing locally from local abattoir, I’m going to reblog those of his which address why local butcher shops and farmers do what they do and charge what they charge.  I hope the series will be helpful.  However, we are realists and know that, by and large, once the huge foreign owned packers are back up and running, consumers will be back at Wal-mart buying cheap imported meat processed, in some cases, by illegal aliens.

The comments are worth reading as well, but you’ll need to click through to his blog site.

BEST MARKETING PLAN EVER

             Like local-oriented direct-market farms around the country, we’re dealing with a tsunami of  interest.  Suddenly everyone wants our meat, poultry, and eggs.  Where were they last year and the year before?

             For roughly 3 years we’ve been brainstorming and trying to hold onto sales.  The biggest hit we’ve ever taken was when Wal-Mart became the world’s largest vendor of organic.  Of course, this is industrial organics; produce from hydroponics and meat from factory farms.  But organic nonetheless.

             Ever since that happened half a dozen years ago local outfits like us have been scrambling to hang onto customers.  We haven’t panicked, but the new reality shocked us into realizing we could lose everything if we didn’t stimulate sales.  And then along came door-to-door delivery.  Another hit.

             Many people think here at Polyface all we do is move cows around and the world is our oyster.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  When we started this 50 years ago, we were the only game in town.  We enjoyed that distinctiveness for about 30 years but gradually things changed.

             Other farmers began duplicating our systems–not that we tried to keep them secret.  Good grief; I wrote every trick into books and made them available to wanna-bes.  Even many apprentices stayed in the area and began competing with us.  Between more farmers, industrial organics at Wal-Mart, and on-line home-delivery, we realized we were fast becoming obsolete.

             Now we’re laughing.  How could we have known that the best marketing strategy in the world was a pandemic?  If only we had known.  Just hang in there until the pandemic and all will be well.

             Now, for the first time in a decade, we’re rationing.  Yes, rationing.  The temptations to compromise are profound.  If you’ve watched the news, you know what’s happened in the pork industry.  A farmer called us yesterday offering us slaughter-weight pigs at $110 apiece.  Folks, it costs us $500 to raise a hog.   Do you see the temptation to buy them and turn a fancy profit in a day?  But they weren’t raised on GMO-free feed; they weren’t raised on pasture; they weren’t the 1950s-style genetics that put taste and fat on a hog.  We said no, of course.

             Instead of pulling our hair out on marketing strategies, we’re wrestling with who gets what.  If you let a retail store have eggs and don’t put them on line people think you’re playing favorites.  Goodness, Teresa went out this morning to grab a package of link sausage to fix for breakfast and had to make grits instead–we don’t have enough sausage for our own breakfast.

             Why should all these people suddenly flocking to us get product over the folks who have been with us for 20 years?  If we shut down a sector of our patron base, will they ever come back to us?  How fickle is this?  After the hype and panic, will all these Johnny-come-latelies stick around, or will they go back to Costco?

             We can’t expand beef unless we have more grass.  We can’t get more grass without more land.  We can’t get more land without farms to rent.  We can’t rent more land without land lords who want to partner with us.  No complaints here; just explaining that you can’t turn a biological system, a whole ecology, on a dime.

             And so as we ration and meter out pieces of availability to our broad customer base, we’re dealing with frantic calls, accusations of favoritism, and the angst of people fearful of running out of food.  And you can’t buy a home freezer until August–they’ve all been snarfed up by the folks who stocked up early.  If anyone wants to buy farm property to secure their food supply, we’re open for partners.  We’ve had some wonderful response to this in the past; who knows what the future holds.

             Do you think this sudden interest in local integrity food will outlast the crisis?

MEAT SCARCITY AND OVERTIME

            By now all of us are well aware about the glitches in the meat and poultry processing food chain in the U.S.  It’s severe enough in pork and poultry that animals are being euthanized rather than going to processing.  Beef will probably not get to that point simply because beef grows slower and therefore has more forgiveness.  A month of holding pattern for a chicken is a long time; for a beef it’s not that long.

             As a result of these industry problems, the crush on smaller community-based abattoirs like the one Teresa and I co-own here in Harrisonburg (T&E Meats) is unprecedented.  With our facilities and crew we can only handle a certain number of animals per week and when the slots are filled, they’re filled.  We’ve had a sudden surge of perhaps 30-40 percent in slot requests.  Even Polyface can’t get in with all the animals we need processed; then we’re short and customers complain.  Sheesh.

             We’ve never run Saturday work or a second shift, but we’re examining all those alternatives now to squeeze some more use out of our concrete, stainless steel, and building.

             Hang with me here, because this will no doubt infuriate you like it does me.  Our small plant of about 20 employees is located on a roughly 1.5 acre lot surrounded by other small businesses.  It’s been on that lot for some 70 years.  We’re federal inspected which means an inspector pokes and sniffs at livers and looks over paperwork each day.

             The inspector has an office in the building to keep records but he’s only there less than an hour a day.  He goes to other plants during the day.  Of course, he has the right to pop in any time he wants to and see anything he wants to.  He also has the right to immediately shut us down if he sees egregious violations of his interpretation of the voluminous subjective codes.

             The way the system works is this:  if a plant owner passes all the compliance and licensing requirements, the federal government issues an establishment number which authorizes the facility to engage in business.  The stamp is called the “Blue Buzz” and it’s the little round blue circle on all federal inspected product that carries the FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) acronym and establishment number.  That license also requires the federal government to supply, at no charge, an inspector for up to 8 hours per day.

             If you need one for more than 8 hours per day, then the business and not the government picks up the tab at a time and half rate for every hour more than 8.  What you have to appreciate is that in the case of a small plant like ours, the inspector is actually only on site an hour a day and sometimes less.  He or she is not there on location for 8 hours; not anywhere close.

             But here’s the catch.  As we begin discussing running on Saturday or operating for an extra couple of hours to try to accommodate more of these local farmers who desperately need animals processed, the government requires us to pay a time and half inspector rate for every hour we OPERATE more than 8 hours, regardless of whether an inspector is there or not.

             The inspector shows up each day, checks things, and then leaves.  Why can’t that check be good for 10 hours instead of 8?  Or for 12 hours instead of 8?  He’s not there anyway, so if the system trusts us not  to cut corners in the 6th hour of an 8 hour shift,  why would it be suddenly risky for us to operate another 15 minutes past 8 hours?  It makes no sense whatsoever, but it definitely changes our economic picture dramatically the moment we have to pay $75 an hour for someone who isn’t even there.

             This is the kind of foolishness foisted upon local abattoirs by a scale-prejudicial system that refuses to accommodate or budge in order to alleviate the desperate need of people for food and farmers to get it to them.  This is accounting by the government.

             Is it time to build an underground railroad for processing?

Thank your Kate Simon for the photo!

Gene Editing Animals – Problem!

This discussion and wrangling continues, yet money is the deciding factor over any other considerations.  As a community, we all will continue being guinea pigs in the new ‘agriculture’ experiment.  We will be caught unawares if we don’t research the food provided to our families.

Leviticus 19:19 You shall keep my statutes; you shall not cause your livestock to breed with different kinds; you shall not sow two kinds in your field; and you shall not allow a garment mixed of mixed fabric to come upon you.

Brave New World: What You Need to Know About Gene-Edited Farm Animals

For decades, the biotech industry has spun a narrative around genetically engineered crops that could be summed up very simply as “jam tomorrow, instead of bread and butter today.”

Sustained—and financed—largely on the promise of spectacular success at some unidentified point in the future, the research and development of new types of GMO foods, made with a whole host of new genetic engineering technologies, has gathered pace in recent years.

These days, without most people being aware of it, genetic engineering is spreading from the crops in the field to the animals in the barn.

Using new genome editing (sometimes referred to as “gene editing”) techniques like CRISPR, biotech breeders are proposing to breed a brave new world of farm animals that don’t get sick, don’t feel pain and produce more meat, milk and eggs at a lower cost than ever before.

Not many NGOs are currently working on this issue and it can be hard to find good information to help make sense of it all. But two recent reports provide in-depth information on the mechanics as well as the ethical issues around gene-edited farm animals.

One, from Friends of the Earth, entitled “Genetically Engineered Animals: From Lab to Factory Farm,” is an extensively referenced report that provides key background information and highlights the urgent need for safety assessments of genome-edited animals.

The other, “Gene-edited Animals in Agriculture,” is a report from a day-long round table in June 2019, co-hosted by my organization, Beyond GM, and Compassion in World Farming in the UK. The round table involved individuals representing a wide range of perspectives. What emerged was a fascinating glimpse into not only the technology, but also the ethics and values systems that underpin that technology.

If you are new to the subject of genetically engineering farm animals for food, if it concerns you or if you just want to know more in order to be an informed consumer, these two reports provide an important starting point.

What are gene-edited animals?

Gene editing is a type of genetic engineering. It is used as an umbrella term for a suite of new technologies, of which CRISPR is the most well-known.

With gene editing, as with older genetic engineering techniques, the organism’s genetic material is changed directly and artificially, by humans using laboratory techniques. This means that gene editing, like other forms of genetic engineering, produces GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Currently, research priorities for gene-edited animals focus largely on a few high-value animals. Pigs are the priority farm animal, followed by cattle and poultry. Genome-edited fish—particularly salmon and tilapia—are also being developed.

How is gene editing being used on farm animals?

Much of the current research and development is focused on health problems in farm animals raised in intensive, industrial systems. Genome editing has been proposed as a way to protect animals from disease by altering their immune response to diseases like PRRS (Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome) and ASFv (African Swine Fever) in pigs and ISA (Infectious Salmon Anemia, or “salmon flu”) in farmed salmon.

Researchers are also looking at creating animals with desirable commercial attributes, such as the ability to produce more muscle mass (meat) while consuming less feed.

They are also looking for ways to adapt animals to their environments, such as cattle with “slick” coats that protect them from extreme heat.

These problems targeted by the biotech industry are real. But most of them are also man-made—a consequence of the crowded factory farm conditions in which the animals are raised, and the spread of industrial livestock operations into geographical areas (e.g. tropical climates) not well suited to this kind of farming.

Poor health in animals often arises as a result of the systems in which they are kept. Gene editing should not be used to address diseases that primarily arise from keeping animals in stressful, crowded conditions. Such diseases can, and should be tackled by improving things like housing and hygiene, and lowering stocking densities, before turning to selective breeding – of any kind.

What advantages are claimed for gene-edited farm animals?

Genome editing has been proposed as a solution for sustainably feeding a growing world population. Producing animals that grow faster and eat less, argues the biotech industry, reduces input costs for the farmer and, on a global scale, helps reduce the amount of crops diverted to livestock as feed, and may also help to reduce the impact of industrial meat production on global warming.

Gene-editing could be used to control reproduction, for instance to produce more female dairy cows (thus more milk) or more female chickens (more eggs). “Gender skewing” in this way, say biotechnologists, has the added bonus of lowering the number of male cows and chickens culled shortly after birth.

There are also claims that genome editing could be used to “edit out” animals’ ability to feel pain and stress. This, it is argued, would reduce the animals’ suffering in factory farm conditions. Opponents argue, however that this is unethical, reduces the animals to little more than a machine and furthers the interests of those who support factory farming.

Another major argument for gene editing is that it can speed up the breeding process—producing in 2 years an animal that might take 10-15 years via traditional breeding.

This notion of speed, however, may be misleading. Although genome editing is promoted as a fast technology with limitless possibilities, no gene-edited animals have yet made it into farms or the food chain.

Most of the “innovations” you read about in the media are based on studies performed to show what might be theoretically, technically possible. These PR stories are often released by research institutions as a way of attracting the interest of funders that might be interested in financing further work.

But if gene editing can help relieve animals’ suffering, isn’t that a good thing?

Most researchers involved in this work (as opposed to the large biotech companies that eventually market the finished product) are concerned for animal welfare and believe that what they are doing will help animals.

It is worth remembering that those involved in conventional selective breeding believe that they, too, are doing “good.”

However, decades of evidence show that selective breeding for specific traits can have a negative impact on animal health, including skeletal and metabolic diseases, lameness, reproductive issues and mastitis.

The fact is, the more we breed animals to be little more than “production units” in industrial farms, the less likely it is to benefit the animal—whatever the method.

How successful have attempts at gene editing been so far?

Results in animals thus far are not as predictable or reliable as researchers had hoped.

For example, a recent Wall Street Journal investigation reported unintended effects including enlarged tongues and extra vertebrae.

Brazil’s plans to breed hornless dairy cattle, gene-edited with TALENs were recently abandoned when a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that one of the experimental animals contained a sequence of bacterial DNA that included a gene-conferring antibiotic resistance. In theory, this antibiotic-resistance gene could be taken up by any of the billions of bacteria present in a cow’s gut or body—and from there be spread beyond the farm.

Other recent research has shown that edited mouse genomes can acquire bovine or goat DNA. This was traced to the standard culture medium for mouse cells, which contains DNA from whichever animal species it may have been extracted from. This mix-and-match DNA is potentially a problem for other genome-edited animals, too. And it raises some urgent questions about authenticity and traceability.

Studies like these, which are appearing with ever-greater frequency, suggest that the science of genome editing in animals is a long way from providing watertight solutions to the problems associated with factory-farmed animals.

Are there any gene-edited animals on the market now?

Although it is promoted as a fast technology with limitless possibilities, genome-edited animals have yet to appear on farms or in the food chain.

The only genetically engineered animals currently on the market is the GMO salmon on sale in Canada and the U.S. This was produced using older style genetic engineering.

Can we achieve the same improvements in farm animals with traditional breeding?

Conventional breeding can also produce robust animals that are suited to their geographical locations. Both farmers and consumers are showing increasing interest in these kinds of “heritage breeds.” And supporting them also helps to protect the diversity of the animal gene pool.

Conventional breeding also has the advantage of not requiring complex regulation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently trying to “simplify” things by proposing that it, rather than the FDA, should have oversight on genome-edited animals and that these animals should be exempt from regulation.

Given the scientific uncertainty around genetically engineered animals, this kind of blinkered rubber-stamping should alarm consumers.

Surely, gene editing is just another tool in the toolbox. Is it right to discount it entirely if one day it might be a useful tool?

Most people agree that our food system is no longer functioning optimally, that it needs to change and is, in fact, changing. Genetic engineers believe that they have something that can help agriculture change. They often refer to gene editing as a “tool in the toolbox.”

This suggests that rather than being a universal panacea, genome editing may be a technology with useful but limited applications and several caveats—i.e. you don’t use a wrench when you need a hammer.

Arguably, more important than the “tool” is the “toolbox” itself, which is what we use to frame our questions, the points of reference we use and how we organize our thoughts.

All over the world, the “toolbox” is the intensive, industrial farming model—these days referred to as “sustainable intensification.” This model drives much of the thinking and decision-making around agriculture and agricultural policy.

In a world where agroecology and regenerative farming are the dominant systems, decisions around genome editing, about when—or indeed if—it is needed might look very different.

There is now a large body of opinion suggesting that, whichever yardstick is used—welfare, sustainability, environment, nutrition—the industrial farming system is damaging and outdated.

If we envisage the future of farming where the industrial model will continue to dominate, then genome editing may take on a more prominent role.

However, if we envisage a future for farming as largely agroecological, and invest in and work conscientiously towards that kind of system change, then it is possible that gene editing won’t have a role to play.

In that future, instead of creating genetically engineered animals to fit into factory farms, we will develop sustainable and ecological animal agriculture systems that support animal welfare, preserve and restore biodiversity and protect public health.

Pat Thomas is a journalist, author and campaigner specializing in food, environment and health. See more on her website. To keep up with Organic Consumers Association (OCA) news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

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Deviled Eggs – Newest Recipe

In my quest to use more local and less processed ingredients in making meals, I’ve updated my previous deviled egg recipe with this one which does not need Worcestershire sauce or Bragg’s Amino Liquid.  There is too much soy in our lives and there is no need for it.  Especially given the proliferation of genetically engineered soybeans.

Deviled Eggs

Ingredients:

  • 12 large eggs (hard cooked)*
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Peel hard cooked eggs, slice in half lengthwise and remove yolk to food processor or mixer (or smash by hand with a fork).  Place the egg white halves on a plate or special deviled egg plate or container.  Smash the yolks to fine pieces and remove to a bowl, then add the remaining ingredients mixing thoroughly.

You can then spoon a bit of the yolk mixture into each egg white half or use a pastry tube for a more decorative look.  Cover, refrigerate and use withing a couple days.

Clearly, i don’t have all the ingredients local – we cannot grow lemon trees in our north Missouri, Hardiness Zone 5B.  (Find your hardiness zone here at Stark Bros Nursery.)  So, i’m sure looking for suggestions for a suitable replacement.  Salt and pepper is also a work in progress.

*Tips:  Remember to use 7-10 day old eggs for easier peeling.  Allow them to come to room temperature before cooking.  Place in a pan and just cover with water, place on a lid, then bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let stand in hot water for at least 20 minutes.  Drain and cool before peeling.

Farm Fresh is Best

Oh, i suppose there are many, including farmers, who could somehow find a way to argue with the title of my blog (which is also the title of a great article in the latest issue of Missouri Life magazine written by Corin Cesaric).  But, the arguments will need to be pretty convoluted and perhaps mostly fall into the fallacy department.

Anyway, this is a beginners guide to exploring and discovering fresh food in Missouri.  If you live in another state, the same guidelines can be applicable.  No one is guaranteed a meal, nor is it even easy to find actual food in this country anymore.  It takes planning, a change of diet (more seasonal or simply eliminate them from your diet), and exploration.  Where is this great food?!  The home manager/economist must take up the important mantel of “She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar.  She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens.” (Proverbs 31:14-15)

Now, i’m not one to worry with eating out, but if that is your thing, there are meals out there provided by restaurants committed to purchasing and serving fresh, in season, local as possible.  Don’t forget to buy from your neighbors!!  As the saying goes, “Costco doesn’t buy Little League t-shirts for your community.”  Guessing that is true, but i’ve never been in a Costco or other big box store – i think there is one in Columbia (1 1/2 hours away)

On the rare occasions when I decide to make a home-cooked meal, it doesn’t take more than a five-minute drive to my one-stop-shop to gather all of the ingredients. I can find pretty much everything I need at my local Gerbes, and although there are many organic options, there’s hardly anything from local producers. The bigger the chain store gets, the more apparent this is.

A lot of people, myself included, are realizing how important it is to live sustainably. So I decided to attempt to eat only locally sourced food for seven days. I was excited, but also a little nervous. Would I have to dedicate a lot of extra time to sourcing my ingredients? Would I find everything I need? What ended up happening was that I gained a newfound appreciation for local business and learned a few life lessons, too.

Before I plunged into my recipes, I did some research on farming in the United States. According to the US Department of Agriculture, for every dollar consumers spend on food, only 7.8 cents goes to farmers.

“We believe that farmers should have not only the cost of production for raising livestock independently, but also a living wage on top of it,” Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC) Communications Director Tim Gibbons says. Patchwork Family Farms, established by the MRCC in 1993, purchases hogs directly from local, independent family farmers in Missouri and pays farmers above market price.

One of the biggest advantages of buying local food is supporting these farmers and your local economy. Missouri relies heavily on agriculture, so if you love the town and state you live in, this is an easy way to support it. In 2016, agriculture and other related industries in Missouri had an $88.4 billion economic impact and contributed 378,232 jobs.

Luckily for me, Missouri is home to more than two hundred farmers markets across the state, so with that in mind, my first stop was the Columbia Farmers Market. I headed there late last summer when it was in full swing with about ninety vendors. I got a decent haul, met a lot of local farmers and producers, and had some ideas in mind for the following week. I found that knowing exactly where your food comes from makes cooking quite a bit more fun. I was taking my time and cared more about the end result of my meals.

Of course, there were some things that I wasn’t able to find from our state, but in the middle of summer, most things were accessible. Here you can see what I ate each day during the week.

Monday

I started out with pretty simple meals so that I wouldn’t get in over my head. For breakfast, I had honey bread from Fiddle & Stone Bread Co. topped with apple butter from C & J Baked Goods, located in Paris, Missouri. C & J sells fresh-baked bread, pies, jellies, and jams along with some other snacks that are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. I can’t stress how delicious this apple butter is. It’s essentially highly concentrated apple sauce, but it has a sweet and caramel flavor. It immediately became one of my favorite morning snacks. As of now, Fiddle & Stone doesn’t have a permanent location, but you can find this homemade bread at the Columbia Farmers Market every week.

For lunch, I had a salad with bell peppers and onions with ingredients that I found at the farmers market, and I topped it with Italian dressing. I got all of my bell peppers for the whole week from The Backyard Farmer at the market, which is run by husband-and-wife team Jay Vang and Nou Lee from Sedalia and their five children.

The family is made up of their youngest, Crystal, who is thirteen, and their oldest, Jenny, who graduated from the University of Missouri and now works in IT in Columbia. Their three other children, Vicky, Nicholas, and Daniel, currently attend MU.

“We do a little bit of everything to pay for our kids’ tuition and rent a place so they can stay [in Columbia],” Jay says. This year is The Backyard Farmer’s fourth year in business.

I topped my salad with cheddar cheese from Hemme Brothers Farmstead Creamery located in Sweet Springs, and I ended my day with tacos. I used ground beef from Altai Meadows in Higbee with bell peppers, onions, and fried potatoes on the side. It was a simple meal, easy to whip up.

The money made by The Backyard Farmer, a family business, goes directly to helping the children while they are at school in Columbia. The family of seven all help out at the market when they can.

Tuesday

The next morning I used the bread from Fiddle & Stone Bread Co. again, but this time I made what I like to call “Lazy French Toast.” I learned how to make this in college. I’ve always liked it because you can make it in ten minutes or less, and it only takes three ingredients. Instead of adding cinnamon and sugar to make the meal sweet, I just slice bread, dip it in an egg mixture, and fry it. The eggs were from Buttonwood Farm in California, Missouri. I topped my Lazy French Toast with apple butter instead of syrup, ate it way faster than I should have, and headed to work.

I purchased the eggs from Root Cellar in Columbia, which is one of the best local resources in town. The market, owned by Chelsea and Jake Davis, sells locally sourced food and offers subscription boxes full of local ingredients that can be delivered straight to your door.

“Jake and I are both farm kids. We grew up in Southwest Missouri, so we have a deep passion for agriculture,” Chelsea says. “Growing up on independent family farms, we know the values that farming has and also the great food that the state of Missouri actually produces, which is really wide and diverse.”

They bought the grocery store in 2011 when the previous owner was selling it and immediately added the year-round subscription boxes. “We’re farmers ourselves and we want to make sure that farmers have an outlet for their products,” Chelsea says.

When lunchtime rolled around, my anti-cooking mentality kicked back in, so I started to search for places around Columbia that offered locally sourced meals. Places like Barred Owl Butcher & Table and Sycamore popped up—two of my favorite spots—but Le Bao is what caught my attention. This Asian eatery opened in 2018. Not everything on the menu features locally sourced ingredients—it would be pretty hard to find seaweed here—but the pork ramen uses meat from Patchwork Family Farms. I’ve never been a huge pork eater, but in order to eat local, I ordered it. I can say firsthand, this pork tastes different in the best way. It wasn’t fatty or overwhelming in taste and it really complimented the noodles.

“The way that corporations raise their hogs nowadays is in big buildings over slatted floors with the waste lagoon underneath the building,” Tim says. “This industrial production model not only negatively impacts the property rights of rural communities and their water and air, but also the taste and quality of the meat. Livestock raised by independent family farmers the traditional way respects their neighbors and results in a superior product. You can taste the difference.”

For dinner, I made baked eggplant with the ingredients I purchased from the farmers market. This is one of my all-time favorite meals, and like usual, it didn’t disappoint. Unfortunately, my Italian bread crumbs were not locally sourced, neither were the salt, pepper, and spices I used during the week.

When I couldn’t find something sourced locally, I was able to easily find it at a grocery store. If I hadn’t had access to those stores, my meals would have looked and tasted a lot more plain, and I would have had to travel much more around the state to find exactly what I was looking for. I wouldn’t have been able to use basic things like salt and pepper or the Italian dressing I used for my salads.

If I truly didn’t have access to anything outside of our state’s borders, this week would have been more challenging, but still possible.


Wednesday

On Wednesday morning, I made scrambled eggs for breakfast with Hemme Brothers cheddar cheese. Lunch was also easy since it was my leftover dinner from the night before, but I’m not complaining. Eggplant really is one of my favorite meals, and many of the vendors carried the fruit—that’s right, I even learned that eggplant is technically a fruit.

The dinner I made on this day turned out to be my favorite meal for the whole week, and I’m not just saying this because I was proud of successfully cooking something. It really was delicious. I made stuffed peppers with homemade meatballs. I made the meatballs with ground beef from Hormann Meat Company in Springfield combined with mild sausage from Patchwork Family Farms. I cut some leftover peppers I had from the market in half and stuffed them with the meatballs and put them in a pot on the stove, then topped everything with local tomatoes and organic marinara sauce and added mashed potatoes on the side. There were plenty of leftovers I was happy to pack up.

Missouri Life Associate Editor Corin Cesaric cooks stuffed peppers with local ingredients from Root Cellar and Columbia Farmers Market.

Thursday

I headed to Main Squeeze for breakfast. This vegetarian restaurant has been known for its local and healthy meals since 1997. I opted for the breakfast tacos made with eggs from Share-Life Farms in Napton, jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, and salsa on corn tortillas with some greens on the side. This year, the restaurant will be replacing the corn tortillas with local flour tortillas from Tortilleria El Patron in Columbia.

“I would estimate we have spent more than a quarter million with local farms in the past twenty-two years,” Leigh Lockhart, owner of Main Squeeze says.

When local isn’t an option, they choose certified organic products instead. Eggs, potatoes, feta cheese, bread from Uprise Bakery, pecans, and blueberries are always locally sourced.

“It seems like a natural extension of running a conscious business that you would want to support the local economy because you live here,” Leigh says.

Leigh didn’t grow up in agriculture, but she found her passion in creating meals in a sustainable business. As the owner, she does a little bit of everything around the restaurant and is the mastermind behind her tasty menu.

“I may not cook every dish that comes out of the kitchen at Main Squeeze, but I’m the one at home figuring out how to make something taste eggy even though it doesn’t have any eggs in it,” she says.

For lunch, I pulled out my leftover peppers to have them again and froze what was left for another meal later in the week. Around dinner time, I realized I needed to become a little more creative with my meals. I decided to attempt a lasagna. Instead of seeking out locally made noodles or the ingredients to make my own, I decided to use what I already had bought from the North Village Arts District Farmers and Artisans Market in downtown Columbia, which was a whole lot of zucchini.

To say this meal was an experiment might be an understatement. I don’t have a vegetable sheet cutter, so I sliced the zucchini horizontally. Some pieces were thick and others were thin, so I made half of them into a lasagna like planned and the other half into zucchini roll ups. Despite the challenges that came with this meal, it still turned out pretty tasty. I purchased the meat from Root Cellar, and it came from Prairiebird Pastures.

Prairiebird Pastures is a private brand owned by Root Cellar that only carries 100 percent grass-fed beef with the Audubon certification seal. The Audubon Conservation Ranching Program works with local ranchers who raise cattle to help with Audubon’s mission. Since grazing cattle restores the land, the program fits with Audubon’s goal of protecting the habitat for native birds.

The Root Cellar and Columbia Farmers Market made grocery shopping simple.

Friday

The breakfast trend became bread with apple butter because it was so quick to make. It’s sweet, but not too sweet for breakfast, and I got the Thai Caesar Salad from Uprise Bakery for lunch. Uprise Bakery is another great spot in Columbia to find dishes with locally sourced ingredients.

For dinner, I had my zucchini leftovers, which still tasted pretty good. I’m proud of how my creation turned out and it provided enough food for three separate meals. Plus, I learned how to get water out of zucchini—and that it’s a necessary step!

Saturday

On the weekends, I usually sleep in a bit later, skip breakfast, and go straight for lunch. This weekend was no different. I went to my hometown Festus, but made a quick stop on the way for lunch at Lulu’s Local Eatery in St. Louis. This neighborhood cafe is known for its sustainability. According to its website, the restaurant recycles and composts 95 percent of the waste, offers a 100 percent plant-based menu using all-natural, local, and organic ingredients whenever possible, and offers 15 percent off to customers who ride their bike to the restaurant, among other eco-friendly perks. I ordered the buffalo cauliflower wrap.

When I made it to Festus, I stopped at one of my favorite produce stands in town, Richard’s Produce, and picked up a Missouri Melon. It’s similar to a regular watermelon, but a little smaller and a lot sweeter, and of course, they are all grown right here in the Show-Me State. At dinner time, I was still pretty full from lunch so I snacked on some locally sourced food that was around the house, like more of the Missouri Melon and a whole lot of Billy Goat Chips that are made in St. Louis.

Richard’s Produce has been in Festus since 1989. You can find fresh fruits, veggies, and various seasonal items here.

Sunday

I had brunch at Rooster in St. Louis. It’s hard for me to pass up crepes anywhere, but I usually opt for sweet ones. On this day, I went with the Mo. Made savory crepes. This daytime cafe has two locations in the city and supports local producers. The Mo. Made crepes are made with Missouri-made sausage, spiced apple, and cheddar.

When I got back to Columbia, I defrosted my leftover stuffed peppers and had them for a third time. I thought about making something new since I still had some local ingredients, but I decided to save them for the following week.

I’ve always known the importance of eating ethically produced food, but these seven days opened my eyes to other factors. There’s the obvious advantage of eating fresher, healthier food, but helping your local farmers, neighbors, and makers supports them and your community at a time they need it most. Although eating local all the time isn’t easy, it’s definitely worth doing more often.

Farmers Markets Around the State

C-Street Market, Springfield
City Market, Kansas City
DeSoto Farmers Market, DeSoto
Ferguson Farmers Market, Ferguson
Hickory County Farmers Market, Hermitage
Overland Farmers Market, Overland
Pulaski County Farmers’ Market, Waynesville
The Sedalia Area Farmers Market, Sedalia
Soulard Farmers Market, St. Louis
Wildwood Farmers Market, Grover
More at agebb.missouri.edu/fmktdir

Grocery Stores With Local Food

Clovers Natural Market, Columbia
Dutch Bakery and Bulk Food Store, Tipton
Local Harvest Grocery, St. Louis
Market Fresh Produce, Nixa
McGonigle’s Market, Kansas City
South Side Sales Amish Market, Clark
Weaver’s Country Market, Inc., Versailles

Photos // Drew Piester, Corin Cesaric, Columbia Farmers Market, Jesse Epple

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