5 Questions to Ask Your Cattle/ Pig/ Chicken (or other animal) Farmer
Written by Despi Ross. Reproduced with permission from www.FiguringOutFood.com
Buying meat is often a bit trickier than buying veggies if you want to find out about what’s going on behind the scenes. Here are some questions you can ask to get a friendly conversation going about farming practices. 1. How long have you been raising [insert animal name here]? You can also try “I’ve never bought meat from this farm before. Could you tell me a little about it?”
This question offers an opportunity for the farmer to give you a little back-story about the farm. The actual length of time is less relevant. 2. How big is your farm?
Less is often more. Smaller farms can pay much more attention to animal welfare and producing a quality product. 3. Are the [insert animal name here] pastured?
This question is important because you will discover how animals live their lives. Are they out of doors whenever possible, with free reign to roam, or stuck in a crate? Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions about living conditions if you have them. 4. What are the [insert animal name here] fed?
This answer will vary a lot depending on the animal of course. Find some typical answers for the most common animals below. Which answers are best for you and your family? Beef:
· 100% grass fed - Cows are herbivores that are, by nature, built to eat nothing but pasture. Many believe that 100% grass feeding leads to healthier cows (and healthier meat)
· Grain-fed and grass-finished – This practice bulks up animals while trying to maintain some grass fed benefits.
· Grain fed – This is the conventional feed for most of the cows in the American food system. Pork:
· Foraging with supplemental organic or non-GMO feed - Pigs will eat anything, so it is up to a responsible farmer to be sure what they are eating is good for them and for us.
· Scraps and grain – This is the most typical feed for pigs. Chicken:
· Access to pasture and supplemental organic grain - this means they have a chance to run around eating bugs but also get organic corn or other grain to supplement their diet.
· Corn /Grain – Chickens are typically fed conventional corn and soy-based feed that could contain a lot of chemicals if it is not organic. 5. “Do you process your own meat?” If the answer is no, the natural follow up question is: “Who does?”
Processing is simply another word for butchering. Meat processing is regulated by the state of Indiana.
It is helpful to ask questions about processing if you are concerned about the treatment of animals after they've left the farm. Educating yourself about the process might make it easier for you to detect good and bad answers to this question. You can start by checking out the Humane Farming Association website.
Written by: Lucinda Gingerich of Homestead Heritage LLC.
We began our farmers market career 6 years ago with a goal of becoming full time farmers. Farmers markets seemed the logical thing to do, after all they were the star of the “farm to fork” movement and every down on his luck farmer was talking about them. Better prices, wealthy consumers, such were the buzz words…well, why not try it? Such self-serving motives, I’m ashamed of us!
Scarcely were we “going to market” when we began to realize there is something much larger at work here. Something much more goal worthy! Suddenly those “wealthy consumers” became real people (like us) who are seeking the best food possible for their families. (like us again!) Many were middle income families (like us) shopping on a budget (like us again!)
Over the course of time our priorities shifted. Yes we became full time farmers but that had ceased to matter. J What mattered was that our customers were real people who were depending on us. If we failed to come through, we were letting them down. The thankfulness, loyalty, and admiration for farmers that our customers brought to us was humbling and inspiring. Now we were learning to know their names, learning to know their families, most important, learning to know their needs and how to meet them. The most amazing relationships began to develop.
There’s Carol who buys ground chicken bones to feed her very large German Shepherd. Dewey is her best friend and companion.
There’s Elaine who is on a very tight budget and struggling with a husband’s stroke and personality changes. She buys eggs to share with an elderly neighbor and once in a while a piece of meat as a splurge. Too proud to accept a gift, she would rather do without meat. She mostly needs a friend and encouragement.
There’s Karen and Chuck, longtime supporters of sustainable agriculture, they’ve become friends that invite us to their children’s graduations and send us Christmas cards.
There’s Mark and Lori who helped clean up after a messy customer appreciation dinner, called and asked for prayer when they became pregnant after 2 miscarriages, and prayed with us through the difficult pregnancy and birth of our son. Originally they came to us in pursuit of clean food after a sister with cancer passed on.
So many faces, so many different reasons for coming to the market.
Then—phase 2 of our priority shift … In our old profession, it was all business, never share a trade secret with your competition, in fact, view your competitors with an air of suspicion and maybe outright hostility. Not so with our fellow farmers and market goers. We’ve found that if we extend our hand in friendship our competitors become a network of shared info, labor, and resources. We’re all in this together for a common good. Only in our church family have we found a sense of community equal to the one found at Farmer’s Markets.
On another front, farmer’s markets provide opportunities for many people who don’t personally go to the market. Consider these:
Ray and Kathryn Herschberger, local farming family, Jonathan’s uncle. We buy many tons of grain from him each summer. Jon grinds chicken feed from bought grain because our farm and Dads are both planted in pasture.
Virgil and Susan Herschberger, cousin and local farmer, friends of ours. Virgil has the Mama pigs and grows the baby piggies to weaning age and then we buy them from him to finish growing out.
Samuel and Ruth Ann Miller, neighbor, dairy farmer for Organic Valley, he runs a small supplement store on the side. We buy all our vitamins, minerals, etc. for the chicken’s feed from him. Also, kelp, sea salt etc. for the cattle and horses. On the rare occasion that an animal needs medicine, Samuel’s usually the place to go.
Ivan and Mary Gingerich, Jon’s parents, they’re getting close to retirement age and the rent check each month helps support them. We rent 30 acres from them and Dad helps take care of the beef herd.
Perry Coblentz, Ed Bowman, farmers that we buy steer from. We feel fortunate to have found farmers that we can buy grass fed steers from.. Grassfed beef steer are few and far between in this part of the country.
This Old Farm, Buetlers, J & M Poultry Farm the processing plants we send, pork, chicken and beef respectively to. All of them are family run operations. Clean and efficient, they do a good job, treat animals humanely, and we’re blessed to have them.
Kathryn Hochstetler and Leona Gingerich (Jon’s sister). Two single girls that work for us several days a week, mostly in the commercial kitchen and also at markets on Saturday. Jobs for single Amish girls are a little scarce, since there’s the transportation issue with jobs outside of horse and buggy distance.
Pam Bradbury and Mary Beth James, both customers turned friends. They’ve been excellent market help, they mostly work for food. Pam even butchers chickens!
Miller’s Variety Store—Ben and Naomi (Miller) Gingerich, Jon’s brother. Ben manages the store owned by his father-in-law. We buy a lot of ingredients from the kitchen from them. Ben’s good about sourcing those hard to find organic ingredients.
Arlene Tschiegg-secretary and friend. We would be lost without her organization skills and faithful, dependable, order taking. Newsletter printing, promotional papers, labels, you name it, Arlene does it!
In summary, what farmer’s market means to us is a wheel of sorts in which farmer’s markets are the hub. Each spoke in the wheel is one of the issues that concern all of us today: the health of our families, the health of our planet, sustainability, fair trade, buying local….whatever the subject Farmer’s Market embodies them all. And what’s best, the rim of the wheel; a grass roots effort, both urban and rural, to join hands and hearts and make the wheel go round.
Valuable lesson “Make your customer #1 and they will take care of you!”
Want to eat more nutritious food without breaking the bank? Then, check out the Environmental Working Group's "Good Food on a Tight Budget" website
. [Link to http://www.ewg.org/goodfood/index.php
] People often think, "good food is so expensive". While that certainly can be true, there are ways to infuse your diet with healthier choices and be cost conscious.
EWG has put together this really great site to educate anyone about the fruits, veggies, grains, proteins, dairy, etc. that pack the most nutrition into your diet and stretch the most out of your budget.
You can browse the website and even download a handy printable shopping guide that provides a cheat sheet of foods to buy, budgeting tools and a meal planning worksheet. Get the guide here.
[link to http://static.ewg.org/reports/2012/goodfood/pdf/goodfoodonatightbudget.pdf
Written by Despi Ross. Reproduced with permission from www.FiguringOutFood.com
Even though the summer season is officially over, you still have 3 more opportunities to visit the Binford Farmers Market this year.
Three special indoor holiday market events are planned for Saturdays in 2012.
Saturdays, 9 AM - 12 PM on the following dates:
November 17, 2012
December 8, 2012
December 15, 2012
The holiday market is located indoors (to keep you warm while you shop) at Hawthorne Plaza at the corner of 62nd and Binford Blvd., Indianapolis, Indiana.
So, visit just in time to find goodies for your Thanksgiving table, find sweets to stuff in stockings or
discover a great addition to your holiday meal.
Written by Despi Ross, Indianapolis resident, Binford shopper and volunteer and author of local food blog, Figuring Out Food.
Once you round up all your favorites at the market, it is important to take good care of them once you get home or risk losing them. Or you could end up like I did in my early days of market shopping: an accidental fruit fly feeder. Here are some storage tips from Fresh from the Farmers' Market by Janet Fletcher
. (This book is also a wonderful resource for recipes!) USE NOW
Berries - Buy only what you can use or freeze right away. Fresh berries just don't keep well. If you are baking or cooking with them, you can extend their life in the fridge for a few days, but you'll lose the freshness for eating.
Green Beans - Use them right away or freeze them for the winter. Green beans are just meant to be eaten fresh.
Okra - Another veggie that is best eaten ASAP. If you must, store in the fridge in a paper sack for a day or two. STORE ON THE COUNTER
Eggplant - You can keep an eggplant on the counter for a couple of days, but stick it in a bag in your crisper drawer if you need to store it longer than that.
Melons - If you choose a melon that isn't yet ripe, leave it on the counter for a few days to allow the fruit to soften . You can refrigerate it after that.
Tomatoes - Keep them on the counter for as long as they will keep. Don't ever, ever refrigerate a tomato if you want to enjoy eating it. Though, if you plan to sauce them, can them or freeze them, I suppose the fridge is an option. KEEP IN THE FRIDGE
Corn - Summer ears of sweet corn are best stored, unhusked, in a bag in the fridge.
Plums - Store ripe plums in the refrigerator. STORE IN THE DARK
Garlic - Kept in a cool, dark place, garlic can be stored for quite a while. Don't break apart the cloves until you are ready to use it.
Onions - Like garlic, you can store these in a cool, dry place for a while.
Potatoes - Keep your potatoes dry and cool to make them last. Some varieties can make it through most of the winter if properly stored.
Written by Despi Ross - Indianapolis resident and author of local food blog, Figuring Out Food.
Shopping at a farmer's market can be a delightful, but also overwhelming experience. Being prepared is the best way to stay sane and have a good time. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trip:
1. Make a shopping list - A list will keep you on task and help ensure you don't over (or under) buy.
2. Bring cash - More and more vendors accept checks and credit cards these days, but your best bet is to bring cash. And, bring a little more than you think you'll need until you get a feel for how much you spend each time.
3. Use your own shopping bags - If you have sturdy canvas or fabric bags, bring those. They'll hold up better and last longer. Vendors will be grateful if you bring any old plastic bag, though, too. Consider bringing smaller sacks or ziploc bags to store loose produce in larger bags to prevent little things from being smashed.
4. Be flexible - Buying seasonally and locally means that you have to be open to whatever the land produces. So, keep an open mind if you can't find your favorite item and select a substitute. Vendors will be happy to help you select an equally tasty alternative.
5. Don't be afraid to ask questions - If you run into an unidentified veggie - Ask. See an herb you've never used before? Ask. Want to know what's in that bread? Ask. Vendors are used to fielding these questions and you will become a more savvy shopper if you get answers to them.
6. Taste - Many vendors offer samples. Tasting is a great opportunity to "try before you buy" but also a chance for you to get in there and ask those questions.
7. Arrive early - Many of the most popular items sell out, so getting to the market early is the best way to be sure you get what you want. And, on the hottest days, it keeps you a bit cooler, too.
Have tips to share with new market visitors? We'd love to hear them!
Did you know that pasture raised meat is lower in calories than its grocery counterpart?
It's also lower in fat, higher in vitamins and minerals, and better for the environment (hello,
Growing up, steak was closer in texture to meat flavored bubblegum than the tender, melt-in-
your-mouth cuts you see advertised at steakhouses. Like the zebra-striped gum that was oh-
so popular in the 90s, the flavor would disappear in no less than 15 seconds and no matter
how long I chewed it never seemed ready to be swallowed. Consequently, as an adult the
only red meat I would touch was a cheeseburger slathered in condiments.
My husband and I wanted to throw a cookout, so our recent trip to the market was mostly
stocking up for that. While perusing the booths we found Simpson's Farm Market. We've
been eating pasture raised and grass fed beef for a while, but Simpson's is the most
conscientious farm we've come across.
They were more than happy to talk us through their entire process, how they raise their
animals, and the benefits of pasture raised animals (it’s a long list). Most importantly? They
helped us through picking out the perfect meat for our cookout. I'm fairly certain my husband
fell in love.
Silky, smooth, and buttery are words I never thought I’d use to describe a beef, but I also
never thought that I’d be eating jowl bacon. And oh-my-god if you haven't had jowl bacon,
it was delicious. We used it as a base for homemade baked beans, but I think it would be
scrumptious by itself as a breakfast side.
Beef isn’t the only pasture raised meat to be had and with the drought we’ve been hit with
this year, it’s also a little scarce. But there are plenty of other options at the market: chicken,
pork, or lamb, to name a few. We even saw game fowl at a booth recently with choices like
squab and quail. I have to say I’ve never had squab (Google that and you’ll see why), but I’d
be willing to close my eyes and try it out.
There are hundreds of good reasons to shop a farmers market but there are at least ten great
ones. The benefits of pasture raised meat? Number One. I'll see you next week with number
Remember those instructions on the back of your shampoo bottle? I always thought it was crazy that it said "repeat." Does anyone really wash their hair more than once? Anyway, this post is all about washing and prepping those fruits and veggies you'll find on Saturday morning at the Binford Farmers Market.
Here are a few tips to ensure that the items you choose make it into your fridge, or belly, in their best condition:
1. Wash everything you buy! It is tempting to feel like the produce you buy from a farmers market is superior in cleanliness (we all know it is superior, but for different reasons). Remember that your prized tomato could have been someone else's put-back. Or sneezed on by kindergartener, or licked by an otherwise well-behaved market dog
. All of these things can happen at the grocery store too, well, except maybe that last one. Washing keeps your food and family healthy.
2. Make sure all your fruits and veggies get cleaned ASAP once they hit your kitchen counter (xcept for berries, wash them right before you plan to eat them!). This will make your life easier throughout the week as you use them up and prevent the spread of any insects or mold that might be lurking. Greens are particularly susceptible to carrying insects because of their often-intricate folds and curls. I like to soak my greens in cold water in addition to a good rinse in order to tease out any hangers-on.
3. After you clean everything, be sure it is dry for storage. This will help prevent early spoilage. Make sure you have plenty of clean dry towels to remove the excess water from your produce. I use clean dish towels and cloth napkins for mine. Of course, you could use paper towels, but if you can "reduce and reuse" fabric ones, all the better.
Keep clean and enjoy the market!
com·mu·ni·ty (noun) \kə-myü-nə-tē\ a unified body of individuals
That’s really what we desire, isn’t it? To be a part of a community. I wrote about Grandma Jane a few weeks ago and received a lovely email thanking me for the review of her scones. Though, really, there were no exaggerations. We were disappointed to find that someone had bought all of her mini scones before we’d had a chance to snag some. This past weekend I introduced myself to her and received the warmest hug (really, you should try to hug her). We’ve met the owners of Simpson Farm Market and the wonderful people at Pappardelle’s Pasta. If you haven’t visited the BRAG tent, please do. They love meeting new people and will dish all about the market, including the reputed best carrot cake in Indianapolis (we have yet to get there in time before it all sells out). Last week I wrote about the benefits of pasture raised and organic meat. This week I wanted to focus on something a little less food-based. Without the hardworking farmers and artisans, the market would not exist. Without the musicians who come out to share their talents, R would not be able to shuffle around in a toddler two-step. And without the shoppers, the famers and artisans wouldn’t be able to make a living from their crops. The market truly is a community, and a wonderful one at that. It’s a place where you can make new friends, get better acquainted with the old, and discover things you never knew existed, like 3 en 1’s pupusas and my new favorite snack food. Join me next week as I tackle our next big summer project: gardening. The market has the best deals on flowers I’ve ever seen. By Britney Earwood, Binford Farmers Market customer and volunteer
Not all farmers markets allow dogs, but the Binford Market welcomes your well-behaved canine companions. Well-behaved, you ask? The obvious concerns are that dogs are friendly around strangers, children and other dogs. One less obvious consideration is that other, non-dog animals that may be there. Small animals like rabbits and chicks may make an appearance at the market on occasion and it's important to know that bringing your retired racing greyhound may not be such a great idea if he's prone to chasing.
All dogs should be on a leash and kept close to the owner. Also, because dogs are, well - dogs, and they often like to leave their mark on trees, fire hydrants and even those beautiful tomato plants that the person behind you was just getting ready to buy, please make sure that your dog's needs are met outside of the market area. There are grassy areas on the outskirts of the parking lot and trash cans throughout for disposal of any waste. In addition, make sure that large and small dogs can be controlled to ensure you (and other market visitors) are able to sample products, talk to vendors and take your time looking at everything that's offered.
Be on the lookout for items that may be a danger to your pet, such as certain plant leaves, chocolate and other dogs. And be courteous of vendors and their displays. Dog tongues, tails and fur aren't typically expected in someone's banana bread sample or cup of coffee.
So all of that said, why would you bring a dog to the market, anyway? Of course, dogs like to get out of the house just as much as people. New things to see and smell can be an exciting adventure for your pooch. In addition to the exercise being good for both of you, it's good for dogs to maintain regular contact with new people and animals and situations so they are comfortable in different environments. Plus, there are vendors that expect and cater to dogs. You may find some meaty treats for your pet or some cool artisan pet collars and accessories.
And what if you don't have a dog, but want one? Well, you may just get lucky and run into some of the loveable (and adoptable) dogs from Indianapolis Animal Care & Control during your next market visit!
By Kerry Baugh, Binford Farmers Market customer and volunteer