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Thread: Sustainable Agriculture

  1. #1
    Bullajami's Avatar
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    Sustainable Agriculture

    Mrs Bull and I are trying to wean ourselves away from the products BIG AGRICULTURE is churning out. Watch the documentary FOOD INC if you want to know more about why.

    Finding 100% grass fed beef and free range chicken is proving problematic. While price isn't a huge deal, the stuff I want is more expensive - and I am finding the price range to be enormous as well. (i.e. something that was $8.99 at one store was $17.59 at another.) I would like to at least be getting the best deal available.

    I am also dubious of marketing. I have some Perdue chicken labeled "cage free". I strongly suspect "cage free" does not mean what I hope it means - that the chickens were allowed to roam until they were harvested. I also see beef labeled GRASS FED in big letters and grain finished in little letters.

    Is anyone else more experienced at this that has some pointers on where to get reliable, affordable food, and information?
    Peace,
    Bull

    "Agree with Bull on this one..."
    - janeg
    August 10, 2011

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  3. #2
    BernardDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    What's up players?!?!!?

    The Bull brought me into this discussion from my virtual hideout. How the heck are all you grinders doing?

    My short answer ... which is all I can afford to give right now ... is that you are quite correct to be wary of the marketing claims on most of the packaging. Grass fed, cage free, etc. are all regulated terms that may or may not mean what you want them to mean. You're also wise to be moving in the direction you are moving. We still find it very confusing to know the true origins of what we are purchasing. I go into the game assuming that if I can't find the supplier in my local phone book (local web search), that I'm buying product that is still very much impacted by big agri. If you have a local coop grocery store, instead of a chain, you're also more likely to be purchasing actual local and grass fed beef, etc. You'll have to deal with more than a few hippies. Let me know if you want me to put together a tutorial for that. After a while, you may feel the urge to get something pierced on your face ... that's perfectly normal.

    I'm fortunate to live in a part of the country where local suppliers truly are local. We spend $75 on a thanksgiving turkey or a Christmas ham, but we are also able to drive to the farm itself and meet the guy who prepared the animal for sale. I'm hearing of more and more super-local suppliers all over the country. We belong to various local farm shares at different points of the year and know that our produce is coming from small farms as close as 5 miles away. So that should be your first place to look ... Google "[your local area] farm shares", and I'd be willing to bet that you'll find similar opportunities. Normally, a weekly share will be delivered to a central location and you'll pick it up. We usually don't do a local veggie share during the winter, as it ends up being nearly all root veggies. But we do the local meat share all year round. That may not be enough for you, depending on how much meat you want to eat, but it'll give an "in" to local suppliers that you can then deal with on your own.

    I'll probably have more to add as the conversation gets going.

    BD
    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p...dDogs/Bull.jpg "I hope you had that one neutered. It should NOT reproduce." - Bullajami

  4. #3
    Bullajami's Avatar
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Quote Originally Posted by BernardDogs
    You'll have to deal with more than a few hippies. Let me know if you want me to put together a tutorial for that. After a while, you may feel the urge to get something pierced on your face ... that's perfectly normal.
    Word.

    I am most concerned about meat. We have our own garden in the summer and we also have a local Farmer's Market that is the bomb-diggity. We're in the same situation in the winter, though.

    There are some area farmers who offer monthly deliveries to a central location in Va Beach. It seems likely I will have to become more organized and use them in order for this to be sustainable on my side of the equation. I am just not accustomed to planning that far in advance. I also need to whittle out some freezer space. My lovely bride has many talents, but keeping the larder logically stocked isn't one of them. (After a year in Africa I came home to 8 different open jars of mustard in the reefer, 11 types of tea in the cupboard, and 6 bags of frozen mashed potatoes in the freezer. WTF?)

    Yay, BD is back!
    Peace,
    Bull

    "Agree with Bull on this one..."
    - janeg
    August 10, 2011

  5. #4
    BernardDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    You should also consider moving to Vermont.

    Linky-poo
    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p...dDogs/Bull.jpg "I hope you had that one neutered. It should NOT reproduce." - Bullajami

  6. #5
    Senior Member the_hawk's Avatar
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Fabulous!

    All we need now is Pie to come in and say "well obviously it makes complete economic sense to have a weighted average transport of items on the dinner plate of at least 1000 miles" and we're good to go

    "Of course a thoughtful check is wrong too, but not as bad as a thoughtless check. Almost as bad though." - chrisjp

  7. #6

    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Suited is extremely focused on this sort of thing and I have to admit that I'm getting better food since she started down this road. We have been members of a local Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) which is a kind of hippie co-op for fresh fruits and veggies. We commit to a certain dollar amount and get access to all sorts of local ultra-fresh produce for about 9 months a year. We know the farmer, have visited the farm and are completely convinced that he is a true believer. Eating vegetables that have picked the same day has been a taste revolution. They distribute their food at a local farmer's market and there we have discovered a network of folks that raise their own chickens, lamb, cows and most everything else. Farm fresh eggs are also blindingly better than the grocery store versions. For a while we did unpasteurized milk too. I know there are CSAs in Virginia Beach. A friend of mine picks up from Skipper Farms at the Farmer's Market down by the municipal center every Saturday.

    There is also an great local butcher shop called Belmont Butchery who are pretty damned amazing. They can tell you exactly what farm each side of meat they have in stock came from and can vouch for the methods that they use to raise them. This is important to me because I actually prefer beef that has been finished on grain, but I find the methods used by the giant slaughterhouses abhorrent in the extreme. Tanya at Belmont understands my objectives and is brilliant at pointing me towards sources I'm comfortable with. Unfortunately, it is ridiculously expensive, but the results on my grill are well worth the price. I'll be happy to ask her if there are any equivalent butchers in Virginia Beach. I suspect that there are, as the local food movement has grown to be huge.

  8. #7
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Quote Originally Posted by Bullajami
    Yay, BD is back!
    I like that Bull has returned, and has caused Torch and BD to make a reappearance. If you're taking requests for the next poster, I'd quite like to know what happened to DTheater.

    Quote Originally Posted by nsidestrate
    Farm fresh eggs are also blindingly better than the grocery store versions.
    Eggs are the food that wowed me most. Thinner shells, completely different colour yolk, and such a better taste.

  9. #8
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    You can take the boy out of the country but............

    Although we have pretty small back garden we've started growing some of our own veg, not remotely enough to be self sufficient but we've had tomatoes, strawberries, beans and raspberries in the last year alone. We did buy one pack of seeds which still has various salad leaves which we can try this year but the remainder were free or as close as. What surprised me more than anything is how easy it is. I'm no expert and my idea of gardening is normally to buy blinds so you cant see how overgrown the grass is but getting a bit of a routine in watering the plants each evening is something even I can manage.

    Wonder if I can convince the kids their next pet should be a chicken
    To infirmity and beyond

  10. #9
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Every grocery store in our area now has organic meats and veggies. I know that it's only a defined term and that big agri is getting into the act, but it is still better than the factory raised stuff. I shop at 3 different stores depending on what I'm buying. Whole Foods has a better selection of speciatly items, but their interpretation of local is quite wide. Puget Sound Consumers Coop is my favorite place to shop as they try and succeed mostly, especially in the spring, summer and fall, to get things truly local. Other times local means Calif. or Mexico, but it's always organic.

    I have also noticed that, even at the mass market grocery I go to, all of the pork and most of the chicken is hormone and anti biotic free.

    I am getting into competition BBQ and many of the people into this shop at a place called Cash and Carry. They have St Louis ribs at a $1.99/lb, good price, but it comes from IBP. I have detected a bit a tude that I am an meat elitist. I am currently looking for a good place to get my meats. Whole Foods could be a good source, but they have a 1 rating on all of their pork (they say they can't find pork that is rated higher in qunatities they need to maintain stock). http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/meat/welfare.php I've emailed a few local farms and haven't gotten timely responses. I may have to raise my own pigs.

    Of course in the future this will all be taken care of by technology. http://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/...cken-solution/

    Until then...

    Cro

  11. #10
    darvon's Avatar
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Of course in the future this will all be taken care of by technology.
    h ttp://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/02/ headless-chicken-solution/
    I am NOT clicking on that link so close to bedtime.

  12. #11
    BernardDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Sustainable Agriculture

    Quote Originally Posted by darvon
    Of course in the future this will all be taken care of by technology.
    h ttp://www.wired.com/underwire/2012/02/ headless-chicken-solution/
    I am NOT clicking on that link so close to bedtime.

    Yikes. I clicked.
    http://i124.photobucket.com/albums/p...dDogs/Bull.jpg "I hope you had that one neutered. It should NOT reproduce." - Bullajami

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