I’m a farmer; a beef farmer to be more precise. Ninety five per cent of the beef we raise we sell to people with whom we have some personal contact. Truly farm to table.
Sounds simple, right? It is. But it’s also the exception to the rule. In almost all cases, we Americans have no idea who grew our food or how it got from the farmer to our refrigerator.
The food supply chain is complicated. It is anything but transparent. It is populated by big business: big companies that grow the food. Big companies that transport the food. Big companies that market the food, and big grocery stores and box stores that finally sell it to us.
Along the way, the food is manipulated in unnatural ways. Chemicals are added to make it last longer on its long journey to your kitchen. In the case of cattle they’re fed grain because it results in fast-growing cows which can be slaughtered sooner. The cattle are given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from the grain. And so on.
I think we all know this isn’t good. We are what we eat. The epidemic of diabetes in the US is a result of our diets - and the food delivery system. Ditto for cancer, heart disease, and many other diseases. But doing something about it is a challenge.
As a farmer, I try to keep it simple. We give our cattle the food that they were biologically designed to eat - grass. Of course, nature is more complicated than: our pastures are made up of many different kinds of grasses - all of which address different mineral and vitamin and protein and carbohydrate needs of the cows. But it’s all grass and it’s what the cows thrive on.
We don’t give growth hormones. Or antibiotics. Or genetically modified corn products.
Just as important, we eliminate all of the middlemen in the supply chain. There’s no one between us and end users (also known as our customers).
When I sit down to enjoy a steak tonight I will be comforted by knowing its origins and its purity. And when I deliver that meat to a customer’s home or box it for a UPS delivery - the connection between the source and the end user is shortened and simplified.
Sometimes there’s no reason to make things more complicated. Nature created a system that we don’t need to improve.
Here at the farm, we’re going to keep following nature in 2019.