Thursday, April 23, 2009

USA Today article

Polyface was featured in USA Today, click on the link below to see the article:

'Natural patterns' of farming touted in documentary

Leave a comment to let us know what you think.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Broilers on pasture

It's officially Spring at Polyface. The broilers are in the field on pasture. At 3 weeks old, after they have come out of the brooder we move the birds to the field where they stay until they are 8 weeks old. They are in floorless, 10'x12' field shelters that are moved every single day to fresh pasture. We have about 70 birds per shelter. If you look closely at this picture, you can see where the birds have been and where they are going. They are headed away from us in the photo. Much to many folks suprise, they do eat the grass!Every day we use this special made dolly to move the pen one space to fresh pasture. The pens are lined up in a V-shape like a flock of geese, to maximize the most of the field. They are also our fertilization program for fertilizing the grass for the cows. No chemicals or pesticides here!

The dolly is slipped under one end and then the pen is pulled from the other end. The broilers just follow along excited for the new section of grass and bugs. It takes a couple of days to train them when they first go out, but soon they get the hang of it, and immediatly mosey on to the next section the instant we start pulling.

Each pen is equipped with its own water and feed trough, which we fill every day and as the birds get older, we fill them twice per day. The water is kept in a bucket that sits on top of the pen and is gravity fed into their water dish.It takes about 4 minutes to service each pen each day. This includes moving, watering and feeding them.
The birds are in the field for 5 -6 weeks of their life. And this is the Polyface way of raising Pastured Poultry. Fresh air, sunshine, and no staying in the same place for more than a day makes for a happier, healthier chicken. And in turn, if you are what you eat, makes a happier, healthier person.
As of today, we are only two weeks away from the first day of butchering. We process the broilers at 8 weeks old. I'll try to post more on that in a couple of weeks for those of you who might be interested.
If you haven't had the opportunity to visit, I would urge you to do so. We are open every Saturday from 9am-4pm and during the week by appointment if you want to purchase products. If you are just coming to look around, you are welcome 24-7. We have no locks. There is nothing that you can't see, touch, smell, taste, or hear. We at Polyface strive for total transparency. Come on out this summer and bring your kids. It's a perfect environment to teach them how their food is and should be raised.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fighting for local food at Virginia Tech

Context: Virginia Tech created a new position called a sustainability director in dining services Oct. 1, 2008, and hired Andy Sarjahani to fill it. He has been aggressive and made remarkable changes in a few short months.

Last month he exchanged battery eggs from Pennsylvania with Virginia cage-free (a far cry from pastured, but we take baby steps). Humane Society in the U.S. found out about it and did a press release applauding Virginia Tech's effort. That riled the Virginia Farm Bureau, the Virginia Poultry Federation, the Virginia Tech Poultry Science Department, and the Virginia AgriBusiness Council who pressured Virginia Tech's president and underlings to reprimand Andy and muzzle him from extolling the virtues of pastured livestock and local food. Instead of rolling over, Andy went to the New York Times, which supposedly is doing a story on this Tuesday, April 21. I had written an email to Virginia Tech's president when I heard about
Andy's treatment, encouraging him to let the sustainability effort proceed.
The NYT reporter, Kim Severson, emailed me and asked if the president had responded. He
did not. Then she asked an amazing question: What do you think is at a heart of this matter?

Below, you will see my response to that question. I have not heard back from her. I don't know if the story will be spiked, delayed, or run on schedule, But I think you should know what I said. Here it is:

At the heart of the matter is this: The local, clean, humane--call it what you want--non-industrial food movement is beginning to chip away at the mainstream industrial food system's market share, and they are hopping mad about it. Our movement disparages industrial models on many levels: energy, ecology, nutrition, economy, animal welfare. The industrial elitists are fighting for credibility and market share.
To be fair, most of the industrial food proponents believe farmers like us and people like Andy jeopardize the planet's food system by espousing what they believe to be pathogen-laden, anti-scientific, Luddite models like pastured livestock and compost-grown tomatoes. The industrial food advocates truly believe that if more people eat from their backyard gardens and neighbors' pastures, we will have an epidemic of diseases that will destroy the human population either directly or indirectly through sickening plants and animals on factory farms.

What we're seeing is the battle heating up between heritage wisdom and the techno-cult. It's the age-old war between humility and hubris, east vs. west, nurturing vs. dominion, manipulation vs. respect, egocrentricity vs. sacredness. We are at Wounded Knee in the food system. Just look at HR 875 and you will see a Monstanto- sponsored direct assault on the garden President and Mrs. Obama just installed. I tried to send a response to a NYT Op-Ed last week assaulting free range hogs, but NYT would not print it.

Science is not objective. The USDA told us for 40 years that feeding dead cows to cows was a wonderful scientific breakthrough, only to give us mad cow. We're still feeding chicken manure and dead chickens by the truckload to cows, all with USDA and land grant university blessing. When Monsanto tried to patent wild rice that has been harvested by the Ojibwa Indian tribe for millenia, from their dug-out canoes floating under the rice canes drooping over native streams, that was evil. To force a Native American tribe to pay royalties to Monsanto to harvest something nature gave them for millenia is not a matter of gamesmanship or preference: it is evil.

When the government agents and attorneys general deny Americans the freedom to drink raw milk for food safety reasons, but applaud feeding Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs, and Mountain Dew as safe--that is not science. It is food prostitution of the worst degree. All of us in the clean food
production sector are feeling the U.S. Cavalry surrounding us: we are trying to preserve native food culture and heal soil. The new Cavalry comes with Sheriff's badges and FDA food Nazis who don't want food grown or purchased that heals land, body, and soul. They want irradiated, amalgamated, reconstituted, adulterated, artificially flavored and preserved, unpronouncable pseudo-food.

Our food represents true security: seed saving, healthy immune systems, healthy local economies. In a word, true independence. A community that can feed itself is ultimately
free, able to withstand the desire to turn people into slaves of global elitists. Yes, I realize this rheotoric now places me squarely in the camp of right wing extremists, according to the just-released Homeland Security assessment. But it's time all the greenies and foodies realized that the Donald Rumsfelds also run the FDA and USDA, wined and dined by Monsanto and company in a common fraternal agenda. The Ron Paul homeschool anti-Iraq war folks are now allying with the liberal greenies and foodies in a common understanding that the powers that
be are not friendly to freedom or security.

Unless, of course, freedom means doing what Monsanto says, and security means Naziism. This is strong language, but there is a domestic terrorist war going on, and the media is largely ignoring it. The terrorists sit in government leadership and corporate boardrooms, using gun toting law enforcement officials to prey on honest Americans seeking better food choices for their children and their 3 trillion member internal community of gastro-intestinal bacteria who are unfamiliar with 90 percent of the pseudo-food currently stocking supermarket shelves that can't even be made in a kitchen or didn't exist prior to 1900.

All our side is asking for is freedom. We are not a threat, any more than Native Americans were a threat to America at the time of Wounded Knee. But they represented a paradigm, a way of life, that left-over Conquistadors found repugnant. So attack and annihilation were the order of the day. The industrial food system is trying right now to either eradicate heritage food and failing that, at least put it on the reservation. Some of us will not go willingly.

This is more than I intended to write, but once I got into it, the juices flowed and I figured this might be my one big shot at someone who actually can actually help save us from our sophistication, hubris, and greed.

--By Joel Salatin

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fresh - The Movie

Fresh - The Movie by Ripple Effect Films

A beautiful, empowering film. Be sure to book your seat early. Joel will be at the DC, NYC, and Boston viewings. Come on out and show your support for good food, that heals the land and body! Click on the links below to purchase your ticket.

DC: May 26th at 8:00 PM at the Avalon 5612 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20015

NYC: May 27th at 7:00 PM at the NYU Cantor Film Center 36 E 8th St. New York, NY 10003

Boston: May 28th at 7:00 PM at Harvard Northwest Building, 52 Oxford Street, room B-103, Cambridge, MA 02138

Kansas City: May 31st

Minneapolis: June 2nd

Milwaukee: June 4th at 6:00 PM at Discovery World Center, 500 N Harbor Dr - Milwaukee, WI 53202

Seattle True Independent Festival
June 7th at 4:00 PM at Jewel Box Theater 2322 2nd Ave, Seattle, WA 98121
June 11th at 7:00 PM at Northwest Film Forum - 1515 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

Vancouver: June 8th, 9th or 10th

Berkeley: June 15th (Monday) at 7:00 PM at Gaia Arts Center, 2116 Allston Way, Ste. 1, Berkeley, CA 94704

San Francisco: June 12, 13, or 14 (Fri., Sat., or Sun.)

Denver: June 17 or 18 (Weds or Thurs.)

Caraway Roast

Caraway Roast

Submitted by Serena Hicks (Richmond Buying Club)

1 3.5 lb roast, trimmed (I actually used brisket)
1-2 TBSP olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 c stone ground mustard
1 TBSP caraway seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 12oz bottle Guinness or other stout beer
1/3 c. flour
4 c. hot cooked egg noodles

  1. Put onions in the bottom of slow cooker/crock pot.
  2. Brown roast on all sides in oil. remove to slow cooker.
  3. Combine mustard, caraway, salt, pepper and beer in a bowl. mix well. pour over roast.
  4. Cover with lid; cook on high heat for 1 hour, reduce heat to low and cook 8-10 hours until roast is tender.
  5. Remove roast and onion from slow cooker. pour remaining liquid into large skillet. use the flour to make a slurry with about 1/2 c of the liquid. Add the slurry to the skillet and stir over medium-medium high heat until gravy thickens.
  6. Serve roast over egg noodles and pour gravy over both.
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