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How a lavishly stocked winter pantry is the heart of food security

written by

Sue King

posted on

September 15, 2021

To be interested in food but not in food production is clearly absurd.

~Wendell Berry~



I was introduced to Wendell Berry many, many years ago by a good friend who recommended his book, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. I was aware that small scale family farms were being destroyed by an overburdening regulatory system and that the families who cared for these farms were being displaced by large scale agribusiness. Mr. Berry speaks to us all through his writings whether we tend farms or live in an urban setting. Food is something we all have in common. We all need to eat.


When World War II ended our local farm economies saw a dramatic shift to a centralized system of factory farming. No longer could we or did we want to connect with local farmers who put their heart and soul into raising nutritious food for their local community. In the name of convenience, our grandparents and parents turn to the supermarket for food that was trucked in from unknown locations. Instead of visiting local farms to purchase our meat, veggies, baking and dairy foods, they opted for the ease of “getting it all” in one place. 


Unfortunately, we learned from their example and have followed in their footsteps, much to the detriment of our health and well-being. Writers like Wendell Berry have been trying to awaken us from this trance we are in. After all these years it seems that their efforts have been futile. But, there is always a glimmer of hope that shines through the darkness.

I feel that I am one of the fortunate people who had the opportunity to have a warm and caring relationship with my grandparents. I had a deep desire to learn from them and they were willing teachers. Without them my world view on food would definitely have fallen into the mindset of “get it cheap, get is easy.” I had the opportunity to work side by side with them, learning as I shadowed them in their work.


I was born on their farm to a single mother who loved me enough to keep me. My mother knew the value of family. My grandparents didn’t shun their daughter in a time when society did. Even when my mother did marry a year later the farm remained an integral part of my life. I would beg to be at the farm, which I was usually allowed to be on weekends. Then my grandparents retired and moved to town. But that didn’t stop them from bringing what they could of the farm with them.


They purposefully purchased the lot their house was on plus an adjacent vacant lot. This new home was filled with fruit trees, berry bushes, and gardens. The farm was where I fell in love with the animals; the town “homestead” is where my passion blossomed for growing things in the soil. 


To this day I have never lost any of these loves. I recently celebrated by 57th birthday. I realize daily the deeper sense of their necessity in our lives. Since the beginning of this global “pandemic” I have felt in my spirit that it is absolutely essential that I don’t keep this knowledge to myself any longer.


I have to admit that in a world of technology the written word and pictures are the approach that I am comfortable teaching by. That is why I love blogging. I love teaching in-person in small groups. Teaching via video scares the heck out of me, but very slowly I am learning to give it a try once in a while.


Enough of my chit chat for know. I know you are here to because you also believe that it is important that we take food security seriously by learning to take the power away from the centralized system and bring it back to our homes and communities.


Join me as I take you on a little tour of what our past week looked like as we head into autumn.


This was the week at the end of summer that I always dread. That time when Jack Frost makes his first appearance. I am an early riser so am always checking the thermometer. Thus far I have not seen a freezer temperature, but that doesn’t always mean it hasn’t come. 


Monday morning I was starting to get concerned so I made an absolutely arbitrary decision that this would be the day the tomatoes, tomatillos, zucchini and snap beans were going to be harvested. With the help of my wonderful WWOOFers (ask me what this it) we got this all done. These are all frost sensitive plants. Jack Frost had indeed made an appearance, but only in a few select spots. One small patch of cherry tomatoes were touched, but not the whole plant. These Tom Thumb tomatoes are like a small, round mound of plant. The tomatoes on the top of the plant didn’t make it, but underneath they did. The rest of the garden remained unscathed.


The tomatoes and tomatillos are still green, but will ripen over the next few weeks. Many times we will still have our homegrown tomatoes up to Christmas. The last picking of beans were canned and will be added to the cold room shelf for use this winter. Some of the zucchini was made into relish while the ones that remain will be chopped, mixed with onions and red peppers and frozen. We love fried zucchini so will experiment with freezing slices that we can fry up this winter. And last, but not least we harvested the broccoli that was ready.

There is much more that still remains in the garden. All the brassica, which include cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi and kale are still grown well. This family likes cooler weather. They will stay in the garden until just before we start to get hard frosts. 


All the root veggies are still growing well. We will slowly be harvesting the potatoes, carrots, beets and onions to add to our growing supply of winter food.

My goal for this winter is to put together a booklet with simple instructions showing how we process food for storage. Be sure to follow us to receive notification when this is ready.


This has gotten long winded so I better say goodbye for now. I hope you will all find something that you can add to your pantry that will sustain you through the winter. If you didn’t grow it yourself I encourage you to find a local farmer that has lovingly grown food and purchase from them.


Not only can you “put up” veggies, but also meat. Our animals have been grazing lush pastures all summer and are ready to provide us with nutrient dense food that will nourish our bodies. 


When you purchase one of our popular bundles you will receive 15% off our retail price. Be sure to order yours today for pickup Friday or Saturday by clicking here.

food security, food traditions, food inheritance

More from the blog


June Farm News and Updates!Where has June gone?  It feels like just yesterday we were rushing around trying to get the gardens planted, baby calves and lambs were being born and the grass was slow to start growing.  Now all that has passed and we have settled into summer routines.   At the beginning of June, we were concerned that we might face drought again this year.  But thankfully God opened the heavens and sent much-needed rain.  The cows and sheep are not able to keep up with the explosion of lush grass growth at this time of year. But that's ok.  We will be able to stockpile the extra grass for next winter. Our days on the farm are full.  We head out to the pasture every morning after breakfast to move the electric wire so the cows can have a fresh salad bar pasture for the next twenty-four hours. Then it's back to the barn to milk Gail, our Jersey Canadienne cow and feed the pigs before changing clothes and heading into the butcher shop or doing projects around the farm.  There are lots of fences to fix, machines to get ready for haying and daily upkeep of the farm and yard. Have you had a chance to try our NEW Bacon Infused Patties yet?  We love them and so do our customers who have tried them.  Be sure to order yours today at the link below.And, as a side note.  I will not be posting as much over the summer, but you can come on down to the Grande Prairie Farmers Market and we can have a little visit there.See you soon.FROM OUR FARM TO YOUR FAMILY,thank you for caring where your food comes from.  

Pasture versus CAFO: Why Do We Raise Our Animals on Grass?

Why  Do We Raise Our Animals on Grass? I want to start to answer this question.  It all begins with our family's journey to regaining our health. In the late 1980's we started to experience varying degrees of health issues.  We sought medical help to no avail.  The doctors could not pinpoint the causes of persistent rashes, digestive problems and persistent weight gain to name a few of the difficulties we were experiencing.  It was during these challenging times that we were introduced to the concept of organic food.  We were very skeptical that switching to organic food would help these issues.  Part of our skepticism was because it would require us to spend additional money on groceries.  Another issue was that we were in a community of conventional farmers who thought there was no basis for organic claims. So, feeling like we had no alternatives left to explore, we started to make the shift to eating organic foods and pasture-based meat, milk and eggs.  To help alleviate some of the out-of-pocket expenses we started to grow a bigger garden and preserve its bounty to supply our produce.  A small improvement in our health was noticed, but the issues were not alleviated.  We then started to take some courses on raising animals mimicking nature.  We discovered the harmful effects that our conventional agricultural practices had on the animals and the people who consumed them.  In 1997 we turned our backs on conventional agricultural practices and started farming organically.  I want to add a disclaimer here:  We are not totally against the use of medications if an animal or human gets sick and could die without intervention.  We will however try every available natural alternative before resorting to pharmaceuticals.   We started to harvest meat, milk and eggs from our pasture-raised animals instead of selling them and then going to the store to purchase our meat, milk and eggs.  At this time we added pigs to our repertoire of animals that we were raising.  So now we had beef, milk, lamb, pigs, chicken and eggs that we were raising for ourselves.    We believe that our health has significantly improved because we changed our diet to consume "clean" meats, raw dairy, eggs from our healthy laying hens and veggies from our gardens.  Still, more health improvements were noticed, but there were still quite a few lingering issues.Through our connections with other organic producers, we were introduced to a wonderful naturopathic doctor who did some very detailed allergy testing.  These tests finally gave us a very clear picture of what we were dealing with.  So after eliminating the myriad of foods that triggered the allergic reactions daily life became much better.  By eating home-raised, organically grown foods that didn't produce the allergic reactions the health issues just seemed to fall away.  Every once in a while when we cheat and eat away from home the symptoms manifest themselves again.  We then quickly correct the behavior and our bodies go back to what is now normal.  I am not saying that this is a cure-all to whatever ails you.  There are still days that we struggle with health issues that seem to come out of nowhere, but we just backtrack to see if it is something that we can correct. The information that follows is from the website "Eat Wild".  It is very interesting and explains the important health benefits of grass-fed meats, eggs and dairy far better than I can. "Summary of Important Health Benefits of Grassfed Meats, Eggs and Dairy Lower in Fat and Calories. There are a number of nutritional differences between the meat of pasture-raised and feedlot-raised animals. To begin with, meat from grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison is lower in total fat. If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal. In fact, as you can see by the graph below, grass-fed beef can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast, wild deer, or elk.[1] Research shows that lean beef actually lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.[2] Data from J. Animal Sci 80(5):1202-11. Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grassfed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits. If everything else in your diet remains constant, you'll lose about six pounds a year. If all Americans switched to grassfed meat, our national epidemic of obesity might diminish. In the past few years, producers of grass-fed beef have been looking for ways to increase the amount of marbling in the meat so that consumers will have a more familiar product. But even these fatter cuts of grass-fed beef are lower in fat and calories than beef from grain-fed cattle. Extra Omega-3s. Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack.[3] Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.[4] Another benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies, these essential fats have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and also kept them from spreading.[5] Although the human research is in its infancy, researchers have shown that omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies advanced cancer and also hasten recovery from surgery.[6,7] Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.[8] The graph below illustrates this steady decline. Data from: J Animal Sci (1993) 71(8):2079-88. When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.[9] It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids. Twenty percent have blood levels so low that they cannot be detected.[10] Switching to the meat, milk, and dairy products of grass-fed animals is one way to restore this vital nutrient to your diet. The CLA Bonus. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.[11] (A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA ,as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.) CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. [12] There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels. Switching from grain-fed to grassfed meat and dairy products places women in this lowest risk category.13 Researcher Tilak Dhiman from Utah State University estimates that you may be able to lower your risk of cancer simply by eating the following grassfed products each day: one glass of whole milk, one ounce of cheese, and one serving of meat. You would have to eat five times that amount of grain-fed meat and dairy products to get the same level of protection. Vitamin E. In addition to being higher in omega-3s and CLA, meat from grassfed animals is also higher in vitamin E. The graph below shows vitamin E levels in meat from: 1) feedlot cattle, 2) feedlot cattle given high doses of synthetic vitamin E (1,000 IU per day), and 3) cattle raised on fresh pasture with no added supplements. The meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and, interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle given vitamin E supplements. [14#] In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin E. Data from: Smith, G.C. "Dietary supplementation of vitamin E to cattle to improve shelf life and case life of beef for domestic and international markets." Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1171" Grab your copy of our free booklet, 6 SUPER SIMPLE COOKING METHODS TO ACHIEVE PERFECTION EVERY TIME FROM YOUR PASTURE-RAISED MEATS.  It is a great resource that you will turn to time after time.Join me next week to learn what "grass-fed" means to me.

Making a Difference: Exploring Grassfed/Grass Finished Beef

 Approximately thirty years ago many ranchers realized the adverse health effects that CAFOs were creating in their animals and the people who consumed the meat.  So instead of sending them away to a CAFO, they started keeping them on pasture until it was time to process them for food.  When animals are raised on pasture the animals grow at a natural pace, consuming only foods that were designed for their bodies.  This low-stress life came with the added benefit of virtually eliminating the use of antibiotics and many other routinely used drugs.  Pasture-based farming allows the animals to express their naturally design characteristics while being naturally healthy.  This means that the people who consume the meat benefit from the animal's health.  How can a sickly animal help us to stay healthy?  We don’t believe that it can.    There have been numerous studies done that compared CAFO meat to grass-fed and grass-finished meat.  They all found that the meat from grass-fed and grass-finished beef, lamb, bison and goats has less total fat including saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.  It also has more vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and other health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid.  Raising animals on pasture for meat also requires more intimate knowledge of your animal' needs than sending them away when they are weaned from their mothers.  Pastures must be managed so that the plants are always at their optimal growth stage.  This provides nutrient-dense forage.  The attention to pasture management details results in succulent and tender meat for you and our family. Well-stewarded animals raised on high-quality pasture provide the opportunity for us to consume the healthiest meat possible without being concerned about what they were fed and how they have been treated.  In 1998 we made the switch from raising our animals conventionally to raising them following organic principles.  In the coming weeks, we will explore the differences in more detail.  Plus I will have some tried and tested recipes you will be sure to love. If you have been searching for locally raised and processed grass-fed and grass-finished meat raised by caring farmers whom you can talk to in person, you have come to the right place.  Every day our family puts great effort into ensuring our animals are well taken care of.   It is simple to order our grass-fed/grass-finished beef and lamb or pasture-raised pork.   Visit our online store where you can browse our large selection of farm-raised products.  When you are ready to order create your very own personal account, fill your cart, and select your preferred pickup location.  We will notify you when your order is ready to pick up.  It is that easy.  What are you waiting for? To help you get started successfully cooking with our grass-fed, pasture-raised meat you can download our 6 SUPER SIMPLE COOKING METHODS TO ACHIEVE PERFECTION EVERY TIME FROM YOUR PASTURE-RAISED MEATS booklet absolutely free. It is a great resource that you will turn to time-after-time. I know I sure do!