This is Why
I guess our farm must be a bit unusual because we get this question a lot.
"Why does your family grow grain? I thought The Family Cow is pasture-based."
It seems many pastured chicken growers, grass-fed beef ranchers and those who manage woodland pork often specialize in only that. The pastures, the grazing land, the woodlands, and the rotation of their animals through each.
They may even pride themselves that they don't own tractors or tillage and planting equipment at all. They just let the animals graze and forage and rotate through the pastures. All the farmers do is move fences and water tanks to orchestrate the eco-dance and let the animals do all the work!
It all sounds so idyllic and poetic... maybe even romantic.
And we could do only pastures too. In fact, it would make our lives a lot simpler. So why do we, beyond the romance of grass and pasture, also go to the bother and expense to plant, cultivate, harvest, store, grind and mix organic grain? After all, many other regenerative farmers don't.
This is a perceptive question and one that deserves an answer. 'Why questions' are sometimes complex, but you still deserve to know. Believe me, the boys and I have carefully thought through this one.
We DO know our why! :) If you stick with me for a few minutes, I'll share it with you.
Spoiler alert: If you are in a hurry and don't have time to read, here is our 'why' in one seven-word sentence...
"It is to assure your food purity."
Read on if you want to understand our 'why' more fully.
#1: If we didn't grow grain, we'd have to get it somewhere else.
That's right. Poultry and pigs are not herbivores like cows. Cows can thrive on grass and plants alone, but meat chickens, turkeys, hens, and pigs cannot. They're omnivores, not herbivores. Their stomachs are designed totally different than a cow's. They need the energy density that grains provide. So, since our tribe expects more than just beef and dairy from our farm, we need to either grow grain or buy it.
So ok... why not just purchase grain the way others do? We have considered that, but buying our grain just doesn’t strike us as a food purity option. Here's why...
#2: An alarmingly high percentage of organic grain in USA is imported.
And these imports are often from third world countries. A few years ago, "imported organic corn made up 46% of the U.S. supply and imported organic soybeans made up 75% of supply
These imports are coming from countries like India, Turkey, Romania, and even China. Now, I've not taken a formal poll of our whole Family Cow tribe, but I'm pretty sure I know you well enough to know that your trust of the organic integrity of those countries is pretty low. And your distrust is actually very justifiable.
#3: Imported grain has proven fraudulent way too often.
The Washington Post puts it well.
"The labels said 'organic.' But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren't... Documents and interviews indicated that the shipments were not really organic — in fact, some had been treated with pesticides en route to the U.S."
Peter Golbitz, president of Agromeris is also alarmed, and rightfully so. He says, “Imports present an integrity problem, “Turkey’s ‘organic’ imports into the United States actually exceeded their total soybean production! “This raises major suspicion over origin and authenticity,” he said. “Where did that grain come from? How many hands did it pass through to get here?”
So imported grain is suspect... But this should be an easy fix, right?
We'll just religiously avoid imports and buy only local US grown organics.
This could sound like an easy fix until you look at our next 'why.'
#4: Sadly, fraud is too common even in US grown organic grain.
Randy Constant was from USA heartland of Missouri. A few years ago he and his cohorts were exposed in a $100 Million organic grain fraud that they had going for a decade.
Mr. Constant masterminded one of the biggest and longest-running frauds in the history of American agriculture.
But he was caught, right? So all should be well.
Not really. Missouri's Randy may have been only the tip of the iceberg.
Just this past July a very similar fraud was uncovered in Minnesota. James Wolf, a certified organic farmer engaged in a scheme to defraud grain purchasers by selling them conventional grains that he had purchased and falsely represented them as organic. Wolf defrauded more than $46,000,000 in payments from trusting, unsuspecting grain buyers.
So I know what! Let's just forget organic and simply buy non-GMO grain. Isn't that about the same anyway?
No! And here is our firm 'why' on that...
#5: (Please sit down if you aren't because this is a big one!) Non-GMO grains may legally be sprayed with powerful chemicals just days before harvest.
No one needs to inform you. And most trusting folks have. no. idea!
The process is called desiccation. Do your research on it. Google it. I cannot make it worse than it already is.
The following article is a good place to start. I think this writer, Arthur Hunter, captures the essence of the issue in an exceptionally clear way.
Remember, the Non-GMO claim does not rule out pesticide, herbicide, or fungicide usage on the crops and fields. No chemical-free claims are made even with food bearing the Non-GMO Project Verified seal. The practice of spraying ready-to-harvest fields with chemical desiccation is very widely practiced with non-GMO barley, oats, wheat, canola and other grains.
What chemical cocktails are used to desiccate crops?
"Contact herbicides used for desiccation include: carfentrazone-ethyl, cyclanilide, diquat, endothall, glufosinate, paraquat, pelargonic acid / ammonium nonanoate, pyraflufen-ethyl, saflufenacil, sodium chlorate, thidiazuron, and tribufos. The most common and widely used contact desiccant is diquat (Reglone®)."
We would not want to feed any of this stuff to our pastured chickens and pigs or Thanksgiving turkeys. And we are sure you would not want this either.
So this is Why!
Now you know. The above 5 reasons are why Dawn and I and the family have made the decision to grow our own chemical free, organically farmed, non-GMO grains.
We do it because we think you'd expect us to if you knew what we know.
After all, it's your food you're trusting us to grow!
By growing our own grain we can take full responsibility and accountability and can assure you of the purity of the diet of your food chain.
We are dedicated to farm 100% of our farmland chemical free and GMO free. It's been 17 years since our family took that chemical free pledge and we have never looked back.
The longer we farm without chemicals of any kind the more it just feels like the best way. The right way. The respectful way.
God Designed it... We Respect it... That Explains it!
And we trust that you appreciate it! :)
All the best of Food and Blessings...
Real Farmers... Real Caring... Real Foods.
It's easy to be fooled by industrial organics in the supermarket. That's why our farm is dedicated to only high integrity foods. You deserve to eat every meal with confidence!