Farm to Table – Getting to Know Your Farmer

The mild winter in Chicago has paved the way for a wet Spring. But this past weekend, we’ve had a break in the grey clouds to enable us to head out to our local grass fed farm to enjoy their first farm tour of the Spring and and show my family the importance of supporting the farmer and bring home the message of the whole farm to table concept.

I have enjoyed a meat share with this farm (All Grass Farms) for a couple of years now. I value the relationship that I have with ‘my farm’.  I have enjoyed many conversations with the farmers – both in person and via email – regarding the produce available, their feed, their best practices and their pasture rotation.

As a child, I was lucky to live in the country. I remember walking across fields where cows freely roamed, and we would often drive past many fields with sheep grazing.  I would then walk into the village to the butchers, with either my Mum or my Nan, where half sides of pork hung, chickens had feathers, and saws were regularly used to trim down a joint to meet a family’s needs. All that has changed. In our modern-day grocery stores, most children will just see refrigerators full of pre-packaged meats and poultry. There is little understanding of sustainability or any connection to an animal being a source of food. 

This weekend was the perfect opportunity to get my family out on the farm.  My daughter absolutely loved the whole experience, fascinated by being able to get up close and personal with the animals. She hand fed the pigs, watched the week old lambs frolicking in the grass, navigated the fields to get to the dairy cows, and was beyond excited to get to hold a newborn chick!  Though I must say that her ultimate highlight was being able to hand-pick several dozen eggs.  We walked across the farm, learning about the farming practices, and also the clear love of animals – wanting the very best for each animal as they lived out their lifetime on their farm.

It will be a trip that we repeat throughout the summer and fall months, as building a relationship with your local farmers can be a real gift.

Jo can attest to this, too. Just this past weekend,  while visiting with her local farmer at her local farmer’s market, she was given some beef suet to prototype. As a result, she created some amazing dumplings, only to return to the farmer’s market to be given even more, as the farmer wasn’t quite convinced it was yet ready for market…

Such relationships with our farmers can be empowering while on healing diet. These farmers want that farm-to-table experience to be as nutrient dense as possible. Because of this, I’ve managed to ensure that my CSA box doesn’t contain any nightshades until I’ve reintroduced them.  It helps not having those temptations on my doorstep every Friday, I can tell you – and, I get to double up on leafy greens and other  seasonal veggies I can enjoy!

So this week we’re setting you a challenge: share with us below if you have built a relationship with your farmer. How you did it and what have you been able to negotiate as a result? We’d love to know!

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