Sage Hill Farms and Vintage Store

February 2012~

I’ve had a lot of requests for this information in parts from time to time. I’ve compiled what I see as the most important things we need to know and refer to when thinking ‘food’.

Appreciation goes to The Cornucopia Institute, Weston Price, Organic Consumers, The Eat Well Guide, and others who work hard to research and make available information we all need to know.

This will be a 4 part series-worth saving, and reading again and again.

I just finished watching the latest updates on the inside happenings with GMO’s…more than ever we need to be aware of our food choices.

What do Food Labels Really Mean?

Food labels are packed with information, but some words can be confusing, if not downright misleading. A dozen eggs in a carton boasting the statement "farm fresh," for example, have probably not come from anything that looks remotely like a farm. A dairy cow is far from "happy" at an industrial facility where she never grazes on pasture. And "natural" is not synonymous with "high-welfare"-in fact, the former term refers only to meat processing, not the animals' lives.

100% Vegetarian Feed
Animals are not fed any animal byproducts. This does not guarantee they were raised outdoors or on pasture, but it should indicate that they were raised on grasses, hay, silage and other feed found on pasture or in a field. Grain, like corn, is vegetarian and falls into this category. Producers feeding their animals a 100% vegetarian diet should not be giving them supplements or additives, but it is always best to check with the farmer.

This holistic method of agriculture is certified by a third-party agency and is based on the philosophy that all aspects of the farm should be treated as an interrelated whole. Having emerged as the first non-chemical agriculture movement approximately 20 years before the development or "organic" agriculture, biodynamic’s has now spread throughout the world. Biodynamic farmers work in harmony with nature and use a variety of techniques, such as crop rotation and on-farm composting, to foster a sustainable and productive environment.

Cage Free
Birds are raised without cages. What this doesn't explain is if the birds were raised outdoors on pasture, if they had access to outside, or if they were raised indoors in overcrowded conditions. If you are looking to buy eggs, poultry or meat that was raised outdoors, look for a label that says "Pastured" or "Pasture-raised."

"Free Range" or "Free Roaming" means that the animal had some access to the outdoors each day. However, this doesn't guarantee that the animal actually spent any time outside. As long as a door to the outdoors is left open for some period of time, the animal can be considered Free Range. Although the USDA has defined this term for chicken raised for consumption, no standards have been set for egg-laying chickens or for other animals. If you are looking to buy eggs, poultry or meat that was raised outdoors, look for a label that says "Pastured" or "Pasture-raised."

Animals eat grasses from start to finish. They should not be supplemented with grain, animal byproducts, synthetic hormones, or be given antibiotics to promote growth or prevent disease (though they might be given antibiotics to treat disease). Note that 'grass-fed' does not guarantee that the animal was pastured or pasture-raised. While most grass-fed animals are pasture-raised, some may still be confined and fed a steady diet of grasses.

Grass-fed, Grain supplemented
Animals are raised on pasture and eat grasses. At a certain point, grains are slowly introduced into the diet in a controlled amount, along with the grasses. By controlling the amount of grain, the animals do not become sick and do not develop digestion problems that solely grain-fed cattle can encounter. They are also not forced to eat the grain.

The Waiting For Spring~

One would think by now I would know I can’t rush the month of May. That is when spring really starts to come alive in my garden.

Many things are showing sprouts of green, not certain if that’s a really good thing. We are at 35* and it’s 8:45 PM…

Lambs Ear is ready to ‘grow’…once it starts, not easy to slow it down, will mulch heavily with leaves from the other beds until it’s warmer.

Will be interesting to see how the spring unfolds.
What’s your garden doing? Is it off schedule too?

Valentine Day Delights

Spending time with the people we love and honor is the best delight.

I love this holiday because it allows us to slow down and focus on one special or many special people, those whom we tend to take for granted so much of the time.

Special packages and special foods will be on our agenda!
Hope your day brings love and togetherness…

Keep warm, and enjoy the day ~

Bea and Mike Kunz
Sage Hill Herb Farm