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Monday
Feb292016

Why we are NOT *just* Non-GMO


 

 

"Hi Jeff & Laura - I visited your family's farm and would love to try your pork - but it's so much more expensive than Farm X's pork.  Why is yours so much more expensive?"

 

This is not an uncommon question from new customers and it is one we are very comfortable answering.  We know our meat is more expensive than other local farm's food and the primary reason comes down to our choice to feed organic.  This one decision has a dramatic impact on the cost of raising our food BUT an even bigger impact on the environment, the animals, and ultimately (we believe) our health.  

 

You are what you eat, or in the case of our pasture raised foods -- you are what your food eats. Farms are popping up all over the place shouting from the rooftops that they are feeding their animals Non-GMO feed. Since GMO's are bad, this must be good right?  Some are even claiming this is similar to organic. However, they could not be further from the truth. Organic food and Non-GMO food have far more differences than similarities.  Farms who are feeding non-GMO feed that is NOT organic are feeding some of the most pesticide laden, heavily sprayed food being grown.

 

There are a lot of misconceptions with the terms Non-GMO and Organic.  When we started our farm several years ago we chose to feed organic feed at Synergistic Acres.  This decision comes after much thought and research.  

 

THERE IS ALMOST NOTHING SIMILAR BETWEEN ORGANIC AND NON-GMO FEED except that one uses non-GMO seed for the initial planting.  As the chart above shows, Non-GMO and Conventional use synthetic and chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers on their crops.  Organic uses NONE.  That is a big difference.

 

We know that our farm is small and only a mere speck of the nation's crop production goes towards feeding our animals. However, we also believe strongly that each and every part counts and we DO NOT want to contribute to an agricultural community that is part of using pesticides and herbicides at an ever-growing rate.  We want to be part of the system that reverses that trend and instead compels fellow farmers to grow food that is not doused with synthetic herbicides and pesticides.  

 

It is my fear that many Kansas City eaters are shopping for local, naturally raised meat that is healthy and nutritious. They are visiting websites and they see a farmer with a slick website showing they feed Non-GMO feed and eaters innocently believe they are buying the cleanest, least contaminated food possible. Research even verifies this fear.  A recent survey of consumers showed the majority believed Non-Gmo labeled foods were held to a higher standard than organic foods.  This is completely false, but perception trumps truth in consumers buying decisions.  When two products are compared side by side -- Non-Gmo will always be cheaper than organic, because it is much cheaper to grow the grain using pesticides and herbicides rather than organically.  

 

This confusion is compounded for local organization KC Food Circle that works to connect eaters with local organic and free range farmers.  KC Food Circle requires its vegetable farmers to follow organic standards, but does not require its animal producers to use organic feed.  They are moving towards requiring Non-GMO feed.  However, I worry this will confuse eaters leading them to once again think non-GMO and organic are similar terms.  

I am not a fan of there being any rules suggesting farmers can or cannot label their foods a certain way.  Instead, I consider my job to educate the few people that have come to trust our farm as to why we choose the food we choose.  A local organic feed free of any pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.

 

I also want our customers and those that are just learning about our farm to understand that the reason our costs are higher than farms that might have similar standards but do NOT feed organic, is because there NON-GMO feed is MUCH cheaper than organic feed.  In most cases NON-GMO feed is less than 1/2 the cost of high quality organic feed, like our animals get. This makes a HUGE difference in the cost of raising the animals.   


If you are looking at buying meat somewhere else, ask the farmer a few questions.  If they are labeling their animals as being fed Non-GMO, are they also feeding organic or are they feeding grain that has been grown using lots of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.  Once you have this information, you will have what you need for deciding what the best food for your family is.  

P.S.  Another misunderstood term is AMISH GROWN FEED. This does not mean organic either.  In fact, most Amish growers whether of vegetables, grains or animals, use as much if not more chemicals as any conventional grower.  Amish does NOT equal Organic.  

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Synergistic Acres - 21733 Iliff Rd, Parker, KS 66072 - 913-735-4769
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