Friday
Aug112017

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC AND NON-GMO?


Recently

, I shared a question that came up in a conversation with a friend.  Another question that came up in that conversation is one that often comes up when talking with others about our farm and the way we choose to farm.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE  BETWEEN ORGANIC AND NON-GMO?  

Yes, there is a DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE between Non-GMO and Organic.  First, all Organic food is by definition also Non-GMO.  However, food labeled Non-GMO is likely not also Organic.


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.  That is because Non-GMO feed often requires more spraying than it's conventional GMO counterpart to control weeds and pests.  

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 came after much thought and research.  

THERE IS ALMOST NOTHING SIMILAR BETWEEN ORGANIC AND NON-GMO FEED except that one uses the 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 shopping for local, naturally raised meat that is healthy and nutritious 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.  

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 the NON-GMO feed is MUCH cheaper than organic feed.  In most cases, the NON-GMO feed is less than 1/2 the cost of high-quality organic feed. 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 the best food for your family.  

Wednesday
Aug092017

Deluge!



This week we had an incredible deluge of rain on the farm.

Wednesday morning, I woke up and finished up chores just a little before 6:30.  The creek was dry and it barely looked like rain outside.  By 7:30, all that had changed and we had over 6" of rain.  By the time the rain stopped about 9 am -- we had 6.7" of rain that fell on the farm.  

That meant the creek that I had walked across at 6:30, I would not have driven a  truck through at 7:30.  WOW!



In the country, we call rain like this a pond-filler.  The reason is when you get 6"+ of rain in one hour-- the ground doesn't absorb much of that rain.  Instead, it runs off and fills up the ponds and creeks.  Our pond went up 11" --- that will almost ensure we have enough water to last our animals until the end of the year -- WOOHOO!



This pic shows how much water is in the pump pit that supplies our farm's solar powered water system.  50" -- That's is about the ponds full capacity.  


 

Friday
Aug042017

Is eating meat fed organic food healthier for you?

I was talking to a friend the other night and he was discussing our farm.  This was a very close friend from years ago, but we have only had brief contact recently so his knowledge of the farm was limited at best and he was typically skeptical of food grown unconventionally.  However, he was curious and asked very good questions.  

His questions made me think critically about the decisions Laura and I  make every day on the farm. Questioning organics, our prices and the long-term sustainability of farming in the way we do.  

While reflecting on the conversation, I realized his questions are the types of questions many of our customers get from friends, family or even spouses because they are the same questions I hear all the time.  When asked these questions -- do you know how to answer?  In the next few farm updates, I will go over some of these questions and share our farm's thoughts that go into why we choose certain things.

Is eating meat fed organic food healthier for you?

The easy answer is yes.  However to what degree becomes complex.  There are DEFINITE benefits to eating meat that has been grown on pasture eating natural forages as compared to a more artificial all-grain diet which is what has become the norm or industrialized meat in the United States.  The fat profiles and overall nutrient density of pasture-raised meat are not often debated.  

However, when it comes to the label of organic being put on the food the animals eat - it is much less clear that the food is healthier.  However, there are several other reasons beyond the nutrition of the food that make choosing organic feed the right choice for our farm and our customers.

Most importantly for us, is that every time we buy feed for our animals we are making a vote for what kind of crops we want to be planted next year.  SO when we choose organic feed, we are saying we want MORE food grown organically.  Our farm buys a lot of feed and therefore has a substantial vote and we take that choice seriously.  Second, the environmental impact of conventionally raised grains sprayed with myriads of pesticides and other chemicals is something we want to avoid adding to our earth.  Also, we find that by buying feed that has been organically grown, it changes the paradigm of how a feed is made and switches the choices away from just soy and corn which are so incredibly cheap to grow with pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides but relatively hard organically.  Suddenly, other more diverse foodstuffs can compete economically and the food we feed becomes more diverse. Things in our current ration like mung beans, rye, wheat, and barley all make a more diverse and nutritional feed for animals and can be grown organically more efficiently than corn and soy. This diverse diet means the animals have more complete nutrition to pack into the meat that will sustain us.  

So buying meat from our farm, that has been fed organic feed, does have health benefits for your family, but it also means you are making a substantial choice to create a better earth moving into the future.  

Monday
Jul312017

Say Hello to Elegance



We had a beautiful surprise meet us in the pastures this week.  Meet Elegance -- our newest heifer calf.  She is doing wonderful and has already grown considerably.  This was her mother Angel's first calf and she is being a great mother.  

 

Monday
Jul242017

Somebody say it's hot out there?

Excessive HEAT WARNING -- Avoid outdoor activities*
*unless you are a farmer
Well, it comes every year -- right on schedule. SUMMER. Granted some years, like this summer,  it comes in gentle and warm.  Just enough to let you know meals should be cooked outside and are best enjoyed on the porch.  This summer had the added bonus of wonderful and amazing rain that came in nice digestible portions well spaced out.  Inevitably though -- summer heat ramps up and we have to be prepared.  This last week has definitely required that preparation as the dew point has been in the high 70's to more than 80 degrees almost every day.  For the animals, that high dew point is the real stressor because it makes breathing harder and negates their body's natural abilities to cool themselves.  

It makes me chuckle, just a little bit, when the news reports say it's going to be so hot outside that we should avoid outdoor activities.  There must be an implied asterisk there, that states unless you are a farmer.  When it gets that hot, farmers don't get to take the days off, instead the work is a little harder since the animals need to be taken care of more closely in order to stay healthy and happy. 


Cattle generally do really well in hot weather but prefer to have shade so we try to plan our grazing so they have daily access to shade.  This can be challenging when you use rotational grazing and they get moved to new pastures every single day.  The pastures have to be planned to include a portion of shade for each day.  Cattle also drink more water during the day.  Our cattle that are at a leased property right now need to have water hauled to them.  During hot days -- each full grown cow can drink in excess of 10 gallons of water per day. 


Pigs have the hardest time in heat if not given shade.  Mud is not required but does help tremendously.  SInce pigs don't sweat, the moisture from the mud evaporating can be very cooling.  



Chickens adapt very well to the heat, finding shade as they range around the pastures.  Unfortunately, one of the adaptations also used by chickens in the heat is to not produce as many eggs.  Our chickens have dropped production by about 80%.  We realize many of you are not getting all of the amazing pastured eggs from our ladies that you are used to.  

For all the animals, the key to thriving in the heat is an ample and always available supply of clean drinking water.  We have been very appreciative of the solar powered water system that we installed two years ago.  It ensures there is an almost endless supply of fresh water available to all the animals all the time!

 

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