Entries in Jeff (107)

Thursday
Mar172016

Make your Easter special with a VERY Special Ham

A lot of "specialness" goes into making your Easter so Special


Our hams taste FANTASTIC.  They are pre-cooked, Maple Sugar cured, and smoked.  It is a three week process to slow cure the hams to perfection.  They would make an elegant and delicious centerpiece for your Easter family meal.


Our pigs are Special - They are a rare Heritage breed, Large Black.  Once upon a time, they were one of the most popular pigs raised on thousands of small farms.   They were revered for their ability to convert forage and natural foods into the most delicious pork.  However, when the economics of food changed to favor cheap food grown intensively indoors, Large Blacks lost favor.  There are now fewer than 500 breeding sows in the United States.  We are helping their comeback and so are our customers that are once again valuing them for their AMAZING pork.

Our Farm is Special - We treat our pigs very differently than most farms.  We honor the pigginess of the pig and allow them a natural life.  We have found, that by honoring them as pigs, they reward us by helping our land while growing healthy and strong.   We don't just raise them outside, we raise them in woodlots and pastures.  These paddocks are rotated every couple weeks to ensure they are fresh and with rest, will be ready for the pigs to return in a year or so.  

Their Diet is Special - The pigs find an incredible amount of their diet in our woods and pastures.  They find nuts and roots and berries, they chomp on grass, and even eat the bark of trees that are rotting away.  We supplement their foraging with other natural foods.  We search out and offer seasonal surpluses such as 1000's of pounds of pumpkins, truckloads of acorns, hundreds of pounds of organic sweet potatoes, and many tons of apples.  Additionally, they have free choice whey from a local dairy and vegetable surplus from local organic grocery stores.  Sourcing all of this local and nutritional food takes an immense amount of time.  However, the flavor of pork is affected dramatically by the food they eat.  That's why we work hard to provide a lot of diversity to their diet, so you get a rich, complex flavor in your pork.  

Their Butchering is Special - We use the best butcher in the area, Paradise Meats in Trimble, MO.  The butchering is crucial anytime you are dealing with meat.  However, it is infinitely more important when dealing with cured meats.  This is when the butcher becomes a chef.  The Fantasma family uses traditional recipes to cure their smoked maple-cured hams.  

 

Email or call to reserve your ham today.  We will be delivering to the Kansas City area on Wednesday, March 23rd and Thursday, March 24th.

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.  

Wednesday
Feb102016

Winter Isn't So Bad! ...at least this week!

Winter has "so far" turned out to be pretty mild.  The greatest part has been the sprinkling of nice days that have consistently interrupted the cold spells that have shown up.  This has allowed us to get a lot work done on the farm beyond the daily subsistence type chores.  This weekend was filled with a couple of these bonus jobs that we might not have been able to do if we had been dealing with the extra work of extreme temperatures or snow.  


One big job that was completed was we moved a bunch of next year's layers out to the pasture flock.  These were chicks that we hatched this fall and had been living with our front yard girls until they were old enough to start working in the pastures. Combining groups of chickens always involves a 'getting to know you' phase of the two groups.  Although chickens can be somewhat resistant to making new friends -- we have found when given the right amount of space, they do just fine.  Pecking order needs to be established, but that can be done fairly quickly and then they act just like a flock that's always been together.  

Another job that got done was building a new paddock and moving our breeding pigs into that pasture.  We keep our boy and girls separate and only put our breeding stock together when we want to have piglets.  Today, we put our two sows and boar together.  This should lead to piglets in June sometime.  Pig gestation time is 3 months, 3 weeks, 3 days and 3 hours.  Large Blacks typically have 8-10 piglets in a litter.  You might want to set aside sometime to come visit the farm in late June to see some cute piglets!

Thursday
Feb042016

Why do Families Buy Their Food from Us?

We find there are several reasons people buy their food from us.  

1) Welfare of the Animals
2) Healthfulness of the Food
3) Amazing taste of the Food
4) Farm Fresh and Local
5) Convenience 

Most of our customers buy from us for some medley of the above reasons.  Although most are aware of all of these positives  -- most customers have one of the above reasons that outweighs all of the others.  The one that if I asked, "Why do you choose our meat to feed your family?" it would be their answer. 

But the reality is a little more complex than that.  All of these things are intertwined and reliant on the others. Our animals do live a fantastic life just as they would in nature -- outside in harmony with nature.  This produces an incredibly nutritious meat because the animal has eaten the food on which it has evolved to flourish - therefore, keeping it's own body in balance and creating the most nourishing food possible.  

This healthy balanced food also has an amazing taste for those very same reasons -- it's diverse and nature-chosen food sources create complex and deep taste sensations that go beyond the bland meat we have become used to buying at the store and having to work a virtual magic show of spices and rubs to give it flavor.  Meat raised correctly already has this flavor in every bite.  

Raising food this way takes immense effort however and can only be accomplished on small local farms that sell directly to the consumer.  Large industrial scale agriculture simply cannot care for the animals in the way locally supported farms can.  By knowing the farmer directly, you are able to buy the food very conveniently and stock up for the season.

So although you may choose to buy Synergistic Acres' Meat because of one reason above all others, please know that as an added bonus, you are also accomplishing a lot of other goals all at once.

Why do you buy your food from us?

Monday
Jan252016

Pasture Raised Meats are Seasonal

Graph showing how many eggs were produced and sold from our farm.  


 Just look at the graph above.  It represent the numbers of dozen eggs we sold each week.  You will see that in the winter we get very few eggs, but that changes dramatically once spring begins thinking about summer.  This is a great graphical explanation of when you farm in sync with Nature like we do, you have to accept that the seasons dictate the best timing.  Winter may not be the time for pasture raised eggs.

However, winter is the time for pasture raised pork since our pigs are always at their healthiest and most tasty when the weather gets cold and they start laying on the extra flavorful and delicious fat.  This also coincides when their diet is at it's peak diversity -- adding even more flavor.

As Spring arrives and the green grass starts growing, it will be time to order your pasture raised chickens which we'll have throughout the summer and fall when forage is plentiful.  

Early summer brings us to the time when we grass fed beef becomes available.

Eating with the seasons goes beyond just your vegetables, it can also be considered when buying your meat and eggs.  

 

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