Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ode to Farmer Bob Otis

Three years ago I found Farmer Bob and his exquisite meats. It didn't take me long to figure out his meats were not only better in taste but also in quality. I had been consuming organic, free roaming and ranging meats from Whole Foods. Little did I understand back then about the differences! 

I have since learned that certified organic meat isn't necessarily what I am looking for in my quest for health. What matters more is how the animal has lived, what it has eaten, all the medications it is given, and so on. In short, everything matters, not just the qualifications for organic certification from the FDA. 

Most industrial meats are finished with corn. This also includes most industrial organic meats such as those from Whole Foods. Cows and steers are not meant to eat corn. It is not a natural part of their diet. When they are fed corn, it causes them massive indigestion and gas. The gas build up is so great that they would suffocate to death if they weren't given medicine to reduce the bloat. The corn fattens them up so that they weigh more for slaughter bringing in more money. It is a capitalistic approach that completely disregards the natural order. It is a condition forced on the animals in the name of profit. 

Unfortunately for us humans, as well as the poor cows and steers, this is terrible for our health. All pollutants that the animal comes into contact with are stored in its fats. So, any and all toxins are passed on to you and I as the eaters. Antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, fertilizers, and all sorts of chemical residues from industrial farming still reside in the fat. If the animal has been fed grasses, or grains that it shouldn't be eating to begin with, that have been treated industrially then all of those chemicals are effecting the animal. That means they are all effecting the health of consumers. 

A sustainable farm, such as the Otis Family Farm, grows the grasses that the cows eat. It doesn't contain the animals with an "option" for them to go outside in the name of free roaming and ranging. The animals really do live outside wandering around. Farmer Bob actually has to catch the turkeys for Thanksgiving! 

I like to order a quarter of a steer at a time from Farmer Bob. That way I can talk to him about how I want the meat processed. I have the option to have parts like the tongue and liver put into the ground beef or as whole parts. The animal is slaughtered just for me and the cuts of meat come labeled with my name. I can either pick it up at the St. Paul Farmer's Market or arrange for him to drop it off at my house for a small gas fee. I keep a small freezer in my basement to house all of the meat. 

Along with beef, Otis Family Farms also raises chicken, lamb, turkey, and pork. They even have their own bees to pollinate the plants grown for the animals. You can also buy processed meats such as sausages and flavored chicken, but they are made using typical preservatives that I cannot consume. His eggs are so yummy, and the yolks trend orange instead of yellow. 

I would strongly urge you to try real free roaming and ranging, organic (even if not certified) meats from a local farmer. I can't even begin to tell you how satisfying it is to develop a relationship with the person who raises your food. For me, it has meant all the difference in my health. I feel as though Farmer Bob has given me life, and a much higher quality of life, by taking such good care of his farm and animals. I have depended on him for pure food on my table at every meal. He has been one of the most important people in my recovery process. I owe him a lot!  

Knowing the person that raises my food really connects me to my community. I love hearing the updates about what has been happening on the farm each week when I visit Farmer Bob at the market. He will tell me about the antics the animals have been up to. I am not detached from how my food made it to my table. I am very grateful for this fine food, and for Farmer Bob Otis. 

Otis Family Farms
Year round at the St. Paul Farmer's Market
290 E. 5th St. 
Lowertown St. Paul, MN 55101
Corner of Wall and 5th Streets

or give Farmer Bob a call at 715-338-0237