We can make a difference in the world by the food we choose to eat.
Almost 9 years ago, my mother Nancy Price and I took a long ride in a January snow storm searching for family farms that were humanely raising and pasturing their animals. There was no time to waste – after what I’d learned about factory farming, I vowed never to buy supermarket meat ever again. If we couldn’t find any decent farmers in the state of Pennsylvania, then we were going to have to be vegetarians!
The book, Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer had been life-changing for me. I’d read it in December of 2009, and it opened my eyes to the sorry state of our meat industry. The pain and suffering these animals endure is so cruel and unjustified, I fell into a deep depression over my own role in this food chain. Not only was Big Business secretly abusing animals to increase profits, but they were also exposing us to hormones, chemicals, fillers, pharmaceuticals, pathogens…
But the book gave one glimmer of hope. It said that sometimes you can find family farms still practicing clean, humane processes to raise, care for, and butcher healthy animals. Animals that actually go outside for fresh air and sunshine! That’s how my mom and I found ourselves headed out to Lancaster County in that snow storm way back when.
Our investigation into humanely-raised proteins had actually started closer to home at local high-end supermarkets like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Wegman’s, etc (for example). Out of all the stores we visited, most of them had no idea where their food even came from. Sure they had impressive labels like “Cage free,” “Access to the outdoors,” “Free range”— but those are just buzzwords created by the USDA. True story: these animals can still be factory farmed! It’s shocking how certain labels are used to entice customers to pay higher prices without improving the quality of life for their animals.*
No matter what the label says, supermarket chickens are housed by the thousands packed together from birth to death. They live in their own filth and never see the light of day. The roasters are fed and drugged to get fatter than their little bodies can carry. The egg-layers are “forced,” like tulip bulbs, by artificial light and heat intervals, keeping them constantly laying (chickens naturally lay much less in winter then spring and summer).
You might say, “But I’ve seen labels that say ‘Access to the outdoors’!” and I’d tell you that according to Foer, that that can actually mean a small window in the shed that lets in a sliver of light. That is good enough for the USDA to label your food, “access to the outdoors.”
In Whole Foods, we noticed a “Grass Fed” sticker on a package of meat. When we Googled the farm name, it was a place in Georgia! Are they bringing the animals all the way from Georgia or are they bringing the “fresh” butchered meat? How long has it been merely refrigerated since butcher and how far has it come? Surely there must be better choices, closer to home.
So we googled and mapped out a plan to visit as many family farms as we could find within a 2-hour radius of our house in Germantown. We made great connections with people who were as passionate as we were about pastured proteins. If a farm didn’t want to show us their animals or made excuses about why they weren’t outside, we passed them by. Of the 23 farms we’ve investigated since 2010, a handful have made the “cut” by providing quality products at fair prices while maintaining the strictest standards of humane animal husbandry.
What a journey it’s been! After 8+ years in business, Persnickety Protein still provides the best food of Pennsylvania’s farmlands — and we also like to say we have best prices, too. Most importantly, we have seen for ourselves where your food is coming from and we stay as transparent as possible so you know you can trust it. Every 2 weeks, I travel to Lancaster County to fill my truck with farm-fresh foods our customers order online for convenient pick-up in our Germantown home.
You can feel good that the food you purchase from Persnickety Protein comes from local producers who care about their land and animals. Currently our farms are: Running Water Farm, Meadow Run Farm, and Miller’s Farm in Ephrata, Lancaster County, PA. Email us if you know a farm in this area you think we should check out!
Candice Price has lived in Germantown all her life, where she developed a love for her community and its health. She’s an artist, garden designer, and co-owner of Persnickety Protein: a business she co-founded with her mother, Nancy Price, providing humanely raised and pastured animal products including raw dairy.
*For more information, read If You’re Buying Meat, Watch Out for This on the Label by Katherine Marko. The film, “Food, Inc.” is also a good source of info about factory farming in the US.
*** Organically Pastured THANKSGIVING TURKEYS!!! ***
Feed your family and friends an organically-pastured, humanely-raised, healthy turkey for best flavor and nutrition.
Price: $4.85/lb (sizes range from 10 to 26 lbs, $25 deposit per bird). Order online at persnicketyprotein.com or call 215-842-2662. Support family farms, it’s the right thing to do for the farmers, for the animals, and for ourselves. Follow us on Facebook — and spread the word! (Last Day to order for Thanksgiving Thurs Nov 8th)
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