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Easter! on April 12th, 2014

Easter is just a week away, and it’s time to start preparing food for Easter dinner! Our hams are cured using a naturally occurring celery juice powder, free from artificially derived nitrates and nitrites. We do not sugar glaze our hams, but a jar of Two Cookin’ Sisters Apple Butter makes for an easy Easter ham. While you pick up your ham, check out our vast supply of eggs. The hens are still celebrating spring by laying many many eggs, so we’re still offering two dozen free eggs for every two dozen purchased. This is the perfect way to purchase lots of eggs for decorating. As we quickly approach Easter, we hope to help you have the most healthful and delicious food possible at your table!

Our Easter Ham on April 12th, 2014

Almost ten years ago we started looking for a place to process the hogs we had raised on our own farm. Jessica was set on finding a place that did not use nitrites and nitrates to cure and preserved food. We were unable to find a processor who did as such (and even worse, were often asked “what are nitrites and nitrates”?). Not only did people not offer the choice to use other forms of nitrites and nitrates, but they often did not know what they were!

Nitrites and Nitrates are two common polyatomic ions (compounds formed from multiple atoms that have an electrical charge). Because they have a charge, they form ionic bonds with particles that neutralize that charge (the same way the negative side of a magnet will stick to the positive side of a magnet). They are most often found in processed foods bonding to sodium and potassium (as sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite). Because their bonds are based on relatively weak electrical bonds, when placed in solution they break apart to form negatively charged nitrite and nitrate ions and positively charged potassium and sodium ions.

Once singled out in solution from their “partner” ions, nitrites and nitrates can both easily be heated and converted to large nitrosamine  molecules. This can occur when heating or cooking the product. A health concern comes into play when you realize that most nitrosamines are known carcinogens(cancer causing particles). Nitrites and nitrates themselves are not harmful (in fact, they may be beneficial) but when heat is introduced and they become nitrosamines they can cause great potential harm.

Rather than using straight sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite to cure our meat, we use naturally occurring celery juice powder. Celery juice powder (actually, celery in general, as well as many other vegetables including spinach, arugula, beets and lettuce) is very high in nitrites and nitrates. What makes it better for you than straight sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite? As I said, the danger in nitrites and nitrates is that when they are heated, they can convert to nitrosamines. In a vegetable, there are several other particles that can bond to the nitrates and nitrites to prevent them from forming nitrosamines. This effectively neutralizes the potential harm of these common polyatomic ions.

Food is exceedingly complicated, and nitrites and nitrates are one of many examples that show the complexity of what you eat. When used in the conventional method of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrite, the nitrates and nitrites will easily separate in solution and be converted to carcinogenic nitrosamines in the presence of heat. When used in vegetables they react with the vast system of other compounds present to neutralize the harmful effect, and even be beneficial! Food is complex, and the best way to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need in just the right combinations is to get your food in the simplest form possible. In this case, curing our product with naturally occurring celery juice powder.

Conner Smith

Eggs, Springtime, and Easter! on April 5th, 2014

The egg has been a longstanding symbol for spring. It represents the birth of new life and the recovery from a cold winter (not to mention, there are many many eggs in the spring time). Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that is thought to have existed since the 13th century in certain parts of Europe, and it’s a tradition that is alive and well today. Eggs were prohibited during Lent, and it’s thought that they were decorated as a celebration that they could once again be eaten at the end of lent.

Whatever the reason, eggs are an important symbol for Easter and spring in general, and our hens are committed to making sure there are plenty of eggs available. With the increased daylight hours, the egg production from our hens is increasing dramatically! As it gets warmer, the hens are quite excited to get to spend more time outside. Whoever opens up the chicken house on any particular day is greeted by a great rush of chickens read to get outside (despite the recent mud). As they are spending more time outside, and thus getting more green matter in their diet, the yolks of their eggs are returning to that dark orange color pasture raised eggs are known for.

We love getting our customers to come out to see us and pick up their eggs, but if we’re too far away you can find our eggs at Natures Pharm in Castleton, Greenwood, and Lafayette as well as Georgetown Market and Traders Point Creamery in Indianapolis. We hope we, with the help of our hens, can help contribute to the long tradition of the Easter egg. Enjoy the Spring weather!

Easter Specials! on April 5th, 2014

It’s finally starting to get warm, and finally starting to feel like spring! We’re offering 20% off all lamb product. Our 100% Grass-fed Katahdin lamb has a more mild lamb flavor and is perfect for both those who have already had and prepared lamb, and for those trying lamb for the first time. With the extending daylight our hens are getting busy, and we’re overloaded with eggs! To keep any of these eggs from going to waste, if you buy two dozen eggs we’ll give you two more for free! So take a chance to enjoy this warmer weather and stop by to check out our Easter specials.

National Food Hub Collaboration on March 29th, 2014

This last week Jessica attended the Food Hub Collaboration hosted by the National Good Food Network. The term “food hub” is becoming a popular term in the good foods movement. Though the term may be new, the idea itself has been at play since the agricultural revolution, and is somewhat simply an act of common sense.

A food hub is a place where food is aggregated from several producers and then distributed out to buyers whether they be wholesale or retail. They allow several small farmers to pool their resources to meet the demand of the many buyers. They are necessary if a small farm hopes to be able to compete in the agricultural economy.

Food hubs offer several other benefits outside of simply allowing the farmer to compete in business. They offer huge protection to the buyer in both financial and food safety issues. Suppose buyer is getting their product from one producer, if that producer fails (due to a variety of uncontrollable reasons including weather, disease, etc..) the either loses the product or has to go look for that product somewhere else. By buying through a food hub, the buyer is more greatly insured against a production failure from a small number of producers. In the they help protect against product loss, food hubs help protect against the distribution of harmful substances in a product. Many food hubs practice and additional inspection of the product before distributing it and at the very least, they keep records to allow for traceability to the source of any possible contamination.

Though we may feel that our current food system is safe at first glance, a closer look shows how easy it really would be to cause a national problem. In fact, we see these problems often (the peanut scare in 2009, drought where our lettuce is grown in California and Texas), and yet, we do not address them. By supporting local agriculture, you are supporting a system with several layers of protection for both the producers and the buyers against financial and food safety instability. Rather than having national recalls, we could have issues that could quickly be fixed before leaving a small community. Local agricultural isn’t just the healthiest, or most environmentally sustainable. It’s the safest way to practice agriculture, and it needs to be supported by you, or customer. We thank you all for providing the financial backbone by which this  movement may continue progressing forward!

Conner Smith