Bright Orange Egg Yolk

A friend who gets her eggs on our farm told me that they’d run out while we were away on vacation. She  picked up some store-bought eggs to scramble for her 6-year-old.  Erik picked at his plate and said, “You’d better text Morgan. Eggs are not supposed to be this colour.”

This made my week! How cool is it for kids to be able to make the connection between nutritious foods and their vibrant appearance?

I think it is commonly understood that a dark yellow or orange yolk announces a more nutritious egg, but let’s talk about specifically why that is:  The bright yellow colour you are more likely to see in a farm-fresh egg comes from both vitamin A, and B vitamins. If you want a little more information, read on!

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The complete form of vitamin A (retinol) is found only in animal foods because the animal eats foods containing the vitamin A precursor, and converts it in its body to retinol, which is now immediately available for use in our bodies. The name retinol clearly indicates its importance in the function of eyesight, but it is also essential for tissue-building (including bone growth) and repair, skin growth and barrier function,  as well as immune system function and lowering of cancer risk. We are accustomed to recognizing the  yellow-orange in the vegetable world, knowing that carrots, red and orange peppers and red cabbage have their colour because of provitamin A (carotenoids – the most widely recognized being beta-carotene). This pigment, which is found not only in yellow and red fruits and vegetables, but also in greens (which chickens are crazy for), is converted to vitamin A by the hen, and passed along to the egg yolk.

The other source of an egg yolk’s colour is from the family of B vitamins…you know how when you take a multi-vitamin, your pee comes out bright yellow? That is from vitamin B. B vitamins are necessary in metabolism and all nervous system function, as well as liver detox pathways, and the health of skin and mucosal linings. They are rapidly used during times of stress (which include growth/childhood and pregnancy). The hens obtain the varied B vitamins from their omnivorous diet and concentrate them in their eggs. Egg yolk is a source of the sometimes elusive vitamin B12 – in fact, it is pretty much the only vegetarian source of the nutrient (dairy is also a source) , being all but nonexistent in the plant world. B12 is bright red.

You know, I just think it’s fun to celebrate nature by talking nutrition. To me, it’s pretty cool that raising animals in a more humane way that allows them to be driven by their natural instincts actually makes their meat and products more nutritious and health-promoting for humans. In this case, the free-range hens make more nutritious eggs by foraging (as opposed to being kept indoors and eating only a grain-based feed). It is my opinion that an animal who is able to follow its instincts is most content. Enabling a contented way of living is an essential part of our approach to raising animals on our farm. Everyone wins when the ‘happiest’ chickens make the most nutritious eggs!

Late-November Farm Update and Winter Cooking

The season is drawing to a close around here. The last of the meat chickens were processed yesterday, the last of the pigs go on December 1. Next year’s garlic has been planted, and everything is currently frozen out here.

Our organic, pastured pork has been on the market since the beginning of October, and I am proud to say it has been getting excellent reviews.

Around here, we are certainly making the most of it and have been working on trying one of every cut. The bacon is by far the best I have ever tasted, clean and meaty with none of that chemical taste that tends to hurt my throat with typical commercial bacon. It performs doubly, because after cooking it, we have the fat left over to cook everything else (FISH…mmm) in. We tried a smoked ham steak baked in maple syrup and served with carmelized onion and apple, butt chops crusted in fresh herbs, and a batch of crockpot sweet-and-smoky pork and beans made with smoked hocks and molasses. We’ve been cooking our roasted vegetables in lard for that crispiness that can’t be duplicated, and our soups are rich with long-simmered bone broth. We have particularly enjoyed short ribs cooked in this BBQ sauce…we have actually been using this sauce for everything. It is our new favourite.

How have you been enjoying yours? Please share in the comments what you have been  doing with your feastandfallow pork. We’d love to hear your ideas.

Now Taking Pork Orders

I am happy to announce that we now have pork for sale. Our Tamworth pigs (a heritage breed) are pastured (raised outdoors, able to freely dig and forage, as is their nature) and fed organic feed supplemented by garden/kitchen scraps. These pigs have led a contented existence, lounging under the apple trees, happily wallowing in the mud, playing and bickering like siblings, and being pet. I have very much enjoyed my time with them.

If you want to learn why our pastured pork is the choice to make, please read on!

For those of you who already know why pastured pork is superior to factory-farmed, you can click here to see our price list.

Why Organic? Why Small Scale? Why Pastured? Why Pork?

Many people wonder why small-scale, ethically-raised animals cost so much more than industrially-produced meats from the supermarket. There are several factors that contribute to this, but we believe that the benefits far outweigh higher prices:

Feeding livestock organic feed is important not just environmentally because the grains are grown without chemical inputs and genetic modification, but also because what we feed our animals ultimately becomes the meat we eat. As a purchaser of several tons of grain each year in pig feed, I recognize the environmental impact the herbicides used on conventional crops will have. I support the kind of agriculture that I want to dominate the market in order to encourage change. Conventional supermarket pork is fed on genetically-modified soy and corn, and all kinds of industrial waste, such as floor-scrapings at food-plants including candy and animal waste in order to lower cost.

Unfortunately, small-scale agriculture always costs more than its industrial counterpart, as the economies-of-scale and access to government subsidies favour the biggest farms. Despite these challenges, smaller farms can have a major benefit in regards to quality-of-life for the herd. Pigs raised in the conventional system have no kind of life at all, but our pigs thrive. Small-scale production may cost farmers and consumers more, but also provides more.

Beyond the ethics of raising animals on organic feed and on pasture, there are substantial differences in taste and texture of pork raised in Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and on pasture. Our pigs use their bodies daily – sure, they love to lounge around in the mud and in the shade of the trees,  but they are also walking, playing, rooting, and generally using their muscles in the outdoor space. Because of this, the muscle  meat is much more dense – not mushy like pork from the supermarket. You will find that it is a lot more red: this is because of the mitochondria necessary in an active muscle tissue vs. the sallow flesh of confined animals (the same reason chicken legs are ‘dark meat’ vs. the ‘white meat’ of the breast in those mostly-flightless birds). These factors are indicators that the meat you are eating is from a healthy animal, not a sickly, confined one.

And what about the fat? An interesting tidbit about pastured pork is that their fat is one of the rare food-sources of vitamin D. They produce vitamin D from contact with the sun, and store it in their fat, making it a great source for us in the dark Canadian winters! Pork fat (lard) is about 40% saturated fat. Saturated fat has a chemically-stable structure, which makes it resistant to oxidation – both while storing and cooking, and within the body. This is important because oxidation creates free-radicals (molecules that cause chronic-inflammation, especially in the vascular lining leading to heart disease, and all kinds of degenerative disease). Think saturated=stable. Saturated fats interact less with other molecules in the body, making them essentially inert. Saturated fatty acids are also used in the body to stabilize cell membranes. Lard has an even greater percentage of monounsaturated fat (45%). Monounsaturated fat is the heart-healthy fat that has everyone singing the praises of olive oil! It has a low percentage of polyunsatrated fats (essential, but reactive in cooking and within the body, something we generally want to eat less of), and of that small amount, it has a good ratio of omega 6:3 at between 6-7: 1 . Taking in too high a ratio of omega 6:3 is another major factor in inflammation leading to chronic disease, so we’re winning here as well. Overall, pastured pork is a good source of healthy fats.

What about medications? Not only have we never given antibiotics to these pigs, there has been absolutely no reason to. Being raised outdoors, in a small herd makes them strong and healthy. Digging their noses into the dirt all day diversifies and strengthens their microbiomes, giving them strong immune-systems. Living in outdoor space, not in confinement or concentration with too many animals, lowers the risk of communicable bacterial infections.

I fully believe that these animals had a high quality of life. They enjoyed themselves each day, and I loved to watch them doing so. If you have any questions about how our pigs are raised, please don’t hesitate to ask! We love talking about our farming practices.

Please contact us to place an order for organically-fed, pastured pork. (Email morgancoopermorgan@gmail.com). If you are interested in buying in bulk (a half or whole hog) for December, please contact as well.
Note: Bulk orders are limited and will be taken on a first-come-first-served basis.

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July update

These past few weeks have been even busier than the ones before. We picked up 6 new piglets several weeks ago – tiny as can be. They are now living outside, close to their counterparts, but separated by a fence, as I am sure the big guys, being so aggressive about food, would starve them out.

small and big pigs 2016

We have been harvesting the garlic and hanging it to cure. The garden is going mad despite the lack of rain, and all of my laying chickens are coming of age, which means that all of the roosters in the bunch are nuts and are also TOO MANY ROOSTERS.

Things I am loving:
watching chickens eat grapes – if you throw them underhand and long like a bocce ball, you can watch them race each other to catch it. Lots of fun.

Those of you who get a weekly vegetable share from me may have noticed in the salad mix two succulent leafies. The first is purslaine. I planted a lot of purslaine, but it has also turned out to be the most plentiful ‘weed’ in my garden. The second is a lovely curved spade with a green flower sprouting out of the middle called miner’s lettuce, which I have really fallen for. I love having these water-packed leaves adding volume to my salads.

The breezy nights as we head into late summer.

Thanks for keeping up. Until later…
morgan

chicken

Our first batch of chickens will be for sale as of June 27. Currently 10 are still available. These chickens have been raised outdoors on pasture and organic feed that is produced on a family farm in Ontario. They will be processed at a licensed abattoir and are available for $5.99/lb. If you are interested in purchasing any of them, please contact us (morgancoopermorgan@gmail.com).

Please note that the next batch of chickens will not be available until August 3.

Also currently available:

  • garlic scapes – $4/bunch
  • garlic scape pesto  – 250 ml jar for $7 with walnuts and $8 with pine nuts.
    ingredients:

    • garlic scapes
    • extra virgin olive oil
    • pine nut/walnut
    • Himalayan salt

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Spring Wrap-Up

Hello Y’all,

Yesterday was the official first day of summer, and it is high time for a news update on what is going on out here at the farm.

We have been very busy – each weekend is a veritable work bee where we pound through all the most pressing tasks minutes before they are due (for example, this coming weekend, the new pigs will arrive on Sunday, so we have to build them a house on Saturday).

What have we accomplished? The list has thousands of small victories on it, but the most notable are planting the 40 acres of field in pasture grasses (followed by an agonizing one month without rain! #farmersproblems) using a borrowed ATV and 68-year-old tractor, raising seven young pigs into the strapping teenagers they are today, creating a system for raising chickens on pasture, and planting a massive vegetable garden that is just starting to produce delicious things.

We have had a hundred generous donations that have helped us along – the loan of a tractor here, a hand-me-down of an old dog pen (or 3) there, some water barrels…all these little gifts have helped us immensely in building our primitive DIY infrastructure around here on a budget!

It has been a very exciting time out here and I am learning a tonne in exactly the manner I prefer – hands-on, figuring it out as I go. It hardly registers with me that summer has just begun – it feels like I have been living it for a thousand wonderful years.

morgan