We started TC Farm to get the tastiest food.
Ten years and two kids later, healthy food is our primary concern.
I see the branded photos in a natural food store, pictures with a handful of happy turkeys raised outside, and the next day I talk with the farmer who has a contract to raise 100,000 birds for them in a regular factory farm using conventional corn/soy feed.
I am disheartened to learn from other farmers what kind of shortcuts even those 'happy local farms' are taking.
If you want healthy food, demand more transparency in our food system.
At TC Farm, our high standards are public.
Almost all of the ‘local’ farms contract with other farmers to meet their sales needs - they use affidavits to ensure consistency and adherence to their standards. But only a handful of companies choose to make these public. (For instance, check out the good work Thousand Hills does in putting their affidavits online.)
If you manage to find another company's requirements, take the time to read them and compare with our higher standards. Then you can make an informed choice about which you prefer.
If you have trouble finding those requirements, take the time to ask the right questions:
Ask your grocer to verify their meats are raised with organic feed on actual green pasture.
Ask if they use ANY growth drugs, like Ractopamine which is used in almost all turkey, pork and beef (even at natural food stores).
Ask if ALL of their animals are raised like shown in the photos or if those are just a handful used for modeling purposes?
Ask if those 'pasture raised' eggs and chickens are actually raised in factory farms with a small door to a dirt lot?
Call the companies directly and ask them for their standards and affidavits they all require their farmers to sign.
If nobody asks these questions, the food companies will know their actual standards matter less than fancy marketing posters.