I have to admit, that I was pretty excited about photographing for a pasture raised meat farmer. After all, I'd spent the majority of my summer photographing out at Meadowlark Farm, a large and successful local and organic vegetable farm. I'd often imagined that organic meat farmers had the most difficult job; caring for their many herds, nurturing the animals along, and then when the time was right, making the decision to take their lives. In my eyes, this was a huge and heavy obligation toward animals in the meat supply. I love animals. It can be difficult for me to think about eating them. So, I looked forward to spending some time with Jeff from The Grass Feather to learn about his farm and his animals.
If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be as healthy as it possibly can be. I don't want to contribute to the decline of honeybees through GMO corn used to fatten cattle. I don't want to support a food system that abuses animals. I want the beautiful farms of Northern Michigan to remain just that; beautiful! I want our lakes to remain clean, our rivers to remain fresh and our landscapes pristine. And mostly, I care about the lives of animals- even the ones that end up on my plate. If they can live a normal life, and meet a graceful end, then I can ethically consume them.
I knew that Jeff from The Grass Feather was my kind of farmer when he so easily bragged about how he never uses chemical fertilizers, antibiotics or growth hormones. He pasture raises all of his animals, and told me that how an animal grazes on a field affects the overall health of the field and can actually improve it too. He told me that he respects his animals and tries to mimic their natural life, by rotating the animals on the fields. He told me that his pastures are green and the grass grows long and lush.
And if the pastures and clovers are lush and green, then the cows and chickens are eating terrific grasses making every one of them healthier.
And anyway, he loves his dog Molly. Or was her name Dolly. ?
And Molly clearly loves Jeff.
So, I was excited to taste Jeff's humanely raised and pasture fed meat. I thought that I might share some brats at Friday's Meadowlark lunch for the organic veggie farmers to enjoy.
OK. Brats grilling over an open fire- geesh! They smelled so good! That has to be one of my favorite things in the world. And I knew that the farmers would love them too.
Jeff gave me Cheddar Brats and also Cherry Brats. They grilled up so nicely. I was delighted to share this delicious meat with my friends at Meadowlark.
Chef Nancy knew that I was bringing the brats, so she chose some dishes that would compliment them.
Jenny from Meadowlark Farms grows some of the best collard greens around. Chef Nancy made a collard green leaf roll with a mashed broccoli and almond butter stuffing! Oh gosh! it was fresh and fantastic!! And it melted in my mouth.
I think that everyone loved the Smashed Purple Potatoes with Olive Oil and Rosemary that Nancy made that day. Oven roasted , then lightly smashed in between parchment paper. It looked so easy and it was so yummy- truly a comfort food side dish. I'll have to ask Katherine and Julie about that. I'm pretty sure that they were the smashers!
And the hearty bean soup was beautiful in it's coloration. Chef Nancy called it a Mediterranean White Bean Soup - once again she created a beautiful and colorful lunch, delightful to the eye and lip smacking delicious on the tongue.
It all starts with the farmer. Whether an organic veggie farmer, or a pastured meat farmer, these are the people that bring us this delicious food. They toil with the land, they are patient with the seasons, they are connected to our earth and they can bring us the most beautiful and tasty food. We really have to appreciate their service to us. It goes so far beyond the cash register receipt.
Food feeds our bodies and our souls.
A final thought.
Money can't buy happiness! But it can buy chickens! And chickens make eggs and breakfast makes me Happy!!