Hunting and Gathering Food
Part of our process has been to find both locally grown and chemical free food. It hasn’t been easy. We had thought that going to the local farmer’s market would suffice only to be disappointed because both qualities didn’t exist. Yeah, they were all local but they still used the same chemicals and pesticides as the large industrial farmers (You need to ask them. If they are truly natural, they will be excited to tell you about it.). Not only that, but the prices were a little too rich. So we kept searching. The following is our list of sources:
We get our chicken from Kapenga Farms in Holland. It is very good stuff, all natural etc. However, you have to order a week or two in advance, they’ve experienced a huge increase in demand. The first few times we went we could just swing by the farm and get whatever. We get their boneless/skinless breasts for $3.99/lb. Oh, Kapenga’s has great, all natural brown eggs too! Only $2/dozen.
We don’t own a freezer so buying a quarter cow is not an option. Instead, we get ground beef at Sweetwater Local Foods. There is a year round farmers market at Hackley at the Lakes. The vendor is called Earthscape Farm. They sell grass-fed, all natural beef. They usually have a special on ground beef in the winter months: 10 lbs. for $30. This is definitely the best price we’ve seen. Another good meat source is Creswick Farms. They’re more expensive but very good with more variety. Both of these farms come to Sweetwater every week (Twice a month in winter) with a big selection of meat. If you want something specific or in bigger quantities, you should contact the farm directly.
This list continues to expand as the season changes and new fruits or veggies ripen. Your own garden is a great option but that takes time and is a little too late to start today so check out Grandson’s Gardens. Their vegetable crops have been grown organically for years and they are currently working hard to make the switch from low spray methods to organic practices in the orchard as well. They have:
Blueberries, Cherry Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomatoes, Roma Tomatoes (great for fresh tomato sauce, salsa, and canning), Potatoes, Arugula, and Herbs.
Here is a recent newsletter from Grandson’s Gardens.
As of 11/10, Visser Farms started a Fall/Winter CSA. 5 weeks. $100 for a full share, $60 for a half. We signed up for a half share and have been very happy with quantity/quality of fruits/vegs. Visser is NOT organic though. Here’s what they said when asked about their growing practices, “Visser Farms is not a certified organic farm. We do practice sustainable growing methods, minimal fertilizer and pesticide applications as well as crop rotation. At Visser Farms we strive to produce the highest quality healthy produce to you and and your family to enjoy.”
Ideally, this lettuce should fall under produce but Mud Lake Farm specializes in growing hydroponic lettuces. They believe in sustainable agriculture and do not use any pesticides on their farm. They are based in Hudsonville but we get a “group” order (only two of us so far) delivered to a home in Grand Haven as frequently as weekly. 1 lb of lettuce comes out to be $6.25 with the delivery charge. You can get 1lb of Earth’s best organic lettuce at Meijer for $5. I guess I’m really banking on the local aspect of this to justify paying $1.25 more!
Here is a recent Newsletter.
Finding a good milk source can be difficult because there are several factors to screen for including the animals source of food, living conditions, and the use of hormones. Sometimes you just need to pick the one with the fewest evils. We choose Country Dairy. Their cows are not treated with rBST, more commonly known as Bovine Growth Hormone. By injecting cows with this synthetic hormone, dairy farmers can increase a cow’s production by as much as twenty percent. Frank’s Market on Washington in Grand Haven carries Country Dairy at $3.09/gallon. Speaking of Frank’s, they sell all natural meat with no added gluten and have a friendly staff.
After thoughtful consideration we’ve decided to buy a herd share contract in a cow and have access to fresh, organic, unprocessed milk. In May of 2011 we visited the farm and took a tour and got to know the farmer, Jesse, and his wife Betsy and their children a bit. Hearing Jesse and Betsy speak only reinforced everything we’ve learned. It was a wonderful experience. Not only do you get milk there but you can also find eggs, cheese, beef, and chicken. And a bonus, you are also entitled to the cow’s byproduct, one truck-load of compost per year for your own garden. Check them out at Green Pastures.
Cost benefit analysis: Milk
While blueberry season was in full swing we swung over to Spring Lake to a family-owned farm located on Leonard Road between 148th and 144th Avenues called Frifeldt Farms. Here you get the full you-pick family fun experience.
We intend to continue to expand this list and look forward to outside input and insight.