Local Food: Northeast Family Farms

March 7, 2007 in beef, farm, Local Food, product, review

niman ham

As I promised, this post covers my experience with the [tag]New England Farmer’s Conference[/tag] in [tag]Sturbridge[/tag], MA this last week. This was the first year for this event and it was well attended. Many [tag]small farm[/tag] [tag]farmer[/tag]s packed into several auditoriums and theaters to listen to topics such as how to grow for and market to the [tag]public school[/tag]s in [tag]Massachusetts[/tag], how to build an effective [tag]marketing plan[/tag], how to build and project the “story” about your family farm so that people will feel attracted to it and your produce/products, etc.

In addition to these presentations there was a large convention floor filled with the trade show attendees. Makers of boxes and crates and bags for PYO fruit were next to specialty food producers offering samples of their delicious products.

The attendees were very well fed with sumptuous lunch buffets on both days. On the second day, selected foods from trade show exhibitors were showcased in the buffet.

Northeast Family Farms

One exhibitor that was quite popular was Northeast Family Farms, a brand of Dole and Bailey. (Top image shows some of their meat) They, by far, had the most compelling story for the average foodie of today. I spoke with Laura Sapienza-Grabski of Dole and Baily, a 137 year old [tag]New England[/tag] purveyor that had butcher stalls in Faneuil Hall, [tag]Boston[/tag], in the mid 1800s selling artisanal [tag]farm raised[/tag] [tag]Vermont[/tag] [tag]lamb[/tag]. In fact, if you look up on the columns of [tag]Faneuil Hall[/tag], you will find the name [tag]Dole and Bailey[/tag] inscribed in the facade.

Laura was quite enthusiastic about their support for [tag]local[/tag] ranchers and farmers as well as the attention to detail around how farmers and [tag]slaughterhouse[/tag]s treat their [tag]artisanal[/tag] [tag]meat[/tag]s and [tag]seafood[/tag]s. The effort it takes to find the farmers who are dedicated to [tag]sustainable[/tag] practices, the [tag]ethical[/tag] and organically correct methods for harvest/slaughter, and the presentation/positioning of this product in a marketplace saturated by faux [tag]USDA[/tag] [tag]organic[/tag] labeled foods is daunting. Its something I absolutely applaud, appreciate, and want to support.

Once you step beyond the very few choices of “natural” or “organic” meats in the [tag]big-box grocery[/tag] stores, you quickly realize that what is billed as organic or [tag]natural[/tag] (add your favorite euphemism) may not be in fact what you THINK it is. If you are an “ethical” buyer, you may be buying food that you think is grown humanely when in fact, it is not. If you are a “quality grown and processed” buyer, you are very likely misled. Government regulated organic labeling is pretty much worthless and regulation of self-labeling regarding ethical practices is likely less than exact (thank the current administration).

Dole and Bailey strives to inspect and [tag]authenticate[/tag] each part of the production process, including using organic certified slaughterhouses, something that can be difficult to find. I understand that the only organic slaughterhouse in [tag]Massachusetts[/tag] is no longer in operation so animals have to go out of state and then back in. If this is the case, I hope that a new one is back in operation soon, there is definitely a need for this as more and more local farmers opt-in on the sustainable and organic raising of animals.

Whew, OK, I likely do not need to preach to you. If you are reading this far, excellent, thanks! Take an [tag]eye candy[/tag] break and see some of Northeast Family Farm’s family of products.

Dole and Bailey features meats from several local New England farms:

[tag]Kobe Beef[/tag] from the BrigadoonFarm in Vermont

[tag]Veal[/tag] from Azaluna, calves nursed on their moms who get no antibiotics

[tag]Chicken[/tag] from MistyKnolls Farms in Vermont

[tag]Artisanal cheese[/tag]s from a huge list of NE cheese makers, the Massachusetts makers being:

[tag]Organic egg[/tag]s from The Country Hen from Hubbardston, MA

Country Hen in Hubbardston

A fantastic number of local farmers providing fresh produce to our region, such as:

And other hard to classify specialty foods such as:

What a fantastic bounty here in [tag]New England[/tag]!

If you can patronize Northeast Family Farms and these farmers and producers (even from afar, I am sure some of them ship), then do!

I am going to see how many of these hard working farmers I can visit personally. I am getting [tag]hungry[/tag] just thinking about it.