Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Keith Gibson of Grazin' Angus Acres Talks Cattle and Grass

There are very few people I trust with my food; Keith Gibson, one of the forces behind Grazin' Angus Acres farm, is a member of that select group. His farm is in Ghent, NY (about 30 minutes outside of Albany), but thankfully Keith drives 2½ hours to New York City on Saturdays and Sundays to sell his beef, pork, chicken, milk and eggs at two Manhattan farmers' markets.

I visited the farm last week and came away even more impressed with Keith and the operation. The farm, set amidst beautiful rolling hills, is truly poly-cultural, in the mode of Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms, which starred in "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and Food, Inc. The cows are 100 percent grass-fed, the chickens are pastured and the pigs are free to roam; any supplemental feed is organic.

The farm produces sublime food (flavor and nutrition) while respecting the land and animals. No corners are cut and things are done the way they are because, as Keith says, "it's the right thing to do."

Keith gave me a tour of the farm and explained the intricacies of the farm's workings. Here's Keith talking about his Black Angus cattle (originally from Scotland) and the grass they eat. As you'll see and hear, it's not as simple as "cattle" and "grass." Grazin' Angus Acres is the antithesis of a commercial, factory feedlot where the majority of our meat, dairy and eggs is produced.

(If you are receiving The Delicious Truth via email, click here to watch.)


Jennifer Miller said...

This makes me wish a few things:
Those being that there were more farmers and food producers out there like this. That more farmers put that much care into what they grow and produce. That more people, like the writer, cared to spread information like this and high light these types of farmers. That more consumers cared enough or were informed enough to care about what they put into their bodies. That more people cared about what was being done to the land and to the animals produced for food in big factories and feed lots. But I really, really wish that I lived close to that farmers market so I could purchase the food that was produced by this man on this farm.

Paula Hong said...

Hey I have a question--it seems like most of the food at our local farmers market isn't necessarily organic. If you had to choose, would you pick local or organic?

Chef Rob said...

Jennifer - Well said (and thanks). To find pasture-based farms near you, check out http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html. Hope you find something.

Paula - I'll always pick organic over non-organic local. That being said, I also eat with the seasons, so I wouldn't think of buying organic asparagus from Peru in the middle of winter anyway.

Anonymous said...

Another thought for Paula:

Get to know the farmers at your local farmer market. I find they love to talk about their farms and practices. Ask them about their status. Some who are not "certified" organic will probably be in "transition", meaning the land they're farming hasn't been used for organic farming long enough (it's a matter of years) to be certified but they are moving that way by not using chemicals. Or they are actually organic but not able to be certified because of the expense of the certification process.
And some others may tell you how much they rely on chemicals, like one farmer I know who does use chemicals but only on one crop (so I don't buy that one from him).
In general, you have more assurance with the farmers markets that allow vendors to sell only what they have grown themselves. Some markets allow re-selling and that's when you lose the paper trail (and trust). Your market should be transparent enough to make this information readily available.
In fact, if you are concerned, ask the market master to see the process for accepting vendors. It should be quite rigorous and as a consumer you should have a right to see it. In fact it may be posted on your market's website under a tab for applications for vendors. At least, it is at the one I shop at.

Chef Rob said...

Anonymous - Great information, thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

great work going on the farm. i am impressed by keith .gibson and his partner. i did not think anything like this could be happening near new york