Town and Country Producer Profile: Twin Brook Creamery

October 31, 2011

Intro

My local Town and Country Market has the occasional Producer Profile available at the store.  I’ve started picking a few of them up to showcase here on the blog.  See below for the text of the profile and click on the picture to view the original profile that I’ve scanned.  Note that the information available on this post is not NW Farm Review’s opinion or original writing and while it may or may not represent our views it is soley taken from Town and Country Market.

Town and Country Markets Producer Profiles

Twin Brook Creamery, nestled in the shadow of the Cascade Mountain Range in Lynden, WA, is afifth-generation family farm.  The Stap family raises purebred registered Jersey cows because this breed produces milk with a higher protein and butterfat content, which significantly enhances the flavor of the milk.  The cows are pastured for as long as the season allows, and eat grass harvested from the farm during the non-growing season.  To preserve the milk’s rich flavor, it is minimally processed and bottled in glass bottles. Rather than being pasteurized at high temperatures, Twin Brook milk is vat pasteurized at a low temperature. And whereas most milk is homogenized, this cream-at-the-top milk is not so that you can enjoy it in its most natural form.  We offer half-gallons, chocolate milk, half &half and whipping cream from Twin Brook Creamery.  There is a $1.65 deposit on the glass bottles.

Twin Brook Creamery near Lynden, WA

Click above for Full Size


Town and Country Producer Profile: Martinez Ranch

October 29, 2011

Intro

My local Town and Country Market has the occasional Producer Profile available at the store.  I’ve started picking a few of them up to showcase here on the blog.  See below for the text of the profile and click on the picture to view the original profile that I’ve scanned.  Note that the information available on this post is not NW Farm Review’s opinion or original writing and while it may or may not represent our views it is soley taken from Town and Country Market.

Town and Country Markets Producer Profiles

Each September we are very pleased to offer our customers fresh Ellensburg Lamb raised by the Martinez family in the Yakima Valley.  With nearly 100 years experience across three generations, the Martinez family knows how to produce naturally raised lamb of excellent quality.  It all began when brothers Simon and Julian Martinez emigrated from Spain in 1917.  They went to work as sheep herders and were eventually able to purchase their own herd.  One summer, while grazing their sheep in Montana, Simon met and later married Kathleen, an Irish farm girl.  They started a family and over the years their four sons were active in the farm operations. Now, Simon and Kathleen’s grandsons run the ranch.  Beginning in mid-January each year, the Martinez family’s lambs are born at their ranch in Mabton, WA. The mother ewes and lambs are sheltered while they bond, assuring that the lambs get used to finding and staying with their mothers. When the lambs are old enough, they and the ewes are trucked to the spring range to graze on new grasses under the watchful care of a sheepherder and dogs.  In early summer, the sheep are taken to the National Forest to graze the lush mountain meadows. The grazing program is beneficial to the forest in that it reduces fuel for wildfires and helps with weed control.  At the end of summer, the lambs are transported to a feedlot where they are finished on a combination of hay and grain. The lambs are never given additives, hormones or growth stimulants.  If you have any questions about preparing lamb, ourMeat Market staff will be happy to help.

Ellensburg Lamb

Click here for the Full Size Profile


Town and Country Producer Profile: Lummi Island Reefnet Salmon

October 26, 2011

Intro

My local Town and Country Market has the occasional Producer Profile available at the store.  I’ve started picking a few of them up to showcase here on the blog.  See below for the text of the profile and click on the picture to view the original profile that I’ve scanned.  Note that the information available on this post is not NW Farm Review’s opinion or original writing and while it may or may not represent our views it is soley taken from Town and Country Market.

Town and Country Markets Producer Profiles

Lummi Island, the most northeasterly island of the San Juan archipelago, is home to reef net salmon fishermen. As millions of sockeye and pink salmon return from the Pacific Ocean to the Fraser River, these fishermen harvest them using the ancient art of reef netting – a method used nowhere else in the world.

Native Americans fished this wayfor centuries, using cedar canoes and nets made of cedar bark rope. Although the boats have gotten a littlebigger, and winches are used to pull the nylon nets, the method isfundamentally the same today.  A net issuspended between two stationary boats as “spotters,” standing on towers, watch for schools of salmon to swim along the reef and over the net. When a school is observed, the net is quickly pulled up and the salmon are spilled intoa netted live well to relax.The fish are then sorted and any unwanted and protected speciesare harmlessly diverted backinto the water.

Reef netting often is referred to as the world’s most sustainable method of salmon fishing. In addition to avoiding unwanted bycatch, no fossil fuel is used to chase the fish, and there is very little disruption of marine mammals, birds or the environment. Reef net salmon are among the highest in omega-3 oils because they still have the energy (beneficial fats) they have stored for their long journey. This high fat content, as well as thoughtful, careful processing of the fish when caught, makes for rich, succulent flavor. To learn more about the ecological and historical practice of reef net fishing around Lummi Island, visit www.lummiislandwild.com.

Lummi Island Salmon Town and Country Markets

Click for Full-Size Producer Profile


Commentary: What Will Keep Our Food Safe?

October 21, 2011

I found an article about food safety and food certifications on an economics site if you can believe it.  Find it here: http://mises.org/daily/5591/What-Will-Keep-Our-Food-Safe

In a very brief summary (it’s a brief article) it discusses some of the issues people are having with the USDA Organic label versus private labeling or just “practicing organic”.  The author briefly discusses a CSA he uses and links to another article about it; though I just glanced at it and didn’t read it fully.  He comes to the conclusion the USDA Organic label could easily be replaced by the variety of private certification labels already around.  I tend to agree.  A lot of good, small farms out there don’t even use the USDA Organic label due to it’s expense but just use the best practices available to them; which tend to be organic anyways.  It’s just the monetary cost and time cost that prevents them from doing so.

Anyways, check it out; decent article and I thought I’d share.


Eggs! Full Circle and Stieber Farms

September 7, 2011

So the other day there was a large sale for a variety of Full Circle Farms foods.  Always eager to try organic foods, especially when they are on sale I bought a few items; not knowing very much about Full Circle.  Sadly, it was primarily foods I don’t eat very often like grain based cereals, and ultra-pasturized milk.  I did however purchase some of their eggs.

Normally I don’t purchase milk because it will go bad before my family can drink it all, as I’m an breakfast burrito guy in the morning and only granola once or twice a week – generally with yogurt.  So my lack of cereal and mixed with the fact that I prefer the least amount of pasteurization I can get (which decreases the speed for milk spoilage) means I just rarely buy milk.  I was going to purchase Full Circle milk anyways and just deal with it but while it was Organic and Whole (two musts!) it was ultra-pasteurized, which threw the deal for me.  On ultra-pasteurization see some of the top google hits here, here and here.  I just prefer it as natural as possible.

Ultra-Pasturized

Full Circle Whole Milk - Ultra Pasteurized

However, like I said I did purchase eggs and sought then to taste test a few.  I compared the Full Circle brand Organic, Brown eggs to Stiebrs Farms Organic, Free-Range, Omega-3 eggs.  See below for the final product.  Oh, and the bacon on the side, well it’s hard NOT to cook up some bacon if there is any defrosted and begging to be cooked, and this morning I added a strip of Beeler’s Bacon to the menu.

Eggs, Bacon and Breakfast

Full Circle & Stieber Farms Eggs with Beelers Bacon: Breakfast!

Full Circle & Stieber Farms Egg Comparison

Full Circle & Stieber Farms Egg Carton Comparison

On an initial, pre-cook exterior examination, my personal thoughts are that the Full Circle eggs are on average slightly larger than the Stiebrs Farm eggs.  Not all the eggs were larger, but on average; the batch was.  Now, I cooked this comparision breakfast up without having done any research on Full Circle farms so I will write the article like I had initially intended.  However, as I have now done research into Full Circle I will admit that there is a surprise revelation below.

Full Circle and Stieber Farms Egg Comparison

Full Circle Upper, Stieber Farms Lower

On cooking the eggs one thing was readily apparent, the Stiebrs Omega-3 Eggs were had a much thicker, or stronger shell.  The color was also slightly different though both organic eggs had a beautiful golden color.  Overall I’d say Stiebr’s Omega-3 eggs were slightly more golden in color.  If you click on the below picture to view it full size you should be able to see the slight difference.  Take a look and comment below which egg appears more golden, I’ll let you know if I agree.  Despite the Full Circle eggs appearing larger in their shell, once out of the shell I was unable to distinguish any difference in size of yolks between the two eggs.  Obviously, as seen below, my cooking methods don’t allow for a comparison of the whites as they mix quite readily.

Full Circle and Stieber Farms Egg Comparison

Full Circle and Stieber Farms Egg, Pre-Deliciousness

The below picture is moments before the scrumptious taste of eggs was to be mine!  On a strict taste comparison I would say that they were equal yet slightly different in taste.  The Omega-3 egg yolks due taste different and I wasn’t surprised by that as their diet is uniquely different.

Eggs, Bacon and Breakfast

Full Circle & Stieber Farms Eggs with Beelers Bacon: Breakfast!

Overall, after eating breakfast I concluded that while I still prefer Stiebr’s Farms eggs the Full Circle farms eggs would work in a pinch!  My only real concern was that I didn’t know where the eggs came from and what the farming practices were.  Obviously, a little bit of research can solve that matter.

Research:  So while preparing for the Comparison blog post I obviously did a bit of reading up on Full Circle.  Funny thing however, and I quote directly from the Full Circle website, here:

Steibrs Farm provides our members with cage-free, organic eggs that are absolutely free from GMO feeds or pesticides.

Haha!  Oh my, it appears I may have been comparing Apples to Apples!  Full Circle eggs ARE Stiebrs Farm’s eggs, just run through Full Circle’s different producer/store network.  At first I was a little embarrassed about learning this because I thought it pointed me out as a biased reviewer; and while that still may be the case, after thinking about it I concluded that what it really showcases are the differences between the Organic and the Organic, Omega-3 eggs.  The yolk color difference I can understand due to the dietary difference; but I am still surprised at the shell thickness difference.  Both sets of hens are Cage-Free and unless Full Circle get’s something special, both are Certified Humane, which is top of the line in my opinion.  I even went through and tested a few more eggs from each dozen, and each time I would say the Full Circle organic eggs have weaker shells.  The Omega-3 diet, or whatever else get’s included in their special diet, must make for a stronger shell.


Disappearence of 2011

July 14, 2011

Oops. Sorry everyone for my 2 month disappearance without warning.  My wife and I spent 3 weeks of June in Kenya traveling with WorldCOMP Kenya to see their myriad of activities down there.  So there was planning before hand and processing afterwords, mixed of course with a relentless drive towards laziness.  We were planning on going to the August medical camps mentioned on their websites but the vacation time in August wasn’t working out for us.  I’ve been blogging about that on a personal travel blog (2nd time to Kenya, first time I had to leave because of their election violence in 2008-2009) and if you are curious privately contact us for that blogs link.  Do to some of that blogging we just haven’t gotten around back to this site and so I apologize.

But, I’m back and I will have a post soon on Acres In Zion farms where you can purchase a cow for your edible delight.  Last year I had gone in with some family and purchased a 1/2 cow (1/8 for my wife and I) and this year we will buy ground beef from them through a friend who is purchasing a cow for $3.85/lb which is a fantastic price for grass fed, local beef.  I will also check up on Stieber’s Farms Fry n’ Try eggs due to a reader’s comment about those being conventional eggs.


Willow’s Eggs

March 26, 2011

We were finally able to find a time to go out and purchase some eggs from Willow’s Edge Farm.  As you can see from above, these aren’t your normal mono colored (white or brown) eggs.  The two dozen I purchased was a veritable cornucopia of colors.  Okay, not quite as many colors as that, but I just love that phrase.  Anywhoo, the eggs from Willow’s Edge are obvious at first glance that this is a small, local operation.  The variety of colors as shown above but also the variety of shapes.  Those of us who are used to going to Safeway for our eggs are used to the eggs being all the same shape, almost like something produced on an assembly line.  I think that it is standard for “non-normal” looking eggs to get sold to other retailers for purposes that require eggs as an ingredient.  Thus, the eggs that look the best get sold directly to the consumer.  I don’t know if Willow’s Edge Farm does that, but I definitely had a variety of egg shapes.  Egg shape doesn’t seem to affect the taste, and the volume was about the same.

Below is a comparison of the above ‘elongated’ egg and a “normal” white egg, from the same batch of eggs purchased from Willow’s Edge Farm.