If you saw my TED talk from a couple of years ago you know that I basically blame the 'Grocery Store' for creating the monstrous agriculture system in this country that's devastated our rural economies.
So I was super joyful to see Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods as a huge step forward for American Small Diversified Farmers because this is going to drive Grocery Shopping Online.
Why? Because of a phenomenon known as The Long Tail.
The Long Tail is an internet phenomenon coined by Chris Anderson about a decade ago and described as:
"The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail."
If you put this in the context of recorded music it's pretty easy to understand. There used to be these things called record stores. They historically were small urban discovery zones and then morphed into record superstores like Best Buy and Virgin Megastores....If you wanted to buy a song, you had to hop in your car and visit one of these. The issue was that they 'Curated' what music you listened to. Even with a giant selections, they could only house a couple thousand songs.
Along comes iTunes and suddenly this entire model is disrupted and we all have millions of songs at our fingertips. This has been terrible for the mega stores, but amazing for consumers.
The other huge beneficiary has been musicians. Think about it....in the olden days (15 years ago) if you were a musician trying to make a living you either became a mega star or you starved. If you weren't big you were starving. There was no middle ground....no room for a musician who perhaps only made a decent living...
My 20-something kids now listen and attend concerts around the country by bands that most people have never heard of; Twiddle, Jill Andrews, Walk on the Moon, Future & The Wood Brothers.
All of these bands wouldn't have professional careers if customers weren't listening and paying for their songs online. That's the long tail. I would be suprised if all of these acts are bringing in revenue in the low millions (another great internet band)
What does this have with food and farming?
Everything. Grocery shopping is the last area of retail that is moving online and you are going to see the exact same opportunities for small producers for a bunch of reasons....
- I'm no longer tied to a store so I'll have unlimited choice. I can buy my soap from Dove, and still buy my meat from Tyner Pond Farm.
- There is no such thing as a LIST. Think about it. If you were going to the grocery store you only want to make one trip. If you are online you buy as you need it. Run out of Catsup? You order Catsup now. You're not going to wait until Saturday when you have a bunch of other stuff...that behavior is over. Every purchase will be one off and come from the vendors you choose....and I'm guessing most people are going to want to choose the best quality locally sourced products they can afford.
And I'm celebrating.
Have you been overwhelmed at the grocery store while selecting meat and produce? I sure have! What do all of the labels and terms mean? Are they true? Have they been verified or is it the agricultural equivalent of “greenwashing” marketing terms?
It can be confusing. Clear standards are essential to ensuring consumer confidence in the agricultural market for things like “grass-fed” and “organic”. We’ll help you decode some of these labels and definitions.
Industrial animal farms rely on corn and soy as a cheap source of protein-rich feed. However, cows’ stomachs were built to digest grasses and other forage. Therefore, when these animals are fed a grain heavy diet, they often have digestive problems, poor liver health, and can get more sick more often. Grass-fed animals eat grass from weaning to slaughter and therefore, they should not eat grain, animal byproducts, or synthetic hormones. Because grass-fed cows are eating what the stomachs of cows were intended to eat, they have a tendency to be healthier and require less (if any) antibiotics to prevent disease.
In general, pasturing is a traditional farming technique where animals are raised outdoors in a humane, ecologically sustainable manner and eat foods that nature intended them to eat rather than being fattened on a feedlot or in a confined facility. There is no agency that certifies and approves the use of this term.
In order to be labeled “organic”, a product, its producer, and the farm where the ingredients come from must meet the USDA’s organic standards and must be certified by a USDA-approved food-certifying agency. Organic foods cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot be irradiated. Organic meat and poultry must be fed only organically-grown feed (without any animal byproducts) and cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. Ruminants (cows) must have access to pasture but don’t actually have to go outdoors.
Learn more about new rules approved in January 2017 and Tyner Pond Farm’s approach here.
The “natural” label on meat and poultry does not validate anything about how the animal was raised or the food and additives that it was fed however “natural” should mean that the meat does not have any added artificial flavoring, color ingredients, chemical preservatives, or artificial or synthetic ingredients, and should be only “minimally processed” as defined by the USDA.
“No Added Hormones”
By law, hogs and poultry cannot be given growth hormones — so the use of the label on these meats is just marketing. To ensure that other meats were raised without added hormones, ask your farmer or butcher.
Antibiotic-free is not a label that is approved by the USDA. Typically, this label means that the animal has not received antibiotics seven to fourteen days before slaughter.
“Cage Free” (Chickens)
Chickens marked cage-free have the ability to roam freely. Cage free chickens differ from free-range chickens as they are still in an enclosed area, typically a grow house, barn, or shed.
Free-range does not guarantee that a chicken is also grown organically or is freely foraging for food. A number of free-range chickens are raised in grow houses with both limited and unlimted access to the outdoors. SustainableTable.org, a not-for-profit that promotes and provides education for sustainable agriculture, suggests looking for chicken that is both free-range and organic, and suggests looking for a label that says “Pastured” or “Pasture-raised” if you want to buy eggs or poultry that were raised outdoors.
If this is still overwhelming, Tyner Pond Fond suggests keeping it simple! Try buying meat from a local, sustainable farm so that you know where your food is coming from and how it was raised. All Tyner Pond Farm meat is grass-fed, pasture-raised, free-range, antibiotic-free, and natural.
At Tyner Pond Farm, we’ve been going above and beyond rules required for “organic” certification since we were founded, and we plan to continue to do so. We never use hormones or antibiotics, even though organic rules permit some use of antibiotics. We’ve always given our animals open grasslands to roam and forage. We believe that treating animals right is good for the animals, good for the land, and good for our customers.
We wanted to provide a bit of context to the changing requirements behind organic so you can make better decisions about the meat you purchase. On January 18, 2017, the Obama administration finalized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rules for the requirements of the Organic label. The new rules codify practices that a lot of people took for granted in organic meats. The new rules address two goals:
- “To ensure that organic farms and businesses are consistently applying organic regulations for livestock and poultry operations; and”
- “To assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard, which will support consumer confidence in organically-labeled products and continued market growth.”
For chickens, the new organic rules “prohibit physical alterations include de-beaking of birds, docking of cows’ tails, de-snooding, dubbing, and face branding of cattle, and mulesing of sheep.” They also provide clarity around “outdoor access” with the new rules stating that “organic birds be provided with year-round access to the outdoors” with “a sufficient number” of “appropriately distributed” doors so chickens can actually go outside. Plus the new rules define “outdoor space” as having “at least 50% soil covered with maximum vegetation suited to the time of year and climate.”
Mammals, such as cows and pigs, must have “space and freedom to lie down, turn around, stand up, fully stretch their limbs, and express normal patterns of behavior; and areas for bedding and resting must be sufficiently large, solidly built, and comfortable so that animals are kept clean and dry.” The new rules also require that farmers “maintain the maximum amount of vegetation on outdoor soil, as appropriate for the season, climate, geography, and species of livestock. All producers must provide year-round access to the outdoors. For ruminants, such as cows, sheep, and goats, producers must provide pasture during the grazing season to meet previously established requirements.”
In January 2017, President Trump tapped former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his pick for secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Perdue (no relation to Perdue chicken) is expected to be confirmed by the Senate today (April 24, 2017). It remains to be seen if any organic certification rules will change.
If you'd like to see how Tyner Pond Farm promotes animal ethics and regenerative agriculture every day, come visit our farm in Greenfield. We’d love to show you around and introduce you to our animals!
Fortunately, some sweet summer thunderstorms have provided a reprieve from the oppressive heat. It WILL be back, though, and when the heat index rises, you'll be ready with this easy stove top recipe using Tyner Pond Farm's all-natural pasture-raised beef! I don't know about you, but when it feels like 100°F outside, I cannot bear the thought of firing up the grill or turning on the oven. Just... no.
During those days, our family has two go-to recipes we love: Summer Stew and this Pakistani Kima. Kima (also written as "keema" or "kheema") is a traditional meat dish that can be made in a variety of different ways. There are loads of recipes online combining different flavors and veggies, but it's more traditionally know as a curry dish. You can try it with TPF ground lamb, too! When I first saw it, I was skeptical. It's one of those dishes that doesn't always look appetizing in photographs, but I tried it anyway. Surprisingly delicious! It quickly became a family favorite.
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 T. butter
1 lb. TPF ground beef
1 large (24 oz.) can of tomatoes, drained; or two fresh, skinned tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans cut green beans, drained (you can also use frozen or fresh)
4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 T. curry powder
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground turmeric
1 t. each of salt and fresh ground pepper
1. In a large pot or skillet with lid, melt butter on medium heat. Sweat onions and garlic for about 3-4 minutes, then add ground beef. Cook until just browned. **Because TPF's grass-fed pasture-raised beef has a superior nutritional profile with more Omega 3s than feedlot beef, I do not drain the fat.
2. Stir in spices first, then add vegetables. Fold in until well combined.
3. Cover and simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally. The moisture released from the vegetables are usually enough liquid. If it seems to be drying out, you can add a bit of water.
Seriously, that's it! So fast. So easy. And, so delicious. It's a surprisingly light, but filling dish that works perfectly on a hot summer day.
Have you tried kima before? Let us know your favorite flavor combinations!
Allow us to introduce ourselves - we are a young couple in Indianapolis, recently engaged, and very much into eating delicious, locally sourced food. It’s tough juggling a hectic schedule, finding work/life balance, AND managing time to eat well and taking care of ourselves. To achieve our maximum levels of working hard and playing hard, we block off one afternoon to cook several meals to last us for the week. These meals are our lunches at work and dinners on those late and/or lazy nights. So far, we have saved tremendous amounts of dough, and precious time, while still eating like Midwestern royalty.
A recipe is perfect when it’s delicious, rich, and filling, while not being overly complicated to assemble. One of our best examples of this is our go-to jambalaya recipe, adapted from the Good and Cheap Cookbook by Leanne Brown.
COST: This meal is the real deal: it’s only $0.65 per serving when using non-organic produce and without meat. Add your favorite Tyner Pond protein and grab some organic produce from one of Indianapolis’ multiple farmers’ markets, and the cost per serving is still only about $2.00. That’s certainly a worthy investment for your health and well-being! Good luck finding something this good at a restaurant for the price of a cup of coffee. When cooled down, portion out your leftovers for the rest of the week. Sleep tight at night without the worry and stress of what tomorrow’s lunch will be.
VARIATIONS: Just like a skilled yogi, this recipe is super flexible. Instead of using Italian sausage, try Tyner Pond chorizo, ground pork, or ground chicken. Rice can be substituted with quinoa. Quinoa requires less broth – cut down the broth to two total cups, and cook for less time. Check it often to make sure it is cooked to your desired texture. Any great recipe is the collective sum of its parts – we always recommend buying local, organic produce whenever possible.
NOTE: this is spicy. We love spicy food, and it’s scientifically proven that spicy food makes you feel fuller faster and for longer. We save on spices by buying in bulk at Good Earth, located in Broad Ripple. There’s no reason to fear buying a lot of spices at once, as they have outstanding shelf lives. In case your palate tends to point its thumbs down at spicy food, halving or omitting the jalapeño will result in a milder end product. Using less cayenne powder, or replacing it with cumin, will also reduce spiciness.
Good and Cheap Spicy Summer Jambalaya
Tyner Pond Farm Mild Italian Sausage Links
2 TBSP grapeseed oil (med-high heat oil, better than olive oil which should never be heated), grass-fed butter, or ghee
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper
4 Roma tomatoes, 2 large tomatoes, or 1 clamshell cherry tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cayenne
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp soy sauce, tamari, or Worcestershire sauce
¾ cup long grain brown or white rice
4 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Fermenti Artisan Curtido to garnish (optional)
1. Cook the sausage in boiling water in a covered cast iron skillet for five minutes, flip and cook for another five minutes. Remove water and sear on each side for 60 seconds. Remove, check for doneness, and cut links into 1/2'’ coins.
2. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, bell pepper and celery.
We lined these three ingredients on one side of the cutting board so we could easily slide them off into the pan. Cook for about five minutes until they are translucent, not browned.
3. Add garlic, jalapeño, tomatoes, bay leaves, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, thyme, oregano, sauce.
4. Lower heat to medium and cover the pan. Cook for 25-30 min, then check for doneness. Add sausage to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Eat as it, top with curtido, a fried Tyner Pond egg, or wrap in a burrito! ENJOY!!!
Meet Colleen & Drew
Colleen Rocap is a local-food enthusiast with a desire for positively impacting the state of health in Indianapolis. She credits the discovery of Tyner Pond's products as a major factor in her switching back to eating meat after being vegan for many years. She is currently piloting a youth food-education program, MicroGreens Project -Indy, and has worked on the Indiana-based food documentary Food First. She proudly supports the local economy with her whole-hearted addiction to tattoos.
Drew Kincius is a dazzling enigma of energy. As the manager for The Bureau, a co-working space in Fletcher Place, he puts his heart and soul into facilitating the success of numerous entrepreneurs and small businesses in Indianapolis. He also acts as drummer and manager for Royalty, a Prince tribute band, and Wolf and The Wereboys, an Americana-folk act. Part man, part garbage disposal, he loves eating clean, locally sourced food to help fuel his many endeavors.