Those who know me, are aware that I have been buying my family’s meat and eggs from Skagit River Ranch in Sedro-Woolley for many years. I don’t even have to make the long trip up there – they journey 2 hours every weekend to the University District and Ballard Farmers Market. Everything they produce is simply the best, and it shows in the line-up for eggs every Sunday morning. People walking by always ask “what are you in line for?” When they hear how golden the yolks are, they usually get in line themselves.
A few weeks ago the ranch had “Farm Days”, where they invite the public to come and have a tour of the ranch, eat some great food and listen to speakers. I was invited to speak and I talked about how the food we eat affects our thoughts, actions and moods. As I was waiting for my turn, I went on a ranch tour hoping to see the animals. I was already impressed with the farm, but I did not expect to be so impressed.
The first thing I noticed was chicken’s running everywhere – no cages. They have homes to go into at night to keep them safe and warm, but they are out all day. Just by looking at them you can tell they are “happy chickens” instead of poor factory-farm chickens squashed together breeding bacteria. Farmer George explained how he gives them ground fish bones, (fish meal) and seaweed when they are young to make sure they are getting the nutrients and protein needed to make them strong. Of course, we get the benefits from consuming them and their eggs, such as iodine, which is needed in every cell of our body.
These chickens were getting all the bugs and grub they could handle. Remember, chickens are not meant to be vegetarians. Don’t go for the “all grain, vegetarian fed” gimmick. When you see that – keep walking. “Cows, pigs, and poultry birds need open access to grazing, foraging, sunshine, and vital nutrients found in the outdoors from sun and eating grasses, plants, and for birds, eating worms and insects. This is why meat from healthy sources is so much higher in nutrients and in particular, the fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K2 – essential for all aspects of health, including bone, cardiovascular, brain and nervous system, immunity, and digestion.” (1)
Next stop, the pigs, who were happily snorting around. They had so much room to run and play. No stress there. I learned that the pigs love to eat along the fence line where the sweet thistle grows. Milk thistle is one of the best herbs for our liver, and pigs too. The pigs are actually a cross breed which ensures that they can root around like a wild pig while still being tasty and pleasant to work with. Farmer George was very proud in telling us how his pigs are high in Omega 3 fats. This is a plus for pork.
The cattle are Angus and Wagyu cross-bred, and had lots of room to roam. They are grass fed all the way. I remember last year when we had a drought, the farm could not produce as much meat because the grass was getting so dry. Rather than filling them up with grains to fatten them, the farm went with less meat at the time, and had to bring in some hay, which is costly for them.
“Cattle are ruminants and are not designed to eat anything but grass, and a very SMALL amount of grains, if any, that might grow naturally in the pasture or field. When cattle eat these substances, it causes an acidic environment in their digestive tracts, creating inflammation and illness.”(2)
This farm cares about their animals. Farmer George said “they only have one bad day in their life”, and they do that as humanely possible, as indicated by their Certified Humane Raised and Handled distinction. Even though this is hard for me to think about, I know from the past I need meat. As humans, we all need these nutrients. I appreciate how the animals get a stress-free life, full of good food, fresh air, and sunshine – just how Mother Nature intended. No small cages packed so full they cannot move, no dirt lots full of corn and soy feed. Did you know that if an animal is stressed it will change the meat’s nutrients and taste? I don’t want to eat a cortisol filled animal, full of antibiotics, fatty grains and hormones. Do you? Lot feed farms feed their animals corn and soy to fatten them up fast – Um, that’s exactly what happens to us with corn and soy.
Take the time to check out Skagit River Ranch, either at their farm store in Sedro Woolley or at the Farmers Market. You will be so glad you did.
1- Agriculture Society
2- Agriculture Society