Great Harvest Bread Co.

A Great Harvest Bread Co. just opened in HP’s town, Charlottesville VA. Yum. When we visited, we were pleased to see a notice announcing that the store sources its eggs locally, and Kath, the proprietress, told us she’s working on finding a local provider of sandwich meats. Looking around their website, there’s more good stuff:

For more than three decades we have been a friend to family farms located in Montana. We know our
wheat farmers on a first-name basis

And from the corporate website:

We also provide you with the best bread-baking wheat available by identifying suppliers who meet our strict standards for wheat quality and business practices. The Franchise Agreement requires you to buy wheat only from our approved suppliers, which maintains quality standards and helps you produce the freshest, most nutritionally rich and phenomenal-tasting bread!

Good luck to Great Harvest Charlottesville!

Company delivers local food to consumers

A start-up grocery delivery service in Charlottesville, VA, Relay Foods,  recently got some attention from Forbes:

An Online Grocer For Web 2.0. Just Don’t Call It Webvan 2.0.

Relay helps bring consumers and local food producers together by purchasing from small farms, bakeries, butchers, and cheese shops in the Charlottesville area, and delivering the groceries to buyers at convenient pick-up locations. This model gives people easier access to local foods; cuts down on greenhouse gases and cars on the road as many orders are combined into fewer trips made in biodiesel-fueled trucks; and opens a new distribution channel for the local businesses.

We find it interesting that the article refers to Charlottesville, Haute Pasture’s home, as “the locavore capital of the world.”

More from Relay’s web site:

Support a Sustainable Community
Communities are resilent entities. But over time, even the strongest ones become threatened when the ties that bind are loosened. Relay strengthens the ties that bind us to one another. Food is the key that unlocks relationships to farmers, to shop owners, to chefs, to bakers and cheesemakers. Through Relay, you experience the small town connection to those who grow and purvey the food you love to eat!

Shop Green
Relay has designed its operations to be light on the earth. Together with you we reduce our collective carbon footprint. Most food travels on average 1500 miles. With its farm vendors, Relay dramatically reduces the miles from farm to table. Take your car off the road and let Relay do your shopping for you in its small biodiesel-fueled trucks.

If you live or work in the Charlottesville area, check out Relay Foods!

Pret A Manger

Haute Pasture recently took a field trip to London. When we’re in London, our favorite place to get lunch is Pret A Manger. Pret strives to keep their food preservative- and additive-free, keeping it fresh and wholesome. And the food is delicious and cheap!

They don’t throw around the term “natural.” The most important things they do, according to Haute Pasture, are:

  • We serve organic milk, eggs, coffee, tea, citrus juices, chocolate and popcorn, and will continue to add to the list. Organic food is grown without chemical fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides or other toxic junk. Organic farming protects the environment and encourages sustainable farming practices.
  • Our chicken, turkey, beef and ham are never processed more than they have to be. It’s shocking what large producers are permitted to do (you really don’t want to know). We buy directly from small cooperatives and family-run farmers like Murray’s, Earthbound Farm and Niman Ranch, who share our beliefs. They never give their animals antibiotics or hormones, feed them only a vegetarian diet free of animal by-products and care about them and the environment in which they live.

(emphasis ours)

Kudos to Pret! Please patronize them!

How farms should be: Polyface, Inc.

You may have heard of the Salatins and Polyface Farms from the farm’s feature in Omnivore’s Dilemma. Building their family farm from scratch, the Salatins formed strong principles regarding how a farm should treat both its denizens and customers. They believe that the earth and animals should be respected, so they allow the livestock free-range access to foods that they would naturally eat in the wild, and they compost and encourage healthy soil. They also respect customers, and do not ship food in order to give consumers the freshest possible food, and therefore the best possible experience.

All animals, including chickens, cows, turkeys, rabbits, and pigs, at Polyface are allowed to eat as much grass as they’d like. Cows are moved to new grazing areas daily, and chickens roll in behind them to enjoy the newly-cropped grass. As the chickens graze and scratch, they break up the manure, cleansing the ground. Pigs root through the fermenting hay and corn bedding in the cows’ shed, aerating it, and turning it into rich compost that is used around the farm. Poultry birds’ diets are supplemented with local grain, and the rabbits are specially bred to thrive on a roughage-only diet.

To get the best sense for how Polyface operates, visit the farm for a special tour, and if you live in the area, be sure to patronize restaurants that purchase Polyface products.

Eat Well Guide

This is an interesting tool:

It accepts an address or zip code, and returns a list of nearby markets and restaurants that carry local food, along with lists of CSAs and farms. (One result for this little town: Chipotle.) For a responsible consumer traveling to an unfamiliar place, this tool could be a great asset. The site can also map a route and show you ethical food options along the way. Very impressive!

Farm Aid: Helping family farmers

Many people are familiar with Farm Aid as an organization that puts on star-studded concerts to raise money for something related to farms, but that something may be unclear. Farm Aid’s mission is to promote family farming, and since 1985 they have raised more than $37 million for the cause. They support family farms through both donations and support networks, including a crisis hotline and grassroots political action.

Key messages of Farm Aid stress the importance of eating local food, and of knowing how your food was raised, which go hand-in-hand. It’s much easier to confirm that the animals and environment are treated well on a smaller, close-by farm than on a huge corporate factory farm that’s far away. That’s good for your health: it has been proven that meat from animals who experience less stress is healthier than that from stressed animals; and good for the environment: the closer the source of the food is to the market, the less fuel burned and exhaust generated in transporting it there. Spending your dollars close to home is also good for your local economy.

Kudos to Farm Aid for doing so much to fight the decline of the small family farm.

What is Food with Integrity?

The answer can be found here:

–at least as far as Chipotle is concerned. Whenever possible, they use locally farmed produce and meat, and meat that was not fed hormones or antibiotics.

They’ve had their best success with pork. Since 2001, 100% of Chipotle’s pork has come from “naturally raised” pigs, who eat a vegetarian diet without antibiotics and live outdoors or in a deeply-bedded pen. Beef has been more challenging, but the company has used the weight of its large demand to lean on suppliers and push them to improve standards, to the point that 85% of the beef they purchase comes from farms that meet the company’s “naturally raised” standards. They won’t purchase any dairy from cows that have been treated with rBGH, or recombinant bovine growth hormone, to increase milk production, and they won’t buy chickens that have been fed antibiotics or other dangerous feed additives. Their goal is that one day soon all their meat and dairy animals will be pasture-raised.

Chipotle prefers to use organic produce, but is realistic about weighing the value of the “organic” label against the importance of sourcing produce from smaller farms that may follow organic-type practices but are not certified organic due to the required bureaucratic hoop-jumping. They also purchase produce locally as much as is practicable.

So the next time you, as a responsible consumer, have a craving for a burrito, patronize Chipotle over other burrito chains.

Whole Foods cares about farm animals

From The Statesman in Austin, TX:

Kudos to Whole Foods for making it easier for concerned shoppers to purchase from farms that value the living conditions of their resident livestock. A color-coded system rating farms on animal treatment will help consumers make informed decisions about the products they are purchasing, starting with pork, beef, and chicken, but eventually covering all meats sold at the store. The non-profit Global Animal Partnership, who collaborated with Whole Foods on the project, is in talks with other retailers about expanding the program beyond Whole Foods.

Whole Foods already has baseline standards of animal treatment that must be met by farms whose meat is carried at the store. For example, chickens may not have their beaks trimmed, and pigs must be allowed to root freely. This new initiative promises to protect many more farm animals while making it easier for consumers to choose responsibly.

Another fast-food company doing the right thing

Kudos to Whataburger for joining the likes of Burger King, Subway, Sonic, Wendy’s, Arby’s, Carl’s Jr. Hardees and Quiznos in adopting a cage-free egg policy. Please be a responsible consumer and patronize restaurants and brands that do not rely on, and therefore promote factory farming.