Bountiful Harvest

Observer-Reporter | November 22, 2009

As reported by Scott Beveridge, in the Observer Reporter  November 22, 2009:

” …..There since have been other problems involving peanut butter and beef, she said, and recalls of tomatoes and lettuce that have put consumers on edge about the sources of their diets.

Then Time magazine featured a cover story this summer, “From Farm to Fork,” exposing crowded livestock practices at farms owned by megacorporations. The article concluded that America’s addiction to meat has contributed to an epidemic of obesity. At the same time, these giant farms consume more fossil fuels than any other source, and seep fertilizers that are damaging the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico, the magazine reported. The investigative piece came out shortly after a documentary, Food Inc., tackled similar concerns.

These issues also have made some local farmers take a second look at their operations, including the owners of Weatherbury Farm in Avella.

Nigel Tudor said he and his parents attended a conference three years ago in Meadville sponsored by the nonprofit Pennsylvania Project Grass, and were inspired by what they learned to change their entire business.

The Tudors had already begun to feed their cattle just grass because of its health benefits. Cows that are fed grain diets consume more carbohydrates and contain more calories when butchered than those raised on grass, Tudor said. Grain-fed cows also are more prone to nurturing harmful bacteria, he said.

The family decided to sell the meat directly to the consumer rather than at auction to increase profits by cutting out the middle man.

“It’s much more sustainable, too,” he said. His farm now turns a profit, he said.

A cow sold at auction, Tudor said, could end up traveling 1,200 miles to a feed lot before it’s slaughtered. For that reason, one pound of beef required a half-gallon of fossil fuel to get from the farm to the dinner table, he said.

The meat is fresher when purchased locally, as are the fruits and vegetables found at farmers’ markets.”