Farming is not adapted to large-scale operations because of the following reasons: Farming is concerned with plants and animals that live, grow, and die.
- Cornell University Agriculture Professor, via Omnivore’s Dilemma
It’s not everyday that you get to meet somebody who was in one of your all-time favorite books. But that’s what happened to me on Saturday, and probably to many others who attended the Farm to Table Conference at the
Anybody who stopped by the Heritage Farm booth at the conference most likely met the 20-year-old Peter Burns, who played a small role in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Peter—who along with his father, Greg Burns, operates Heritage Farm in Ridgway, Pa., about 2 hours northeast of Pittsburgh—was an intern at the increasingly famous Polyface Farms during the time Pollan spent there researching Dilemma, and he nabbed a few mentions in the book.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Greg and Peter about their farm and their products. Among other things, they told me how the folks from the Big Burrito Group recently paid a visit to the Burns’ farm and will be sourcing some Heritage product for the Big Burrito family of restaurants. [A quick aside: If you believe in local food and you dine out in the
Peter’s year-long internship at Polyface, Greg said, has allowed Heritage to follow in the Polyface/Joel Salatin mold. So the grazing beef cattle help to fertilize the soil that sprouts the grass they eat, and the chickens (and turkeys!) are brought in behind the cattle as they are moved around the farm, picking out vital nutrients from the cow’s waste, leaving their own fertilizer packages behind to nourish the grass. As Salatin told Pollan, running a nearly universally sustainable operation means being a very good grass farmer.
If nothing else, the conference offered an opportunity for attendees to get some quality time with local farmers who are producing quality products.
I picked up some creamy raw milk cheeses from Pasture Maid Creamery, part of Dean Farms, in
Speaking of dairy products, I usually need my milk to have a good bit of cereal floating in it (my most recent favorite: Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins). But I really enjoyed the tall glass of raw milk I sampled during one of the three cooking demonstrations held on Saturday. And the bite of bison tenderloin, courtesy of Bistro 19 executive chef Jessica Gibson, was wonderfully tender. The bison was from Wooden Nickel Farm in
All in all, my 4 or 5 hours at the conference on Saturday was time ridiculously well spent. I met some of the true leaders of the local food movement, found new sources of sustainably produced products, and even added to my own local food production: a pot of freshly sprouted arugula and a pot of mixed lettuces.
Both pots are lounging in a window in my dining room. With any luck, in a few weeks, they’ll be my ultra local source for a salad that will accompany some monster grass-fed rib eyes in my freezer that I’m just dying to slap on the grill!
Welcome spring. It’s time to eat!!