Organic means no fertilizers or chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or fungicides used in any part of the production. For a farm to become organic, and to come to its natural fertility it takes about 3 years in which they completely stop using conventional methods.
Cows are fed feed from organic practices for 12 months before the certification is given. The accommodations for the livestock has to be ample in size with lots of room for the animals to socialize and access outdoors. Everything from composting manure to crop rotation is recorded and 3rd party certifies the whole process.
Organic meadow is the 1st organic company established in 1989 that represent the organic farmers in Canada. They represent more than 100 family farms that think of clean living. As it is locally produced energy used for transportation is reduced, and there are many social benefits that teach our children the basics of where and how our food comes from.
We were served a fabulous lunch meal that included many organic meadow products; milk, cream, butter, variety of cheese, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, ice cream and eggs. Organic food is rich in nutrients and has disease fighting antioxidants.
There are over 60 products available at about 1000 grocery and speciality stores. The facilities are Kosher certified and carry logos such as woodland Ontario and Canada organic logo.
I visited the Birchwind Holsteins farm located at the Oak ridges moraine.
Organic families, like the Vice family are protecting the environment for our future. They use natural responsible ways to raise crop and livestock, this good cause is becoming popular and I am happy I had the opportunity to learn and share.
Cows do supply a main source of nutrition to our bodies, and it is quite important for us to think of what the cow eats as it impacts its milk. There is a lot of process, hard work and human intervention that goes into the containers we buy at the store, after all cows don't send their milk to us :)
Cows are respected animals that are even mentioned in holy scriptures. We need to treat all creatures with respect including the cow that gives us this blessing. Every time we drink milk it is important to remember the prayer to ask God to "grant us blessing in this milk and increase it for us".
The cows at the Birchwind farms are well cared for, each cow is remembered and loved. All the cows have a name, a stall, a birth certificate and are accounted for with a traceable chip in their ear.
Each of these intelligent cows know where their stall and food is, the farmer doesn't need to direct them to go to the correct stall. It is amazing to watch them graze and how they are led to the pastures. Our host farmer, Ron, said that they used to have a cow that was like a leader, when her name was called she knew what to do as she brought the cows into the stall and led them to the pastures.
Our wagon ride to see the rented pastures.
The cows in this farm are inseminated as oppose to having a bull in the farm, which is hard to maintain. The cow gives birth about every 2 years. The 8 milking cows at the farm milk for about 1 1/2 years then take a 2 months rest before they become pregnant. The females calves stay in the farm and male calves go to a veal farm.
The farmers's wife Deb mentioned that these cows are playful as well. Drinking milk from a happy cow is always better :) Before milking the cow they disinfect their teets with a natural solution for about 45 seconds to a minute to remove bacteria and after this it is wiped individually with a clean paper towel to avoid cross contamination. This helps to release the milk when the milking tubes are attached. The cows are milked twice a day and the milk is picked up everyday.
All milk in Canada are pasteurized, which means it is heated up to a point of 70 degrees Celsius or 130 degrees Celsius. The high point of pasteurization makes the shelf life of the milk longer. One of the high cost in the farm is to have the milk heated. It would help the cost we pay if there are cheaper sustainable options like solar powered heating systems. Canadian milk is fortified with Vitamin A and D, full fat is not fortified has it has Vitamin A. More on pasteurization if you are interested.
As the farms don't use any type of pesticide the flies are controlled with a web like tape on the roof in which the flies stick onto. The milk container that hold 800 gallons of milk is washed with cold water and vinegar.
What we eat makes us healthy and protects us from sicknesses. The pastures are pesticide free and there are no synthetic growth hormones added to anything. The cow manure is reused in the pastures and garden; the methane in the manure is removed using natural methods to preserve the ground water.
Wheat is planted in the fall and it grows in the Spring. Everything consumed by the cows are organic and natural. In the Summer the cows eat grass and hay, they spend 22 hours outdoor and 2 hours indoor, which they love. During the Winter months they eat 70% hay and 30% all natural organic corn, peas and cereal grains. If the weather is extreme they spend 22 hours indoor and 2 hours outdoor. The cows can stay out in the cold weather because of their digestive system and coat, which after all is leather :)
The visits by the vet has drastically reduced as natural methods are used rather than antibiotics.
The cost of these products are little more than conventional because everything used in the farm is organically approved and labour intensive. It is worth the little extra cost, as we need to seriously think global by using locally produced products. This is good for the environment, economy, politics, biodiversity, social society and our health.
Thank you Ron, Deb and the fabulous team of organizers at Organic meadow for this invitation. I met some like minded fabulous people in person and truly feel that there are no barriers on how we think about food and health.
See it for yourself, understand and appreciate you'll know its worth going Organic. Hope you learnt as much as I did and start seriously thinking where our food and products come from, in hopes that we can change the impact it has for a healthy future for all of us.
Disclosure: I am not paid to do this review. All opinion and rights reserved on photographs and written content Torviewtoronto © 2011 unless mentioned. Please Ask First