Not all local food is created equal. . . what does this mean you wonder? Did you know that some farmers feed their pigs day old bread or outdated grocery store foods full of sugar, GMO residues, dyes, and more? Many farmers buy premixed grain, often with little understanding of what is even in the grain that they are feeding their animals. There are lots of types of production methods on farms out there. Consumers all have preferences about how they expect their food to be produced. Overall, here at Grassland, we strongly believe in and practice certified organic methods of production. However, the organic standard requires a sow to be certified organic for at least the last third of her pregnancy in order for the piglets to be certified organic and raised as such. It is very difficult to get certified in Maine. We purchased 5 week old piglets and decided to raise them with the standards that we practice on all other parts of the farm. These pigs have lived a life of luxury with LOTS of delicious organic milk from our dairy and plenty of organic vegetable seconds from our gardens. The meat from these pigs is buttery and tender from all that milk and they are strong and healthy from the access to dirt, grass, leftover vegetable fields, and the whole grains that we feed them. Which brings me to my next point. . . these pigs cannot be certified organic. Why you ask? Well, we have an amazing asset in Skowhegan, the Somerset Grist Mill. They grind whole grains such as wheat, rye, oats, and corn into consumable flour, cornmeal, and rolled oats. There are a lot of waste products the go along with processing these grains such as taking the groat from the oats or the bran from the wheat berry. These whole grain products are perfect for my pigs, and although are grown without synthetic chemicals, are not certified organic. As I kicked off the season, I asked myself if I would rather be feeding my pigs a premixed grain with ever changing ingredients, grown far away from Maine that was certified organic OR whole grains, grown without chemicals supporting a local business in my hometown along with other Maine farmers who are growing the grains for the mill. I chose the latter! So, when I say that not all local food is created equal, I think that label or no label, ASK the farmer what their production methods are. It doesn’t mean their production methods are right or wrong, but simply that you know what you are getting and that you feel good about being able to make that choice. You will find our delicious pork at the farmers’ market in Skowhegan, Augusta, and Orono starting next week. Try it out! See how you like it AND please ask us what love, care, and food we put into our animals!