These days, most Americans have little personal experience with the source of their food, short of what’s presented on The Discovery Channel, or similar source of mediated experience.

Agriculture...
Local or "Organic"?

A Visit to Snyder's Farm

by Craig Gordon


The New York Times Magazine recently ran a cover story that exposed the lack of integrity in the newly, government-legislated “organic” standard for agriculture. In the piece, the author states that instead of choosing food that is certified organic, he’s taken to purchasing his foods from local farms, which, in many cases are not certified organic, but, in actuality, are cleaner than many farms that are. Here in the Woodstock area there are several examples of the kind of farm that the author describes.

Snyder’s Farm is a seven generation-old farm located just off Route 212 in Saugerties. The first thing that you notice as you drive up, besides a flock of chickens running out to the road, are the charming, old structures that make up the chicken coupes, and the stone farm house that dates back to 1820. Besides chickens, Synder’s raises rabbits, pigs, and ducks. But it is their herd of cattle that are most impressive. These Guernsey cows graze freely from a large grass pasture, as opposed to most American cattle, Holsteins, a hybrid designed to produce more milk, who get most of their food from corn and soy feeds. The difference is in that Snyder’s Guernseys produce less, but significantly, higher quality, milk. According to farmer Ken Snyder, the proof is in the milk itself. He does keep one Holstein who’s milk, according to Snyder, is almost clear when held to the light, as opposed to milk from the Guernseys, which is rich with cream. Studies have shown that milk from grass-fed Guernsey and Jersey cows are much higher in vitamins A and D than milk from their Holstein cousins.

Synder’s Farm, like several others in the area, is not certified organic. That turns out to be a benefit as eggs from free-running chickens can be purchased for as little as $1.35 per dozen. If they went through the costly process of organic certification, the price for eggs would certainly need to reflect that.

When my daughter and I make our weekly journey to Snyder’s for our eggs and milk, the payoff is far greater than a trip to the supermarket, or even the natural food store, as we can enjoy the experience of connecting with the farm and the animals that provide our nourishment. These days, most Americans have little personal experience with the source of their food, short of what’s presented on The Discovery Channel, or similar source of mediated experience.

Besides Snyder’s Farm, there are a host of family farms in our local environment that offer everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to eggs, milk and livestock. And, Like Snyder’s, these farms are not certified organic. That does not trouble me, however, as my eyes tell me everything I need to know. And, to underscore a point made by the author of the Times piece, I feel better buying clean, locally produced foods, as opposed to certified organic foods flown in from Chile. How organic is it when that much fuel is needed to get it from there to here? Food for thought.

 

 

 

 

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