Farming Fraud And Why #knowyourfarmer Is So Important!

A lot of people ask me questions about our products vs. conventional or even organic grocery store options. A few of my favorites are...

"Why would I spend $6 on a dozen of your eggs when I can get cage free for $2? It’s basically the same right?"

"How can anyone pay $20 for one chicken when they can go to Costco or Walmart and buy a fully cooked one for $5? It's organic too ya know?"

"I buy all of my organic food from the grocery store, it's way less than what you charge and it's super convenient. Why would I bother with all the extra hoops?"

Dear friends, these are real questions I've been asked, and probably to your surprise, I'm more than ok with that. Everyone should ask questions. It's how we grow, learn, get better, and make educated decisions. A large majority of people will end up buying from me after I respond with the knowledge that I've acquired over the years in this adventure.

Because our social media feeds are pretty tailored to what we enjoy, (homesteaders, farmers, foodies, paleo gurus, hunters, health advocates) it would appear that most people know all about the differences in cage-free, organic, pasture raised, and conventionally raised products. But what I tend to forget is that what I'm seeing on my instagram feed is a drop of a drop in the bucket. I'm going to do a blog post addressing the specific questions around eggs soon, by far the most questioned topic.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I usually try to avoid talking about news worthy topics (it can get pretty hairy and I’m not one for keyboard warrioring). Sometimes though, something big happens in the world of farming that I feel is just too important not to bring to your attention. I'm betting most of you don't follow farming news, and it almost feels like it's my responsibility to bring some things to light. And it's also why it's so important to #knowyourfarmer, to ask questions, and to try to cut out all of the bureaucrazy, I mean bureaucracy in food.

So here's the scoop. A certified organic Missouri farmer committed suicide recently upon learning of his 10 year sentence to federal prison for a fraudulent crime. What's the crime you ask? His organic crop farm grew organic corn and soy, and these crops were then fed to livestock making them also "certified organic". Turns out, he was using all the same horrible pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that we think we're avoiding when purchasing organic. He was not following most, or maybe any of the organic standards and got away with it for a long time. What's more crazy is his farm sales of corn equaled up to 7% of the organic corn grown in the U.S. in 2016 and 8% of soybeans in the U.S. All in all, from 2010-2017 he sold 11.5 million bushels of fraudulent organic grain. To give you more of a visual, that equals about 3,600 rail cars full of grain. If you want to read more about this creep, just search “organic farmer suicide”.

If you're thinking, "well, what are the odds that that grain ended up in my organic Costco chicken, organic beef, organic bacon, etc.?". Honestly, I have no idea what the real odds are. I don't have time or the brains for that kind of math, but that's not the point. The real point is, this was one farmer who got caught and was made an example of. How many of the other U.S. farmers have been tempted to go this route?

So how did this even happen? Basically, there aren't enough regulators to keep eyes on all farmers all of the time. And then, If you get certified organic meat from another country, you can bet that is getting even less regulatory inspection. This is not just meat either. Those organic peppers from Mexico in the middle of winter are probably not as safe as you think. I have no idea for sure, and sadly no one really can know. I'm not one for government regulation, especially when it comes to food. It keeps the little guy down and gives the false sense of health and security when dealing with the big guys. And this case is proof of the latter.

Don't get me wrong, the organic certification process has probably done a lot of good for the masses. It was started out of concerns for what was being done to our food behind closed doors and over-seas, and was created to keep everyone in line. But there will always be people trying to cut corners, or straight up try to pull the wool over our eyes to make an extra buck. In my experience, it's a lot harder to do that when you talk face to face with someone. When you can go to their farm and see how things are done. I tell people all the time, if a farmer won't let you come to their property, they've got something to hide and you should run in the other direction.

We are not certified organic and never plan to be. The paperwork, dollar bills, and sometimes backward thinking regulations are not worth their weight in salt. In fact, it’s quite a joke. If you really truly care about the quality of the products you're buying, then finding a local farmer that is doing it honestly is the only way to go. There's a movement happening in the world of food right now, and people are really tired of being deceived, manipulated, or straight up lied to. What's great for you is that I care so deeply about these things that I'm willing to read all of the info out there about food, farming, and health and share my knowledge. It's kind of a problem actually. Lol! I love it. I do get down a lot because of stories like these, but then I get motivated to continue to get our little farm up and running, to reach as many of you as we can. To share the information I've learned, and to help you see that a lot of what you're being told is a lot of half truths, or even full lies. But there’s also a lot of great information out there, and we have easier access to it than any generation before us. It’s just weeding through it all that can get tricky. It’s not all bad though, there are plenty of people like us that are wanting to do the right thing.

This can feel frustrating, I know. We do purchase a lot of local goods, but certainly not everything. I have a dream to one day be full on canning, freezing, and dehydrating all of our garden goodies to try and lessen the offseason foods we buy like berries, potatoes, tomatoes, etc. in the winter. For now, I’m doing the best that I can with the time and resources that I have. Just because you can’t do everything all of the time, doesn’t mean you can’t do some of the things some of the time. So get out there and #knowyourfarmer. If you’re reading this you already know us, and that’s one step in the right direction.