Here at AWA, we’ve been thinking a lot about this special holiday and how we may have more in common with our ancestors than we think. Upon arriving in America, the early pilgrims ate what was locally available (granted, they didn’t have an alternative!). This happened to be animals that ranged and foraged in the woods and pastures, eating a diet specific to their natural needs and free from non-therapeutic antibiotics or added hormones. Sounds like a Certified AWA farm, doesn’t it? Meat, dairy, and eggs from animals raised outdoors on pasture or range is better for you, better for farmers, and better for the planet all great reasons to give thanks.
This past Thursday, Animal Welfare Approved and NC Choices teamed up to host a panel on the regional supply chain for pastured meat, dairy and eggs. This panel mirrored our recent summit at New York’s Alfred State College, and brought together farmers, processors and retailers in an effort to start a dialogue on a sustainable, pasture-based supply chain. Held at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, North Carolina, the panel included a representative from each link in the chain: Jeremiah Jones of the NC Natural Hog Growers Association talked about forming a farmers” cooperative, and Jennifer Curtis from NC Choices spoke about the work their group has done in facilitating purchases of local meat at Weaver Street Market, a local cooperative grocery store.
Weaver Street’s meat buyer, Paul Griswold, talked about local purchasing and plans to eventually have a 100% local, grassfed beef case. Richard Huettmann, co-owner of Acre Station Meat Farm, talked about the challenges and opportunities in running a processing business that serves niche markets like pastured pork. William Johnson of William’s Pork talked about using Animal Welfare Approved pork in value-added products, and his experiences in serving the retail chain Harris Teeter. We were especially proud to hear him say, “The two most important things on my label are the Animal Welfare Approved logo and “Got to Be NC.” You can see a picture of the Animal Welfare Approved logo on the William’s Pork delivery truck on our facebook page.
Though all of our panelists are integral parts of the same chain, it is rare to have everyone in the same room. Their very presence spoke to their dedication to making local, pasture-based agriculture a workable system and to working with each other to make that possible.