Why Consume Pasture Grazed Dairy Products?
We’ve probably all have seen the labels in the dairy aisle touting ‘grass-fed’, ‘free-range’, ‘pasture-grazed’, but as much as we are flooded with these labels we are equally confused. It’s easy to get flustered because despite all the name calling they all roughly imply the same thing: that this animal is raised in the field and eats primarily grasses or hay. To further complicate things, there is yet to be a standard set for this type of dairy herding. In a recent report detailing the special aspects of Wisconsin pasture-based dairy, author Laura Paine attempts to simplify things. She asks to refer to these dairy products as ‘pasture-grazed’ as this term most fully envelops the management practices used. As well, she as defines ‘pasture-grazed’ as dairy that is fed on a diet of a minimum of 60% pasture, the rest being made up of hay or grain. No ensiled feed, that is fermented hay or grain, is allowed. Understanding that the milk you consume comes from an animal that eats grass may not be enough to convince you to buy pasture based dairy, but there are a few more compelling reasons as to buy such wonderful dairy.
1. Color, Texture, Flavor: Best for when in the Kitchen When working in the kitchen, pasture-grazed dairy enhances your cooking experience. You may notice the butter has a warm yellow hue to it, this comes from the grasses it eats and reflects a higher nutrient profile, but it also adds a rich color to baked goods. The texture of pasture grazed butter is much more stable than conventional butter and remains consistent over a wide range of temperatures. It is not brittle when cold nor does it lose its shape when at room temperature, instead it is more pliable making pastries much easier to work with. Pasture grazed butter isn’t just for baking, it also performs exceptionally while cooking. More viscous, pasture butter makes a thicker and satiny sauces. And not only does it brings out and compliments other flavors in simple dishes, it also can stand on its own with a full, rich flavor.
2. Support Wisconsin and Local Dairies We often think of Wisconsin as the dairy state, but this state isn’t just about producing high quantities of milk. Wisconsin also leads the nation in pasture-grazed dairy production with 22% of all its dairy coming from pasture based practices. This gives Wisconsin the ability to compete with other high volume milk producing states. Through pasture based dairies, Wisconsin can take advantage of value-added artisan products. When you buy pasture-grazed you show support for local dairies and keep Wisconsin on the cutting edge of high-quality and skilled artisan dairy.
3. Your Health: Getting the best out of the cream from the top Pasture grazed dairy is rich is wholesome, healthy, beneficial fats. Contrary to popular belief, fats are not only good for you but necessary. While on pasture, the butterfat content of milk has greater amounts of vitamins and nutrients, particularly vitamin A and E and caratenoids. More importantly, pasture grazed dairy has a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These are both essential to the body, but are only healthy when consumed in the one to one ratio. Pasture grazed dairy provides you with the omega 3 fatty acids that are heart healthy, raise the good cholesterol, and supplies the material needed to build your cell membranes. Further, pasture grazed dairy is highly more satisfying. This is again because of the fat content. Much conventional dairy has the fat stripped out of it and replaced with sugar which raises the bad cholesterol and spikes your blood sugar which makes you hungrier. By sticking with pasture grazed dairy you consume all of the good fats that give you energy and supports a more balanced diet.
4. Renew your Earth With the potential to reverse damaged soil, pasture grazed dairy and managed grazing keeps both animals and the land healthy. Managed grazing reduces soil erosion and minimizes runoff by keeping grasses on the earth all year long. This leads to higher organic matter and water retention in the soil. Animals raised on pasture have the freedom to exercise, eat a diversified diet of grasses, and breath fresh air. Because of this, pasture grazed dairy typically have no use for hormones and antibiotics. With chemicals absent and nature allowed to manage the land less pollutants are washed downstream keeping our waterways clean and our soil strong.
By consistently buying pasture based dairy you set a standard of what you want out of your dairy products. You show that you want Wisconsin to be a strong force in specialized dairy. You show that your health and your earth matter to you. You may be able to find pasture grazed dairy at your local food co-op, or try Trust Local Foods. We can provide you with a bounty of products for you choosing, from Saxon Creamery’s crowd favorite Snowfields cheese to un-homogenized milk from Clover Meadows Family Farm. Cheese, yogurt, butter, and milk we have it all local and pasture based.
Paine, Laura (July, 2013) Growing the pasture-grazed dairy sector in wisconsin: Summary of findings and recommendations, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
Glacierland Resource Conservation and Development (2013) Managed grazing, www.glacierland.org
Eat Wild (2013) Health benefits of grass-fed products, www.eatwild.com Green, Emma (Nov, 2013) The controversial life of skim milk, The Atlantic
Please, share your recipes with us on the website, on the Recipes tab. We’d all love to know how you use your Trust Local Foods products, so we can try it too!
Malabar Spinach with Mushrooms
“Greens, mushrooms, garlic and wine have a strong affinity for one another, and this recipe is both quick and delicious. It’s actually even more flavorful if the mushrooms are slightly too mature to eat raw. Malabar spinach is a common green throughout Asia, where it goes by many different names, including Mong Toi. It is very high in iron and needs only the very briefest cooking.”
Source: An interesting blog, http://outofthegarden.wordpess.com (Entered by Janice Matthews)
about 2 cups Malabar spinach leaves
12-16 oz. fresh mushrooms
2 tsp. canola oil
1 tsp. ginger paste (or fresh peeled, minced)
1 T. garlic, finely minced (or garlic paste)
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sake, cooking sherry, or shaoxing wine
1. Wash the Malabar spinach leaves carefully, tear larger leaves into pieces, and leave to drain.
2. Wash the mushrooms with minimal water, dry them well, and separate stems from caps. Slice caps medium-thick, and cut stems in half. Heat frypan quite hot, add 1 tsp. oil and mushrooms, and let cook 2-3 minutes. They should begin to release some of their moisture.
3. Lift pan slightly off burner and shake back and forth, giving mushrooms a little toss without stirring them. Return to hot burner, cook a few minutes more, and repeat. Do this several times, until mushrooms are turning brown and smelling wonderful. Remove mushrooms to a bowl and set them aside. Some liquid will accumulate in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t drain it off.
4. In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tsp. of oil on medium high. Add ginger and garlic and stir-fry a minute or two. Add a little of the reserved mushroom liquid. Continuing to stir, add the torn Malabar spinach leaves and mushrooms. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes, until leaves begin to wilt. Do not overcook!
5. Add the wine and soy sauce. Stir-fry just another minute or so, until all is blended. Remove from the heat, salt to taste, and serve at once.
Upcoming Local Food Events
- June 22nd: PLACE Appleton Library “The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food and Love” by Kristin Kimball, 7pm at Gymnopedie. Kimball chucked life as a Manhattan journalist to start a cooperative farm in upstate New York with a self-taught New Paltz farmer she had interviewed for a story and later married. The Harvard-educated author, in her 30s, and Mark, also college educated and resolved to “live outside of the river of consumption,” eventually found an arable 500-acre farm on Lake Champlain, first to lease then to buy. In this poignant, candid chronicle by season, Kimball writes how she and Mark infused new life into Essex Farm, and lost their hearts to it. By dint of hard work and smart planning — using draft horses rather than tractors to plow the five acres of vegetables, and raising dairy cows, and cattle, pigs, and hens for slaughter — they eventually produced a cooperative on the CSA model, in which members were able to buy a fully rounded diet. To create a self-sustaining farm was enormously ambitious, and neighbors, while well-meaning, expected them to fail. However, the couple, relying on Mark’s belief in a “magic circle” of good luck, exhausted their savings and set to work. Once June hit, there was the 100-day growing season and an overabundance of vegetables to eat, and no end to the dirty, hard, fiercely satisfying tasks, winningly depicted by Kimball.
- July 9th: Trust Local Foods “Farmer for a Day” at Dragonfly Farm (Jackson County). “We have been growing natural produce for ourselves and family for 25 years. Everything we grow is something we enjoy and have found through the years to be good quality. We enjoy growing a variety of things including cucumbers, tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, eggplant, cantaloupe, squash, corn, okra, berries, flowers, and now have over 600 different varieties of daylilies. We welcome visitors and appreciate comments. David’s Dragonfly Farm is located 10 miles north of Athens on Sandy Creek. Although we have 120 acres we only garden about 2 acres bordering our 2 acre pond.” For more information and to make reservation for this free but space-limited event, please look in the “Event Reservations” category on the market website.
- July 10th (rescheduled): Athens Food Activist Networking Session (AFANS). Athens Food Activist Networking Session brings together those interested in food security, hunger, and community development to build consensus around these issues and identify specific, strategic courses of action. This AFANS will take place on June 19th from 2:00pm-4:00pm at the UGA Livestock Arena (2600 South Milledge) close to the intersection of South Milledge Avenue and Whitehall Road. There will be opportunities to meet people who have all been working on various aspects of our community food system as well as break out groups on community gardening, community kitchens, farm-to-school, food policy, community food security, and market opportunities for local producers. Food will be provided by Food Not Bombs. Everyone is invited and encouraged to bring friends.
Other Area Farmers Markets
The Appleton Downtown Winter Farmers Market is held every Saturday morning at the City Center Plaza from 8am to noon. You’ll find many of the same growers at both. And of course, you can learn more about that market on their website.
Also, New Leaf Winter Farmers Market has a thriving farmers market Saturday morning from 8 am to noon on February 1st, March 1st, March 15th, March 22nd and March 29th, at the KI Center in Green Bay. Learn more about the market at <ahref=“http://newleafmarket.wordpress.com/”>
Many of the TLF growers sell through more than one market. Don’t feel like you have to choose a favorite, either. We have many items here you can’t find there, and I’m sure the reverse it also true. Many people stop by the supermarket several times a week, so it’s only natural that you might wish to stop by a farmers market several times a week. Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so. We’ll see you there!