Not me.  I am not in transition. Though I guess we all are to an extent. No, I am talking about Grain.  There is a whole grade of feed for animals that I knew nothing about until the market demanded a non GMO product from me.  Then I found Transitional. 

The man who is to sell my pork – soon I hope as they are more than ready for market, told me a while back that the chefs he sells to, small restaurants in  Chicago, only buy meat fed on non GMO grain. To my mind this meant organic grains. Organic meant expensive.  To date I had been buying local grains. I am more concerned about the presence of glyphosate in the food chain, and the prevalence of imported organic grains. I want local but Organic was way out of my reach. I was quite down-hearted. My maths and my little bank account could not make sense of this kind of expenditure.

However I needed to do the research just so I had the real numbers to crunch or risk losing a real potential market for my pork.  I needed to talk to a supplier. I asked Aunty Google and Jake and found that there was such a supplier   Midwest Organic  and after calling and talking to the incredibly helpful woman who answered the phone I was introduced to transitional grains.

And more than that I was introduced to a group of people who care about how their food is grown, as much as I do.


These images are taken from their mill when I picked up my ton of feed the day before yesterday. mill-006

Let me explain transitional feed for those of you who like me had no idea it was a possibility.  To become certified as Organic a grower has to grow her crops on the land in an organic manner – following all the organic protocols for a number of years. Three years. The grower uses all the clean practices necessary for organic crops including buying the organic seed yet in the past these crops have been sent to the local mill and chucked in with the rest because the land they were grown in was not yet certified organic.  This meant  few small growers were able to get up to the point of certification.  There was just no money in it. mill-010

The land was in transition. But because of this big gap  of three years for the grower, between investment and return, the number of organic growers here in America was very small. So, much of the organic grain consumed here in America was imported.

Enter the transitional grade. You can buy good organically grown feed without the organic price.  

So the emergence of the transitional grains as a label has allowed two very important advances for the small farmers. The farmer who is buying expensive grain and growing grains naturally ( growing without synthetic fertilisers and sprays is pretty hard work) can sell his hard won grain at a profit, and the little farmer buyer (me) can afford to buy grain that is free of spray and more nutritious. Many of the modern modified grains have also had their balance of sugars and proteins modified too (as a side effect) – the old fashioned grains are much more digestible. Like comparing an industrially managed tomato to an heirloom  tomato you grow in your garden.

Of course i will never go organic as I am surrounded in GM crops – right to the border. I never COULD be certified organic. The transitional feeds suit me down to the ground – literally!mill-029

Here is an interesting article from California on the journey of the recognition of transitional feeds in the organic marketplace.

And so I was introduce to the mill and my animals are eating the very best of feeds now.

Aside from all this I have stumbled into a wealth of information and support from this local business.  This mill in Fairbury, Illinois  is only a part of quite a big concern dealing with organic and transitional grains, yet I have found to my delight that these people who care about food seem to care more about people too. No question is too stupid. And no order too small.

The mill itself is clean and tidy and smells delicious. Cody who is in charge and his 2IC (also called Cody) are both strong fast moving young men. They are right at the front line of the transitional and organic feeds industry. Dispatching. They meet every buyer with a handshake and a smile right at the loading door.

They work very hard to get my grains cracked and mixed exactly how I want them. This discussion is all done over the phone with very personal contact. Every client they supply wants a different recipe, ground to different requirements and they are more than happy to accommodate them. I would be confident in taking a scoop of feed out of my bag, clean it and make porridge for myself. I have faith in this system. mill-011mill-021

I adore the mill – not only for the kind, informative, efficient and personal reception I receive but as a marine engineers daughter I am fascinated by the machinery, the way these young people have adapted and rebuilt some of these machines to suit the particular task, the smell of hot metal cooling, the rumble of machinery, the clear unadorned labeling,  all creating a cycle of purpose and hope in a minority industry battling for space.  And these people are all young. Young and focused.  Educated. Informed. Totally on point. mill-020


Can you see my truck, backed up and looking hopeful.

I buy a ton at a time.  Here is half my load. Packed in double sided strong plain brown paper bags with trans scrawled on the bags. Nothing fancy and wasteful.  Cody loads them onto two pallets for me so the load does not get too high. And he puts the last bag filled on separately and points it out to me. Due to the mixing process  this bag always has a little more of the organic mineral in it. Then I can mix this bag back in with others so the pigs don’t get too much selenium in one go. I never even thought of this. So many things I am learning. mill-003

We were talking about field peas the last time I was in. I might try them next time.

Time for me to get to work. This post has taken a little longer than usual!!

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi

Thursday 09/21 20% / 0 in
Intervals of clouds and sunshine. High 91F/33C. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.

Thursday Night 09/21 10% / 0 in
A mostly clear sky. Low 67F/19C. Winds light and variable.

6:39 am 6:51 pm
Waxing Crescent, 4% visible 7:58 am 7:58 pm



46 Comments on “IN TRANSITION

  1. That is very interesting! So happy you found ‘people’. It’s good to have people.

    BTW: The home page is not seeing this post, but I got the e-mail that it was up at 6:53 am cdt….. OH – Samantha…..

  2. How wonderful for you to have access to this! I had not heard of Transitional Grains before. I do know that going the Organic route is time consuming and expensive. Hopefully this will satisfy the buyers of your pork in the city!

  3. It is terrific that you have this option! We have lots of small organic farmers of greens, eggplant, peppers, green beans, tomatoes, and flowers, but the nearest mill to get non GMO feed is hours away. New Country Organics is hours away, but deliver to our area weekly for an additional fee, and though their mix is exceptional, it is expensive. The local mill makes a decent product, but it is local GMO grains. Tractor Supply carries an organic line, but it is a name brand, smells like molasses, and I don’t trust that it is as advertised. Sounds like you have found good people with a good product.

  4. There are quite a lot of farmers at (the markets) in England who practice organic farming but don’t want to pay for the certification. Some elements of organic are a nonsense anyway, everything is organic regardless of the title and most land will be contaminated by DDT for decades, even if it has been clean for 3 years. The main thing is to keep land free of further chemical pesticides and feed animals non GM or sprayed food, IMHO.

  5. What a wonderful find!! Here we grow a small amount (about a half-acre) each of heirloom wheat (Warthog!) and hard winter rye that we harvest, dry, clean and grind in small batches for our local chefs. Growing and selling grains is becoming an important part of our little business. Good for building our soils, good for a product we can sell throughout the winter! A win win for all! We are not certified organic either, we could be, but we have chosen not to go that route, although we conform to all of the practices. It seems to be working out for us!

      • A local brewery, intending to market a 5-mile brew, bought all the equipment to grow their own grains, including a seed drill, an Allis Chalmers combine, and other implements. After figuring out that it was way more work than they were able to manage, they GAVE most of the equipment to us a couple of years ago. We are making full use of the combine, now that my son has figured out how to tune it in for each cereal crop. It is HUGE! Way overkill for our small acreage, but it does a great job. My clever son also built a large bin hooked up to a blower, where the grains are dried and stored. It lives in the barn, and he moves it here and there with his skid-steer. We also borrowed a neighbor farmer’s cleaner, our own version of a clatter-trap, for cleaning the grains. I grind the grains in my little table-top mill, sometimes in the barn, and at my dining room table when its cold. (Messy!) We love using the fresh ground flours. Not only delicious, but they actually have a shelf-life, unlike the highly bleached and processed flour you get at the supermarket which lasts virtually forever. That’s because there’s no nutrition left in it!!

  6. What a lovely hopeful post! People who are trying to change things for the better in a small way should work together, and I’m so glad you’ve found each other. And of course all the Farmy creatures will benefit as well…

  7. In my house, while ‘organic, non-gmo’ is our preferred status for our meat, non-gmo takes precedence over organic, hands-down. My dear husband has developed an allergy, as they have developed gmo corn, that is absolutely horrendous. We can always tell within 24 hours if the meat he had (hamburger at a restaurant, bacon with eggs at a friend’s, etc.) was fed gmo corn. What began as an intense three-day severe allergy attack is now beginning to close his throat. To say that our days of being cavalier about where we eat are over is an understatement. Thankfully most places are happy to answer our questions (is this meat non-gmo? is there high fructose corn syrup in your salad dressing? do you put cornmeal on the bottom of your pizza?), when we are forced to eat away from home. Our ‘research’ (read: mistakes through the years) has shown us that organic blue corn tortilla chips are unsafe for him, while non-gmo (whether organic or not) is fine. No allergies. Nothing.

    Something to think about: we took a three-week vacation through Canada this summer and encountered SO much less HFCS in the grocery stores and restaurants. Companies that sell brands in both countries put HFCS in America and cane sugar in Canada. My husband was absolutely livid, and I don’t blame him. This ties in with a story I heard from a friend whose friend was in Russia for her husband’s job and attending a party. She was told an old Russian man at the party was eager to speak to her, as an American. When she spoke with him, he had only one burning question that he had long been waiting to ask any American. She was speechless when he asked, “Is it true that your government has poisoned your food?”

    I would say yes.

    • Wow. This is a terrible and very important comment. And why I grow my own food. My grand daughter has the same problem – happily diagnosed by her mother before it got out of hand and hospitalized her.

      • Yes, wow. Good news, though, for your granddaughter’s health. About the post itself, so informative. Really glad I’m learning about food and feed issues. Trying to be positive here in general, and careful in “supermarkets,” preferring little shops and stands in my neighborhood when I can find out about their sources. Mostly they are quite concerned and alert also.

    • It was one thing I noticed in the States, was how sickly sweet everything was, even items like Coke which we have out here in NZ, because everything is sweetened with corn syrup. Unlike here, where corn industry is not subsidised by the government, and most of our drinks are apple base. Apparently it has to do with consumer demand. Americans have become used to the sweet taste of corn syrup and won’t buy anything else. If everyone stopped buying corn based products, you can bet the manufacturers would change pronto!

  8. Very interesting and what appears to be a perfect compromise the whole way along the’chain’.laura

  9. LOVE this, I could talk about and read about this all day. There are so many things in this post that are important. I love that the farm is local to you. I love that there are young people taking an aging infrastructure and making it work in a new way. I love the care and thought they put into their product and their farm. I love that you were willing to go to such lengths to make things even better for your animals and your end product. I love that the conventional ways of farming are starting to topple – oh, I know it will be decades before it’s gone completely, but I love that we are working towards that end – and that folks who farm can still make a living. I love that we are supporting the heirloom grains instead of a huge company making seeds that have poison in them. I love that these non-GMO grains can support ALL life – not just the animals and humans they are feeding, but the soil microbiology and the insects too. I love that the land is being regenerated by this practice.
    Thank you for this post!
    Cheers, Elizabeth

    • Yes! And to be clear this company buys in grain from organic and transitional growers too- spreading the wealth around. They have another mother branch that buys cleans and sells the seeds. So it is a cycle of goodness

  10. Very interesting and informative post. I think in the UK we are quite lucky that organic produce has taken off, and you can buy it nearly everywhere at a price, but as Mad dog said the crap that they put on the land decades ago will still be in there, but it is heartening that there are people out there trying to grow good wholesome food.

  11. LOVE this. So good to see every glint of light that comes through this tough old world’s defenses and lets us revisit how we think of things in a more positive and productive way. Happy smiles for the day!

  12. Where there is a will there often is a way . . . . in your case the word ‘transitional’ applies not just to the feed, does it, but to the present changes in your life as well . . . .

  13. This is wonderful, I have recently come to know of a flour mill nearby that grinds and sells non gmo heirloom grains. I haven’t made my way over there yet but I’m eager to try their product in my bread. I will have to check at our local feed mill if they have or have heard of the transition grains. On a more somber note, the mass on my John’s chest wall has proven to be a sarcoma. Not at all the news we wanted to hear but we will take a deep breath, find out the best treatment plan and take things one step, one day at a time.

    • One hour at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time . . . . I first had a double-cancer 15 years ago , , , , I am holding all the fingers and toes crossed for both of you! THE most important thing you can do is say: ‘SO WHAT, I am going to beat it’!! Sherry – you speak of ‘chest wall’ not lung! . . . . Easier journey . . . . . read up and learn from all the auxiliary things you can do in addition to what the docs tell you . . . best Eha

      • Yes, wall, not very common I’m told, soft tissue sarcoma. We were down this road three times with my step daughter’s ovarian cancer. She’s still with us and doing well some 7-1/2 years later so we’re aiming for good results. Thank you.

  14. It’s good to see the personal touch back and by young people. It’s been missing from business for so long. I find this all very interesting and I wonder if the day will ever come that the GM giants go out of favor. Probably not in my lifetime but I hope sooner than later. I’m happy you found them.

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