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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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