When our family started our food journey three years ago to move from the typical American diet to eating food as close to the way God intended it as possible, one of the major changes we made was buying the majority of our food locally. No longer is the grocery store my go to place for food, but farmer’s markets, coops and specialty stores. As I read more and watched documentaries about food one thing was clear to me. That the majority of American foods come from CAFOs. And CAFOs were all bad.
Or are they?
this ain’t Texas. how we Yankees do boots
Two weeks ago, I joined a group of bloggers and headed out to Swisslane Dairy Farm on the outskirts of the Grand Rapids area. The funny thing is I had been to Swisslane Dairy Farm many times when my kids were young because they have an amazing educational program that our moms group used to visit. Our school also takes field trips there and in fact had just brought a group of third graders out the week before.
our welcoming committee
Swisslane Dairy Farm has been in the Oesch family for four generations. They are about to celebrate their 100th anniversary and are so proud of their heritage. I lost count of how many relatives currently work on the farm but every one we met talked about their farm with such a sense of pride. And they are committed to helping their community understand where their food comes from. So far, everything is right up my alley.
Annie from Swisslane Farms telling us about their milking process
But wait. Swisslane Dairy Farm is a CAFO. Almost 3000 cows reside there with almost 2000 of them milked daily. When we were told that this farm was technically a CAFO I was blown away. This is a family that is passionate about the environment, the health and care of their cows and the quality of their product. This was not some “big business agriculture” farm where animals are mistreated, injected with piles of antibiotics and looked at solely as a bottom line.
me taking really good care of a baby calf
Michigan has over 22,000 small livestock farms and over 200 CAFOs that produce meat and dairy products. And almost 98 percent of those dairy farms are family owned. Families who deeply care about their animals like they are part of the family. Michigan is 8th in milk production in the U.S. and much of our milk is shipped elsewhere. Yes, these dairy farmers have a bottom line to maintain, but they are under strict quality standards and if their cows aren’t happy and well cared for, they lose their bottom line as well as hours and hours of manpower.
I left the day honored that Swisslane Farms is part of our community and that I know we have dairy farmers so committed to producing quality milk for us.
After our farm tour we were treated to an amazing lunch of paninis, soup and of course big glasses of milk (I chose the chocolate).
Wouldn’t you love to have a panini lunch as well? I have a Cuisinart GR-11 Griddler 3-in-1 Grill and Panini Press to giveaway on behalf of the United Dairy Industry of Michigan. It comes with a Grilled Cheese recipe book, an insulated “got milk?” cooler bag and apron (to clarify, the bag is insulated, not the apron…….). I’m drooling just thinking about my turkey, brie and fig jam panini sandwich from that day.