Inspector 1317 has been assessing our farm.
She has been in residence for a number of years to determine whether we meet "certifiable" protocols for management of land, animals, and food. She is a demanding negotiator with exacting standards, so much so that she has nearly turned us Libertarian! It is tempting to exclaim, "Enough with all these regulations! Let customers do their own inspections." But she has convinced us that meeting painstaking standards is good for business.
Regulations and standards applied by Ohio Ecological Farm & Food Association, American Grassfed Association, and Ohio Department of Agriculture do create distinction among producers. Those who can operate within guidelines presented by those organizations offer a different product than those who do not. This informs consumers at a glance, which is a valuable service to the marketplace. Inspector 1317 has been a taskmaster, but through her guidance, we now claim three official certifications.
The first certifies our land, to organic standards, as presented by Ohio Ecological Farm & Food Association, based in Columbus, Ohio. This requires a yearly inspection, plus submitting a yearly management plan, 25 pages long.
The second is through American Grassfed Association, based in Denver, which certifies that livestock are 100% grassfed. This is an important standard, as anything less than 100% significantly alters nutritional value. Our inspection is conducted by the local county extension agent, and applies to beef and sheep.
The third and most complicated inspection to navigate has been for our kitchen, through the beloved Ohio Department of Agriculture. This bureaucratic institution is replete with rigid silos of information and lack of communication among departments. We engaged many copious, unintelligible documents and numerous dead-end conversations, trying to understand standards required to certify the kitchen. Despite the frustration, we finally succeeded, through Division of Food & Safety. Most changes affect labeling, which requires nearly every sub-ingredient to be listed. Our physical kitchen is fine, with only a few nominal changes needed there. So, we are, in fact, permitted to sell our prepared foods at farmers markets, for those who have expressed concern.
Thanks to Inspector 1317, who guided us through these processes with strategic belches of advice, we now claim three different certifications. This strengthens integrity of product and should be reassuring to customers. Few of our competitors offer this much reassurance.
As you gather your flock for meals in your home in the year ahead, remember our meats are "certified", all the way from the land, to the animal, and through the kitchen, for your table.
Pictured above is a skirt steak, grilled two minutes per side. It is accompanied by carmelized onions, asparagus & fava beans, and rappini & cannellini beans. The skirt is cut from the diaphragm, and is laced with seams of fine, soft fat. Properly cooked, it is as good as any ribeye steak. The only problem is there are only about 3 lbs of skirt steak per animal, so they are rarely in-stock.
We will be attending Findlay Market on Saturday & Sunday, Hyde Park on Sunday, and Blue Ash on Wednesday. We will also drop off in Milford on Wednesday June 14 at 5 PM, so Milfordites, please place orders soon!
With gratitude for the Inspector,
Drausin & Susan