The cows keep me alive

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Wild about you- Foraging Dinner

A while back we ventured south to Ralph Lentz Farm near Lake Pepin in MN. I heard about the “Wild about you- Foraging dinner” through the organization Slow Foods MN. They strive to have a focus “on food and always have an educational component. They provide an opportunity for conversation with others who are interested in sustainably produced food. Our members are farmers, home cooks, vintners, chefs, wine lovers, moms and dads, grocers, brewers, writers, nutritionists, students, bakers, miscellaneous foodies . . . united in our concern about the quality of what we eat.” They are a branch of Slow Foods international which is a group that formed in opposition to McDonalds opening a restaurant in Rome.

It was a beautiful day. We got to go out among the grass fed cattle and hear from the farmer himself about the value of feeding grass to cows– for the health of the cows and for the health of the environment. They don’t have to use fertilizers because the manure naturally makes the grass (as you can see in the photo above) super lush. It’s the most beautiful grass I’ve ever seen. They rotate the cows through 4 different sections of land and rest each section for certain amounts of time.

What struck Darren and I as very interesting was the fact that the farmer is very old and most older farmers were trained in big Ag methods. He was not because he was an Ag teacher for most of his life and then became a farmer. The way he talked about everything was so simple and so natural, but at the same time so foreign. We are so used to big farm, monocrop production of food that is so quietly destructive. Another guy that lead a tour about the health of the streams on the farm made a good point saying we have focused so much on the how’s of food production (gps systems on tractors, etc.) and haven’t spent nearly enough time on the why’s of food production.

Last point…the food we ate at the end of the day was AMAZING. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice. It was braised elk, huge asparagus, ramps (some species of onion), nettle/dandelion/green mixture, wild rice mix and a whole host of homemade desserts.

Oh…and the cutest thing that the farmer said was that “the cows keep him alive”…he thinks he would die if he decided to “retire” and move into the city.

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~ by rachellovesfood on June 4, 2009.

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