Next up on the Stonyfield Barnstorming Tour was a special dinner with some of the farmers! We had a fantastic dinner at Tabor House Inn, and we had the opportunity to ask the farmers lots of questions. Here are some of your questions, and if you have any follow up questions to ask, feel free to leave a comment on this post!
The farmers were very friendly and helpful in answering our questions!
What does the term "organic" mean?
Organic refers to the way agricultural products, both foods and fibers, are grown and processed. The focus is on cultivating healthy soil to produce strong plants which are able to resist diseases and pests. Organic farming prohibits the use of toxic chemicals, and instead works to find strategies that work in harmony with nature and preserve biodiversity.
What are the standards for organic dairy?
Organic dairy prohibits the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. Cows must be fed 100% organic feed, and the land on which the cows are raised and fed must not have prohibited substances applied during the past 3 years. There is a 12 month transition period for cows to be certified organic.
How do organic farmers treat sick cows?
Organic farming prohibits the use of antibiotics. If a cow needs to be treated with antibiotics, her milk can no longer be sold as organic, and she must leave the herd. One of the big challenges organic dairy farmers face is finding ways to recognize the signs of disease during early stages, and find other natural ways to boost their cows' own immune systems. One farmer told us he uses a combination of cayenne paper, garlic powder, and echinacea for both his cows and his family! There is a wide variety of alternative medicines used such as homeopathics, probiotics, and even acupuncture!
What do organic dairy farmers do to prevent their cows from getting sick? The focus here is on good nutrition, a grass-based diet, and plenty of exercise. Organic dairy farms are permitted to use vaccines to prevent disease as well. Many of the farmers we met know their cows by name, and also knew the temperment of each cow. Working so closely with such a small herd means they are able to recognize when a cow is starting to get sick.
Is "natural" the same as "organic"? NO!! For food to be certified USDA Organic means it must meet many standards, such as: No pesticides/herbicides/growth hormones, No artificial flavors/coloring/preservatives, No genetically modified foods, and a certification process that involves inspections. There is NO government standard for the term "natural"!
I hope this helped answer some of the questions you had about organics, and if you have any other follow up questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post!
The other bloggers and I had a great time getting to know the farmers and their families! This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!!