My first-ever farm tour: My day at Grandview – guest post by Sarah Manning Recently, I went on a tour of Grandview Farms in Thornbury, ON. This, I'm ashamed to say, was my first time at a farm. From city to countryside I donned my rain boots and raincoat and set off to the bus Grandview had arranged to bring this group of urbanites to the farm. After a quick two-hour jaunt from Toronto up Highway 10 we pulled up in front of the farmhouse. I was stunned. I was expecting a modest, older farmhouse, but instead found myself in a "mini Versailles," a term a fellow visitor coined. Leaving behind the noise and pace of Toronto, I was standing in the cool drizzle looking at Georgian Bay through the fog and silence. I was confused because I had expected the chaos I assumed came with having hundreds of animals. My two cats cause chaos enough. The air smelled clean and fresh, there were no mooing cows, no whinnying horses and no squealing pigs. If you had dropped me here with no explanation I would have assumed I was at a chic and serene bed and breakfast, not a farm in operation since the 80s. Creature Comforts First, we headed down to meet some of Grandview's cows. Grandview raises shiny black Angus and stout brown Wagyu cattle. Both feasted happily on a breakfast of sweet apples and were then let out into the pasture. My food writer companions and I went first into the pasture and the cattle quickly followed. I've never seen a cow run before, and they definitely aren't the most lithe of animals, but they are happy. Occasionally they would take pause and nibble some grasses and then they¹d be off again, circling the pasture in spurts. There are several pastures that the cows are let into systematically. Each pasture provides access to the shade of a wooded area so even in the heat of the summer these cows can roam the grasses or nap in the shade as they please. Next we went to visit the chickens. It was a bit cold for the chickens and they were all gathered at the side of the barn, but a few brave souls were venturing into the grass fields provided for grazing.
Did you know: The most interesting thing I learned with the chickens is that they are omnivores. I was told stories of these birds plotting coups against rodents and snakes that wandered unknowingly into their pasture. Grains should only be making up a percentage of a chicken's diet.Visiting the two-month-old Berkshire pigs was my favourite part. By my count we saw about 12 of them, but they were all curled up and napping on each other so it was difficult to tell one snout from the next. The pigs became more active when the apples arrived for them to snack on. These pigs, though small now (about 100lbs each), will grow up and make great use of the 60 acres of pasture allotted to them. "We don¹t have the 'farm smell' because these animals are never indoors. We only take them in the early spring and they spend their whole life in this environment outside," said part-owner of Grandview Farms Matthew von Teichman, while watching the pigs graze. The upside to being sent out to pasture So why pasture-raised meat? Why is grass-fed beef better?
Did you know: It's richer in vitamins and nutrients including three times the Omega 3 than feedlot beef contains. Grass-fed beef also contains four times the CLAs (Conjugated Linoleic Acids)‹an omega fat that helps the body convert food into energy. Because the animals are treated better, they are healthier. Matthew shared that there is no need for constant antibiotics because the animals are not confined to the small spaces that allow illness to spread within the herd.Grandview tests the product they have coming off the farm at a lab at the University of Toronto. They test against conventional beef, organic beef, and international grass-fed beefs. "Australian grass-fed beef has the highest amount of Omega 3 and CLAs," says Matthew, "second is Grandview's grass-fed beef." As one might assume, conventional beef had the lowest density of these nutrients. As the saying goes, you are what you eat. If this is the case it might be wise to be aware of what your food is eating too.