One of the pleasures of living in the vicinity of many small, in-dependently run, farms in Central New York is our ability as a community to build relationships with the people who produce our food and to see with our own eyes how crops and animals are cared for. A prominent figure in my own family’s local food network is Jean Byrne of Byrne Black Angus farm. The Husband and I met Jean two years ago when we began our biweekly trek to the Skaneateles Farmers Market; after visiting her farm and seeing for ourselves her family’s commitment to raising quality beef, Byrne Black Angus has systematically replaced store-bought beef on our dinner table.
Let’s face it folks, there are some seriously gnarly things lurking in the mega mart meat isle. For my family red meat is an occasional treat and when we do buy it we demand a few assurances: in the words of Joel Salatin, we want to know the farmer ‘embraced the cowness of the cow’ – meaning it was fed the kind of food it was designed to eat and it was allowed to move about in open air on properly-maintained pastures; we want to know the animal developed without the influence of artificial growth hormones that are so damaging to the animal, damaging to us, and damaging to the soil and ground water it leaches into; and we want to know the animal was treated humanely. Since these assurances are impossible for chain groceries to make, we’ve moved to Byrnes Black Angus farm.