Vancouverites are incredibly fortunate in the sense that although we live in a skyscraping, seagull-dwelling, sidewalk-pounding city, we’re only 45 minutes away from some of the largest agricultural centers of our province. Whether you’re feeling a little carnivorous, or prepare foods for others who fall into this category, we are all incredibly lucky to have the option to easily source good quality meats and eggs.
We’re also pretty environmentally friendly in and around Vancouver, so there are plenty of local farms that place heavy emphasis on producing meats that are, but not limited to:
Certified organic: animal products boasting this label should, in theory, be free of added hormones and antibiotics, and only fed an organic diet.
Grass-fed: this title implies that the animals in question (typically cattle) have been permitted to graze on natural grasses for the majority of his or her life, instead of being fed grains, which are cheaper, typically genetically modified (as most corn and soy is), and an unnatural feed for cattle. What most people don’t know, is that cattle that are grass-fed are still taken to a feedlot for the last few months leading up to slaughter, to be fattened up on grain.
Grass-fed and finished: this label is the same as above, except instead of being taken to a feedlot to put on weight for the last few months of the animal’s life, animals with this designation have been permitted to spend their entire lives grazing on natural grasses. Meat from these animals is more expensive, because it takes much longer for cattle to reach slaughter weight, and farmers can’t rush it.
SPCA certified: this is a certification given by the SPCA to farms that have been deemed to be friendly to their food animals. For those with ethical concerns, this label intends to show that care and attention are being given to raising happier (and therefore generally healthier) animals.
Free-range: referring to animals (usually hens) that are permitted to run around outdoors and indoors. The term “free-run” usually just refers to access indoors. If the poultry products you are purchasing don’t specify, then they’re probably battery-caged hens. Another term for free-range is “pasture-raised.”
Natural: I admittedly hate this label, because of its complete meaninglessness with so many food corporations. However, the farms listed below use this label to indicate that they use no added hormones or antibiotics, and their animals are free-range. Often animals’ diets are supplemented by grains, and although they are not certified organic, it’s sometimes due more to the cost of the certification, and less about what the animals consume. (So keep in mind, when organics cost more, it’s often because the process of becoming certified is extremely expensive, and farmers need some way to recuperate their costs.)
Here are 3 farms within 75 km of Vancouver that produce high quality animal products:
Sumas Mountain Farms (Abbotsford, BC)
This farm is family run, and produces pork, beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs. They are 100% certified organic, SPCA certified, grass-fed and finished, and free-range. They also ensure that all of their products are 100% soy-free. Although the farm is in Abbotsford, they will deliver to designated drop-off points in several areas, including Vancouver.
K&M Farms (Abbotsford, BC)
The farm raises turkeys and chickens, and claims to be natural—no added hormones or antibiotics, and their poultry is free to run amuck.
Star Ranch (Vancouver, BC)
This ranch is actually in Quesnel, but they have a pick-up location in Vancouver. They raise grass-fed and finished, natural beef and Himalayan yak.
If you’re outside the Vancouver area, and are looking for friendly farms that are close to YOU, visit www.eatwild.com. They have fairly up-to-date listings in both Canada and the U.S.
If you want to learn more about what exactly ‘organic farming’ is, check out this video: