Heritage Breeds – a Last Stand for Real Food
The term “heritage breed” refers to the more traditional breeds of cattle, hogs, chickens, and turkeys that were raised by our forefathers. This is the food that our great-grandparents ate – free from the questionable, industrialized mass-production practices so common in today’s marketplace. These animals were selected and bred to develop traits that helped them thrive in the local environments of the time. What we call, “antibiotic-free, steroid-free, hormone-free, non-GMO, soy-free, natural poultry,” our ancestors just called “chicken.”
The truth is…heritage breed meats are our last stand for REAL food, raised the right way.
Unlike the needless and dangerous genetic tampering we see in the food industry today, these more traditional, heritage breeds retain much of the instincts and capabilities needed for the survival of their breed as well as for the necessary biology to thrive in local food cultures. Heritage breeds have maintained their foraging ability, fertility and parental instincts, longevity, as well as developing a hearty, more natural resistance to parasites and local diseases. While it may sound like these are the perfect animals (and we believe they are), they fell out of favor for the very traits that made them so special.
As the industrialized food production process evolved, the desire waned for actual food. Instead, mass-producers opted to scientifically create animals that grew to unnaturally large sizes in a very short time, continuously produced milk or eggs, needed less food, required little to no supervision or interaction, and even didn’t need to be outdoors. The result was higher production, increased profits, and product that could just barely be called “food.”
This biologically-modified food is dangerous not only for the added antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and unsanitary practices, but also because of a lack of genetic diversity. With little to no gene variation within the species, successful reproduction becomes more difficult. The offspring that do come about from these animals are typically rife with health problems, and those are the products which end up on grocery store shelves.
Heritage breeds, by contrast, have a rich and genetically diverse history in the United States. Having the benefit of hundreds of years of careful selection and thriving in diverse environments, these animals can’t be factory farmed because they only thrive in a pasture setting – being given abundant time and resources to grow at their own pace. These animals provide us with REAL food, not merely products loosely made from food. Because of the work it takes and the changes in the food market, most heritage breeds became undesired.
The good news is that we are in the midst of a food re-awakening. Food production is moving back in the direction in which it started – back in the hands of local farmers. Enlightened consumers are seeking out organic, locally-sourced, sustainable foods for themselves and their families. Heritage breeds have much to do with this new-found interest in real food because these breeds very simply produce the best-tasting and highest-quality meat.
It has been said that the “food of tomorrow should be the food of yesterday.” Those words are so true. While it does take a lot of time and effort to raise heritage breed meats, the work is well-worth the reward. Our heritage breed Longhorn cattle, Red Wattle hogs, Royal Palm turkeys, Silver-Laced Wyandotte chickens, Dominique chickens, and Freedom Ranger chickens are given plenty of space in our sprawling pastures and all the time they need to grow at their own pace