Monthly Archives: August 2016

White Oak Pastures: Nose-to-tail, farm-to-door

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We believe our farm is one-of-a-kind. We’re fiercely proud of our vertically integrated system, which allows us to raise animals on pasture, slaughter and butcher them in our USDA-inspected on-farm abattoir, and ship them directly to the well-informed consumers who want to support this type of agriculture.

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Jenni Harris, with a lot of help from our Comptroller, Jean Turn, began to focus on the potential of our online store in 2014 to share White Oak Pastures products with people who aren’t close enough to shop in person. We are able to reach a broad base of customers who have made the decision to put a high priority on the source of the food they eat, so we can sell every part of our 10 species of animals from the nose to the tail. Today, we ship hundreds of packages weekly through the mail. Here’s how it works:

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Sabrina Carnley runs the front of the shop, receiving online orders and working with our internet fulfillment crew to get them filled. She’s also your go-to for questions about everything from shipping to how to cook chicken feet.

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All orders are packed on our farm, not in some order fulfillment center in the middle of the country. Most of our products are frozen prior to being shipped, which ensures a safe temperature of the meat when it arrives at your home. Your box will contain a cooler packed with dry ice to keep your products cold.

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Between managing the South Georgia heat and the sub-zero freezer temperatures, these guys are responsible for keeping perishable product in good condition. Justin Chaddick (right) oversees frozen inventory, packing, and shipping. LJ Richardson (left) and Deion Wallace (middle) put the orders together and pack them up. We ship throughout the 48 contiguous states, to any address where UPS will deliver.

Shop online and keep these good folks busy! For more details on our online store and shipping process, see the list of frequently asked questions on our website.

Categories: Staff Spotlight | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The secrets of the ancient Kolomoki Mounds

The Kolomoki Mounds site is the largest and oldest tribal mound complex east of the Mississippi. Located just west of White Oak Pastures outside Bluffton, Georgia, these eight mounds were hand-built by some of the earliest inhabitants of the area, the Swift Creek and Weeden Island cultures. Building these mounds was a monumental task, toting dirt one basketful at a time. The largest mound, the size of a football field at the base and 56 ft high, required more than two million basket loads of soil.

These early hunter-gatherers had to have been very prosperous to be able to engage in an extravagant extraneous activity like mound-building, and the reason this was possible is the high productivity of the land.

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There’s something special in this little strip of land right through here that’s about 15 miles long and just a few hundred yards wide. We call it the Bluffton Ridge, and it’s the area where the Appalachian Mountains have gone underground and project like a finger under the coastal plains weather pattern.

Generally, the land in the coastal plains is sandy and of poor quality. But in this ridge we’ve got uneroded, incredibly rich mountain soil. We’re also in a highly productive weather pattern, with optimal rainfall and temperatures. It’s the perfect storm of weather and geology, where plants and animals grow and produce really well.

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These tiny Appalachian rocks are treasure chests of minerals.

It’s interesting to note that the people of ancient Kolomoki built the mounds right next to this strip of land, but not on it. They knew this soil was special.

From 350-600 A.D., Kolomoki was the largest settlement north of Mexico. These early Native Americans were the first of many prosperous inhabitants who thrived on the rich soil of the Bluffton Ridge.

Andrew Jackson defeated the Creek Nation in 1814, and founded Bluffton in 1815. The Creeks inhabited Southeast Alabama, Southwest Georgia, and North Florida, but Jackson and the early Europeans chopped their way through the jungle with purpose, founding Bluffton before any other city in the region.

Before the industrialization of agriculture drove people away in the mid 1900s, Bluffton was a prosperous city, too. Will Harris’ grandmother attended Bluffton’s Pine Plains Boarding School for Girls, where she learned to paint oil on canvas and studied Emily Post etiquette during the era when girls weren’t commonly taught to even read or write. Bluffton had one of the first concrete swimming pools in the state back in 1920, called The Bluff. And in 1924, a successful initiative called the “Lord’s Acre” was featured in Time magazine, in which farmers in the Baptist Church congregation each donated one acre of production as a tithing. In the era of “40 acres and a mule,” most farms couldn’t afford to donate an acre of production, but because of that highly productive mountain ridge soil, it was possible in Bluffton.

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Kolomoki translates to “Land of the White Oaks,” and it is now our turn to care for this little strip of land. At White Oak Pastures, we’ve tapped into the richness of this soil to build one of the 17 accredited Savory Hubs around the world, and we proactively support nature’s food chain using only sun, soil, and rain to grow organic sweet grasses for our animals to eat. Regenerative agriculture is a core value of White Oak Pastures, for the sake of our animals, our environment, our community, and for those who will inhabit this land after we’re gone.

Categories: Regenerative Land Management, Rural Community | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Day in the life of John Pedersen, Hog Manager, midwife to the sows

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Photo by Laura Mortelliti

It’s a farrowing affair and not for everyone. But it takes a talented, caring person to raise some of the smartest animals on the planet. Unlike factory hog production that confines sows in gestation and farrowing crates, we raise all of our pigs on pasture, completely unconfined. It isn’t easy or convenient, but it is the right thing to do. Our Hog Production Manager, John Pedersen, does a brilliant job caring for them, and we’re excited to introduce you to him on this week’s blog. Read on to get a glimpse into a day in the life of one of our favorite pastured pig farmers. 

Q: Why did you get into farming?
A: I started contemplating farming as a potential career about 7 years ago after my son Nicolaus came into this world. My food focus switched from a solely sustenance approach to a source of preventative healthcare and high nutrition for my family and me; we began searching for local farmers to provide us with the food we felt would be best. During the search for food and educating ourselves to the farming practices in our area we learned about regenerative farm practices that not only provided nutrient dense protein and vegetable sources but also was extremely respectful of the animals grown and the land/soil used to raise them, and I wanted to be part of it.

Q: What has been your proudest moment at work?
A: Being the “midwife” to the hogs (thank you for the new nickname…) brings with it many proud moments every time a new litter is born. Anyone who has had a child enter their life will be able to relate to this. Caring for a pregnant sow or gilt and then being there for that new litter of piglets is so satisfying.

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Photo by Angie Mosier

Q: What’s your favorite daily chore?
A: My favorite and most satisfying daily chore is checking on the piglets and mommas. They are on a specific diet that we daily feed utilizing five-gallon buckets and when they see the truck coming they dance and squeal and hop around like you would imagine a puppy would when seeing its owner after a long day away at the office. It’s precious!

Q: What is your favorite food in our on-farm dining Pavilion?
A: I have coined a new slogan for anyone dining at the Pavilion, “Support the Pork.” Every meal that Reid and his team prepare with pork quickly becomes my favorite. Support the Pork!

Q: If you could trade roles with someone on the farm for a day, who would it be and why?
A: All of the employees at White Oak Pastures have extremely diverse, rewarding and challenging roles. Each of us are passionate about our programs and we frequently work together. I miss working with cows and really enjoy working with our livestock manager John Benoit. He wears many hats and I couldn’t handle all of his responsibility, but I do have fun working with cows when I have the chance.

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Q: What’s the best, and worst, part of living in Bluffton, GA?
A: I grew up in very suburban/urban locations and enjoyed all that those places have to offer, most importantly, the diversity of restaurants which ironically is the best and worst part of living in Bluffton. We have the best restaurant right here on the farm but regrettably the only restaurant in Bluffton.

Q: What is your favorite meal to cook at home?
A: I love a good seared pork chop, salt and pepper only. The flavor that comes through on our pork is amazing and needs no amendments. Support the Pork!

Q: Choose one word to describe White Oak Pastures.
A: “Pioneering”

Shop our pastured pork online

Categories: Animal Welfare, Staff Spotlight | Tags: | 8 Comments

We’ve got balls at White Oak Pastures

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Castration of male animals is a common practice in the livestock industry. Said to reduce aggression, the practice likely came about with the confinement of cattle in crowded conditions where the animals aren’t free to roam and express natural instinctive behaviors. As Will Harris says, you just can’t keep a bunch of bulls in confinement; it’s like the worst prison movie you’ve ever seen.

For over 100 years, White Oak Pastures castrated everything on this farm that wasn’t named Harris. It’s one of the practices we did away with in our transition to a kinder, gentler agriculture, in an effort to reduce the infliction of pain on the animals. Global Animal Partnership, Animal Welfare Approved, and Certified Humane all have thick manuals that detail what good animal welfare looks like. To meet the highest standards in these programs, we don’t perform any physical alterations on our animals, including castration, dehorning, or branding.

While the term ”bully” comes from the behavior of bulls, we don’t have a problem with aggressive bulls out on open pasture. If a big bad bull wants to bully a little bull, the little guy can just keep on walking. He has more incentive to get away than the big bull does to pick on him, and he has enough space to do so.

Fried Grassfed Beef Testicles Recipe

Our cattle are humanely processed in our on-farm abattoir. When our mature bulls are slaughtered, we offer grassfed beef testicles to our customers as part of our commitment to ensuring no part of the animal goes to waste. Sometimes called “Rocky Mountain oysters” or “cowboy caviar,” these are a unique and novel nose-to-tail treat. They are typically served fried as an appetizer, and would be a great surprise for your dinner guests or as a culinary adventure for yourself or your family.

This Harris family testicle recipe has been passed down through many generations. We hope you’ll give it a try and let us know what you think!

Ingredients
1 pack White Oak Pastures grassfed beef testicles
2 eggs
1 cup flour
Your choice of oil, for frying
Dash of salt and pepper
2 tbsp milk (optional)
Small handful of parsley for garnish (optional)
Ketchup or cocktail sauce for dipping

Preparation
Whisk eggs in a large bowl with milk, and in a separate large bowl season the flour with salt and pepper. Parboil the testicles in boiling water with a splash of salt for 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel the outer membrane from the testicles, and slice the testicles into medallions. Dip medallions in flour, then the egg mixture, then the flour again. Repeat this step for a thicker breading. Fry medallions in hot oil for several minutes, until crispy and brown. Remove from pan and allow to drain on paper towels.

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Photo by Laura Mortelliti

Categories: Animal Welfare, Kitchen | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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