We Want To Restore Health and Biodiversity … Not Kill It
When Morgan and I first moved to Virginia, we were happy to find chicken feed that was both non-GMO and Soy-Free. Although the chicken feed was not Certified Organic, we were happy because we were told by farms around us that it was, in fact, chemical free. The certification of Organic has its virtues but the practice of being organic is the goal—to be chemical free.
Our happiness was further bolstered by the fact that nearby farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms also supported and used this feed! We were very happy…
About a year later, Morgan and I decided that we wanted a 3rd-party certification on our farm and chose to start the certification process for Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). CNG offers peer-review certifications to farmers producing food for their local communities by working in harmony with nature and without relying on synthetic chemicals or GMOs. It is based on the National Organic Program standards with a few significant modifications.
CNG clarifies and strengthens the Certified Organic standards for living conditions and chemical use. Animals must be raised entirely on pasture and cannot EVER be fed any chemicals. Period. In a strong sense, CNG mandates the highest levels of Biomimicry and Regenerative Land Use.
As our farm’s mission is to regenerate the land and nourish the body (in that order), CNG’s standards were exciting to us! It is our goal to nurture an intensive soil producing, organic matter accumulating, and carbon sequestering system that yields nutrient-dense foods while absorbing as much storm and moving water as possible and filtering and spreading that water into the ground for immediate and long-term usage.
There was one problem …
To be certified, all CNG producers must submit a “Feed Declaration.” To be accepted by CNG, each “Declaration” must be signed by the company that supplies the feed, agreeing that their products are “chemical-free.” CNG does not require the feeds to be Certified Organic, just organic in the true sense … without chemicals.
We called the feed company we were using – the one that everyone in Central Virginia uses – and asked to speak to the owner…
This is when the world stopped…
The owner of our beloved central Virginia feed company declined to sign our “Declaration.” We were stunned. He responded that, “Daniel, in full transparency, every year high levels of PESTICIDES have been found in our feeds…” I will never forget this conversation. I was standing in Whole Foods buying Coconut Oil and I nearly dropped the jar…
It absolutely blew our minds. The feed company that all of the local, regenerative, permaculture, and chemical-free farms around us are using does not meet even basic chemical-free standards. This may be good for them, but it is not good for us. Our market are families that want the absolute best food for their family and our goals are founded upon restoring life and biodiversity … not killing it.
We quickly changed our feed source to a company that easily could sign the “Declaration” and moved on.
The lesson here is that farm transparency is good; buying local food is the solution; but feeding our animals and children bug killers (pesticides) just will not work for us. Do your homework!
You cannot provide your chickens feeds that contain pesticides and not think that the soil’s food web and the cattle and goats and sheep grazing in the same field are not also negatively affected. As I said, this is not good for our farm’s mission, goals, or market and so we changed sources and moved on.