For the past 16 years I have cooked home made "from scratch" foods for my family and my day care children. I've always believed that the children should have a diet of whole foods with every meal. We've stayed away from processed foods and only had "treat" food when we had parties or celebrations. Our day to day meals have been carefully planned and lovingly prepared to give our little ones the best chance for a healthy diet and a healthy life. I have taken great pride in what wonderful eaters they are all and how enjoyable meal time is at our house.
In March of 2010 one of my clients reccomended I watch Food Inc which is a telling documentary on our food system here in the U.S.. If you haven't had a chance to watch it, I highly reccommend you seek it out and watch it. With a little searching you can find it in full length on different internet sites. Nexflix has it on their free "watch instantly" section. It's really worth the time and will give you a good foundation for understanding our position on the importance of feeding children healthy whole foods while they are in our care.
After watching Food Inc I was disgusted and sad. For 16 years I thought I was doing it right. In fact, I thought I was doing it "really right". The entire paradigm I had invested in crumbled away with nearly every frame of this powerful documentary. I was sad and the sadness turned quickly to anger. The anger led me to start the journey to change what I purchase, how I purchase it, who I purchase from, and the importance of teaching the children the "hows" and "whys" of the best possible food we can eat.
I learned in this documentary that our current food system is riddled with chemicals, inhumane treatment of our farmers and farm workers, and horrific treatment of our livestock. I learned about the chemicals and pesticides that are allowed in our food system. I also learned the impact of "corn based" products and how corn has transformed our food system into a very costly enterprise in the outcomes of our children's health, enviromental costs, and fuel usage.
I have done a lot of research based on the information in Food Inc.. I made a decision to start purchasing our food locally, directly from the Farmer, in season, grass fed, sustainable, and chemcial free. As soon as I could stock the foods I needed to meet these goals we changed our meals. Cooking from scratch wasn't a change but the products I use for the day care have.
Here is the current list of our main suppliers:
For our beef, chicken, eggs, lamb, and turkey we purchase directly from Galen Bontrager Farms. He has agreed to be our "farm to school" Farmer. We are hopeing he can come to Des Moines to meet the kids and attend one of our preschool nutrtion classes sometime this winter when he's not so busy.
Galen is a former apprentice from Polyface Farms which was featured extensively in Food Inc. We are very fortunate to have access to a farmer using the Polyface system of Grass Fed, Salad Bar and Pastured beef, turkey, chickens, and lamb. We have been to the farm a number of times and will post pictures on our website to show parents the environment their children's food is being grown in.
Galen's website is http://www.galenbontragerfarms.com He is willing to meet with any of the parents interested in going to his farm to meet him and see his set up. He does free farm tours for his clients and has stated he would be happy to meet any of you. He has a completely open door policy. Just give him a call and he can set up a visit.
Our grains are purchased from Paul's Grains. They are certified organic and have been chemical free since 1964. We have also had the pleasure of meeting the owners and have worked out a delivery schedule for all of our cereals and flours used to make our delicious breakfast and breads. You can check their website out at http://www.paulsgrains.com
Our milk is purchased from Picket Fence Creamery. They are also a fully grass based operation. They do not use any hormones or chemicals for their milk priducts. We have contacted them to see if we can set up a farm visit this summer. You can check out their website at http://www.picketfencecreamery.net/
Our bufallo is purchased from Tall Grass Bison out of Promise City Iowa. They raise 400 head of Iowa bison on their own 1000 acre praire savannah. They raise them completely on grass and do not introduce any corn or other grains into their diet. They do make deliveries so if you are interested in purchasing in bulk with us we can work out an order together. You can see their website at http://www.tallgrassbison.com/
Our pork is from Wholesome Heartland Farms in Thor Iowa. The pigs are free range Berkshire and antibiotic free and processed at a USDA Certified locker in Clarion Iowa. Phil's number is 515-890-9929.
The rest of our veggies, fruits, and milk products are being purchased locally directly from the farmer and at the farmers markets. We try to buy in season and "put up" as much as we will need for the winter months.
I will continue to keep the parents posted on our new "food journey". As we access more locally grown products we will post links. Please see our photo section in the coming months to see pictures of the meals we have for your little one. We are happy to share recipes and sources and hope you will do the same.