It was a July morning, blazing hot already at 8 am. We arrived at TC Farm with grayish blue skies threatening a little rain, the humid fog rising above the dark green pastures. As I opened my car door I was greeted by the sounds and smell of farm life, and even at first glance, I knew this place just 40 minutes from the hustle and bustle of Minneapolis, was different. There were no big buildings, pens, or crates. There was open land, and an entire ecosystem running like clockwork, seemingly on its own. Chickens goofing off near a pile of sleeping hogs. Ducks lounging amongst the chaos, a few cows standing tall in the field, and the resident farm dog stirring up the crowd, making himself known.
Jack and Betsy McCann started their pasture based, sustainable farm in 2010 when they began to see just how convoluted the food industry was, with so many layers covering up the true cost of factory farming, even at the organic level. Although it may be a few dollars cheaper, the cost of animal welfare, our health, and the environmental impact comes with a much higher price. It wasn’t enough for them to just do things that could pass regulations. For example, even when a package says pasture raised, that technically can be a factory barn full of straw, and maybe grazing the first few months of their life.
They truly wanted to do things right, without compromise, for both their family and you. Which is why the partnership between TC Farm and Lakewinds Co-op is so exciting, bringing you the very best in pasture raised pork – literally full of pasture and free of any shortcuts. The co-op’s meat department does all of the butchering in house, and provides just about whatever cut you could ever want. As well as sausage, bacon, and smoked meats without any nitrates or nitrites.
Although this will be a four part series so you can take a deeper dive into the magic of TC Farm, I wanted to open with a complete overview that you can always reference. So let’s get started!
Four important differences to know about how the pigs are raised:
- On wide open fields to graze on grass and other nutritious foods that they naturally choose.
- When needed, they are given non-gmo, transition organic or organic grains.
- The feed is always soy-free and corn-free.
- They thrive without any medications or synthetic hormones, and are given personal care and respect if sick.
Often times it’s what people think of last, or maybe even never, when they are choosing what to buy for their family. And organic is not always best. Did you know that some organic farms use lots of row crops like corn and soy, which causes massive erosion and carbon emissions? They also require significant tillage or weed burning, which can leave a big carbon footprint.
Instead, TC Farm is committed to keeping the environment healthy by running the farms as animal centric operations. By providing them with space to roam and green grasses to forage, the pasture is healthy and becomes a net benefit to the environment rather than a source of pollution.
Tasting is believing:
A true testament to the kind of heritage breed pigs Jack has chosen to raise, and the care they receive throughout their entire life. There is a huge difference in flavor, and how it cooks. Health wise, TC Farm pork is significantly higher in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta-carotene and folic acid.
- Being outdoors and rummaging on the entire farm helps the pigs to build more muscle.
- The pigs also have to regulate their body temperature through colder climates by building the proper amount of fat (but less saturated fat and cholesterol), which results in more flavor.
- These traits of firmer flesh and good marbling are exactly what your taste buds love. The flavor is even a little sweeter!
Seeing Jack, Betsy, and family in their element was such a special experience for me. You could see, hear, and feel their passion, and I haven’t felt so grateful for the work of farmers in a long time. Every detail matters to them, and how fortunate that Lakewinds has created such a wonderful partnership. Together, we can all make a stronger ecosystem.
Learn more about Lakewinds’ local meat providers and quality standards.