How often do you read the labels on the food you’re buying from the grocery store? Even the most health-conscious consumers struggle with deciphering what goes into the food we’re eating. “We don’t have a clue most of the time,” says Warren Abbott, owner of Abbott Farms.
If you’re an avid farmer’s market shopper, chances are you’ve stumbled upon Abbott Farms’ beef at the market in Aurora. Abbott Farms raises 100% grass-fed cattle without hormones or antibiotics. “Grass-fed beef is healthier than your normal store bought beef,” says Abbott. “It tastes different; it’s not as tender as your grain fed beef. It’s really a completely different product; it even needs to be cooked differently.”
Abbott advises his customers to keep the grill under 400 degrees. “Don’t sear the meat; searing helps to toughen the meat up and makes it carcinogenic,” he says. He suggests flipping it frequently instead, which is the complete opposite advice you’re used to hearing if you tend to cook grain-fed beef.
This is just an example of the wealth of information you’ll learn about your products when you stop in to chat with the local farmer who produces it. In fact, the conversation is one of the best parts of the job, according to Patti Thompson, director of sales and marketing at King Cole Ducks.
King Cole has been part of the local community for 65 years. “People are super interested in how we farm – that’s what we’re proud of – and it definitely reflects in the products we serve,” Thompson says.
Customers are comforted to hear King Cole practices a strong humane handling program when caring for each stage of the duck farming process. They raise the flocks themselves, without the use of antibiotics. They pluck, wash and dry the feathers, which are eventually sold in the form of pillows and duvets. They also compost all of their manure, offering an all-natural product often used for golf courses and vegetable gardens.
The farm sells fresh whole ducks, boneless duck products and duck legs from the store every day. They also offer a wide-range of delicious fully-cooked products, including duck skewers, duck sausage, even duck burgers, which are a great option for those who are relatively new to the duck scene.
“Duck appeals to a really diverse community,” says Thompson. “Even kids love duck, because it’s a rich-flavoured meat. We’re trying to teach people the health benefits of eating duck and adding a different protein to your diet.”
King Cole has grown to become an international seller, but they too got their start at the local Farmer’s Market. This is where Thompson’s grandfather first began the business, after noticing everyone was selling chickens but no one offered duck.
While the local Farmer’s Markets present abundant opportunities to buy fresh and local in the summer months, it’s not always this easy. Still, making the effort whenever possible helps to support the local economy, keeping money and jobs within your hometown.
But the best part of all is the quality of product you get from buying fresh and close to home. There really is something to be said for understanding where your food is coming from, and getting preparation and cooking instructions right from the farmers themselves.
“A lot of our customers end up becoming friends as opposed to just customers,” says Abbott. What more can you ask for than peace of mind, knowing the food you’re serving your family was raised and processed with the love and care of a friend?
King Cole Ducks
Grown With Care
Round the Bend Farm