Organic, GMO-free, grass-fed, pastured - what do all these words mean? The health food industry is famous for having terminology that changes meaning frequently.
Here at BlossomPure, we strive to ensure that everyone understands what our products are defined as.
"Grass-fed" : This new and hotly contested term usually means animals are eating grass. However, they can be supplemented with grains and/or 'finished' on grain. Even the upcoming 'certified grass-fed' Ontario standards stipulate animals only need to have a 75% grass diet.
What it means for us: When we say 100% grass-fed: we mean our beef and lamb are out on pasture spring/summer/fall. They eat only grass, no dried grains. In the winter, when they prefer to be in a warm barn (with open access to the outdoors) they are fed hayledge, which is dried grass.
"Pastured" or "Pasture Raised": (not to be confused with the word 'pasteurized') A traditional and sustainable agriculture method in which animals raised outdoors on pasture, with shelter provided in the winter months.
What it means for us: We believe animals should have a healthy and natural life. Cows and lambs are ruminants, meant to graze on in fields and meadows. Hen's eggs are at their most delicious when they are permitted to eat their natural omnivorous diet of insects, plants, and worms.
"GMO": A GMO, or genetically modified organism, is a plant, animal, microorganism or other organism whose genetic makeup has been modified in a laboratory using genetic engineering or transgenic technology such as gene splicing. This creates combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.
Selective breeding (such as kale being bred from the mustard family) and hybridization (cross-pollinating two types of tomatoes) are simply NOT, in any way, GMOs. Read more here.
What it means for us: We believe everyone, from farmers to consumers, deserve to make an informed choice. We believe in long-term, non-biased studies. As such, we only partner with farmers who do not feed their animals GMO feed or graze their beef and lamb on pastures that have GMOs. We also ensure all products in the store are either certified organic or verified with the non-GMO project.
"Free Range" Animals raised indoors with regular and meaningful access to the outdoors.
"Free Run": Animals, usually chickens, raised indoors without being caged/kept in a stall.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
The most popular questions we get. We'll try our best to keep this section updated - submit your FAQs here!
Why isn't your 100% grass-fed beef certified organic?
It's organic in every way except the certification! Not all of our farmers have the time and money to go through a lengthy certification process. Nevertheless, we make sure that all the farmers we partner with only allow the beef on pasture/grass that has never been sprayed with pesticides, herbicides, or synthetic fertilizers - and neither are they given hormones, antibiotics, or medications. Since we work with multiple small farms, that means the beef herds are small and have ample room and are given individual attention to keep them in top health.
What does 'halal' mean? (description of animal slaughter below)
Halal is a method of slaughter, an Arabic word meaning ethical or “permissible to eat”. Much like kosher. it is essentially a guideline to the ethical raising and harvesting of animals.
This means animals must be transported and slaughtered with as little stress and pain as possible. Similarly to kosher standards, the animal must not be ill or injured, must be restrained without injury, and a given a quick incision that ensures an immediate passing with 3 seconds.
Can we go to the farm? Can you give me their addresses? Can you give me their birthday so I can send them a cake?
Our farmers are people, just like you and your family. They are not a tourist attraction, neither are they interested in having their private property and children photographed. Multiple cars driving up from the city makes them worry about the ecological balance. Many of our farmers are in the Amish and Mennonite communities, which avoid the use of cars, electronics, and social media.
We do have annual farm tours, and occasionally you will catch them at our store making deliveries. We'd like to respect our farmers' privacy and valuable time, while at the same time staying transparent. It's a tough balance, but you follow us on social media for videos and interviews with our wonderful, hardworking farmers! Psst...podcast series coming soon!
Why Amish and Mennonite farmers?
We work with many different farms, from entire co-ops to a single farmer growing only tomatoes. When we started BlossomPure 16 years ago, Amish and Mennonite communities were among the first that welcomed us. Many of these farmers were already above and beyond organic, working in harmony with nature and caring for their animals in the most humane way possible. We have nurtured friendships with may of them and continue to support their efforts to provide healthy, sustainable, organic products.
What are your criteria/standards for your farmers?
Our farmers must:
-Have the utmost care and respect for the animals they raise for us (keeping them outdoors whenever possible, keeping them healthy and well fed, raising them in the most ethical and humane way possible)
-Use either organic or biodynamic agricultural practices (such as natural controls of weeds and insects as opposed to pesticides and herbicides)
-Be conscious of the environment (stay carbon friendly, reduce use of single-use plastics, have a composting system in place to reduce any toxic runoff)
Why can't I get fresh pastured chicken and fresh local produce year round?
Simply put, things just don't grow in the winter. One of the best things about eating locally produced food is that it's seasonal - sweet, fleeting, and only here for a few months. We try to keep our seasonal products stocked for Canada's long dreary winters - vacuum-sealing and flash-freezing our meats ensures freshness and quality, and thanks to modern organic food preservation techniques like canning, vitamin-packed fruits and veggies are on our shelves year round.
Why don't you have your own farm?
Farming is incredibly hard work and organic farming is especially labour intensive, and it's very, very difficult to produce the volume we need without having a massive, possibly unsustainable operation. It is also near impossible to supply hundreds of pounds of meat per week with only 10 acres of cute, Instagrammable farmland. We would rather support hand-picked farmers (who have already been there for decades) and take only a few trips a month (carbon friendly!) as opposed to shipping out hundreds of orders to the city a month, or having people drive out 2 hours or more from the city.
Can I get organic bananas grown in Ontario?
This section is frequently updated, so check back! Or tell us what you'd like to know about here! Remember, we can't read minds :)
Sincerely, the BlossomPure Team