Author Archives: Dan Horan

Five Acre Farms Landscapes

Take a moment to appreciate the bountiful lands our farmers cultivate into delicious and nutritious foods for all our families. To all our farmers, Thank You.

Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Now that’ you’ve perfected your Sourdough, it’s time to bake some Irish Soda Bread. This classic recipe we found at dinneratthezoo features of course: flour, baking soda, salt, and buttermilk.

Why we love this recipe: Click Here To View Recipe

  • 1 hour from start to finish
  • Enjoyable read and clear instructions for great results
  • The recipe widget lets you adjust servings needed and calculates ingredient amounts

(photo by dinneratthezoo)

The Best Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe (So far)

 

We have been baking at home A LOT and like you, we’re always looking for great recipes. Well, we found what we believe is the best Buttermilk Biscuit recipe on the internets. We’ve provided the ingredients, steps and a helpful video from the recipe creator: Sally’s Baking Addiction

Six Ingredients:

  1. All-purpose Flour
  2. Baking Powder
  3. Salt
  4. Cold Butter
  5. Cold Buttermilk – Try Five Acre Farms Buttermilk 🙂
  6. Honey

We recommend you watch the video and then follow the full recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction

How to measure milk quality

Milk quality, beyond the Grade A markings, is distinguished by taste and performance. Ask yourself:

  • How creamy?
  • How rich?
  • How tasty?
  • Does it improve your cookie recipe?

High-quality milk should last well past the expiration date and should not be ultra-pasteurized. We recommend you do your own taste test and decide. (let us know!) What we can say is that our milk is always the one to beat during our tests.

We find the best local farms, pay them fairly, and get the best local food into the marketplace.
Five Acre Farms – Positively Local.

FDA Grade “A” Milk Safety Program

Helping our community during the pandemic

We’re teaming up with Fair Food Network to get food from farmers to local food banks during the coronavirus pandemic.

During COVID-19, we’ve seen lines at local food banks stretch a mile long alongside dumped milk, smashed eggs, and vegetables plowed under in fields. People are hungry and farmers are struggling.

  • 40M People unemployed in wake of COVID-19
  • 4 in 10 Black and Hispanic households with children struggling to feed their families during the pandemic (Source: Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project)
  • 3.5+M Gallions of milk that could be dumped per day right now

How You Can Help

Every dollar you give supports children and families at local food banks while putting more money directly in the pockets of American farmers. Help us do more. Within 24 hours of every donation, we mobilize to bring fresh milk and eggs from farmers to families who need it most.

  • $1,200 – Give a healthy breakfast to 1,250 people
  • $4,300 – Give a healthy breakfast to 4,550 people
  • $9,400 – Give a healthy breakfast to 10,000 people

To make a donation, please click the Donate Now Button which contacts: Nicki Sandberg, Senior Grant Accountant at Fair Food Network at nsandberg@fairfoodnetwork.org. Nicki will guide you through the process and maximize the efficiency of your donation.

The Balance Between Efficient Supply Chains and Resilient Supply Chains

Apples grow abundantly in many parts of the United States. It turns out, the best spot in the US for apple growth may be the Pacific Northwest where there are relatively low humidity and plenty of irrigation.

However, we all want to see apple farms continue to survive on the East Coast and elsewhere outside the Pacific Northwest. East Coast apple farms produce delicious fruit, collectively employ thousands of people, and keep us closer to our food sources and supplies. If consumers exclusively bought apples from the northwest corner of the country where they grow most efficiently (California might take issue here) — and therefore cost the least — consumers would also be supporting divestment in local economies, reduced diversification of resources, and increased risk in supply shock like we’ve just been through. Clearly, the word efficient needs to be re-examined.

Resiliency, in contrast, would maintain apples as regionally important – California, Pacific Northwest, Michigan and Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Maine, Virginia – to name but a few. It invests in the diversification of food sources, in local economies, in open land, and in good food. Resiliency is better for all that consumers value, including valuing how tasty the fruit is on their plate. It’s not really that much more expensive, either.

Do we want apple farms to remain on the East Coast? If we only let the price on the shelf determine our answer — and we erroneously think that “cost” is the same as the price of the end-product — very soon we will have no local apples. None. Just ask dairy farmers if this is overblown rhetoric. It’s not

So, what to do? If you are a processor, contract locally and let your customers know. If you are brand, ask your processor for local apples. If you are A grocery store or supermarket, make sure local is in your selection. If you are an end consumer, look for local. Apple season is coming. Wherever you shop, ask for local apples. Buy local apples.

Milk (Marketing) King of the Northeast

Farms, and specifically dairy farms, were traditionally a centerpiece of economic livelihood and cultural heritage in the rural North East. In the last 70 years, they’ve come under tremendous economic pressure, forcing closures across the Northeast and migration of dairy production to the Midwest and Southwest. This week we speak with Dan Horan, CEO of Five Acre Farms, about the marketing and supply chain solution he’s developed to give those farms, and farmers, a fighting chance…

Listen to the Podcast on Spotify

Listen to the Podcast on iTunes

Northeast Local Farming Update – July 15, 2020

It’s mid-summer. Let me use this post to update you on some of the goings-on in Local Food in the Northeast. The growing season is in full swing. Vegetable gardens are full. A hot June should bring early eggplant, tomatoes, and summer squashes by mid-July, but put pressure on salad greens grown outside. After an okay first cutting, the June heat took its toll on hay and the second cutting isn’t promising. We just haven’t had a lot of rain. If sweet corn hasn’t been irrigated, the lack of rain will negatively impact this, too. Blueberries have come up on the east coast and are still around. The fruit set (how many and in what condition) on apples for the fall looks fine – nothing special but reasonable. We need rain.

Dairy farming has suffered. Schools and cafes are a large source of milk consumption. SBA, PPP, and state-funded buying programs delivering food to those in need have helped, but the fluid milk market is not strong. Large Coops have instituted mandatory reductions in the production of milk. This should help all farms, though who knows how much. Forward-looking pricing for milk has jackknifed down and then back up so it’s hard to get a read on where the market is headed. The egg market remains unsettled, but small egg producers continue to proliferate. The public is learning to distinguish a good egg. This is great news for local food.

With the pandemic changing all our food habits, home deliveries, CSA’s, and farm stands have flourished. While these three outlets only touch a fraction of the population in terms of sales and volume, they are harbingers of a continued trend towards the general public wanting to have closer contact with their food sources. Large supermarkets are responding in kind as Local food continues to bring customers. Store managers listen to requests.

Keep asking for local products!

Ironically, this is happening in tandem with a comeback by old established “center aisle” products from Proctor and Gamble, Nestle, and Hershey’s that share virtually none of the nutritional or transparency qualities of the former, though they do provide the comfort of familiarity.

The success of two opposite food trends shows not only the divided American palate but also how health, nutrition, convenience, transparency, comfort, and convenience all vie for our food dollars.

Go Local!

Northeast Farm Report – Memorial Day Weekend 2020

🥕Find a farmers’ market, farm stand or florist and buy some lilacs!

🥕If you can, plant something in your yard or window.

🥕Get ready for strawberries and blueberries – they are coming up the East Coast.

🥕Say goodbye to ramps

🥕Know that farmers are mid-way through corn planting, getting ready for the first cut of hay, and grazing their cows outdoors as pastures start to grow.

🥕Make fresh butter at home with this fun project: Buy a pint of heavy cream, preferably cream with no stabilizers in it. (Very preferably, Five Acre Farm’s delicious cream.) Pour half of it into a mason jar. Secure lid. Shake hard for 10-15 minutes. Pass it around the house to share the work. See that ball forming in the jar? That’s butter! The rest is buttermilk. Enjoy.

🥕🥚🥦🥛 Five Acre Farms – keeping farmers farming

Good NEWS – Our shopping is changing

The growing season ahead can help propel us towards building a more resilient food system. To be more resilient, it is critical that food systems include local sources. Consumer behavior in the next few months can lead the way to what is possible and buildable.

Here are six positive trends occurring now that consumers should continue:

  1. Shoppers are taking the extra time to secure food from a wider variety of retail sources. Supporting diversification in the food supply is extremely important.
  2. We are cooking more. By doing this we are paying more attention to what food goes into our meals.
  3. We are moving nutrition up the ladder of importance in our buying habits. Buying whole fruits and vegetables, fresh meats, whole grains, fresh eggs supports local food systems, and is also great for the consumer because it is significantly more nutritious.
  4. We are paying attention to the people involved. We are more aware of the people who stock the shelves and their importance to us. We are more aware of local farmers and butchers. We are more aware of the essential people needed to get our food to us.
  5. Our food choices are economic choices. We are in a rare moment when we can see our money in the economy.

These points are separate from federal and state aid to farmers. Government distribution of dollars to farmers has always been a political calculus. This crisis will be no different. The biggest government contributions will not be made towards something new, but rather towards trying to shore up and protect the existing food systems. US farm policy and federal aid to farms is not necessarily bad, but it tends to do little for local food.

So what to do? Keep asking for local food when you are shopping at stores and farmer’s markets. Ask where your food comes from. Enjoy your meals.

Milk Dumping

I call my next series of articles “Behind the Headlines.” Today and through the next few weeks, I want to make sense of some of the recent headlines about our food system. I will also bring up some items that should be headlines but don’t seem to attract any attention.

So why are farmers dumping milk? Food waste at any time is upsetting. Pre-COVID-19, however, American society had come to accept food waste as part of life. Now, in the face of 30+ million new members of the unemployed ranks, uncertain job futures, and a newfound appreciation of how many people are involved in feeding us and how essential those individuals are. In the face of this, it feels tragic and incomprehensible that dairy farmers would dump milk. So why does this happen?

To start, milk is a food where the spigot doesn’t stop. Dairy cows produce milk every day. Their bodies don’t care how many customers are out there. Cows need to be milked twice or even three times a day, every day. A farmer cannot just decide to milk the cow sometimes. If you ’dry off” a heifer – meaning you stop milking her — she will not produce milk again until she has another calf.

So, that decision to dry her off takes her out of the milking parlor for a long time. Keeping a cow you’re not milking is expensive. Herd science and management is complicated and nuanced.

Once the cow is milked, the fresh milk must then be pasteurized within 72 hours of milking. This strict limit has been a crucial public health policy success over the last 75-100 years.

This is the supply side: milk keeps flowing and must be pasteurized in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, the system has very little room to maneuver if there is a major breakdown in the outlets that can receive it. The result is that a crucial part of our food system is inflexible. Within this system is a piece that has quietly moved us away from our farmers: processing. Milk processors sit between the farmer and the end consumer.

Milk processing plants receive raw milk from farms and pasteurize the milk (among many other things.) Over the last 40 years, the downward pricing pressure on milk has turned processors into little more than widget makers trying to squeeze out shrinking profits through increasing scale – a textbook example of a commodity business and all its attending benefits and costs. In fact, there have been few benefits and the costs heavy.

Today, processing has become so consolidated that processors are either enormous or boutique, with nothing in between. In turn, large plants are best suited towards large partners. Their customers are either large dairy companies or large coops. And as you might have guessed, large coops and large dairy companies have trended towards creating large dairy farms.

Everyone in the milk business has known for years that the system is unsustainable and destructive, but despite many good efforts, the trend has not been stopped. Consumers know about the years-long trend of dairy farms closing, but it ramped up in the last 18 months pre-COVID-19 when two of the biggest dairy companies in the world – Dean Foods and Borden – collapsed, too. There have been many wake-up calls before but these are airhorn events.

To give an example, as processors become larger, they have specialized in various products – cheese, fluid milk, yogurt, sour cream, etc. – and in turn like most businesses, developed specialized customer channels. I introduce three companies. Company A, processes fluid milk for supermarkets, Company B processes milk to make sour cream for the Mexican restaurant trade, and Processor C processes milk to make yogurt for both hotel kitchens (big tubs) and grocery markets (6 oz cups). And then the COVID-19 pandemic hits.

Company A remains really busy, but milk is one of those few items that buyers don’t stock up on and instead buy several times per week. As such, sales at company A are up, but have not doubled as many would suspect.

Company B suddenly has no business. B calls their supermarket friends to try to redirect their milk, but B’s package sizes are wrong for supermarkets. B reaches out to their processor’s distributors, but they have become specialists in the Mexican restaurant trade and don’t have a lot of contacts at supermarkets, so can’t help. Hours have been spent on the phone now. Company B now calls their milk coop and tells them they don’t have any place to put their milk. Coops then call their farms and say they can’t send the tanker to pick up the milk today. As noted earlier, the farm can store milk for 72 hours and then must dispose of the milk. The clock is ticking. Company C works the phones to try to ramp up their supermarket sales. Because yogurt has a much longer shelf life than milk, they can keep making 6 oz cups and put into inventory some of the extra yogurt that used to go to hotel breakfast bars, but at some point they will have to reduce their milk intake.

After 72 hours, farmers who sold to company B are required to clean their milk tanks and the first milk starts to get dumped down the drain, or in the field, and it keeps going. A small dairy farm has 100 cows and the average cow produces seven gallons a day. Cue the news cameras and the stories.

Farmers would love to get their fresh milk to food banks, which have seen a dramatic rise in need. But distribution to food banks takes time to set up — have all the calls to food bank managers been made, the hours of delivery agreed upon, the truck routes planned and refrigeration at the food bank facilities ready, with enough shelves there to accept large quantities of perishable milk? And to stay in business, the dairies should be paid. Federal and many state programs have now been announced to provide funds to assist in linking dairies to food banks. There is supply and there is demand, but it takes time to match these two in new ways.

Few industries were ready for the disruptions of a pandemic. The dairy industry was structurally unready for this day.

The lack of a local processing system has left the dairy industry hugely vulnerable to event risk. Mega processors are not bad, but to be nimble, the food system needs smaller and mid-sized local processors as well. To turn on the factory switch, the mega processors’ minimum quantities are enormous, so when there is a change in demand, the system breaks. It’s a little like how hard it is to start a car company, because who has an assembly line handy? We just accidentally created the same thing with milk.

An Egg story: Before Corona – Part 2

In my previous post (see link here if you missed it), I spoke about the first part of getting local eggs to market. Now comes the other half. Six years later, Jeff and FAF continue to bring Sunset Farms eggs to market. It’s not only a business relationship, but a human one as well. Once Jeff and family pack their daily supply of eggs from his flock, he heads to his truck and checks his smartphone.

Enter Jonathan: JTD, as he is known. JTD runs logistics for Five Acre Farms. JTD texts Jeff our orders as he gets in orders from the FAF buyers. JTD then coordinates with our truck driver, Jeremy, for the pick-up from Sunset Farms. This coordination takes time to master since it includes other pick-ups for Jeremy of perishable items that will also be on the delivery run. Technology has been a godsend.

Jeff and Jeremy load the pallets of eggs (about 900 dozen) onto the trailer and then Jeremy heads south. Jeremy spends his week inside the confines of a newly leased International 2020 LT pulling a 48-foot trailer, which includes a comfortable sleeper cabin.

About 200 miles later, Jeremy is backing the trailer into a bay in a Bronx warehouse, where several people (JTD, Subhash and Pete) wait to unload. Jeremy has to back in “blind” (mirrors don’t show the way) because of the dock set up — tightly packed parked trucks, a high curb divide and a narrow service road just off the Bruckner. He is a pro so he glides in easily.

Subhash is an actor and volleyball coach during the day and works at the FAF warehouse 2-3 nights a week. He drives a forklift, uses a pallet jack and assists JTD and Pete in getting the orders packed for the next day. Pete manages as many as seven trucks and drivers for FingerLakes Farms. FingerLakes services several hundred accounts with fruit, dairy, meat and vegetables from almost 200 regional farms and covers the last mile logistics for Five Acre Farms.

The eggs and milk (16 pallets in all) come off the truck, and by 11 pm, Jeremy is back on the road, heading out of the city. Subhash, Pete, and JTD then sort and pack orders for Pete’s trucks to deliver the next morning. They will reach around 100 shops, kitchens and markets.

By 11am the next day, Jeff’s eggs have gotten to where they need to be. Some were unloaded by Rodolpho at Key Food Supermarket, some by Luis at Chefs Warehouse (a large distributor). They were then packed out onto a supermarket shelf or delivered to a hotel kitchen or a local diner that needed local eggs. The end customers wanted a fresher, Local egg on a reliable basis, and that’s what they got.

I have only listed some of the people involved in the egg delivery but all of them play a role in getting Jeff’s eggs on your table. They don’t represent unnecessary “middlemen.” They are all part of our economy, part of the Local Food economy that is flexible, nimble and human. That changed drastically when COVID19 hit.

An Egg Story: Before Corona – Part 1

When Five Acre Farms first started selling eggs, barely anyone bought them. We couldn’t even give them away. Orders were so small we could pick them up in a Toyota Tercel! One day that all changed.

The buyer for a local diner called up one of our milk distributors in a panic. She thought the diner had been serving local eggs but now had no idea if that was true. The company they used advertised as such. The diner was one location of a well-known Greater NY metro area chain with a handful of locations. They took pride in quality ingredients. One day, a customer asked a manager where their eggs were from. The manager ran back into the kitchen and looked at the box and saw a Pennsylvania address, then went back out and told the customer. This story reached the CEO and buyer and out of curiosity, they organized a farm visit to see their source.

They drove out to the “farm” and couldn’t find it. Round and round they drove but kept coming back to a warehouse. The problem was there was no farm.  Instead, there was an egg sorting and grading facility that received eggs from all over the country. Where were their eggs from? How fresh were they? Could they even be sure they were “cage free?” The answer was they had no idea. That had to change.

The odd thing about the egg business is that the labels on egg cartons are like the Wild West. Anything goes…cage free, free range, vegetarian, omega this, omega that – it’s all just unregulated marketing with no meaning. Let me repeat: the terminology is unregulated, interpreted with wide variety, and therefore without meaning. The box in the refrigerator may list many possible sources from many states. The few companies that actually tell the real story of what’s inside the carton are few and far between.

I first met Jeff McMurray in 2013. Jeff started Sunset Farm with his wife and son in 2006. They leased land at first but in 2011, he bought 80 Acres in Argyle, NY.  They started out raising “broilers,” that is, chickens you eat, as well as turkeys and goats. But by the end of 2012, Jeff felt he had to make a change. He was good at raising and working with chickens but he wasn’t able to get a price he needed to survive. He decided to switch his farm to “layers,” chickens that lay eggs. Layers and broilers are different chicken breeds, as layers don’t make good eating, so he needed a new flock.

Jeff had heard correctly that Five Acre Farms (FAF) paid farmers a higher price than the “market,” and that we draw attention to local farmers in our marketing. Jeff and FAF started working together as Jeff redirected his new business, which also included selling his eggs at farmers’ markets and to supermarkets directly. Both FAF and Jeff agreed that diversification of revenue stream is essential for farmers.

Six years later, Jeff and FAF continue to bring Sunset Farms eggs to market. Being Positively Local is more than just proximity. It means transparency in sourcing, fairness in pricing, and keeping farmers farming. But the local story doesn’t end there. Next up – Getting the Sunset eggs to market – The Logistics of Local Food.

Tenets of Local

There are a multitude of reasons why we should prioritize holding onto a secure and dependable Local food system that is economically rewarding to farmers and our population.

Is Local food a panacea? Nope, not even close. But, it is essential. Here are four core concepts underlying my thinking: diversification theory, supply chain transparency, recognition of our human food economy, and regional agricultural strength. They all should be recognized as important pieces of the puzzle.

Diversification theory: Much like a portfolio, our sources of food should come from an array of places to spreads out risk. So too should the workforce that delivers this food. Simply put, more diversity leads to lower risk.

Transparency: Central to the definition of Local food is transparency. Local food is more than just place or food miles. It means we know the people involved in making or growing the food. We know where the food came from, and we know the farming, labor and business practices behind them because they matter to our community. This is very empowering in the face of an anonymous food system.

The Human Food Economy: Technology, mechanization and industrialization have all done wonders for the world and for the world of farming. However, food is still a very human experience. People are involved in planting, picking, harvesting, packing and making food to varying degrees. They are also involved in delivering and serving that food. Ultimately, we all eat that food. Local food allows us to appreciate all the people involved in feeding us. We sure appreciate them now! And when you stop to think of it, that we are now noticing all the human elements of our food economy, it’s a beautiful thing.

Regional Agricultural Strengths: Other than in California, our regional agricultural strength has been an accidental casualty of today’s system. We need to stop this. In the Northeast, we as consumers can profitably and economically have available to us 10-12 months of the year from local producers the following: eggs, milk, cheddar cheese, onions, potatoes, apples, cabbage, bread, yogurt, kale, salad mix, blueberry jam, butter, soy products and more. The full list is so much longer. In a crisis, we appreciate the importance of items like these and the people involved who get them to us from farm to our door.

Not everything grows everywhere: some climates are better suited to certain crops. Some people are better at making things than others. Food has become national and international and all the world has benefited. But, without a healthy regional food supply to compliment a national and global system, our abilities to respond to short term crises and protect our local economies are unnecessarily hamstrung.

Our current actions of social distancing, wearing masks, and active hand washing are not easy, but we’re all doing them. Supporting Local food and farming is an easier, very doable part of go-forward plans in which we can all take part. Next up: Real-world example of how food gets to you.

 

The Local Network

As I wrote about in my previous posts, our country’s macro distribution system for food has been derailed. We didn’t plan for micro networks to be needed, and that oversight is in clear focus now. The point is that micro networks must be part of the solution.

The US quest for cheap food where dollar cost is the only value considered has badly damaged regional suppliers. The quest for cheap food also does not fully deliver what the customer wants. And, it has created a whole host of costs that don’t show up at the cash register.

Unseen costs and consequences of NOT having a robust Local food system are legion – here are a few:

  • The demise of small and mid-sized farms. Result: Farms increasing in size to the point they are no longer welcome community assets and neighbors, particularly in animal operations.
  • Farming not viewed as a profitable enterprise worth pursuing. Result: A “brain drain“ from an essential human occupation.
  • Less choice in food source. Result: Consumers’ greater dependence on fewer providers.
  • Farmers are not paid to protect soil or microbial health and no, the “market” does not build in this cost. Result: A long-term depletion of a valuable regional resource. To illustrate, when was the last time any of us bought food with this in mind? Exactly.
  • Water seen as an input rather than a crucial resource to protect. Result: A long-term depletion and pollution of an existential resource.
  • Less understanding of where food comes from. Result: Many of the problems listed above.
  • Less understanding of the importance that a vibrant local economy plays within our national and global economy. Result: Less support of farming; increased animosity between farmers in rural settings and urban and suburban dwellers due to lack of connection.
  • Dehumanization our food providers. Result: Dehumanization of the people that are part of that food logistics chain.
  • The length of this list underscores the point that our over-reliance on macro networks has resulted not only in numerous unintended consequences, but also in consequences to critical things that consumers themselves value. Happily, it’s not too late to solve this for the future.

The Role of Local Food

The decimation of local food and farms is a conundrum that existed before the current crisis. Society has said over and over it wants local food and farms, yet our current “efficient” outcome ignores these wishes.

How? Efficient got twisted to mean the lowest dollar cost, when it really means “perfectly valued.” The difference is subtle but crucial in understanding the Local food opportunity. The word “dollar” is just one, not the only, measure of what food buyers value.

As discussed in my earlier posts, the crisis has exposed the weaknesses of the just-in-time, heavily consolidated distribution system. Although we will and should always have a global economy, the crisis has exposed the weaknesses of over-dependence on “efficiency” when it is measured solely as that which costs the least.

We are in a moment when food and the farming community has the nation’s attention. The individual action of buying food has always been able to directly reflect our values. What is unusual now is how visible that direct connection currently is.

Local food gives us an opportunity to get to the true definition of efficiency – perfectly valued. Many buyers value cost and also value having regional farms, supporting farmers’ futures, eating fresh food, strengthening their local economies, and having a reliable source during crises. When buyers hold those values and the connections between what they value and what they purchase are visible, then local food is equally or even more efficient than far-flung food. It’s economics as if people mattered (and it is indeed beautiful.)

A robust local food supply is forward looking. The point is to have options that shore up our economies, help our people, improve our planet, and protect us in times of emergency. Local food does all four of those things. Next up: More on costs and values.

Buttermilk Review with Martha Stewart

Watch this buttermilk review video

five acre farms buttermilk review by martha stewart
Buttermilk

What’s buttermilk’s backstory?

  • Buttermilk has been around for thousands of years and was once considered a cure for all ills.
  • Traditional buttermilk comes from the thin, acidic liquid left over after churning butter from cream.
  • Cultured buttermilk is what we find in supermarkets today. It’s typically made from adding active cultures to pasteurized nonfat or low-fat milk. We make ours from whole milk.

Country-specific notes:

  • In Poland, buttermilk is a very popular and refreshing drink.
  • In Ireland, buttermilk is sold in every village shop because it’s an essential ingredient for making soda bread.
  • In the 19th century, Irish farmers considered buttermilk the best drink for energy, to quench a thirst and to cure a hangover. Young girls washed their faces in it to improve their complexions, and their mothers and grandmothers used it to make bread.
  • Bulgarian buttermilk is a version of cultured buttermilk in which the cream cultures are supplemented or replaced by yogurt cultures and fermented at higher temperatures for higher acidity. It can be more tart and thicker than cultured buttermilk.

How do you make your buttermilk?

  • We start with fresh and creamy local whole milk, distinctive for its 3-4% butterfat content.
  • We then add four live, active cultures.
  • Once the cultures are added, it’s heated for a number of hours to reach the right pH level.
  • The active cultures break down the lactose sugars in the milk to produce lactic acid; this makes the milk more acidic and gives the buttermilk its characteristic thick consistency and tart flavor.
  • After the buttermilk is bottled, it needs to sit for another 24 hours so it doesn’t “break,” meaning separate and lose its thickness.  

Further background on our process:

  • We can’t use our buttermilk or yogurts as “mother” cultures to create other buttermilk or yogurts from milk because that’s not permitted in our Grade A dairy plant. 
  • All of our cultures come from certified culture suppliers.

What makes good buttermilk?

  • To me, the best buttermilk is rich, light and tart, drinkable but tangy with a smooth texture.
  • The whole milk we use to make our buttermilk, with a higher fat content than standard milk, adds complexity and gives it a hint of sweetness in the background that keeps it from tasting too sour.

How does buttermilk affect a recipe when baking? What are the characteristics of buttermilk that make it great for baking? How does buttermilk enhance a baking recipe? 

Can you always replace milk with buttermilk? How does the replacement ratio work?

  • Buttermilk is an excellent partner for baking soda and baking powder because its acid boosts the action of these leavening agents.
  • Buttermilk makes fluffy pancakes, scones, and biscuits. It makes more tender cakes because it softens the gluten in the flour.
  • It’s also a great emulsifier and thickener.
  • We don’t recommend substituting regular milk for buttermilk because it throws off the alkali-acid balance. The acidity of buttermilk, which regular milk lacks, is a requirement for the leavening process important to these recipes.
  • To make your own buttermilk at home, add 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice to 8 fl. oz. fresh whole milk and stir. The milk will thicken within minutes. 

How did you become an expert on buttermilk? 

  • I’ve spent many years thinking about milk, what makes the best milk and what goes into making great tasting cultured dairy products.
  • We’ve tasted a lot of different buttermilks created using different ingredients and techniques.
  • As we set out to develop our buttermilk, we had a clear idea about what buttermilk should taste like, what it should feel like in your mouth and what people would like.
  • We’re fortunate to work with a processing partner with expertise on cultures, and together we did extensive recipe testing.

What is the most important thing to know when it comes to buttermilk? 

  • For baking, buttermilk is a great worker bee and plays well with other ingredients.
  • It’s not usually the star of the show – unless you drink it straight!

Other Things to Know:

  • Buttermilk is naturally loaded with calcium, riboflavin, potassium and vitamin B12.
  • Making butter at home from fresh cream (either by shaking the cream in a jar by hand or by using a mixer with a whisk attachment until a ball of butter is formed) will give you a traditional supply of buttermilk. Keep buttermilk up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or freeze it up to 3 months.

30-Second Tips:

Glass of buttermilk with:

  • Pinch of raw sugar
  • Drizzle of maple syrup on top
  • Pinch of Maldon Salt with fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg

Recipes:

MAKING AN AWARD WINNER: Kefir, Yogurt & Buttermilk with SUNRISE FAMILY FARMS NORWICH, NEW YORK

Charlie Reinshagen at Sunrise Family Farms

SUNRISE FAMILY FARMS makes FIVE ACRE FARMS Local Yogurt, Kefir and Buttermilk starting with the best local whole milk.

Dave Evans and his partners Charlie Reinshagen and Sandy Grant each represent a different generation of a farming family. Dave (3rd), Charlie (2nd) and Sandy (5th) bring a farmer’s viewpoint and values to the creamery.

They have built a successful partnership on what the three of them have in common—family farming traditions and their love of change and new challenges as their company grows.

GOING LOCAL IN WESTCHESTER AND PUTNAM COUNTIES: A CONVERSATION WITH JOE DECICCO, JR., DECICCO & SONS

left to right: Chris DeCicco, Joseph DeCicco Jr., and John DeCicco Jr. in front of their Craft Beer Bar in Millwood

Left to right: Chris DeCicco, Joseph DeCicco Jr., and John DeCicco Jr. in front of their Craft Beer Bar in Millwood

DECICCO & SONS regional grocery chain got its start in 1973, when the DeCicco brothers—Frank Sr., John Sr., and Joe Sr.—began selling groceries out of a small storefront in the Bronx. Today DeCicco & Sons has stores in Armonk, Ardsley, Brewster, Harrison, Larchmont, Millwood and Pelham in New York’s Westchester and Putnam counties.

How did your family get into the grocery business?

My father and his two brothers came to America from Italy in 1958. Being from Italy, they had a deep knowledge and love of food and immediately found work at New York City produce stands and butcher shops. In 1973, they opened the first DeCicco’s store in the Bronx.

How did you expand the chain over the years?

The brothers opened their first Westchester location in Pelham in 1985, and a decade later, were operating three more stores. My cousins John Jr. and Chris and I grew up together. In 2006, the three of us joined forces and opened the store in Ardsley. In addition to Ardsley, we now manage the original Pelham store and six additional stores we have opened over the past 10 years. We all share leadership of and responsibility for the business. My dad and Uncle John still walk the aisles all the time, giving us advice and inspiration and visiting with customers.

What’s new in the stores?

We recently introduced a beer and wine bar in Millwood, our newest store, where we host special events and new releases with brewers. All of our stores now have coffee bars, and we roast our own coffee beans in house at the Brewster location. Next up we’ll start serving FIVE ACRE FARMS milk at all of our coffee bars!

How has the local food movement changed your business?

The strong interest in local food among our customers has been a major development for us over the last few years. I know from talking with our customers that their eyes are open about the issues surrounding local food, and they are knowledgeable about seasonality. They understand that there is a time and place for local fruits and vegetables. They know that they can buy apples grown in the Hudson Valley only when they are in season and don’t take that for granted. When you buy dairy and eggs from a local source, and especially with FIVE ACRE FARMS, you know where the food was produced, who the farmers are and how they care for their animals. You know they are giving you a quality product.

How do you maintain your high level of customer service?

Our approach to customer service is very simple: everyone in the family leads by example. No job is too small. We walk around the stores, answering customers’ questions, bagging groceries, rounding up shopping carts, making sure the stores are always tidy. Our employees see us working side by side with them and interacting with customers, which promotes teamwork and collaboration. We also have a well-developed training program for all of our employees.

How do you stay current with the needs and preferences of your customers?

We stay close to our customers to ensure that we can respond to their requests and even anticipate what they want. At the checkout, we always ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Members of our team talk with customers in the stores, our customers email us and they even highlight certain products for us on social media.

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

I love that the food business is so dynamic.There is always something new to learn, and I enjoy the challenge of keeping up with trends and new developments that are relevant to providing the best possible products and experience for our customers. Since I’m a foodie myself, it’s a fun time to be a buyer. I also love merchandising the store and seeing our customers really appreciate quality food.

What’s the most challenging thing about your business?

We operate in a very competitive business environment. Today, with online shopping, convenience stores, and big box retailers, we are faced with more competition than ever. But we also relish the challenge.

What makes the DeCicco’s partnership with FIVE ACRE FARMS work for you??

FIVE ACRE FARMS makes it easy for us to offer local food in our stores and gives us an important stamp of approval in the eyes of our customers. You provide great-tasting, quality products from farms you have hand selected. You tell our customers where their food comes from and connect them with their farmers. It’s obvious that you care about what you are doing. We like how you do business and depend on your expertise. It means one less thing we need to worry about.

SWEEET… HONEY KEFIR WINS GOLD!

Award winning kefir - Sofi Award

We’re thrilled that our Local Honey Kefir has been awarded the 2017 SPECIALTY FOOD ASSOCIATION GOLD SOFI AWARD, an honor recognizing its taste and quality. To make our kefir, we work closely with our partners at SUNRISE FAMILY FARMS, who share our focus on turning out great-tasting dairy products by using pure ingredients and keeping it simple. We start with the best local whole milk from cows cared for by outstanding local farmers and add 12 carefully selected live cultures. We then create this kefir’s delicate flavor by adding just the right amount of local honey from bees kept seven miles from the dairy, which pollinate orchards on the neighboring farms. Our kefir is pasteurized and homogenized, and we never use any artificial sweeteners, additives, thickeners, gums or stabilizers.

Like all FIVE ACRE FARMS products, our Local Kefir is sourced and produced within 275 miles and sold in retail locations and top restaurants throughout New York City and the Tri-State Region. We sell Milk, Buttermilk, Half & Half, Heavy Cream, Greek and Regular Yogurts, Cage Free Eggs, and seasonal Apple Cider. Each package specifies the farm where that batch of the product was made.

FIVE ACRE FARMS brings the best-tasting local food to grocery stores, restaurants and food shops. We find outstanding farmers using sustainable practices, pay them fairly and tell their stories. Our business helps to create new jobs, promote the local economy, expand access to local food, safeguard the environment, preserve farmland, protect groundwater, and foster proper animal treatment. We call this being “Positively Local®”. To us, that means knowing exactly where our food comes from. It means growing the region’s economy and actively participating in the community. It means restoring the connection between farmer and customer.

Five Acre Farms Map

Ag IN YOUR BAG: LOCAL LOVES THE RESILIENT HONEYBEE

Ag IN YOUR BAG

LOCAL LOVES THE RESILIENT HONEYBEE

Honeybee pollenating flower
Honeybees are heroes. They’re the only insects that produce food for humans. Honeybees—distinct from bees native to the U.S.—came from Europe in the early 1600s. Prized initially for their sweet honey, in time, they became known for pollinating crops. With their social structure, honeybees are easy for farmers to manage, moving colonies around from field to field to support their agricultural needs.

Many Central California farmers rely heavily on honeybees to pollinate crops because there are few remaining habitats for native bees. In the Northeast, however, fields and orchards are often surrounded by plants, so native bees have plenty to eat and pollinate crops as they buzz from hedgerow to hedgerow. In a 2009 study of 11 apple farms in New York State, researchers counted 81 species of native bees.

Still, many larger farms rely on honeybees. So it was alarming when, about a decade ago, beekeepers began reporting disappearing honeybee hives. Previous plagues had left dead bees, but this time the worker bees abandoned the queen and her brood. Even when a colony is left with reserves of honey, it quickly dies off without worker bees. This phenomenon became known as colony collapse disorder or CCD.

In 2008, two years after CCD was discovered, the number of honeybee colonies hit its lowest point at 2.4 million. Happily, a queen bee lays 1500 to 2000 eggs a day, making honeybees one of the most resilient species on earth. With about 2.7 million colonies in the U.S. today, honey bees are making a slow comeback, though the causes of CCD remain unclear. Scientists continue to study a variety of factors including the interplay of pesticides, mites, and other pests.

So exactly how much effort goes into making honey? Worker bees must fly 55,000 miles and visit 2 million flowers to make one pound of honey, and the average colony makes 60 to 100 pounds a year. No wonder they’re called worker bees.

This small but mighty creature plays such a crucial role in our food system…and in making our Local Honey Yogurt and Local Honey Kefir so delicious.

From the KITCHEN: SUMMER VEGETABLE SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FIVE ACRE FARMS HONEY KEFIR

From the KITCHEN:

SUMMER VEGETABLE SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FIVE ACRE FARMS HONEY KEFIR

Vegetable Salad with Lentils and Honey

This recipe is more about the idea and less about which specific vegetables, lettuces or edible flowers you decide to use. It combines varying textures from the vegetables; smooth, refined and delicate sweet richness from the kefir; a wonderful balance of subtle heat from the jalapeno pepper; flavorful greens and strong meatiness from the lentils. I add a wonderful extra virgin olive oil and enough acid and salt to properly season all of this. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 pint of summer tomatoes, assorted sizes and colors
• 1 pint of summer tomatoes, assorted sizes and colors
• ¼ cup beluga lentils, raw
• ½ cup Five Acre Farms Local Honey Kefir
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
• ½ tsp kosher salt or fleur de sel
• 1 cup sliced cucumber

• 2 tbsp fresh marigold flower petals
• 1 jalapeno pepper (12 thin (1/16”) slices of jalapeno pepper, seeds included)
• 1 radish
• 6 asparagus stalks
• 8 green beans
• 1 cup of assorted local greens, whichever you desire (pea shoots, spinach, small basil leaves and celery leaves)

1. To cook lentils, simmer them in 2 cups of water with 1 tbsp salt until just cooked through and drain and cool. Set aside.

1. To cook lentils, simmer them in 2 cups of water with 1 tbsp salt until just cooked through and drain and cool. Set aside.

2. Wash all vegetables and cut them into desired shapes. Not all things should or need to be cut equally. Both larger and smaller chunks of tomatoes are nice to have.

3. Shave the radishes and jalapeno peppers thin enough (1/16”).

4. Blanch asparagus in boiling salted water for 15 seconds. Allow to cool before cutting into two-inch pieces.

5. Wash and dry greens with absorbent towels.

6. Drizzle a copious amount of honey kefir on your individual plates or serving platter. Separately, in a mixing bowl, add all of your greens, veggies, salt, half of the vinegar and half of the olive oil and carefully mix to incorporate and taste. Adjust the seasoning if you think it needs more of anything. In a separate bowl, add additional seasoning of oil, salt and vinegar to the lentils.

7. Carefully (or less carefully) assemble your dish to your desired effect.

8. Add on the marigold flowers last because they are incredibly delicate.

John Karangis, Chef
JOHN KARANGIS — Executive Chef, Union Square Events

Early in his career while studying Fine Dining Management, John recognized his passion for cooking and was accepted as a culinary student under Chef Andre Daguin and Chef Yves Pinard in Paris. Upon returning to the United States, John landed a job in the kitchen at UNION SQUARE CAFE under Chef Michael Romano, where he cooked for three years. From there, he worked in some of the most acclaimed kitchens on the West Coast and in New York, including GRAMERCY TAVERN and SQUARE ONE in San Francisco. He then accepted the role of Executive Chef at RESTAURANT ASSOCIATES, and later at GOLDMAN SACHS, delivering world class dining and hospitality to an elite clientele. Returning to the culinary roots where his career began, today John brings his passion for excellence and hospitality to the UNION SQUARE EVENTS team.

KEFIR MOUSSE — by Erin Kanagy-Loux of Reynard

Five Acre Farms
Erin Kanagy-Loux

ERIN KANAGY-LOUX

Erin is the Executive Pastry Chef at REYNARD at Brooklyn’s WYTHE HOTEL. Happily for the sweet tooth, she has discovered a delicious home for FIVE ACRE FARMS local dairy products and cage free eggs in her inventive desserts, among them the Kefir Mousse she shares here. Growing up, Erin learned to love texture and technique baking with her grandmother and cooking with her father. A veteran of the teaching kitchen, she has taught baking and pastry at WESTERN CULINARY INSTITUTE, the CALIFORNIA CULINARY ACADEMY and the FRENCH CULINARY INSTITUTE (now the International Culinary Center). She joined the opening team at REYNARD in 2012.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 TBS Powdered Gelatin
• 3 1/2 TBS Water (cold)
• 2 Egg Yolks
• 3 1/2 oz Five Acre Farms Plain Kefir
• 3/4 cup Sugar
• 9 oz Five Acre Farms Plain Kefir

• 2 tsp Lemon Juice (fresh)
• 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
• 25 oz Heavy Cream
•1/8 tsp Citric Acid (optional, elevates kefir flavor)
• 3/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt

1. Bloom gelatin in cold water by evenly sprinkling gelatin over the surface of the cold water, and let the powder sink into the water to hydrate. Don’t dump into water as a clump or the gelatin will not rehydrate properly. Let stand for 5 minutes to fully bloom.

2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and find a metal bowl that fits just over the top and traps the steam below.

3. Using that bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, 3 1/2 oz portion of kefir and the bloomed gelatin.

4. When pot has come to a boil, turn heat off. Place your yolk mixture bowl over top of the steaming pot and begin to whisk.

5. Whisk this mixture until it has become frothy, lighter in color and when you draw the foam on top of itself, it holds on the surface for 3 seconds.

6. Once your yolk mixture has come to a ribbon, remove from heat and transfer to a clean bowl.

7. Let this mixture sit while whipping the heavy cream to billowy, firm peaks.

8. Gently whisk remaining 9 oz kefir, lemon juice, vanilla extract, salt and citric acid into cooling yolk ribbon.

9. Once kefir mix is homogenous, gently fold in whipped cream.

10. Pour mousse into serving vessels and chill minimum 4 hours or overnight.

KEFIR GOES LOCAL!

Five Acre Farms

KEFIR GOES LOCAL!

Local Maple KefirKEFIR, first created more than 2,000 years ago in the Caucasus Mountains of Eastern Europe, is a cultured milk drink that tastes like yogurt and has the consistency of a smoothie.

Our smooth, creamy LOCAL KEFIR is packed with healthy probiotics and comes in plain, maple and honey flavors. To make it, we start with the best local whole milk from cows cared for by outstanding local farmers and add 12 carefully selected live cultures. For our LOCAL MAPLE KEFIR, a 2016 SOFI AWARD FINALIST, we mix in just the right amount of pure local maple syrup, tapped from our farmers’ old stand trees, for a delicate maple flavor. Our kefir is pasteurized and homogenized, and we never use any artificial sweeteners, additives, thickeners, gums or stabilizers.

Like all FIVE ACRE FARMS products, our LOCAL KEFIR is sourced and produced within 275 miles and sold in retail locations and top restaurants throughout New York City and the Tri-State Region. We sell Milk, Half & Half, Heavy Cream, Buttermilk, Greek and Regular Yogurts, Cage Free Eggs, and seasonal Apple Cider. Each package specifies the farm where that batch of the product was made.

FIVE ACRE FARMS brings the best-tasting local food to grocery stores, restaurants and food shops. We find outstanding farmers using sustainable practices, pay them fairly and tell their stories. Our business helps to create new jobs, promote the local economy, expand access to local food, safeguard the environment, preserve farmland, protect groundwater, and foster proper animal treatment. We call this being “Positively Local®”. To us, that means knowing exactly where our food comes from. It means growing the region’s economy and actively participating in the community. It means restoring the connection between farmer and customer.

Five Acre Farms Map

INSIDE THE DAIRY CASE: Butterfat & Whole Milk

Five Acre Farms
Five Acre Farms Milk on the shelf
Is your whole milk really whole milk?
Milk composition, including fat, varies by breed
Butterfat greatly impacts how dairy tastes

Are you ever confused by all of the different types of milk in the dairy case? Whole, 2%, 1%, 0%, reduced, skim, fat free. What does it all mean?

Milk is one of our most nutrient-dense foods—with calcium, protein, vitamins A & D, to name a few of its superpowers. The amount of butterfat (cream) in cow’s milk varies by breed. The iconic black and white Holstein produces milk with up to 4% fat while Jerseys—the ones with brown coats—produce richer-tasting milk with about 5% fat. Brown Swiss and Guernsey cows make milk that’s somewhere in between.

But here’s the big milk curveball: Federal guidelines dictate the percentage of butterfat for each milk category. Since butterfat is very valuable, large milk processors want the federal “whole” percentage to be as low as possible. What you need to know, as a shopper, is that milk can still be labeled as “whole” even if some of the fat has been removed. That doesn’t sound like “whole” milk to us.

At FIVE ACRE FARMS, we look for cows whose milk is naturally high in butterfat. We don’t adjust the fat content in our whole milk (a process called “standardization”), and we think that’s something you can taste. No wonder our whole milk—simply what comes out of the cow—is so popular. Taste the difference it makes in our yogurt, kefir and buttermilk—all made using our whole milk.

Drop us a line and tell us your favorite variety and where you buy our milk, and we’ll send you FIVE ACRE FARMS swag to show our thanks.

OUR FARMERS: A Day In The Life Of Father-Son Team DON & SETH McEACHRON

Father-Son Team Don & Seth McEachron

BATTENKILL VALLEY CREAMERY

Don and Seth McEachron, 4th & 5th generation farmers, are the father-son owners and operators of Battenkill Valley Creamery in Salem, New York. In 2010 and 2016, the McEachrons won Cornell’s top prize for the highest-quality, freshest, and best tasting milk in New York. Knowing that award-winning milk starts with happy, healthy cows, Don and Seth set the standard for sustainable farming and proper animal treatment. The McEachrons have been dairy farming in the Battenkill Valley region for over a century. Today, their herd numbers 350 cows of mixed breed Holsteins, Jersey, and Holstein-Jersey crossbreeds for higher butterfat content, on 1,000 acres of land.

Click to enlarge the photos below and walk through a day in the life of Don & Seth McEachron.

A CONVERSATION WITH IVAN ARGUELLO

GOING LOCAL TO SERVE CUSTOMERS & COMMUNITY

A CONVERSATION WITH IVAN ARGUELLO: owner KEY FOOD MONTAGUE

Ivan Arquello in market

Left to right: Ivan Arguello, Jr., Ivan Arguello, Sr., and Enrico Palazio, Jr.

IVAN ARGUELLO, a 30-year veteran of the grocery business, owns KEY FOOD MONTAGUE in Brooklyn Heights. Ivan’s family has operated the store, part of the cooperatively owned Key Food chain, since 1982. Today Ivan runs the store alongside his nephew Enrico Palazio, Jr. and his son Ivan Jr. Over breakfast recently, we talked about the longevity of their family business, our shared commitment to taking local food mainstream and where the super-market business is headed.

Tell us about your family’s history in the grocery business.

My father came to New York from Nicaragua in 1979, in the midst of the revolution there. He started working in construction out on Long Island, and then purchased the store in Brooklyn Heights in 1982. He found the right people to run it, and learned everything he needed to know about the supermarket world from them. My brother-in-law Enrico Palazio, Sr. and I took over the business when my father passed away in 1994.

Why Brooklyn Heights?

I’ve always felt at home here. It’s a great community that appreciates the value of having a quality supermarket in the neighborhood, and we have many loyal employees, some who have been with us for 30 years. We owned a second store, in the Bronx, for a while, but ultimately decided to focus all of our time and attention on making the Brooklyn Heights store the best it can be. My wife Mary Elizabeth and I live in New Jersey now, but I love Brooklyn Heights. The store is my second home.

How has your business changed over the years?

Consumers today are much more informed about food and demand higher levels of service, convenience and transparency from their sources and grocery stores than ever before. Their interest in local food continues to grow, and we dedicate ourselves to finding the best sources from around the region. That inspires our focus on quality, the products we offer in the store and how we present them. We work hard at getting that right. It means a lot to us that customers continue to support their local family-run supermarket.

How have you responded to these developments?

We talk with our customers all the time, ask for their input and anticipate broader consumer trends. It’s important to listen to the younger generations. I see that they’re eager to try new foods. Knowing how they shop has changed how we think about selling food. Enrico and Ivan Jr., our store’s third generation and younger consumers themselves, have helped with this. In 2015, we collaborated with a group of Fordham business school students to analyze consumer and market data and identify changes we needed to make to better serve our customers. Those adjustments, which we’ve implemented over the past couple of years, have been very successful.

What are some of those modifications?

We focused on product sourcing, store remodeling, and product presentation to ensure the best food and fit with our customer. We opened a new kitchen and hired a professional chef to develop recipes so we could offer a broader array of prepared foods. We now have a farm stand look that sets our produce department apart. Ivan Jr. has a knack for spotting trends, and he’s always out foraging for the tastiest, highest-quality local products. Enrico is involved in the deli and cheese departments and keeps the operations and finance side of things running smoothly.

How did you find FIVE ACRE FARMS?

I’m proud to have been among the first to discover and carry FIVE ACRE FARMS. Dan (Dan Horan, Five Acre Farms Founder & CEO) lives in the neighborhood and has long been part of the community. Like KEY FOOD MONTAGUE customers, I believe in your company’s mission and want to support the region’s outstanding farmers. I know from talking with our customers that they recognize that local farmers and businesses need our support to thrive and grow and want to do their part to make that happen.

What makes your partnership with FIVE ACRE FARMS work so well?

To me, the foundation of our productive working relationship is our shared belief in the vital role local food plays in building community and the local economy. FIVE ACRE FARMS really knows local food. You provide great-tasting, high-quality local products. You connect us to our farmers by telling us about them and where our food comes from. You show that you really care about our store. There aren’t many companies out there that offer your level of service, that send ambassadors into the store, like you do, to visit, talk with dairy managers and introduce your products to customers.

What do you like to eat at home?

I eat very well at home... steaks are definitely a favorite. We enjoy many cuisines from around the world. And my wife always asks me to bring home FIVE ACRE FARMS Maple Greek Yogurt. That’s what she serves when her friends come over for breakfast. They just love it!

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WHAT IS FIVE ACRE FARMS?

Five Acre Farms Map

FIVE ACRE FARMS brings the best-tasting local food to grocery stores, restaurants and food shops. We find outstanding farmers using sustainable practices, pay them fairly and tell their stories. Our business helps to create new jobs and promote the local economy, expand access to local food, safeguard the environment, preserve farmland, protect groundwater and foster proper animal treatment. We call this being Positively Local®.

Our Products

Sourced and produced within 275 miles, our products are sold in retail locations and top restaurants throughout New York City and the Tri-State Region. We sell Milk, Half & Half, Heavy Cream, Buttermilk, Kefir, Greek and Regular Yogurts, Cage Free Eggs, Apple Juice and seasonal Apple Cider. Each package specifies the farm where that batch of the product was made.

To Be Positively Local, we:

KEEP FARMERS FARMING
We pay our farmers fairly—and directly —a price that’s above the market rate and reflects what it costs them to make high-quality food, hire and treat people properly, take care of their animals and protect the environment.

IMPROVE ACCESS TO LOCAL
We bring the best local food to grocery stores and price our products so as many people as possible can buy fresh, quality local products.

CONNECT YOU AND YOUR FARMER
At FIVE ACRE FARMS, we tag all of our products, so you know exactly where your food comes from and can be sure that the farmers who made it adhere to sustainable practices. We vet them so you don’t have to.

PROMOTE LOCAL ECONOMIES
We create jobs across the region by partnering with local farmers and processors and doing business with local vendors.

IMPROVE THE ENVIRONMENT
Our farmers have higher standards when it comes to our founding principles of protecting groundwater, replenishing soils and conserving energy.

PRESERVE FARMLAND
Through our work with farmers, we are supporting more than 5,000 acres of farmland in New York, Massachusetts. Connecticut, and Vermont.

What’s With The Name?

It’s been more than 20 years since Dan first had the idea that became FIVE ACRE FARMS. At the time, he was running WALDINGFIELD FARM, the organic produce farm he founded in Washington, Connecticut in 1990. Back then, Dan envisioned a company that would own or franchise a number of five-acre farms along the East Coast, working closely with farmers to market the food they produced. (Why Five? You can produce a huge amount of food and operate a viable business on just five acres of land.) Dan’s original business plan became part of his application to business school, but that was not the end of it. Over the years, while getting an MBA and then working in the grocery business and restaurant management in New York City, Dan continued to refine his concept. He ultimately concluded that FIVE ACRE FARMS could make local food available to more American consumers, and in doing so support a greater number of responsible farmers, by partnering with, rather than owning, farms.

OUR FARMERS: A Day In The Life Of JAKE SAMASCOTT

 

OUR FARMERS

A Day In The Life Of JAKE SAMASCOTT

SAMASCOTT ORCHARDS, Kinderhook, New York, has been our valued partner since the start, supplying apples for FIVE ACRE FARMS Local Apple Cider and Local Apple Juice. The Samascott family has been farming in the Hudson Valley since the 1900’s and perfecting apples since the 1940’s. Cousins and 4th-generation farmers Jake and Bryan Samascott, alongside their siblings, grow more than 70 apple varieties, picked when they are perfectly ripe.[/vc_column_text]

Click to enlarge the photos below and walk through a day in the life of Jake Samascott.

LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM: A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN

LOCAL FOOD MEETS THE MAINSTREAM:

A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER & CEO DAN HORAN


DAN HORAN founded FIVE ACRE FARMS in 2010 to keep farmers farming and expand access to the region’s best local food. In this interview, he offers his perspective on the company’s mission, its work to bring local food into the mainstream and what it means to be Positively Local®.

How does Five Acre Farms define local food?

The way we look at it, local is about more than just distance. Local means knowing where our food comes from and what practices and processes were used along the way. It means paying farmers fairly to support their responsible farming and business practices. Local means growing the region’s economy and actively participating in the community. It means restoring the connection between farmer and consumer. We like to call this being “Positively Local®”.

What distance is considered local? Is it 50 miles—or 500?

Some people say 50 miles. Others say 500. Under the federal food safety law, local food is produced within 275 miles of where it’s sold. We think that makes sense for the Northeast, though to us, mileage is just one aspect of local. So much goes into growing, processing and distributing food that it’s more realistic to think of that effort as regional rather than going on only within the borders of your own state.

How do you select your participating farmers?

We travel around the Northeast, meeting with farmers and introducing ourselves, FIVE ACRE FARMS and how we work. Once we identify a prospective partner, we make a number of farm visits and learn about their farming practices and processes. We take our time to make sure that we have the shared vision and goals needed for a successful partnership.

Isn’t the farmers’ market the place to buy local food?

I love farmers’ markets. Having started my career as an organic farmer, I learned my first lessons in sales at farmers’ markets and always encourage people to buy directly from farmers. I also believe in keeping farmers farming by making their products more broadly available to consumers. FIVE ACRE FARMS helps farmers get into the mainstream, beginning at the supermarket—where Americans spend the most time food shopping.

Is it possible to buy local food year-round?

While it can be a challenge to buy local all year long, you should be able to get local milk and eggs throughout the year regardless of where you live. Take advantage of that to buy the freshest milk and eggs you can get your hands on. You’ll taste the difference. Other possibilities will vary by region. In the Northeast, where I live, I can buy local apples and root vegetables year-round.

How can I make sure that my neighborhood supermarket carries local food?

Hopefully, you’re noticing more and more local tags and labels in your store. If not, ask the store manager to buy local. Be sure to mention specific local items that you and your family like. Give the store leads by telling them about your favorite area farms. In my experience, grocery stores appreciate and respond quickly to this kind of input. If your store already has a local buying program, applaud its efforts, help spread the word and offer feedback.

There are so many products and claims out there. What’s your advice for making good choices when shopping local in the grocery store?

The key is to know your sources as much as possible. Start with a couple of items, and learn where they come from, who makes them and exactly how they’re handled. If you know the farmer, then you’re well on your way to being able to make a good decision. Sometimes information about the source is purposely hidden from you, and you’ll be able to tell when that’s the case. Knowing that we all lead busy lives, FIVE ACRE FARMS tries to make things simple. When you see our label, you know where your food comes from. You know that it’s local, delicious and healthy. You know that, because we vet our farms carefully, the farmers who produced it treat their animals properly, care for their farmland and groundwater and conserve energy. We do the legwork for you.

Where can I find Five Acre Farms outside the grocery store?

Our focus has always been, as we sometimes put it, bringing the farmers market to the supermarket. We’re also finding a wealth of opportunities to build on that focus by being the local solution in other places as well—like, for example, coffee shops and restaurants, including the new Kellogg’s NYC cereal café in Times Square. We even have local flying at 35,000 feet, where our products are used by UNION SQUARE EVENTS in creating in-flight menus for DELTA. We’re bringing local food into the mainstream where it should be, making it part of our everyday lives.

Ag IN YOUR BAG: WHAT’S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not…) THIS SEASON

Five Acre Farms

Ag IN YOUR BAG

agriculture noun: the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and breeding, and raising livestock; farming.

WHAT’S IN YOUR LOCAL CIDER (and not…) THIS SEASON:

Learn what distinguishes this year’s early apples
Warm weather results in lighter color apples
Sparse rainfall makes for more sweetness

The next time you reach for a jug of FIVE ACRE FARMS apple cider, look for signs of variations in the apple harvest that naturally occur from year to year.

What’s distinctive about the early fall local apple harvest in the Northeast this year? Due to the unusually dry, warm weather of late summer and early fall, many apples in our region ripened before developing the deep red skin color we’re used to seeing. The lack of water also concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars, making this year’s cider apples especially sweet. The lighter complexion can be seen in many varieties with Macintosh being the best example. Macs, the traditional New England base for cider, are green apples that rely on crisp, cool nights and adequate moisture to develop their red color just before ripening. (To make our cider, we blend a base of Macs with up to 20 other varieties.) Happily, these climate-related fluctuations don’t change the great taste of our local apples, producing a sweet, crisp cider that’s as delicious as ever. And whether they’re deep red or a subtle pastel, local apples are the only ingredients in FIVE ACRE FARMS cider, with absolutely nothing added.

SLOW ROAST PORK SHOULDER with CIDER AND SPICES – by Frances Boswell

Five Acre Farms


Frances Boswell

Our friend Frances Boswell is one part of the talented pair behind Kitchen Repertoire. On their blog, Frances, a food editor and stylist, and Dana Gallagher, a photographer and creative director, share their love of food, cooking and visual story telling and offer culinary inspiration from everyday life.

Learn more about Frances and Dana and discover new recipes at kitchen-repertoire.com.

INGREDIENTS:

• 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
• 1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns
• 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds
• 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamon seeds
• 1/2 teaspoon cloves
• 1 small cinnamon stick
• 3 bay leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
• 2 teaspoons sea salt

• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Pork shoulder about 5 pounds
• Several sprigs fresh thyme
• 2 large onions, thickly sliced
• 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
• 1 1/2 cups apple cider
• A few cloves garlic
• 3 crisp apples

Combine cumin, peppercorns, coriander, cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaves and nutmeg in a spice grinder and work to a powder. Brush pork with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season well with spices, salt and some fresh thyme. Refrigerate about 1 hour.

Heat oven to 425º. Strew bottom of dutch oven with onion, carrots and garlic to create a bed for pork. Add cider. Set the pork shoulder, fat side up, over vegetables and cider and place in oven. Roast until top of meat is golden brown and crisp, about 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 300º, cover dutch oven and continue cooking another 6 hours. The meat should be very tender and easily fall from the bone. With about 1 1/2 hours left to go, halve and core fruit. Toss with remaining tablespoon olive oil, fresh thyme and a pinch of sea salt. Arrange apples, cut side up, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place in oven (on a rack below meat) and roast until meat has finished cooking. Remove meat and apples from oven. Shred meat from bone and serve alongside apples.

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