Last weekend we took a FARM TOUR! New Leaf market sponsored it’s 4th Annual Farm Tour on October 15th and 16th throughout north Florida and south Georgia. Thirty-two farms, ranches, orchards, creameries, dairies, smokehouses, pastures, gardens, institutes, vineyards, homesteads, markets, and cafes opened their doors and took part from Bonifay to Lake City, Florida, all the way to Moultrie, Georgia.
We chose to drive two hours into Florida to Deep Roots Meat to discover where our food comes from and to meet our future dinner. My dad and his wife even drove an hour in to join the tour. I just finished Fast Food Nation and one of Schlosser’s main questions is, “Where does your food come from?” The “Super Size Me” and “Food Inc.” documentaries give us an idea if we buy it at the supermarket and fast food restaurants.
Where does our food actually come from? I was about to find out!
We discovered Deep Roots Meat, LLC a couple of weeks after we arrived in Georgia. We scouted out the farmers’ markets in St. Marys, Georgia and Fernandina Beach, Florida. Fernandina’s market is a bit bigger and offers the grass-fed beef products sold by Deep Roots once a month.
Deep Roots Meat carries every product you can imagine from New York strips to ox tail. Family owned and operated the past eight years, the Platt Family sells all grass (forage) fed beef in USDA inspected packages, along with pasture raised chickens and free range eggs. They even custom harvest by the half or whole animal, so that nothing is wasted.
Mr. Platt was told raising grass (forage)-fed cattle in the south was impossible due to the heat. Tried various times in Texas to no avail, the University of Florida scoffed at his attempt. He’s proven everyone wrong, and is entering a strong year number eight.
Mr. Platt drove us around the 3,000+ acre farm showing us the grasses and peas the cows eat, how he rotates them from field to field every two to three days, the dung beetles that help break up the soil, and his future plans to raise and process thousands of chickens directly on the farm, so that they won’t be stressed during transport. The cattle are cycled from pasture to pasture, many pre-planted before the cows move in. As the cows walk, they push the seeds into the ground.
His son walked us to the chicken houses and boxes that he informed me they built themselves, housing close to 300 chickens. It was his and his little brother’s job to gather the eggs every morning.
“Do they give you a hard time when you’re trying to take their eggs?” I asked him.
“No, not really. I just slip my hand right under them and grab the eggs. The chickens don’t mind at all,” he said.
We enjoyed a small hamburger at the farm, that was filling and satisfying, and not flavored with any seasoning at all. But they were delicious! We didn’t feel hungry again until dinner. They also passed out samples of their breakfast sausage and bologna, all made from beef. My husband fell in love. “I don’t even have words, it’s so good,” he said.
The farm boasted broad, open pastures for the cows and the chickens to roam. We watched them sauntering happily along. The Platts bale all their own hay, used to supplement the cattle’s diet, only when needed.
How many times have I wondered while chewing meat or eggs— where does this come from? Where has it been? Now we can honestly say we know. The Platts don’t supplement their cattle population. They breed and raise every cow they take to slaughter. Raised from calf to plate, we know where our food comes from, what it eats, and how it’s treated.
Though grass-fed beef is substantially more expensive, my husband and I consider it an investment in our health. If we’re going to eat meat, we’d rather eat meat that isn’t fed any grain, antibiotics, or animal by-products. Cattle were meant to eat grass, not corn, and not other cows. If I’m going to eat meat—I’d like to eat the healthiest beef I can find. The Platt family delivers that promise.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
If someone is willing to open their doors and show you what they do and how they do it, I’m willing to believe them. And the Platts don’t only open their farm doors for the annual tour, they’re happy to give tours throughout the year. Thanks Platt Family for giving your time and service to the public!