Gunthorp Farm trip

We hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day holiday. Instead of staying in and catching our breath, we opted to take a trip. We’ve wanted to get out to Gunthorp farm for some time, and this was our first chance.

Gunthorp farm has earned a name for top quality on Pork and Poultry, served in some of the city’s finest restaurants. That’s not why we hunted them down. We called them because we heard these folks raised real free-range pork and poultry. I’ve always wanted my own restaurant so the buck wold stop with me on all purchasing decisions, and for years as a chef and manager, I’d use meat or dairy that I didn’t feel comfortable using, because the animals weren’t treated well, and frankly, I think modern factory “farm” production is not good for the animals, who become sick, the people who eat these animals, or the environment.

The standards for calling meat or dairy “free range” are actually quite loose and vague, only a bit looser than they are for organic standards. You can call your product “free range” if the animals are not caged and the barn door is open to “pasture.” It’s not clear how big or small the building must be, or what “pasture” is, and many “free range” operations crowd the animals in without adequate bedding, water, or ventilation, and often it’s impossible for a bird or pig to traverse the mob and get outside if they choose. Most “free range” chickens on the market have never seen a blade of grass in their lives. We believe chickens and pigs belong outside, with access to indoors, sort of the reverse of the “free range” label standards.

All the word about the Greg and Lei’s farm was great, but we had to see for ourselves. Plus, still a farm boy at heart, I can never turn down a chance to hike some pasture.

It's a bit of a hike up to the chicken pasture
The scene outside one of the more remote chicken houses

Mothers with their young, what a beautiful sight

Thanks to Greg and Lei for having us out on a holiday! We believe that this is the best way to raise animals, and we are proud to have them on our team of suppliers. The Gunthorps supply all of our poultry, plus pork chops, our delicious braised pork shank (the best thing on the menu!) and some bacon. Our ham and most of our bacon come from Niman Ranch, and we’re hoping to set up some farm visits with them soon, as well as Kalona Organics for eggs and dairy. Don’t worry, we’ll be checking out some of our fruit and vegetable growers too!

– Paul

Even with unfettered access to lush pasture, chickens spend most of their time inside. Even though they only spend a couple hours a day foraging the pasture, that time makes all the difference
It's a simple life for these chickens out on Gunthorp Farm
Mom and her young - look closely to see the suckling pigs at mama's feet
Jane out on the pasture among chicken houses. The Gunthorps give the chickens all the green space they could want, and all the shelter they may need