As we grow to further understand the value of eating natural foods made with real ingredients, local farms are helping to fuel the demand. Natural meats, dairy, and produce are becoming more popular, and local farms have become the go-to source for these products. In Connecticut, there are a variety of local farms that provide natural and organic foods. At Butcher’s Best, we source from some of the best farms in Newtown, Sandy Hook, Oxford, and Litchfield, CT, among others.

In conjunction with our local farms, we’re working to provide alternatives to processed foods that are so prevalent in grocery stores. The processed food revolution dates back as early as 1910, when trans fats were becoming popular in products like Nathan’s Hot Dogs, Aunt Jemima syrup, and Oreo cookies. In the 1920s, families began seeking alternatives to cooking meals from scratch. Processed canned and frozen foods were gaining popularity. Between 1920 and the 1950s, processed foods were everywhere as families jumped on the convenience of ready-to-serve meals that could be stored for long periods of time.

As time marched on, we started understanding, with the help of scientific research, that processed foods are bad for our health. That’s because food in cans and packages are loaded with chemical preservatives, fillers, and artificial flavors and colors. Industrial meats like chicken, steak, and pork come from animals that are given growth hormone, antibiotics, and steroids. These types of ingredients, despite government approval, have been tested and linked to major health issues.

Not only do processed foods contain the addition of unnatural ingredients and chemicals, but also they lack nutrients vital to fighting off disease. For example, processed wheat strips the portion of the grain that contains vitamins and minerals. This wheat is then added to bread that also contains preservatives and heavy infusions of salt and sugar.

Restaurants and small stores that sell locally sourced foods are bucking this trend. Small farms welcome the change. Some local farms have always done things the right way; however, more and more are shifting away from industrial processes. We’re seeing more organic produce and animals raised free-range, without hormones or antibiotics. Butcher’s Best only serves foods with natural ingredients, and we put a premium on high quality. The following local farms help supply our store.

Rowland Farm, Oxford, CT
Rowland Farm spans generations. It’s been in operation since 1900. The farm has met demand through the years by producing poultry and dairy as well as some produce. Over the past 30 years, it has exclusively been raising hogs for high-quality pork. In 2008, it switched over exclusively to Heritage Berkshire Hogs. All-natural Berkshire pork is renowned for its flavor and tenderness, and the animals are raised without hormones or steroids. Rowland also provides humane, comfortable living conditions for the hogs, and they’re fed a healthy diet.

Arethusa Farm, Litchfield, CT
Local farmers are focusing a lot on organic produce and natural meats. At Arethusa in Litchfield, CT, however, they focus strictly on all-natural dairy products.

Arethusa has been a working dairy farm since the early 1900s. George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis bought the property in 1991. In 2001, they began producing some of the highest-quality all-natural milk available. They are hyper-focused on taking care of their animals. The cows are pampered, and many are award-winning purebred varieties. They produce some of the richest, most flavorful milk, cheese, and ice cream around. Arethusa achieves a better-tasting product in part by employing vat pasteurization. This is in contrast to the industrial ultra-pasteurization method.

Shortt’s Farm, Sandy Hook, CT
Shortt’s Farm in Sandy Hook supplies Butcher’s Best with some of the freshest organic produce available. It puts a premium on growing fruits and vegetables the way that nature intended. You’ll find special heirloom tomatoes and varieties of peppers, eggplant, squash, and much more. Shortt’s Farm is a perfect pairing for Butcher’s Best because we share the same values and attention to providing only the highest-quality foods.

At Butcher’s Best, we think the natural food craze is more than just a trend. As we continue to learn more about what goes into our food, we’re realizing how much more appetizing and healthy real ingredients are. Luckily, with the help of our CT farms, we have options across a range of products like natural meats, dairy, and produce. Thank a local farmer the next time you see one.