Fair Food Heritage Breed

Fair Food and SVF Foundation are working in partnership to identify heritage breed animal products in the marketplace. Our Heritage Breed Education Project raises consumer awareness about heritage breed animals by identifying the meat, dairy, and eggs from heritage breed products animals available at the Fair Food Farmstand. (SVF Agriculture and Farming)

What is a Heritage Breed?

Ever hear of an Heirloom tomato? Heritage breed animals are like the livestock version of heirloom tomatoes. They are traditional livestock that have not been altered by the demands of modern industrial agriculture and are bred for valuable genetic traits, such as disease and parasite resistance, heat (or cold) tolerance, good mothering abilities and well-suited to a life on pasture. The heritage breed animal retains its historic characteristics and is raised in a manner that more closely matches the animal’s natural behavior.

“Heritage breed animals are livestock that have not been altered by the demands of modern industrial agriculture …”

Humans have historically raised thousands of breeds of animals, each adaptable to a particular environment. However, the rise of industrial agriculture has led to the extinction of many of these breeds. Within the past 15 years, 190 breeds of farm animals have gone extinct worldwide, and there are currently 1,500 others at risk of becoming extinct.[1]

Why are they important?

Genetic diversity in agriculture has been rapidly decreasing. Today, only eight animal breeds are used for 90% of all food consumed by humans. [2] Many of these breeds are unable to reproduce on their own, and rely on antibiotics, hormones, and cheap grain to be quickly fattened up. With only one or two varieties used by the majority of farms, these animals are especially susceptible to diseases.

When properly managed, heritage breeds of livestock are self-sufficient, produce well on pasture, and are beneficial for the environment. They also adapt well to changing environments, which is especially important due to our changing climate. Environmental benefits include reduced soil erosion, improved air and water quality, better plant diversity, vigor and production, and improved wildlife habitat.

Aside from all this serious stuff, heritage breed animals taste good and are good for you! If you’ve ever tried blue eggs from Ameraucana hens or a Red Bourbon Red turkey, you know that not all food tastes the same. In addition, meat, eggs, and dairy products from pastured animals offer more “good” fats. They are richer in antioxidants, including vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.

Heritage Breed at the Farmstand

The Fair Food Farmstand is proud to work with small-scale growers in our region who are raising pure and cross-bred heritage animals for meat, eggs, and milk. Here are just some of the products we carry from heritage breed animals:

Raw milk from Dutch Meadow Dairy – Dutch Belted Cows
Blue Eggs from Meadow Run Farm – Auracana/Americana
Pork from Country Time Farm – Old Spots and Large Blacks
Lamb from Jamison Farm – Dorset cross breeds
Beef from Landisdale Farm – Red Devon, Scottish Highland cross breeds
Turkeys from Griggstown Quail Farm – Red Bourbon

Fair Food proudly acknowledges that products labeled “Fair Food Heritage Breed” contain at least 50% heritage breed stock. Each of these genetically unique heirloom breeds is a link to our American agricultural past, and provides bio-diversity in our food supply.

To learn more, check out:

The 1772 Foundation

Sustainable Table

American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Heritage Foods USA

Frank Reese and Good Shepherd Poultry Ranch