B: I imagine you can already be busy and stressed out enough at times.
M: I mean, fortunately for me, I don’t really worry about what other people think. I have pretty high moral standards in my life, but they’re my morals. They’re not anyone else’s. So, as long as I know that I’m doing my best to be the kind of person that I think is a good person, I don’t really care what other people think about me. I find it kind of pathetic actually that that’s how someone would approach something….I understand everyone has their causes. I do as well. I’m actually a huge advocate of animal welfare. But, I’m a huge proponent of people eating meat as well. So, I think there is a balance and a lot of times extremists don’t understand what a balance is and they don’t even understand the best route to take to get their point across.
B: That’s what I thought was very ironic. When we had our initial talk, it reminded me of PETA putting up a billboard opposite the Publican in Chicago. They’re all about humanely, sustainably raised animals. How do you support that both as a consumer and as a bakery owner?
M: I’m a huge proponent of animal welfare in the meat that I eat. I’m a proponent of local and sustainable agriculture all across the board. Whether it’s farming tomatoes or raising pigs, I think there’s a smart, responsible way to do it. There’s a humane way to do it. I don’t care what it is you’re eating or what your diet is–there’s a way to be much more conscious about what we’re eating and how it’s being raised and farmed. A lot of people in PETA don’t see that. They see a very narrow picture.
It’s just crazy. I’ve actually read reports–I don’t know the exact statistics–but PETA runs animal shelters and their kill rate is one of the highest in the nation. But then they go after people who are raising and breeding animals that wouldn’t even exist anymore if it weren’t for farmers who were raising them. These heritage breed pigs, even cows that would have died off. And these people care a lot about their animals. They take extremely good care of their animals. Where I get my meat from, I know the farmers. I vet these people. I know what their farms are.
B: Such as?
M: Most of my stuff comes from Lancaster Farm Fresh. I love dealing with them. They’re a cooperative of so many different farms, which is great. It gives you a lot of choices. Then there’s also Ian Brendle [of Green Meadow Farm]. He’s amazing. I like to know where my food comes from. My meat and my plant based food. I’ve been to the place where my flour gets milled. All of this is very important to me. I don’t think most people know where their food comes from. But they want to pick a cause and they want to get up in arms about it without really understanding the entire picture.
B: What are some of the things done by the farms associated with the co-op, or that Ian Brendle does, that reflects your values?
M: Actually caring about the environment and the product they put out is one of the best ones. Knowing farmers that care and have a vested interest in having the best product that they can and having the least impact on the environment is one of the most important things. One of the reasons I started the bakery is because I don’t like to eat food with preservatives. Organic was a big thing too. As things have gone on, I’ve gotten away from caring if things are technically organic, but if they’re local, if they’re sustainable….I’ve gotten away from that huge umbrella of organic. While it was great at the time–it got me interested in the quality of food that I was eating–I don’t think it quite covers enough. I think we’re at the point where these giant factory farms are farming “organically” and while they are it’s not really sustainable or eco-conscious.
B: A lot of businesses will try to buy as sustainably and locally as possible. It can start out as a principle that runs into the realities of doing business. How much product are you able to buy from local and sustainable farms?
M: If I can’t get it locally, I am getting it organic and fair trade. I can’t get local sugar of course. We don’t produce sugar cane in this area but I have organic fair trade sugar that I use. Anything perishable–all of my dairy, eggs, butter, my flour, any produce that I use, any meat that I use, are all local. Meats are all pasture raised meats. Some of them are certified organic, some of them aren’t. A lot of farms do farm organically but they don’t pay for certification to be organic, so that label itself isn’t quite that important to me.
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