For the past few days, I've been fascinated with this antibiotic-free meat map over at RealTimeFarms.com. It's an effort put together by the folks at FixFood, a non-profit organization led by Robert Kenner -- the documentary filmmaker behind 2008's highly-influential "Food Inc." -- in order to help consumers locate the places where you can chew on some gristle and have your pork chops without having to worry about them being saturated with terrible antibiotics. You simply plug in your zip code, city, state, whatever-information-you-feel appropriate, and the map will populate where to get the antibiotic-free stuff. A grand idea, indeed.
Unfortunately, the information on the map is, let's say, a little under-developed at this point. For example, the farms they list in the Southern California area -- and that's only if you allow a very liberal definition of the SoCal region, one that includes Paso Robles -- are only five in number. They are:
- Rainbow Ranch Farms in Pinon Hills. Among their offerings: "Free-range, grass-fed, and pastured heritage-breed livestock. Chicken, poultry, game birds, turkeys, beef, pork, lamb, goat and eggs. No corn, No soy, No wheat, No grains, gluten-free and No G.M.O's."
- Novy Ranches in Simi Valley, presided over by veterinarian Dr. Lowell Novy, whose love of animals (according to their listing at the site, mind you) is what "informed his decision to turn away from 'traditional' feedlot cattle production by developing an entirely grass-fed program that is healthy for the land, cows and people."
- Bumpy Road Ranch in Leona Valley, who started their farm just wanting "to have humanely and healthily raised food." First starting with only chickens, they made the leap to raising pigs a dozen years ago.
- Johansing Farms in San Miguel, whose "cows are black angus and 100% grass fed."
- Quail Spring Farm in Cayucos, who produce cage-free eggs, pasture fed and free-range chickens, to go along with pesticide-free blueberries.
And that's it. Which is to say, the map needs some work. Nowhere are the Jimenez Farms in the Santa Ynez Valley, or Kendor Farm in Van Nuys (where McCall's gets their chicken), or Rancho San Julian and ReRide Ranch (where Lindy & Grundy get their beef and pork, respectively). The map is crowd-sourced, you see, a method that comes with its built-in positives and negatives. Theoretically, this means that the site can pool the information of hundreds of users and provide an accurate and dense map. However, what's happening so far is that the crowd is letting it down; there simply isn't enough information to make this venture worthwhile yet.
But there is a solution. You, the reader, can head over to the website, sign up for an account, add in the information of the farm(s) yourself, and feel good about doing your civic duty. (There are also crowd-sourced maps for farmers markets, retailers and restaurants in the area that only use non-antibiotic meats, but the listings are also pretty scant right now, pretty much consisting only of Ralph's Fresh Fare, Vons, and Pavillions in the area.) So head on over and help out this great idea.