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Live Oak Farms: An Inside Look At Where Healthy Real Whole Local Food Is Made In The 21st Century

Posted Jul 22 2010 1:18pm

The local food movement has been building some tremendous momentum over the past few years thanks in part to the unmistakable influence of books by science journalist Michael Pollan (including his latest book entitled Food Rules ) as well as the hit documentary film exposing the secrets behind the factory farming that pervades our food supply called Food Inc. People like Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms in Northern Virginia are leading the way by demystifying farming in the 21st Century and public outrage has motivated people to seek out local farms in their area. It seems more and more people are no longer content with what their local grocery store is offering them and their families when it comes to fresh, delicious and nutritious foods to consume at mealtimes because the quality has become so severely diminished. From the grain-fed meats to genetically modified vegetables, we’re experiencing a bona fide food revolution taking place on the local level all across the United States where people are wanting to locate local farmers and farmer’s markets to begin providing their family with food that tastes great, supports their local economy, and is unquestionably far superior in nutritional makeup than anything a supermarket could ever provide them. If these chain food stores wise up in the coming years, then they’ll start working with local farms to make this real food more readily accessible to the general public. Only time will tell if they make the effort or continue to peddle mostly garbage “food” on unsuspecting Americans.

I had been actively seeking a local supplier of various foods that are a regular part of my diet for several years now and became frustrated by how difficult it was to find a farm near my home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Searching on the popular web site, the closest farm was about an hour away which I was willing to drive to if nothing else was available. Although there are wonderful places online where you can purchase “local” foods like grassfed beef, raw butter and cheeses, and more, it kind of defeats the purpose of the local food philosophy if you live in South Carolina and purchase food from Indiana. And farmer’s markets in my area are just too few and far between to be a reliable source for the foods I need to nourish my body. Surely there had to be a farm somewhere close to my home where I could purchase the staples of my healthy low-carb lifestyle! And there is.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine from church saw me post on my Facebook page about my desire to find a local farm where good quality healthy real whole food is made and she enthusiastically told me about this place she had discovered called Live Oak Farms in nearby Woodruff, South Carolina. She said they sell all sorts of foods, including grassfed beef, pastured pork, raw milk and cheeses, organic vegetables, and so much more. It certainly sounded like the kind of place I had been wanting to find, so Christine and I decided to check it out for ourselves. Located right off of I-26 heading south towards Columbia a mere 12 miles from my front doorstep, this was indeed precisely what I had been looking for in my area.

You drive up to the front gate of the farm, go through a few winding roads passing some horses and ewes along the way, and finally end up at their fabulous store right across from the new barn that is being built where organic and fresh local food abounds. WOO HOO! At long last my desperate search for a local farmer has come to an end–Live Oak Farms has arrived into my life! Run by the delightful husband and wife team of Chuck and Allison Schaum, this is 21st Century local farming the way it’s supposed to be.

I began having conversations with Allison when I visited their store every couple of weeks about featuring their farm on my “Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb Show” podcast to talk about the ins and outs of being a local farmer to help give them some exposure while educating my listeners about how to find similar farmers in their area. But I quickly realized a simple conversation over the telephone would not tell the whole story of what happens on a farm like theirs with all the animals, the way they are raised without the use of antibiotics or chemicals, and all the other various nuances of modern-day farming life. That’s when the idea was borne inside my head to do a series of YouTube videos highlighting the great work they are doing providing local consumers in the Upstate of South Carolina with the freshest, most nutrient-dense foods they can find anywhere in the area. Although I’d never done a mini-documentary series like this before, I think it turned out pretty well all things considered. Yes, my fingers got in the way of the camera on my iPhone a few times, but the message shone through loud and clear with the very articulate Allison and her engaging personality on camera as we walked around the farm seeing how the animals are raised and processed.

It was an amazing experience to see how this outstanding local farm works. I would venture to say that the average Joe out there doesn’t have a clue about how a farm like this works with all the day-to-day activities that take place to make it happen. Allison and I talked about these issues quite extensively in the videos because it’s important to be educated about where your food comes from and how it is created. Sadly, far too many people are content with what they find in their grocery store and trust that it is the best food they can find. If they only knew there are better ways to feed your family, then they’d immediately stop feeding them any other way than what can be found in season from a local farmer.

In the following videos, you’ll get to meet the rare forms of ewes, horses, cows, chickens and turkeys featured at Live Oak Farms, learn about the wildlife preservation project they are a part of, as well as gaze upon their beautiful array of collectible wagons on their property. Allison and I talk about the current state of consumer awareness regarding real food, how learning about where food comes from is positively impacting the next generation, and why the meticulous attention to detail about how they raise their animals is a vital part of the farming experience that ultimately benefits the people who consume the foods they make. As you watch the videos, keep in mind these are real people like you and me who are supporting their family through hard work that is done as a true labor of love and respect for the resources they have been given to humanely raise the animals that will become the future meals served on our dinner table. Hopefully what you see in these videos will inspire you to seek out a local farmer in your area who can provide you surprisingly affordable local foods that fit within your healthy low-carb lifestyle!

ENJOY this special 5-part series presented in high-definition (HD) quality:

Find local farmers who use similar farming methods to Live Oak Farms by visiting the Certified Naturally Grown and Local Harvest web sites. Let Allison know what a great job she did in these videos and thank her for sharing about her farm by sending an e-mail to . THANK YOU for watching and I welcome your feedback about what you saw in these videos. Feel free to share your experiences looking for a local farm to purchase real whole foods from and whether you have been successful at it or not.

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