First part of two parts, please click hyperlink at bottom to continue to the next part
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world." These words of Gandhi are words that Xenia Stavrinides, the owner of Rainbow Ranch Farms, has lived by both before and after she founded Rainbow Ranch Farms in 1991.
Before 1991, Xenia had been on farms in the Middle East, Mediterranean, Europe, and Eastern Europe as well as in South America. On some farms, she observed animal husbandry that was brutal, though in other places like Spain, Italy and Greece, for example, the animal husbandry was very humane. When she started working for farmers and ranchers in the States, she didn't like the direction that ranches were heading with more and more grain and lot feeding, as well as toward the barn raising of pigs, chickens and turkeys. She became so disturbed by these concentrated animal feeding operations [CAFO] that she stopped eating meat and became a vegetarian. She couldn't support an industry so devoid of ethics and pay for another animal being tortured.
Though despite taking supplements to make up for what her body was missing, Xenia believed her health was adversely affected by being a vegetarian, so after twelve years and much consternation she decided again to eat meat. But this time, she decided to raise her own livestock and grow everything herself and thus shortly thereafter purchased the land in the high desert, unseen, that became Rainbow Ranch Farms.
Here on land where the Mojave Desert meets the San Gabriel Valley Mountains many were initially skeptical of her ability to farm and ranch in such a harsh environment. Using sustainable permaculture practices and raising old heritage breeds of cows, pigs, turkeys, ducks, game birds, chickens, goats and rabbits she’s defied all the skeptics for over twenty years on her home farm. Over these years, more animals have also been placed on a number of other members’ farms and ranches in Central and Northern California.
Produce and custom processed meats from these farms and ranches are made available to community supported agricultural (C.S.A.) members for pick-up or via UPS shipping. Meats slaughtered at USDA facilities are available and sold to non-members online, restaurants, and specialty butchers like Lindy & Grundy in Los Angeles. Whenever USDA facilities are used for animals from Rainbow Ranch Farms, the plant stops all other processing to ensure that Rainbow’s meats are processed to the highest standards without the use of anti-microbial solutions, bleach or chemicals. This USDA plant is also certified organic and humane handling, plus offers special services including Halal and Kosher processing. Thus all of her animals when butchered are done so without any torture in the most humane way possible.
Without any subsidies or outside funding, the sale of meat is necessary to fund operations and preserve heritage breeds many of which would otherwise go extinct. Commercial industrial farms and ranches rely on only a few breeds. This limited gene pool on commercial farms potentially allows for the rapid spreading of disease. Moreover these commercial breeds have been genetically modified to grow rapidly to maturation even without the added growth hormones. Many commercial chickens, for example, grow from chicks to full size birds in as few as five weeks. According to Xenia, any commercial chicken or other bird that is consumed so soon isn't very nutritious. Birds spend their first eight to twelve weeks developing immunity, strong organs, and bone structure. Then, in the next eight to twelve weeks, they develop size, muscle tissue and physical strength. It takes four and a half months to raise a wholesome heritage chicken before its ready to be consumed. In general, birds aren't ready for consumption at Rainbow Ranch Farms until after, at least, their first molt. This longer development time with these genetically diverse Heritage breeds produce food that is more nutritionally dense and thus better for you.
End of Part 1; please click here for Part 2 to continue