Kids Get It: Middle Schoolers Talk About Grass-Fed Beef and Sustainable Farming

As with most issues, people “get it” quickly when presented with clear, indisputable facts. That’s usually the case with people who learn about the health benefits of grass-fed beef and environmental benefits of sustainable farming.

That certainly was the case after a recent presentation made by Acabonac Pet owner Stephen Skrenta to a group of middle school students on Long Island.  Stephen told them about the Acabonac Pet and Acabonac Farms approach to raising grass-fed, healthy beef for both humans and dogs. 

“To sum up everything that has been stated so far, I think that Mr. Skrenta’s farm sounded very earth-friendly, and he is doing farming right.” said one student in a written reflection sent to Stephen after his presentation.

 

What The Kids Learned

Acabonac Pet makes its raw dog food with 100% grass-fed, pasture-finished beef. The meat comes from Acabonac Farms, which has three locations on the East End of Long Island. Stephen broke down how the farm does business, including telling them why grass-fed beef is better for you (the same goes for your dog, too). 

Stephen also discussed the importance of sustainable farming and the ethical treatment of cattle.A

The kids, who have been reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, enjoyed the presentation. “They were great fun to talk with,” said Stephen. “If everyone were as open-minded as those kids, a lot more people would be eating much healthier food! It’s great to see young minds so receptive to learning about the food industry and why we do what we do at Acabonac Farms and Acabonac Pet.” 

 

Humanely Raising Cattle

One of the issues Stephen talked about is how he treats his cattle differently than large, industrial farmers. For example, Acabonac Farms cattle only eat grass and natural forage on Long Island. Also, they are allowed to roam freely, never placed into cattle pens. 

The kids appreciated this aspect of the farm as much as anything else Stephen said. One student wrote, “I was very happy to hear that the cows get to roam freely and that they're not being cooped up a few inches from each other in a factory. Another thing I'm very happy about is that they get to eat grass, which is what they're supposed to eat!”

Another responded to how Stephen develops a relationship with his cattle, staying with them until the day they are slaughtered.

“He has developed a relationship with the cows, so his voice is a source of comfort to them. He tries to be very gentle with them and his reasoning is that it makes it a little more humane,” the student wrote. “It really struck a chord with me because in this big industry where no one really cares about the actual animals, there are some people like Stephen...who do care and show it.”

 

Healthy Food For Healthy People and Dogs

One of the main advantages to feeding your dog grass-fed beef is the fact that it is packed with nutrients. Industry experts, including veterinarians, have written about the benefits of putting your dog on a raw diet rather than kibble.

One student wrote about how cattle on large, industrial farms are fed food that “has a lot of sugar for them and would make them gain a lot of weight quickly, like humans if we eat too much sugar. The thing is I didn't know that cows when fattened that quickly aren't as healthy and nutritious.”

Another student wrote of Stephen: “I was also surprised that he chose to farm in a healthier way, even though he could probably make more money owning a big-time farm that sells all over the country. It’s not only noble, but it’s also inspiring.”

Another was surprised by what cows eat in industrial farms and wrote that no one “wants to eat anything bad that a cow had in its stomach. This could end up having a bad effect on you for example you could get sick or maybe worse.”

 

Community and Sustainability

The students also learned about Acabonac Farms’ commitment to being a sustainable farm that helps improve the local environment. They also liked hearing about how local farms work together on Long Island, such as the partnership with Acabonac Farms and Balsam Farms.

It was good to know that he really did support other local farms. It seemed they had a good partnership. There was a demand for local meat at Balsam Farms and Acabonac Farms were available to supply it,” the student wrote.

Another wrote that it’s “pretty cool” how Stephen worked in finance, only deciding to become a farmer in recent years. “This reminded me of Ian Piedmonte (of Balsam Farms on Long Island) who was in college studying philosophy and didn't know he wanted to be a farmer till after,” wrote the student, adding, “I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel that I learned a lot from Mr. Skrenta, and I look forward to trying his beef someday.”

 

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