Coyote Creek: Small Farm, Large Impact
Austin's growing web of local, organic, delicious
By Jessi Cape,
10:01AM, Wed. Apr. 25, 2012
Discussions of organic food, agricultural sustainability, and humane farming abound in circles whose fortes range from culinary masterpieces to economic growth.
Home to many up-and-comers in the foodie universe (remember Paul Qui?), the recent strides made within our local community in local organic food production are nothing short of astonishing. Elgin-based Coyote Creek Farm embodies the ideal and serves as not only an example, but also a source of education and inspiration for the Austin-area food chain. From their organic feed mill to the deliciousness served by many of our favorite restaurants to the community outreach, Coyote Creek Farm is an asset to all of us – animals and humans alike.
In an email interview with Cameron Molberg, general manager of Coyote Creek Farm & Mill, I asked him to give a brief nonprofessional’s explanation of some of the terms thrown around in scholarly chats and grocery store adventures. He explains that a combination of marketing and federal regulations of the industry complicate the already intricate nature of food labels. To have a certified organic farm, such as Coyote Creek, the licenses, regulations, and testing are “tirelessly consuming.” Other terms reference products that, at a glance, appear to boast similar quality and health benefits, but actually describe products created with very little government regulation. This means food can be labeled “natural” with relative ease yet the product may hail from a farm that has little to no similarity to a natural environment at all. The health and economic ramifications are, in fact, extremely different.
Coyote Creek is an independently owned and operated farm that provides bagged and bulk organic feed to its customers. Coyote Creek “services all the local organic egg and meat producers in one way or another.” Some of the restaurants and food suppliers that support Coyote Creek include wink, Eastside Cafe, Hillside Farmacy, Mother Pacha, Whip In, Green Pastures, Food 4 Fitness, Tacodeli, Hoover’s, Spiderhouse, and more.
Another staple belief in the Coyote constitution is the humane treatment of animals. Coyote Creek raises Jeremiah Cunningham’s World’s Best Eggs. My own side-by-side comparison of the big egg industry produced eggs with Jeremiah’s eggs gave a visible example of how the treatment of farm animals directly influences our own bodies. The yolks of Jeremiah’s eggs are golden, rich in color and texture, and enormous. The farm eggs taste fresher than the commercially raised eggs. The shells are harder, the albumen (white part of the egg) seems less runny, and the yolk is very flavorful.
It wasn't until I started serving these eggs to my family that I truly grasped the difference between organic farm fresh eggs and commercial eggs. The lack of additives and chemicals certainly shines through, and in turn makes for an exceedingly superior egg. I urge you to conduct your own experiment and see for yourself the difference. Jeremiah’s eggs are available through Whole Foods Market, Central Market, and Wheatsville Coop.
Adhering to the pasturing practices provides the animals of Coyote Creek an opportunity to enjoy a peaceful existence, which in turn, benefits the ecosystem and provides unique health benefits for their human consumers. Molberg says, “Beyond having the best organic feed available on a daily basis, and beyond our hens living on thick organic pasture, our hens have shade cloths, patio misters, large mobile housing units, and are fans of KUT Austin.”
Naysayers guffaw, but the research surrounding health benefits of products produced in a vein similar to Coyote Creek is popping up in mainstream media and it speaks for itself. Jeremiah's eggs also boast a soy-free status and “seven times more beta carotene, 2/3 more vitamin A, 3 times more vitamin E, and 2 times more omega-3s than your standard store bought egg” and “much lower levels of cholesterol and saturated fat.”
These qualities are directly associated with the quality control for which Coyote Creek is renowned. Molberg summarizes nicely: “Our hens do what they would naturally do, and this makes them happy. Happy hens make healthy eggs.”
In addition to time-honored standards, Molberg suggests we try some of his more unconventional egg dishes: egg noodles with brown gravy and eggs, eggs in a basket, sauerkraut and eggs, and Cuban style black beans and eggs, especially using his preferred coconut oil.
On top of their organic feed and wonder eggs, Coyote Creek produces grass-fed beef. In light of the media firestorm about “pink slime,” Molberg explains that it “is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the conventional food industry.” The conditions found in many “concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) result in [cattle that are] diseased, sick, and heavily treated with antibiotics to prevent early death,” says Molberg. He also mentions the biological implications of feeding cows- natural ruminants- corn and hormones. Coyote Creek steers roam free and feast upon 100% USDA certified organic pasture, resulting in - you guessed it- more delicious and nutritious food for the consumer. Coyote Creek farm is the antithesis of the conventional beef industry, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Molberg and his coworkers at Coyote Creek Farm & Mill are hardworking and dedicated champions of the organic, sustainable, and humane food industry. As if that’s not quite enough, this organization also prides itself in its community outreach. In addition to a recent partnership with the Nubian Queen Lola to provide Jeremiah’s eggs for her efforts in feeding Austin’s homeless community, Coyote Creek also “donate[s] 500 dozen eggs each week to the Bastrop Fire Relief Efforts, and close to 1000 dozen a month to the Capital Area Food Bank.” A significant amount of effort also goes toward statewide education of the benefits of the organic production process and the value of humane treatment of animals.
Mid-April's successful East Austin Urban Farm Tour featured local farms like Boggy Creek Farm, HausBar Farm, Springdale Farm, and Rain Lily Farm - all customers of Coyote Creek. Molberg believes that in addition to being “the epitome of sustainable multi-purpose agriculture” and “beyond producing delicious, nutrient-dense food,” this collection of farms “serve[s] a vital role in bridging the gap between producer and consumer by serving as a highly visible example of what others beyond the city limits do on a daily basis.” The health qualities and incomparably delicious taste of farm fresh and seasonal vegetables is the secret ingredient to this rapidly evolving web of Central Texas foodies. Even the Smithville distillery Bone Spirits has joined in the fun as they just announced the creation of new flagship vodka, produced exclusively with corn from Coyote Creek. The local organic food and spirits chain in Austin is certainly one to watch.
Molberg’s shout-outs to their many Austin affiliates from their bagged feed supplier (Buck Moore Feed & Supply) to fellow grass-fed beef producers (Betsy Ross Cattle Company and Bastrop Cattle Company) and other farms indicate that the practices and beliefs of this community are not only well-received and important, but an integral part of our beloved Austin community. The wellness of our population and the success of local businesses contribute to the beauty of our Central Texas landscape. The mutually beneficial relationship between local farmers like Windy Hill Goat Farm and Austin staples like Counter Café or Olivia positively enhance the circle from farm to fresh food. So as for me and my house, we support Coyote Creek Farm.