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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Local food heroes: Lois and Allan Higgins

By Rose Chavez | Food System/Food Equity Coalition

Healthy Archuleta, a local nonprofit in Archuleta County also known as the FSFE — Food Coalition, continues to celebrate the local food heroes that make up the food system in Archuleta County and the surrounding southwest region. 

These individuals uniquely contribute to the community’s vision for a sustainable, health-promoting and equitable local food system so that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious foods. 

The effort to capture the profiles of these integral community members was initiated as part of the Archuleta Food System Summit that took place April 9. Today, we would like to share the story of Lois and Allan Higgins, who shared this narrative with us:

“In the early 1980s, Allan and Lois Higgins started raising beef in Colorado using a conventional program. After learning how much healthier finishing animals on grass is for the animals themselves, for the consumer and for the environment, we became committed to providing grass finished beef to our family and friends. In 2003, we launched the GrassRoots label in an effort to supply our beef and lamb (and now chicken, pork and duck) on a larger scale throughout the country.

“GrassRoots meat uses strict animal husbandry guidelines that focus on the humane treatment of animals raised in a healthy environment where they are allowed to mature naturally. We utilize pasture rotation, controlled grazing, natural fertilization and water source management — a low energy, environmentally sound approach to raising cattle. As a result, our animals yield tender, great tasting and nutritious meat.

“Many folks in the meat industry use the term ‘grass fed’ to describe their meat, but nearly all cattle and sheep are fed grass early on in their lives. Our animals are distinguished by the fact that they are not only raised on grass, they are finished on grass, with no supplemental grain. We harvest young, finished lambs directly off pasture, our cattle are on pasture a minimum of 20 to 22 months. Until a beef reaches 20 to 22 months of age, the rich yellow fat of the grass-finished meat has not reached its maximum nutrient potentials and flavor. One of the many problems in the commodity industry today is that producers are trying to fatten the animals (with grain) as quickly as possible and they use hormones to speed up the process. Taking longer to finish the animals on grass costs the producer more, but we think that you will agree that the extra cost is well worth the price in terms of health benefits and the quality of the meat.”

For more information about the local food heroes and Healthy Archuleta, please contact us at fsfearchuleta@gmail.com, call (401) 206-4579 or visit https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org/.

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