Ethical farmer Harding Nelson’s passion is producing meat in a manner that is not only good for consumers, but also good for his animals and the environment.
Nelson finds that many people avoid meat, because they don’t have an appetite for the inhumane treatment of animals, and the negative effects of large-scale farming on the environment.
“People watch a PETA video and see the horrific conditions the animals are living in, and they ask what’s the alternative. We’re the alternative. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the animals, and the environment in which we all share," Nelson said.
Harding owns Nelson Farms, in the heart of Prescott-Russell near Ottawa. His 70 cattle, numerous pigs, chickens, and turkeys live on acreage that allows them to roam freely.
We feel that free range is healthier for the animals
Nelson’s cows roam on pasture most of the year, grazing on native grass. “The animals anxiety levels are much lower because they’re not penned up in a feed lot where there are 500 cows on four acres," Nelson said.
Instead of being cooped up in a cage inside a dark barn, the pigs and poultry enjoy sunlight and feed free of hormones and antibiotics. Unnatural diets and crowded cages take a huge toll on the animals’ mental and physical well-being.
Confined farm animals are more susceptible to bacteria and viruses leading to disease. "When you put any animal in a confined space as we’ve seen with COVID-19, disease and parasites spread,” Nelson said.
Animals with less stress, tend to have stronger immune systems. Stress and immune function in cattle.
Free range is healthier for people
Grass-fed meat is much higher in protein, vitamins, and healthy acids than industrial produced meat. Three ounces of free-range meat will give you about 18 grams worth of protein.
Free range animal meat has fewer calories, healthier fats, it’s rich in minerals and lower in bad cholesterol. You’re not eating chicken dipped in chlorine baths or beef packed with hormones. Animals free of antibiotics are more nutritious.
“One way of avoiding meat that contains hormones and antibiotics is to buy protein from a reputable small farmer who values quality over profit," Nelson said.
Healthier for the environment
On the farm, the animals help the eco-system by foraging, preying on insects, producing natural fertilizer, and eating leftover crops.
Meat used in farm-to-table recipes travels only a short distance. Small operations such as Nelson Farms have a much smaller environmental footprint.
Nelson takes pride in his animals. He takes pride in his customer service. He’s built a reputation for quality that has grown exponentially. During the pandemic customers have told Nelson they want a butcher shop in their freezer.
“Business increased because of supply chain issues. I take the cow to the abattoir and deliver it right to the customer without imposing limits.”
Nelson wants customers to know that his small farm is a better alternative to large-scale factory farming.
He feels that it is an option that is healthier for the animals, and healthier for the environment.
You can contact Nelson Farms at (613) 292-9065 or visit: www.nelsonfarms.ca