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Hi, I'm Paul Sloth

I work in Outpost’s marketing department. I like to use what skills I have to spread the word about Outpost Natural Foods. On the greatest of days, this involves trudging through a farm talking with one of our many vendors. On really good days, this...
Paul Sloth

Lessons from a farmer

In the Aisles
By Paul Sloth on June 6, 2012

It feels like I’ve been chasing butterflies all spring. I don’t recall seeing so many at this time of year. Maybe I just wasn’t as into butterflies before now. Every season, it’s something new and every season the weather plays some kind of roll in whatever new hobby I decide to take up. I know at this point in time, the weather has been good for butterfly watching. 

Fortunately for me, my livelihood doesn’t depend on the weather. So I can look up at the sky and condemn the clouds or damn the snow. I can relish warmer days or lament too much or too little rain. Whatever the weather, I’ll get by. Not Altfrid Krusenbaum.

He watches the skies from his farm in rural Walworth County and crosses his fingers. You see his family’s livelihood does depend on the weather. As a dairy farmer, Altfrid monitors the weather because his herd of 153 cows depends on him. He in turn, depends on them. Altfrid and his family are among the 1,600 farm families that make up the Organic Valley cooperative.

When discussing an operation like Krusen Grass Farms, the Krusenbaums’ 340-acre, organic grazing dairy, it’s easy to fall back on words like traditional or conventional to discuss the opposite of what Altfrid and his family do. Then it dawns on you, this is what farming in Wisconsin used to look like. This is how Organic Valley helped to change the agricultural landscape.

During a recent visit to Krusen Grass Farms, Altfrid told us that it’s been a dry spring so far this year, at least during the months that count. This is something you might be thankful for, but for a farmer like Altfrid, it’s not a good thing. He grows the majority of his forage crop in the months of May and June. This will sustain his herd throughout the winter months, when they can’t be out grazing, which they are doing right now.

This is the life of a farmer, something I know I often take for granted. It’s easy to pay lip service to an idea — the idea that we know where our food comes from. Somehow, it doesn’t seem enough to simply know where your food comes from.

Until you walk with a farmer through his or her operation, you don’t have a really good sense of just what it takes to produce the food we eat or in this case drink. Ask Altfrid or any other farmer and they’ll be glad to tell you.

So, while I’m out chasing butterflies and worrying about whether rain is going to ruin my weekend cook out, Altfrid and Sue Krusenbaum are working day and night to make sure their cows are fed and milked and their land is managed and cared for in a sustainable way.

A lot of farmers are like this. On occasion, they’ll take time out of their busy day to show you around their farm and give you a better appreciation of what it means to know where your food comes from. Every now and then, it’s good to be reminded.


Glad to know where our food comes from. We've been long-time members of the Outpost and shop almost exclusively there. I love the concern that the Outpost places on ensuring our food is grown organically and that our cows are grass fed and our chickens cage-free. Would you please do a story on the conditions the human beings are in that help prepare our food? I recommend starting with Palermo's. Posted by: Pablo M | August 3 at 12:21 PM

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