DISCLAIMER: No, I wasn't paid for this post, I'm just an impressed tourist. Bear with me, this isn't supposed to be a commercial...
|(Cameras weren't allowed; I snapped this of the tour bus with my phone before we boarded, then it went in my purse!)|
I was really impressed with what the company calls "vertical integration" but I call a form of self-sufficiency, and how it relates to homesteading. Almost all of the food products they sell at their restaurants and in the grocery section of their stores are processed or manufactured by the company. They own a huge dairy herd, grow alfalfa and corn to feed those cows, and process the milk on site, even to manufacturing plastic jugs for the milk and cartons for the ice cream. Ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and more are made from the milk. They also have a bakery division which produces the buns and bread used by the restaurants and sold in the stores. They own their own trucks to transport the items to their stores. And those hamburgers? Although it wasn't mentioned, I'm guessing that the bull calves are raised for that purpose.
I compared this family-owned company to my homestead, where we try to produce what we need from start to finish. We minimize waste as much as possible, using and reusing every little bit of something that we can. The reason Braum's manufactures milk jugs is quality control, and that's the reason I do many things myself too - I want to know what's in the food I cook, and in my cleaning products and so on. I'd also like to know what's in the feed my animals consume. We're still tied to the feed store, but I'm learning to produce more feed for my livestock.
What products do we need and use that we could be making ourselves? Even if there is an initial cost to do so, to buy some kind of equipment that might be needed, could we make something for less money or of a better quality?
The tour made me think, perhaps it will jumpstart your thinking too.
(If you are interested in taking the Braum's Family Farm tour, you can go to their website for more information. The tour is free, but you must register in advance.)
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a