September 30th, 2010
11:45 AM ET
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Wes Little is a CNN Editor/Producer based in Atlanta.

"They're turning over all the land which is what people do with machines, but you know, we do it with pigs," Jared Pickard tells me as a few small black pigs wander out of the woods on Fowler Farms outside Athens, Georgia. They are followed by a few larger red ones. They give me a sniff and move on.

Jared is a farmer working under the direction of Jason Mann at Moonshine Meats, a co-op to which Fowler Farms belongs. A year ago he quit his job as a trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, after getting more and more heavily involved in the burgeoning local foods scene in Brooklyn.

After deciding to pursue agriculture full time, upon recommendation of his local butcher he contacted Jason Mann about an apprenticeship with his farm operation in Athens, Georgia.

Pickard says, "Finding an apprenticeship on a farm is actually a very easy thing to accomplish, but finding one with such an intimate relationship to its own restaurant is a bit more unique". He moved from New York to Georgia to work with Mann's farming group, which also operates a restaurant - Farm 255 in Athens.

The "farm to table" movement involves restaurants seeking a stronger relationship with the source of their food: the farms. Often this means seeking out distributors who source their produce locally, sending their chefs to farmers markets, and buying some fruits and vegetables directly from local farms or possibly an on-site garden. Some are taking it further by running their own farms.

Jason Mann's Farm 255 is such an operation - additionally running Moonshine Meats and Full Moon Farms. After several years Mann was feeling that he needed some help with restaurant operations and sought out restaurateur George Frangos, to help him "fix some holes." Mann was also sitting on the concept for a new restaurant - Farm Burger.

Frangos told Mann it was time to move on the idea, and that he would make it happen. They recruited Terry Koval, an Atlanta chef with a background in other sustainable farming-centric restaurants to design their menu.

Farm to table restaurants of varying commitment and quality are increasingly easy to find across the country, but most are higher-end establishments. Frangos says, "A lot of times farm to table is defined as a more fine dining experience - you have to go out and it's an occasion and it's evening. We're doing that but in an everyday burger joint experience at Farm Burger."

He continued, "We're very conscious of our price point, our basic burger starts at $6, you can come in and get a lunch combo for $8. You can come in here for your lunch and get a burger. For what we're serving, and the cost that go into it, that’s maybe $2 more than McDonalds' Angus combo. I don’t think were in the stratosphere of price points; that was important to us."

So what do the customers think? Most of the patrons I spoke with thought that the ethics were laudable and that the burgers were delicious. Some people do seek out - or only eat - grass fed beef and for them a restaurant like Farm Burger is a godsend. But the consensus seemed to be that most customers appreciated the ethics - as long as they are wrapped in a juicy patty on a golden bun.

Jason Mann sees Farm Burger's methods as the beginnings of a real alternative to industrial agriculture. He says, "If most folks really saw how their food was produced, they would not be able to bear the true costs of the eggs that they get at their local big box store, they wouldn’t feel good about eating the pork or beef that’s 99 cents a pound. I think farm to table is a nice microscope into the other side and what it possibly could be."

And he hopes Farm Burger as a model can be a catalyst that shows other farmers what is possible. "Farm Burger was created to hopefully inspire through market opportunities new producers, producers that are confined and struggle with typical market commodity beef prices and the whimsical nature of them to go to a grass based system and to see their beef be consumed and enjoyed locally."

He continues, "I really believe that pasture based animal systems is the future of beef in America and that we can only go on the way we are going for so much longer."

Previously - Meet "Enviropig," a genetically modified farm animal that may someday make it to your local supermarket

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Filed under: Bite • Burgers • Business and Farming News • Casual • Dishes • Eatocracy Week • Environment • Farms • Fast Food • Local Food • News • Restaurants • Sustainability


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soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Steve Giovanna

    I wish there was a Farm Burger restaurant in Virginia. We would love to go out to a healthy restaurant that serves grass fed beef, local organic vegetables, etc. We have been buying our ground beef from http://tendergrassfarm.com/ and it makes the best hamburgers. Their beef isn't like some of the other grass fed beef farms we have bought from before. it doesn't have that fishy smell, it tastes great and is very tender. Buying aged grass fed beef is the key, grass fed beef is lean as chicken so it is leaner and it needs more time. Believe me, we have had our share of bad experiences, but we didn't give up. Of course you need to know how to cook it. You can't cook it like the extra fatty grain fed beef. The good thing about the farm we buy from is they deliver to our door so we don't have to drive 100 miles round trip to the country to pick up the beef. Especially with high gas prices it is more sustainable to click, buy and have them drop it off since UPS is coming down my street anyways.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Reply
  2. Veggie in Atlanta

    I love Farm Burger and I am vegetarian. They have delicious veggie burgers too and I feel good about bringing my meat eating friends there. I feel that places like this are only positive. They take the mass production out of the equation and try to be more local, more healthy, more humane and more tasty all the way around.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  3. MrT

    You heard da man-FOOLS!

    October 4, 2010 at 7:31 pm | Reply
  4. EAE

    What is wrong with you all? This is an article about BURGERS, not an invitation to get into politics or a debate about the treatment of animals... it's just a simple article about BURGERS!! you don't see me reading a food article about vegetable soup and complaining about the lack of abused-animal in the recipe, or how McCain/Obama would be a better president. Seriously people. Stop being such FOOLS.

    October 4, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Reply
  5. Mark in the Heartland

    I only eat organic food. The inorganic variety seems to taste like rocks and is hard to chew.
    However, I do take my drinks on the rocks.....

    To Meat Is Murder – I am not sure what a PC pis is, but perhaps your brain has been deprived of meat protein for too long.

    October 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Reply
  6. Buckeye Jim

    If you think what is done to farm animals is bad, consider what is done to farm plants.
    Take bread for example, we cut off the reproductive organs of the wheat, grind them up, mix in some
    live yeast and kill the yeast by roasting it alive.
    Eat natural, rocks and water, rocks and water.

    October 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Reply
    • Jesse

      You forgot all the animals and insects killed tilling the soil and harvesting.

      October 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Reply
      • Hamburglar@Jesse

        We gave them all a 2 weeks eviction notice. Not my fault they can't read English!

        October 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  7. CaptionPolice

    Hey CNN – don't you really mean "empathize" rather than "emphasize" in the caption for image 6? C'mon, folks, you're supposed to be the pros of prose!

    October 4, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  8. Don

    This is how they do it in Europe. I've spend some vacations in Italy and the Italian's don't constantly stuff themselves with red meat on a daily basis as so many do in this country. Beef is a treat for special occasions, and grass fed beef tastes a whole lot better than the crap we get at the grocery store. It's too bad most of us have no idea what good beef , pork and chicken actually taste like. I'm glad we got a chance to eat some good salmon. Our grandchildren will never know what that tasted like. I'd be willing to pay more money to get some good grass fed beef to make a burger with. I know there's some good organic farms maybe 60 miles from where I live where I could go and get some. I think it would be better for them to deliver their goods to the city, as opposed to everyone driving to their farm one by one in hundreds of cars.

    October 3, 2010 at 8:48 pm | Reply
    • Justin

      local food is a novelty. as time drags on it will have to become a reality. However, as long the processed stuff is loaded up with fat, sugar, and salt, eating local will be relegated to driving our collective fatasses to the closest burger king.

      October 3, 2010 at 9:25 pm | Reply
  9. greorge W. Bush

    Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck don't eat any meat! They just eat french fries and donuts and twinkies

    October 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  10. tha_jakeman

    murder tastes good...:)

    October 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm | Reply
  11. Don

    The cheeseburger was invented in Rochester New York.

    October 2, 2010 at 10:04 pm | Reply
  12. Tom

    Humans evolved to eat meat as a necessary source of nutrition for people on the move.

    Case closed.

    October 2, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  13. DontGetIt

    KFC has a new low carb burger. they use 2 chicken patties as buns, and you can get it with bacon and cheese!!! mmmmm.

    October 2, 2010 at 9:27 am | Reply
  14. vir2al8e

    IN AN' OUT; IN AN' OUT; THAT'S WHAT A HAMBURGER'S ALL ABOUT!!!!
    It's a west coast legend. MMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 2, 2010 at 6:51 am | Reply
    • Don

      They're good but not up to East Coast standards. The fries are over the top though.

      October 2, 2010 at 10:05 pm | Reply
    • Don

      I DON'T EAT MEAT. (Randall Wilson, 8th grade)

      October 2, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Reply
      • Jesse

        LA LA LA, I AM NOT LISTENING TO YOU!!!

        October 4, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Reply
  15. bill clinton

    I much prefer a niece piece of tuna along side a quality cigar.

    October 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  16. Stevo

    BACON

    October 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Reply
    • Jesse

      The other tasty murder, I mean meat.

      October 4, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  17. BigBen

    It's a good idea, but you can't do 100% local all the time. The growing season for produce isn't 365 days a year. During the winter months the only option as far as getting produce is to buy from an area where it is the growing season at that time.

    October 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Jesse

      So, what, they should stop trying is your suggestion?

      October 4, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Reply
  18. The_Mick

    I went through a tight-money period and didn't get any fast food burgers, making and frying/grilling my own. Now I'm not thrilled with the taste of the fast-food burgers. I moisten each pound of lean (about 90%) ground beef by cutting up two pieces of white or wheat bread into 1/4" cubes, lightly soak them with 4 tbsp milk to make a panade [keeps the moisture in and the meat from getting tough] and mix that in with the ground beef along with an egg, 2 tsp dry Italian seasoning [or 1 tsp each of thyme and oregano], 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion flakes, 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Kicking it up with a tsp Cajun seasoning or a pinch of cayenne pepper is optional. Mix thoroughly then pat into four to five "1/4 pounders" and fry with minimal oil or grill on a medium-low heat for about 3-4 min. per side until an instant read thermometer reads 160F.

    October 1, 2010 at 3:54 am | Reply
    • steelcobra

      You haven't taken the next step and started grinding your own cuts? It's so much better – and safer – that way.

      October 1, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  19. Alex

    Look, Meat is Murder, if you read this guy's blog, a documentation of every part of the farming process, the animals are raised and cared for and loved. When it's time for slaughter they transport them with care, kill them instantly, and a butcher skillfully carves the animal. It involves being in tune with and caring for the earth - plants and animals - in a way that most people will never be or do.

    October 1, 2010 at 12:29 am | Reply
    • Jesse

      Meat is murder doesn't care, because when it is pointed out that these folks have a healthy more natural and humane approach. Meat is murders come back is ehy aren't you stopping all those other people who aren't like you and don't follow the same approach you do, and think like you, and which you don't have control over. Meat is murder is a fanatic, they will use straw man arguements and ignore facts that disprove their predetermined conclusion and think that anyone who doesn't agree with them is wrong and evil. It's like dealing with a child only not as rational.

      October 4, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  20. Moo

    After reading Meat is murder's rant, I ran out and bought a juicy steak. If he/she rants again, I'll buy two.
    Thank you, MiM, for spurring me on to a delicious dinner. Without you, I might have cooked up the rest of the spaghetti and have been bored to tears

    September 30, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Reply
  21. MJB

    Haven't had a good hamburger since the 50s and 60s. All the stuff they eat and the injections certainly taint the flavor.

    September 30, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Reply
  22. Meat is Burger

    mmmmmm.ground cows. I don't care how they are "transported". as long as they ground up and placed on a bun. extra ketchup. Prove to me that Obama was born in America, and I'll become a veggie-tarian. Not gonna happen. Show me his birth certificate. John McCain would've made a better president. His teeth are yellower.probably from eating tasty ground yellow cows.

    September 30, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Reply
    • Meat is Ok on Some Occasions

      http://www.factcheck.org/elections-2008/born_in_the_usa.html

      Now show me proof of your high school diploma. Oh, wait.

      October 1, 2010 at 2:46 am | Reply
      • Meat is burger

        here is the proof:
        http://www.yourmom.com

        October 1, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Reply
    • DontGetIt

      Genius!!! The cow ate his birth certificate, but that's not really relevant to this story. McCain has decided to become a vegetarian to win more votes. He's a jellyfish of a man....

      October 2, 2010 at 9:25 am | Reply
    • brad

      you are literally one of the dumbest people I've encountered on this site.

      October 4, 2010 at 9:16 am | Reply
  23. parkcitybrian

    after watching movies like "food, inc" and seeing "downer cattle (ones that cannot stand on their own) being forklifted into the slaughterhouse as well as chickens confined to an area of 8×11" for their entire lifespan...i decided to only buy beef and poultry items at "whole foods" (fortunately there is one here in park city, utah) although the price is relatively high. i cannot imagine purchasing these products at a supermarket chain store. and i am hardly the "tree hugger" kind of person.

    September 30, 2010 at 5:26 pm | Reply
    • Meat is murder

      Have you noticed how often the downer cows in those videos are white with black spots? Those are dairy cows that are too old to be productive. So they are slaughtered for low-grade meat that goes into prepared foods such as meat pies,taco fillings, preformed burger patties (their meat is unsuitable for any whole-meat use). They are "downers" for a reason: weak and brittle bones. The way the dairy industry works is that cows are impregnated, their calves taken away (males are sometimes killed outright, females to be raised to be milkers), they are milked until they begin to dry up, and they are impregnated again, and the cycle continues. Their bodies deteriorate, especially their bones. When they are roughly transported to feedlots or slaughterhouses, they suffer stress fractures of the pelvis, legs, or vertebrae. Those downer cows CANNOT walk, and yet they are shocked with electric prods, have water jets forced down their noses, or they are pushed around with forklifts. And what is the ultimate destination of the food products made from the carcasses from these dying cows? School lunch programs, institutions such as hospitals, chain restaurants. Places that buy in bulk.

      You want to eat that? You want your children or you granny in the nursing home to eat that?

      October 1, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Reply
      • Bull

        So we won't eat the bones you twinkie.

        October 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Reply
      • Matthew

        @ Meat is murder

        Thank you for your assumption. Do you have any proof? Did you even watch the video? The cows were brown with white faces. My guess would be polled herefords. Cows used for milk production are holsteins. They look nothing alike. Why don't you try reading something other then vegetarian/vegan blogs for your information?

        Oh and I believe this is what they call "Getting owned."

        October 4, 2010 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  24. richard

    I read the article and watched the video but am still not sure where this restuarant is located. HELP!!!!!!!!

    September 30, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Reply
    • tharris19

      Farm Burger is at 401b W. Ponce De Leon in downtown Decatur, Georgia.

      September 30, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  25. t-bear

    I am a meat-eater, beef, chicken, fish, lamb, whatever. That being said I am certainly not opposed to reducing the amount of meat in my diet, or looking for more humanitarian and organic options when choosing meat. I do get frustrated when people spout angry rhetoric and make caustic comments about meat being murder, and insinuating that I am a monster for making a conscious choice to eat meat. Educate people on alternatives, don't attack them for their choices.

    September 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  26. BessieBurger

    Quite an interesting concept. Though I'm not someone who spends much time thinking about where my food comes from, I appreciate the fact that there are some people who do. And if those people are willing to work hard to change a broken system for the benefit of us all, then the least we can do is in turn support them. Next time I'm in Athens, GA I'm getting myself a Farm Burger.

    L. Anko

    September 30, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Reply
    • Frank

      Farmburger is located in Decatur, not in Athens :-)

      October 2, 2010 at 10:31 am | Reply
  27. imhighoncooking.com

    @meatismurder–we hand raised all of these animals, and transported them with the greatest of care. they lived healthy, stress free lives on fresh green pasture. i tell stories and report news on all of these animals on a daily basis at http://www.imhighoncooking.com please do come by and learn the truth about how these animals are raised.
    thank you kindly,
    jared

    September 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Reply
    • llbrown

      Thank you! People really are out of touch with where their food comes from. Please continue to raise the level of the quality of life for our animals and the quality of the food we feed our families!

      September 30, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • Meat is murder

      "Transported with the greatest of care..." on a stock truck. To a slaughterhouse. where they were treated just like all of the other animals not raised by you. That is my point. If you really care about the welfare of food animals, work to change the lives of ALL of them, from birth to dismemberment.

      September 30, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Reply
      • Meat is good

        @Meat is murder - sounds like Jared is taking steps to make things better. Why don't you tell us all what you've been working to do?

        September 30, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Reply
  28. Truth

    This is a thread about burgers. Kindly keep you vegan panty twisting to yourself.

    September 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Marge

      Ezactly!!!

      September 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Reply
  29. Meat is murder

    You can raise PC pis and cattle, but the cast majority of these animals are still transported (inhumanely) long distances to extremely inhumane, factory-style slaughterhouses. A few small farmers may slaughter their own pigs, but for the most part that designer meat you are buying came from an animal that was mightily abused in its last days of life.

    September 30, 2010 at 12:36 pm | Reply
    • Tasty

      Yes, tasty, juicy, delicious murder.

      September 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm | Reply
      • BQsauce

        Yeah, seriously... don't care. Delicious beef and bacon.

        September 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Reply
    • Brian Potter

      I have to completely disagree. Death in most slaughter houses is done as humanely as possible. Most cattle are run down a chute in a line which is a normal herding instinct. Death is by a bolt sized projectile shot into the back of their head by a large air gun. Swift and humane and the animals are never scared and never know what is coming.

      October 1, 2010 at 9:59 am | Reply
    • The Truth

      The truth is, abuse makes animals taste better. Yelling, screaming, electric prods, these things motivate the cow to taste as good as they possibly can. I am not alone in wishing that the veal parmagiana I eat could have been suplexed and told that its mother abandoned it before it reaches my plate. Abuse is a necessary evil, and thats The Truth.

      October 3, 2010 at 8:58 pm | Reply
    • Natch

      Your lack of spell check (and atrocious spelling) is annoying, but thankfully not inhumane. Enjoy your tofu!!

      October 4, 2010 at 7:48 am | Reply
    • Jesse

      Humans drive and ride in vehicles to get from place to place. What could be more humane than transporting cattle in vehicles. What about the in humane way they treat the carcass, hanging it on a hook and freezing it how terrible. I suppose you would like cattle to be force marched over rugged terrain like in a cattle drive. Do you hate all life or just your own?

      October 4, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Reply
      • Matthew

        @Jesse
        Not that I agree with the OP. But you sound like a moron. Do you honestly think that driving in a car is like riding in a cargo container. Its more like the Jews being stuffed into train cars and driven to their deaths. Don't be and idiot.

        I love my meat, and I personally try to buy locally when ever I can. I do think that grass fed cows and humanely raised pigs taste much better. It just has a richer taste. Maybe less hormones and less terror in their lives make them juicer? Buy one of the same cuts of meat from a local (humane) source, and one from a grocery store. You will see a big difference!

        October 4, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Reply

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