The Hitzfield family knows firsthand the benefits of sustainable growing methods and nutrient-dense foods.
It was the late 1990s when Beth, mother to the seven sons, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. But dependence on a lifetime of medicine regimens didn’t seem appealing, so Beth set out to see if she could reduce her prescription needs by improving her diet.
That kind of change was more than a shopping list addendum for Beth, whose husband Lee had been a row-crop and confinement hog farmer for over 20 years, and producing livestock by the truckload for industry giants like Tyson and IBP. Lee and Beth changed their entire farm when they changed her diet. The corn and soybean fields were converted to pasture-based, chemical-free grazing pastures, and the confinement barns were retired.
Not long after making the switch, though, Beth began to see a difference in her health. “She was able to eliminate all of her prescribed medication, and while she continues to have to watch her diet closely, she is a huge testimony to what can happen just by changing your food choices,” says Brooks, the fifth Hitzfield son and head of customer care at the family farm.
A few years after becoming 100% pasture-based, the Hitzfields officially launched Seven Sons Farms in 2000. On the 550 acres that make up the operation, the family (including Lee, Beth and, yes, all seven of their boys as well as several part-time staffers) continues its mission of raising the highest-quality grass-fed beef, pastured pork and eggs possible, all through GMO- and chemical-free methods.
But even though the family had been intrepid risk-takers 18 years ago, today they find the industry following them. One of Seven Sons’ biggest challenges in recent years, Brooks says, has become differentiating its food from products made by the same industrial farming practices, but cloaked behind clever marketing claims.
“It’s harder than it was ten years ago – back then you didn’t have big national brands trying to greenwash any sort of marketing or label claims,” he says. “A lot of what you’ll find in a big grocery that’s labeled grass-fed was either imported or was finished in feedlots. So the true grass-fed farms like ours have to keep trying to differentiate ourselves from that.”
Now in their eighteenth year, Seven Sons has built a retail, pickup and delivery presence throughout Indiana and neighboring states. And, the Hitzfields remain as committed to the small family farm model as they were on day one.
“The closer you get to your food, the more you can establish trust and have a relationship with whoever grew it,” Brooks points out. “Being able to do things like ask questions about a farm’s product – which you can do on Market Wagon – is something you can’t do when you’re shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.”
Check out Seven Sons’ responsibly raised, pasture-based products here on Market Wagon.