One of the emphases of Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food” was on unprocessed foods. The reason for this are the as-yet unknown factors in the Western diet that lead to the various diseases of modern civilization. As I suffer, after one fashion or another, from most of those diseases I’m interested in delaying or halting those problems myself. One of the things I’ve been trying to do is locate suppliers of grass fed meats, milk, eggs, butter and cheese.

One resource that Michael Pollan recommended is the “Eat Wild” site. This is a good site, which has a page on which you can find Georgia farms that sell their products into the local markets. Using the map, you can find, for example, Country Gardens Farms and Nursery in Newnan, GA. This farm will take orders to be delivered to the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market (open on Saturdays). Their prices are competitive, and the farm is nearby.

It isn’t just nearby farms that affect the availability of produce in the Atlanta area. South of Atlanta proper and close to the Alabama border is White Oak Pastures, of Bluffton GA. White Oak sells grass fed ground beef to Whole Foods and also to Publix. I haven’t seen the beef at Whole Foods, and I haven’t seen it at any Publix in Snellville. I have seen it at the Publix in the Prado, in Sandy Springs GA. Cost for a pound of White Oak ground beef there is $7.00 a pound. Correction: I’ve found two kinds of grass fed beef at the Publix on the corner of Ronald Reagan and 124, in Snellville.

This lack of product also affects suppliers such as Organic Valley. If you look them up, they supposedly supply Publix too, but typically the closest I can get to their pastured eggs and pastured butter are Organic Valley organic egg whites. Availability just isn’t there. To note, the Eat Wild site thinks highly of Kerrygold butter (Irish cows evidently are largely grass fed). Kerrygold butter can be found in most Publix supermarkets. Presumably, the same benefits apply to the Kerrygold cheeses as well.

For those of us in Snellville, the upcoming Snellville Farmer’s Market will offer some access to a good local farm. On the Eat Wild map, there are five push pins west of Atlanta. The third of these, smack in the middle of the group of five, is Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton GA. They sell grass fed beef, chickens, and eggs. If you look in the right place on their web site, you can see that they plan to attend the Snellville market on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

Interesting online suppliers of grass fed beef include Hearst Ranch and Slanker’s Grass Fed Meats. Heart is a little more conservative while I find Slanker’s to be entertaining in their zeal. Slanker’s though, has some real cooking tips and therefore worth a browse.

Farm Burger’s motto appears to be simplicity. Take a good idea, and execute. Ignore the frills, go for the gusto. In this case the driving force is well sourced meat, locally grown, featuring as little processing as possible. The virtues of grass fed beef are becoming better known: cows fed a diet of corn have a relatively poor fat and nutrient profile, heavy in omega-6 fatty acids. Cows feed grass have a more diverse fat and nutrient profile. The butter in particular from pastured animals is superior.

Farm Burger is also a popular place (reviews here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), but for once, it’s a popular place within reasonable reach of Snellville. Of course, the mainstream critics and a whole 80 readers (in a greater metropolitan area of 5.5 million) are already bored of the phenomenon, of actually being forced to eat a locally sourced burger. Must be a hard life, being forced to eat excellent, healthy food.

I’ve been trying to go there a while, to get my family to go, but my wife has had a lingering illness for weeks. This time I had missed a meal to give blood to the physicians, was running low on calories and needing to eat. So of course the most sane solution was to dive down Clairmont Road and head into Decatur, and fix this hunger of mine.

Farm Burger is housed in the same building as Watershed, carved out of the same former gas station. I’d been to Watershed, and so this restaurant was going to be easy to find. Of course, the parking lot was packed. On a side street a couple blocks away, I found parking, and walked to the eatery.

Inside, there is a lot of wood, a lot of blue steel chairs, and a line in which you make your order. Seating is along the edge of the restaurant. There are numbered burgers and build your own. There seems to be a train of thought (Cliff Bostock, iirc) that a burger as subtle as this one shouldn’t be drowned in rich tasting extras. That was certainly also my approach when I bought a burger. Arugula, tomato, red onion, some jalapenos, a slice of swiss. I bought the large salad, a bit expensive at $7.00 but more accessible to a diabetic than fries.

I’m given a glass, I find a place to sit. No water, so I head up to the drinks and they’re taking away the water container. No problem, I’m told. “We’ll get you a bottle, take it to your table.” It wasn’t soon before I had this oversized milk bottle full of H2O. Yes, very impressed.

Soon after the salad and the burger came. The burger was mostly pink inside. I’d call it medium more than anything else. The texture of the meat was surprisingly smooth, almost creamy. I’d compare it to the Kobe burger at Summit’s, but it didn’t achieve this texture through huge amounts of fat. I suspect it’s the effect of being freshly ground. The effect is subtle, and those critics that said “don’t drown this burger in too much stuff” are dead on.

The salad was tender, at least 2 cups of greens, and pretty well covered in a dressing with bits of cheese in it. There were bits of onion, carrot and celery in it, and at least one garlic clove.

Other notes: I asked about the size of the burger and the amount of fat in it. I was told the burger was between 5.6 and 5.8 ounces in weight, and over 93% fat free.

Verdict: No frills. Excellent burger. Diabetic friendly. Staff rocks. Highly recommended.

Farm Burger
4108 W. Ponce de Leon Ave.
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 378-5077

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