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Steamed bonemeal has been a staple for LaBudde for many years. What is it? If you garden you probably have it in your favorite natural fertilizer or potting mix. Bonemeal is a natural source of calcium and phosphorus. It, as its name suggests, comes from animal bones. In our case it comes from beef cattle bones left after beef broth is made.

Over the decades as we get busier and busier, home cooks now buy soups and broths prepackaged in stores. Our grandmothers spent hours boiling soup bones and leftovers from Sunday roasts to make their beef broth, condensing the wonderful flavor over a slow boil into delicious soup. Now we stop at the local grocery store and pick up a can of our favorite beef barley soup or grab some broth to make our own quick soup.

So what do you do with hundreds of tons of bones left over? Let’s dry them and grind them. Not only does it get used heavily in organic gardening and farming, bonemeal can be used as a natural source of calcium in dog and cat food diets. This versatile ingredient is such a wonderful way byproducts can benefit the ecosystem of today’s agriculture.

Organic farming is what most of today’s consumers automatically consider sustainable. In reality the organic system is dependent on many conventional systems supplying the fertilizers that are certified for use in organics. The products must go through a certification process proving nothing harmful is used or added during production.

The dictionary defines ORGANIC as “of, relating to, or derived from living matter”. What a great system that material left from producing a nice vegetable beef soup can be utilized to grow a gorgeous rose bush or vegetables that go into the next batch of soup. Sustainability is naturally built into modern agriculture. Companies and farms have been working together to research and develop ways to utilize these pieces of the puzzle of the food system.

Organic does not automatically mean healthier. It is a method of production. It means that only natural and not synthetic aids are used in production. Fertilizers are still allowed and pesticides are still allowed, but only specific kinds that have been approved by the Organic officials. In this case, bonemeal is utilized as a natural way to boost calcium and phosphorus in the soil or to possibly adjust the pH of the soil as needed to improve the yield.

Organic isn’t necessarily the most sustainable option. As I have shown with this blog, many conventional feed byproducts add to the sustainability of conventional agriculture, making for less waste. Options are such a vital part of the food system and both organic and conventional farms strive to produce the most nutritious, safe food they can.