Adapting to Change

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly altered the habits and procedures that we were formerly used to, here in America, and around the world.   For most of us, our priorities today look very different than they did just a few weeks ago.
Here, at Gitto Farm and Kitchen, we were required to quickly adapt to the changes that were taking place in supply chain logistics for the food items that we produce. Many of our customers found themselves with bare shelves, but were able to call on us to fill some of the large void that happened, as a result of the corona virus scare. Production of our tortilla products is slowly getting back to normal, and we are pleased that we were able to fill the needs of our customers, in a timely manner.
On another front, we were notified that the 2020 Outdoor season for the Dane County Farmers Market, which was scheduled to begin on April 11th, would not be opening on schedule.  The following is the latest information concerning this venue for our business…
“At this time, the State of Wisconsin has cancelled all events on the Capitol Square in Madison for the current time and our Wednesday Market is under similar restrictions. We expect to open on the Capitol Square when the restrictions are discontinued, and the State gives us permission to open. We do not know how long we will be closed, as no one knows how long the outbreak will last. We do not think that the Market will be closed for the entire 2020 season.”  
With this situation in mind, we are in the process of also adapting to this new challenge of providing our food products to our Farmer’s Market clients.  We are happy to be able to offer selected food items through an alternative venue called “WhatsGood” which the Dane County Farmers Market has arranged.   The following link will serve to provide you with all the pertinent details with regard to setting up an account, ordering,  and picking up your pre-ordered foods.
https://dcfm.org/markets/local-food-pick-up
Please NOTE: THEY HAVE ASSIGNED PICK-UPS BASED UPON THE FIRST LETTER OF YOUR FIRST NAME (not Last Name)
You may also order our tortillas and selected meat products via our E-commerce store on our website… https://gittofarm.com/our-products/
The tortillas may be shipped to your location by the U.S. Postal Service.  However, we are unable to ship our refrigerated meat products.  Those items must be picked up at our farm location, if ordered online through our website.  So, with regard to the meat products, it may be a better option to order those items through the WhatsGood venue, for the time being.
We also want you to know that we continue to follow all food safety guidelines in the production of all our products.  Our commercial, organically inspected and certified kitchen is operated consistently with the aim of providing a safe and healthy food supply to our customers. As always, we observe sanitary guidelines for the washing of hands, the use of proper hair and beard nets, latex gloves, and the cleaning and sanitizing of the production equipment in our kitchen.
Offered below, is some information from the CDC regarding Food Safety concerns and the Corona Virus that should help answer questions as to the transmission of the virus.
Food Safety and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
“Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food. Before preparing or eating food, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. Throughout the day, wash your hands after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or going to the bathroom.
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures.
You should always handle and prepare food safely, including keeping raw meat separate from other foods, refrigerating perishable foods, and cooking meat to the right temperature to kill harmful germs. See CDC’s Food Safety site for more information.”
Finally, we at Gitto Farm and Kitchen will strive more than ever to apply our Christian values of courtesy, honesty, integrity, and reliability, in the days ahead. These principles will guide us in caring for one another, and our loyal customers, as we look toward better times to come, for our community and our great country.

USDA Announces $19 Billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

On April 17, 2020,  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program will take several actions to assist farmers, ranchers, and consumers in response to the COVID-19 national emergency. President Trump directed USDA to craft this $19 billion immediate relief program to provide critical support to our farmers and ranchers, maintain the integrity of our food supply chain, and ensure every American continues to receive and have access to the food they need.
Mr. Perdue stated, “During this time of national crisis, President Trump and USDA are standing with our farmers, ranchers, and all citizens to make sure they are taken care of.”  “The American food supply chain had to adapt, and it remains safe, secure, and strong, and we all know that starts with America’s farmers and ranchers. This program will not only provide immediate relief for our farmers and ranchers, but it will also allow for the purchase and distribution of our agricultural abundance to help our fellow Americans in need.”
The full article may be read by clicking on the following link…
https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2020/04/17/usda-announces-coronavirus-food-assistance-program

Tortilla Business is a Flat Out Success for Gitto Family

The following article was posted in the Wisconsin State Farmer by correspondent Gloria Hafemeister

Greg and Carol Gitto…Owners of Gitto Farm n Kitchen

WATERTOWN – Farm families have always worked together, sharing jobs and helping out as needed, whether in the fields, caring for livestock or repairing equipment.

In other industries it would be called “cross training.”  On the Gitto Family Farm and Kitchen, pitching in to help as needed is not something that was questioned. The philosophy of the entire family has been “just do it.”

Greg and Carol Gitto started their organic dairy, beef and produce farm as a way to involve their ten children in a family venture. The combination suited them well for quite a few years.

As their business developed and some of the grown children moved on to other ventures, they have found a special niche that has replaced raising the labor intensive garden produce. 

When pay prices for organic milk dropped they were happy they had other aspects of the business to carry them, like the licensed commercial kitchen that the Gitto family uses to make organic tortillas right on the farm.

In 2009 they started making tortillas to sell at farmers markets along with their produce after meeting an entrepreneur in Canada who was doing it. They started small, making them in a licensed kitchen in Lake Mills. Business soon took off when stores like Metcalfe’s, Willy Street Coop, and Whole Foods began ordering the tortillas sold under the brand Gitto Farm n Kitchen. 

 

 

 

 

Balls of dough are placed on sheet pans. On an average production day, the Gitto family turns out around 10-12,000 tortillas, packaged and ready to deliver.

 

They now make many thousands of them every week, selling them in southern Wisconsin and Chicago markets. They also continue to market their Jersey hamburger, meat sticks, and sausages made from their organic cow herd.

“Jersey calves don’t bring much at a sale barn but raise them and sell the meat and they are the most popular meat at the farmers’ markets,” said Greg Gitto.

He advises others thinking about ways to supplement traditional farm income to cultivate a good, personal relationship with the stores. Knowing the rules regarding labeling and food safety is also critical.

“If you are ever going to get into anything like this, find a mentor to work with,

 Gitto said. “You never finish learning. I was never much of a reader, but I am now because I want to learn.”

Like any venture, they started the tortilla business small.

The couple began using older equipment in a rented kitchen and now have built their own kitchen with more modern equipment that is run like an assembly line. The room is located inside a custom built addition on the farm and is air conditioned to keep the product consistent.

 

 

 

 

Batches of organically certified flour and other basic ingredients are weighed and then mixed to make the tortilla dough.

 

Every batch of their tortillas is measured, mixed, weighed out, divided, rounded into dough balls, put into the proofing cabinet (to get the baking soda and vinegar to work), sent through a press to be flattened, baked, cooled, bagged, sealed, weighed again and then put into the cooler.   

The tortillas are only in the oven for a very short time, and once they pass through, the flat discs should blow up like a balloon and not have any holes burned in them. Any defective tortillas are promptly discarded.

 

 

 

 

 

Dough balls are placed on a belt that will take them into the press to be flattened. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flattened tortillas coming out of the oven and onto the cooling conveyor.

 

The family makes both 8-inch and 10-inch tortillas in three varieties: whole wheat, white, and spelt. The tortillas move through a 400 degree oven on an assembly line, devised to ensure that the shells are baked evenly – thanks to the 9 burners inside.

Between 5:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. the family is able to turn out 10-12000 tortillas, packaged and ready to deliver.

Like any venture, the equipment they purchased needed some tweaking to make sure it suited their needs.

For example, an important part of the process is getting the air out of the bags before sealing. Gitto’s son, Tim,  the maintenance man on the farm,– designed a simple roller system at the end of the line, made out of PVC pipe, that rolled each bag just before sealing.

 

 

 

The baked tortillas are sorted, bagged, labeled, and then placed into a cooler prior to packaging and delivery.

 

“Whether you are running a farm or making tortillas you need to be able to modify and repair equipment for the job you need to get done,” Gitto says. “Each of our grown children has a special talent that they are able to put to good use.”

When the Gitto family was marketing their vegetables, they needed the entire family to make it possible. Today, labor is still an issue and the family has almost completely cut out their veggie business because of the time it takes to make and market the tortillas. 

The greatest demand for tortillas has always been during the months when fresh veggies are available to go with them.

“Customers like them because they have a distinct wheat flavor but it is not overwhelming,” Gitto said. “Others like them because while they are very thin, they still hold together when loaded down with ingredients.”

To learn more about the Gitto family’s business and products, visit https://gittofarm.com/

Good Food Expo!

We are pleased to announce that we will be exhibiting at the 15th Anniversary Good Food Expo, in Chicago, on March 22nd and 23rd!

Click on the link above to learn more about this huge Expo event!

New Store Locations!

We are excited to announce that we are expanding our tortilla business! We will be supplying some of the Whole Foods stores in the Chicago area!

If you are one of our many valued customers, and you know folks in the Chicago are, we invite you to help us get the word out about the availability of our tortilla products.

A list of the stores already stocking our tortillas may be found on our Store Locations page. We will be updating this list as more store come on line with us.

Garden Expo!


We had the opportunity to participate in the Garden Expo and Farmers Market on February 10th, at the Alliant Energy Center, in Madison, WI.

Although the attendance was less than we expected, we were able to get our products in front of the public once again and also promote several of our new line of value added specialty meat products.

We would encourage you to visit our website often and leave any comments you may have about our tortilla and meat products!

Laura Gitto and Larry Gabbard representing Gitto Farm n Kitchen at the Garden Expo Farmer’s Market!

Study concludes that eating organic reduces cancer risk!

This article was shared from Natural News.

If you’ve ever doubted whether organic food is worth the higher price tag, a study that was recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine should put your concerns to rest. In the study, French researchers showed that people who consume organic food have a 25% lower risk of developing cancer.

The study, which was carried out under the guidance of epidemiologist Julia Baudry, looked at the diets of nearly 70,000 French adults with an average age in their mid-40s. The volunteers were divided into four categories according to how often they ate 16 organic products that included vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, prepared meals, condiments, dietary supplements, vegetable oils and other products.

After an average follow-up time of 4 ½ years, the researchers looked at how many of the participants had developed some type of cancer. After comparing the volunteers’ organic food scores with the cancer cases, they were able to determine that those who ate the most organic food were 25 percent less likely to develop cancer than those who did not eat organic food. When it came to specific types of cancer, the group who ate organic was 73 percent less likely to go on to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and 21 percent less likely to go on to develop postmenopausal breast cancer.

It might be tempting to assume that the group who ate organic food would be more health-conscious overall and likely had a healthier diet in general, and that may be responsible for the lower cancer risk. However, the researchers say that simply is not true; even those who ate a low- to medium-quality diet yet opted for organic enjoyed the reduced cancer risk

Grass Fed Beef and Why It’s Good For You!

The following article was shared via WordPress Reader.


Anyone who eats meat has heard of grass-fed beef. Stroll through the grocery store and you’ll find ‘grass-fed’ or ‘grass-finished’ beef. You’ll also notice it’s more expensive than regular meat. Despite the higher price, many choose grass-fed meat because it’s healthier.

What is Grass-Fed Beef?

But what exactly is grass-fed beef? Does the cow’s diet really affect it’s quality? The good news is it’s actually better for your health. Here’s what I learned about grass-fed meat and why it’s the best choice.

Grass-fed beef comes from cows that eat a healthy, natural diet. Real grass-fed cows consume 100% grass after it stops drinking milk. Grass-fed cattle are also allowed to eat and grow at a normal rate. This means they are not genetically modified. They’re free from antibiotics and steroids that make them grow faster.

Moreover, farmers make sure they don’t feed pesticide-sprayed grass. These cows have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. They remain grass-fed up to the time they meet a humane death.

Grass-Fed Beef vs. Regular Grain-Fed Beef: Which is Better?

To understand the difference, we should look into a cow’s stomach. Cows have a unique digestive system that breaks down plant material. Many mammals, like humans and dogs, can’t fully digest plants. Cows, on the other hand, have a large stomach that allows them to eat wild grass. In fact, a fully grown cow can store up to 55 gallons of grass.

Basically, a cow’s natural diet consists of lots of grass.

This is obviously not the case for grain-fed beef. Regular cows are removed from pastureland and shipped to feedlots. These are called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). The cows are fattened with grain, corn and soy products. They’re given antibiotics and hormones to produce bigger cattle in a short amount of time.

What’s wrong with grain-fed meat? Grains aren’t a good source of nutrients for cows. This affects their overall health. In fact, regular beef has low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Grass-fed beef has 5 times more omega-3 than regular beef.

Compared to regular beef, grass-fed meat has the following health benefits:

High-quality protein – Leaner meat has lower overall fat. It also means it has less calories. Eating lean meat is linked to higher levels of good cholesterol in your blood.

More omega-3 fatty acids – Omega-3 is a great source of good fats. It’s good for heart health, reducing the risk of heart attacks by 50%. It’s is also good for your brain. Studies show an omega-3 rich diet makes people less prone to Alzheimer’s disease.

Higher levels of carotenoid – Grass-fed meatbasically has more beta carotene, a substance that helps produce vitamin A. This supports your immune system and even helps fight cancer.

Rich in Vitamin E – Vitamin E is actually a powerful antioxidant. It promotes cell renewal and protects against cell damage. It also helps slow down the aging the process.

Higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – Grass-fed meat has twice as much CLA as grain-fed beef. CLA is a fatty acid that helps reduce certain types of cancer.

Grass-Fed Beef contributes to good heart health!


To be honest, I thought grass-fed meat was the same as organic meat. Though grass-fed meat is usually organic, I learned NOT ALL grass-fed meat products pass standards. Cows may be ‘grass-fed’ and still given steroids and antibiotics. Also, even if they only eat grass, some cows are still kept in feedlots. In other cases, some farmers even fatten “grass-fed” cows with grains during the last months of their lives. Real grass-fed meat takes longer to raise, that’s why it’s a bit more expensive. So always check if you’re buying from a legit farmer.

How Do I Make Sure I’m Buying 100% Grass-Fed Meat?

Not all grass-fed meat is raised according to organic standards!

The trick is to look for grass-fed meat verified by trusted organizations. For example, look for the following seals:

These groups make sure cows are raised in pastures with 100% grass diet. They also make sure your meat does not have growth hormones or antibiotics.

Another way is to go directly to a local organic farm that you trust. This allows you to assess farming practices yourself. It’s the best way to ensure your meat’s quality.

The next time you cook burgers or steak, think about where your meat comes from. Grass-fed beef is definitely the healthier, more ethical choice. It may be a bit expensive, but the benefits far outweigh the cost.