From tech to farming

Remember Stewart Lundy, my former student who helped me with the technical side of my blog?  He has now embraced farming.  But what a farm!  He is doing cutting-edge local, sustainable, organic farming.  He is raising heirloom vegetables, chickens, ducks, rabbits, bees, and “rare pigs.”  People are driving an hour and a half just to buy his eggs.  He is attending to the microbes in the soil, restoring minerals to the soil, and applying all kinds of other sophisticated techniques to make all of this work.

You have got to scroll through his site and see the pictures of what all he is doing:  Perennial Roots – Accomac, VA – Farm, Food & Grocery | Facebook.

Contact him from the site if you want to order a pig (either as food or as a pet) or get in on any of this other stuff.  [Read more...]

The rooster crisis

What with the locavore movement, the organic food craze, survivalism, and the need to pinch pennies, lots of people have started raising chickens.  Even in big cities and suburbia.  Here in the D.C. area, counties and municipalities have revised local ordinances to allow chicken coops in back yards.  I salute those ventures.  But if you breed chickens, you are going to wind up with some males of the species.  Roosters don’t lay eggs; they aren’t cute enough to serve as pets; they tend to be mean; they fight if there are more than one of them; and–worst of all for city dwellers–they crow really loud early in the morning.  So now animal rescue agencies, animal control centers, and the Humane Society are getting overwhelmed by people bringing in roosters.

See Backyard chicken boom produces fowl result: Unwanted roosters – The Washington Post.

I think it’s great that people want to be farmers.  But if you are going to be a farmer, if only on a microscopic scale, you’ve got to think and act like a farmer.  What has been done with unneeded roosters, from time immemorial, is to eat them!

In the immortal words of Stephen Foster, referring to Susanna,”We will kill the old red rooster when she comes, when she comes.”  And then the next verse, “We will have chicken ‘n’ dumplings when she comes.”  [Sorry!  It isn't Susanna or Stephen Foster.  As Todd points out in the comments, "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" is a completely different song.]  That last point acknowledges that roosters can be tough and so need to be stewed, but they can still be very delicious, and wound count as local, organic, homegrown food too.

I do understand the problem of squeamishness in wringing necks and chopping off heads–something that seems not to have been a problem with our forebears, however gentle and mild-mannered in other parts of their lives (I remember accounts of my sainted grandmother twisting the heads off of chickens)–but this could be an opportunity for a revival of another classic profession that would be local and a humane alternative to the factory-scale meat industry:  namely, the local butcher.

 

The chicken’s name was Colin

Have you seen Portlandia, the TV sketch show that skewers today’s fashions and mores, as manifested in Portland, Oregon?

Nothing against locavores!  Or localism!  Or Portland!   It’s just the pose and the righteousness that begs for satire.  (And if you care so much for Colin, why are you going to eat him?)

HT:  Joanna

Regulating food

Local food advocates are in a panic over Senate Bill S 510, which, they argue, devastate local food suppliers and put our whole food supply under the control of big chemical-using corporations like Monsanto.  Here is but one section of the bill that passed the House:

Section 101 -

Amends the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) to deem a food to be misbranded if it was manufactured, processed, packed, or held in a facility that is not registered. Declares that a facility under the FFDCA does not include private residences of individuals. Requires annual registration of food facilities, including food facilities that export food. Authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to suspend the registration of any food facility for a violation of the FFDCA that could result in serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. Sets forth procedures for such a registration suspension. Directs the Secretary to collect an annual fee for registration of a food facility to defray the costs of food safety activities. Terminates the authority to collect such fees after FY2014.

via H.R. 2749 – Summary: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (GovTrack.us)

Comments Steve Green:

S 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010,  may be the most dangerous bill in the history of the US.  It is to our food what the bailout was to our economy, only we can live without money.

“If accepted [S 510] would preclude the public’s right to grow, own, trade, transport, share, feed and eat each and every food that nature makes.  It will become the most offensive authority against the cultivation, trade and consumption of food and agricultural products of one’s choice. It will be unconstitutional and contrary to natural law or, if you like, the will of God.”  ~Dr. Shiv Chopra, Canada Health whistleblower

It is similar to what India faced with imposition of the salt tax during British rule, only S 510 extends control over all food in the US, violating the fundamental human right to food.

Monsanto says it has no interest in the bill and would not benefit from it, but Monsanto’s Michael Taylor who gave us rBGH and unregulated genetically modified (GM) organisms, appears to have designed it and is waiting as an appointed Food Czar to the FDA (a position unapproved by Congress) to administer the agency it would create — without judicial review — if it passes.  S 510 would give Monsanto unlimited power over all US seed, food supplements, food and farming.

HISTORY

In the 1990s, Bill Clinton introduced HACCP (Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Points) purportedly to deal with contamination in the meat industry.  Clinton’s HACCP delighted the offending corporate (World Trade Organization “WTO”) meat packers since it allowed them to inspect themselves, eliminated thousands of local food processors (with no history of contamination), and centralized meat into their control.  Monsanto promoted HACCP.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton, urged a powerful centralized food safety agency as part of her campaign for president.  Her advisor was Mark Penn, CEO of Burson Marsteller*, a giant PR firm representing Monsanto.  Clinton lost, but Clinton friends such as Rosa DeLauro, whose husband’s firm lists Monsanto as a progressive client and globalization as an area of expertise, introduced early versions of S 510.

He goes on in an apocalyptic vein. The purpose seems to be food safety, but he maintains that it will just put out of operation local farmers and growers who are innocent of contaminating food, and that it will just empower “registered” food corporations–who often are the guilty parties–and give them control over our whole food supply. Follow the links and see if you think he has a case.

HT:  Stewart Lundy


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