Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Stars in the Food & Farming Firmament

Cathy's Tribute, Toast & Congratulations!

These activists and the character aptitude they represent are true stars in the food & farming firmament.

May their contributions continue to ripple through time and space creating positive impacts far beyond our imaginings.

COMPASSION - Sally Fallon Morell of the Weston A. Price Foundation - Her no-soy prison food lawsuit for the least of us, will benefit all of us when soy-based cafeteria foods fall like a house of cards.

CREATIVITY - Kristin Canty, Farmageddon - Her documentary film will help keep farmers from extinction exposing the heavy hand of government suppressing small farms.

CONNECTIVITY - Kim Hartke, HartkeIsOnline - Her blog gives the raw milk & small farm food movement a professional face and public forum.

CARING - Maureen Diaz, Traditional Foods Cook - Her DVDs gently beckon us back to the kitchen to cook with real foods, from scratch.

CONFIDENCE - Kevin Brown, the author of Liberation Diet - He will remedy the obesity epidemic and have people running to find a farmer - no doubt about it!

CONSISTENCY - Pete Kennedy, Esq. - took over the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund presidency this year, and offers hands-down-best-around guidance for farmers looking to expand their direct sales.

CLARITY - David Gumpert, The Complete Patient Blogger and Author of Raw Milk Revolution -his blog helps clarify the raw milk issues and is a call for government transparency.

COURAGE - Mark Kastel - Cornucopia Institute - he kept at it, and kept the Organic standard untainted.

COMMITMENT - Tim Wightman -President, Farm-to-Consumer Foundation - he stopped farming to start forming the future of farming.

CREDIBILITY - Ted Beals, M.D. & Peggy Beals, RN - Their groundbreaking work with the Michigan Fresh Unprocessed Whole Milk Workgroup explored cooperative approaches to providing raw milk.

CHRISTIAN-LIBERTARIAN-CAPITALIST-ENVIRONMENTALIST-LUNATIC FARMER - Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm - for being Joel and setting the world on fire for fresh farm food, raised right.

CHRISTIAN-LIBERTARIAN-CAPITALIST-ENVIRONMENTALIST-LUNATIC FARMER'S BRIDE - Teresa Salatin of Polyface Farm - for sharing Joel so freely with the world this year.

CREATING BEAUTY - Clare Raymond, my mother - She reminds this activist that the world is a beautiful place, when it often seems otherwise.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

First Footing with Scottish Shortbread

My maternal grandmother, Mamie, told us about the days of old, when our grandmother's grandmother's grandmother took Scottish Shortbread for First-Footing.

I loved hearing the story of the tradition, when on New Year's Day, they'd visit the house of a friend. The first person to cross the threshold would bring tidings of good fortune for the year.

My ancestors carried Scottish Shortbread to symbolize that the family they visited would always have plenty to eat in the coming year.

I carried on the happy tradition of making Scottish Shortbread using my ancestor's special wooden mold. I gave them as Christmas gifts until I became an advocate for fresh farm food and adopted a diet devoid of the "white's" - white flour, white sugar!

I did try to "green" my Great-Great Grandmother's recipe and return it to it's true traditional roots (before the whites!), but it was a hopeless unhappy mess. To be at ease with my convictions, I laid the molds aside, and made soaked/sprouted nut medleys instead.

But, Lass, do not turn your back on tradition for long!

The long arms of my Great Great Grandmothers reached through time on what has been a particularly barren Christmas season for me, full of work and devoid of tree and treats. Years of ancestral urging rose in me and the next thing I knew it I was measuring white flour and white sugar, butter and eggs in the ways I was taught.

I formed it into a 21st century version of the mold, the two-part lids from my canning jars. Pricking holes into the top of the shortbread reminded me of the fun I had as a child participating in this ritual with my mom and sister.

So, I made peace within myself, and created the most delicious Scottish Shortbread in my 54 year memory. My new love of fine food, carefully grown/raised sits very finely indeed with my inner Scottish Lass setting out for First-Footing in the ways of her grandmothers.

I'm relieved, out of integrity (a wee bit), but I feel divinely human, and definately part of my clan.

I took the picture above, and had to take a nibble. It's that good. I'll have to make more for First-Footing Day!

Sorry, I can't share the recipe, it's a family secret. You'd have to marry me (or my sister) to get it!

Thank you to the Real Food Media Bloggers who inspired me to write my very first (and likely only) food blog.

Friday, July 31, 2009

There's A FarmerTrap In the House! It's HR2749

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package. "What food might this contain?"The mouse wondered. She was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning: "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Ms. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Ms. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Ms. Mouse I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap

. . . Alone . . .

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house --the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap.

The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home she still had a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup… So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued

Friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

But, alas, the farmer's wife did not get well...She died.

So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon.

And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and you think it doesn't concern you, remember ---

When one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

"There is a FarmerTrap in the House!" It's HR 2749.

Please call your Senators today and during Congressional Recess to Oppose HR 2749.

Or, send an email to your Senators through our petition system.

Photo Credit for Non-Lethal Mousetrap.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Indigestible Food Safety Measures

My stomach hurts.

The House just passed H.R. 2749 The Food Safety Enhancment Act. People are calling it "historic" and "long overdue".

I call it a kick in the pants to farmers and the consumers that care for real food.

FDA Incompetence
Food contamination deaths number 5,000/year
Death by medical error number 195,000/year

If the FDA is doing such a great job of "Safety" Police, what are they doing to stop medical errors, including deaths by correctly administered drugs, fatal drug interactions, administration of mislabeled drugs and over-prescription of antibiotics?

Next, they made lots of talk about exeptions to rules for small, organic farmers and direct-to-consumer sales but....

Our farmers aren't certified organic. They are "sustainable" or "non-toxic". Once the USDA took over the label, farmers didn't want to play by USDA guidelines. These farmers will fall in the cracks, just wait and see. "Certified Organic" will be exempt, but certification will likely cost them more than HR2749 fees.

Small Farmer Exempt
This keeps our small farmers small, rather than encouraging them to grow. That's unAmerican.

This is the name of the game, and I'm happy to hear it talked about in the halls of Congress, but they gave examples of sales to restaurants and grocery stores as "direct-to-consumer" sales. I'm worried that if they don't know what "direct" means, they won't know what "small" or "organic" means as well.

High Risk Food
Any farmer selling FDA defined "high risk" items (like raw milk) will still get the FDA evil eye, and likely the evil boot.

Enough is Enough
Our farmers are ALREADY overburdened by regulations. See the Fund page for more information about SWARMS (one reg won't hurt, but swarms of them can and do kill small farm initiatives) and FARM RAIDS and SWAT TEAM VISITS to Food Coops.

When I say Grace, I thank God, the Cook and the Farmers.

Let's keep them in our prayers these days.

We cannot underestimate their contribution to our wellbeing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Freddy Kruger Food Safety Bill HR2749 Returns

This is truely a Nightmare for Main Street America!

I'm not one for horror movies.

Just when you think the bad guy is deader-than-a-doorknob, he jumps back up and slashes away.

Same goes for House legislation bill HR 2749 "Food Safety" Enhancement Act of 2009.

Bill sponsors tried to rush this bill through. They asked for "special rules", that are usually preserved for items of little import - like naming post offices. With special rules they only needed 2/3 vote or 286 of the 430 possible. They failed.

So, HR2749 Died. We cried "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead"

But, then, the creepy music started back, and we find now, the HR2749 is still alive.

Yes, having failed miserably at their fast-track strategy, Bill Sponors now want to introduce it again on Thursday, under "regular rules" where it would only need to win by majority vote.

Don't leave your seats for the snackbar now. Popcorn will have to wait.

Use these devices to drive a steak into the heart of this Freddy Kruger Food Safety Bill.

Invoke the 4 P's.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Farmer "Soul-Killing" HR2749 "Food Safety" Bill

"These definitions and restrictions run from mind-bending (even for a retired lawyer) to soul-killing." - Steve Bemis

Friends Who Eat - It's Fight Back Friday!

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense is mounting a vigorous campaign to STOP HR2749, proposed Food Safety Legislation on Congress Fast-Track. Provisions in the Bill are Alarming.

What we want instead, is deregulation of small farmers.

Overregulation, Overreaching and Overlapping regulations already drive up the prices of local foods. Farmers are spending more money and more time behind a desk to comply with local, state and federal agencies - Ag Departments & Health Departments.

You saw what over regulation did to staffing and costs at your doctor's offices. Imagine Farmer's Needing Office Managers, Food Safety Experts, Risk Managers and HACCP Food Technicians. You get the picture? It adds up to more food cost for you for local foods. The corporate food system pay the same, but they can leverage the costs over hundreds of thousands of products.

Did you wonder why you pay more for local food sometimes? Our small farmers are made to pay the same permits, fees & fines as the large agribusiness. And, it's about to get worse - much worse. The fees & fines aren't scalable. Nor, are they fair. The food recalls are NOT coming from small farmers.

Helping is Kim Hartke-Guardian Angel of the Fund, Farmers & Food Read her Blog

And Steve Steve Bemis Read his Guest Blog Here and More

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Taylor's FDA Appointment

Dear Commissioner Hamburg,

What a shock this is to those of us who understand the devious, national health threatening acts these revolving door appointments create.

I'm sorry to say, but I imagine your good family name will be caught up in a big national scandal down the road about this.

This is a Health Ponzi scheme of huge proportions.

The edible oil industry revolving door guys are about to get their comeuppance, as more of us understand just what we sacrificed when they manufactured data, manipulated regulations and placed Crisco, Corn & Soil Oils, Margarines in our pantries, in the place of the food that humanity has been eating for centuries...butter, cream, lard etc.

Actually, these folks should be tried for treason....their actions are not in the interest of our national health...which IS our national security.

We are only as strong as our weakest link. Inhalers, allergy shots, cardiovascular disease...these are signs of maladies, created by machinations of self-interested industrial ag.

Have you heard Sally Fallon Morell's "The Oiling of America" presentation?

I hope you take some time to call her, or find out more about this, for your own personal use, and to help inform your future decisions.

If the industrial ag model that Taylor represents was such a boon for mankind, we wouldn't be seeing these food safety problems, would we now?

The pendulum is swinging the other way. Local, sustainable, safe and fresh is the direction we are going. I do not understand why you would appoint someone who will lead us in the opposite direction and mire us in the same-old-same-old thinking.

Like the banking bailout, It will take us generations to recover from the maladies of industrial ag.

We will also recover from your short-sighted appointment of Michael Taylor in the drivers seat.

Please reverse your decision. Turn this Titanic Around.

Write your own letter -

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The New American FARMER Idol

Imagine we are watching a new type of American Idol contest. America's best and brightest are sharing their discoveries that create worm free apples without pesticides on American Farmer Idol, in it's 7th season.

First envision a contestant from Monsanto. This person brings a flashy display of GMO seeds that have tough skins the worms cannot penetrate. They've inserted the gene from the armardillo into the apple. We all laugh alot, and they are voted off the show for not taking the competition seriously. Imagine needing a titanium apple peeler! Imagine the armadillo taste! Simon strongly suggest that they find a new profession.

Then, enivison a young woman. She's been trying different ideas to stop the worms from eating her apples. She likes to have the apple all to herself and figures the worms need something else to tempt their taste buds. She develops a worm feeding station that all the worms enjoy so much that they leave the apples alone. When the worm's short life is up, they fall down a chute and the waiting chickens goggle up these high protein snacks and create even better eggs for the young woman's breakfast.

Then, envision an older man - not your typical Farmer Idol winner, who discovered in his backyard, that if he used a certain type of mineral that was inexpensive and easily found, that the worms don't seem to be interested in eating the apples on his trees.

We love these two contestants. As a nation we talk about them, debate their ideas and celebrate them. They are not famous scientists. They don't have a Harvard degree. They came from nowhere. We decide we cannot choose between them, and by some coincidence, they work harmoniously together. There is the first tie for the American Farmer Idol title.

Our nation's orchards don't skip a beat and they start with the simple home-made worm feeding stations and create collateral income from chicken eggs. Meanwhile they start applying the mineral to the tree's soil. After applying the mineral for a few short years, the apples are completely free of worms, and the feeding stations are no longer needed.

These two people are awarded the Green Cross, our nation's highest honor for courage! Together they have saved many people from eating pesticide laden fruit and all the health problems that entails.

The orchards in our land are now free of pesticides and the apples are even more sweet and juicy. The armadillo skinned apple never made it to the market, and we are still free to bite into delicious nutritious apples without titanium teeth!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Silence is NOT Golden - The Buy-cott

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s messages on Civil Disobedience hit home today. Here's an excerpt from his "But If Not" lecture - 

"I say to you, this morning, that if you have never found something so dear and precious to you that you will die for it, then you aren’t fit to live. You may be 38 years old, as I happen to be, and one day, some great opportunity stands before you and calls upon you to stand for some great principle, some great issue, some great cause. And you refuse to do it because you are afraid.

You refuse to do it because you want to live longer. You’re afraid that you will lose your job, or you are afraid that you will be criticized or that you will lose your popularity, or you’re afraid that somebody will stab or shoot or bomb your house. So you refuse to take a stand.

Well, you may go on and live until you are ninety, but you are just as dead at 38 as you would be at ninety. And the cessation of breathing in your life is but the belated announcement of an earlier death of the spirit.

You died when you refused to stand up for right.
You died when you refused to stand up for truth.
You died when you refused to stand up for justice.”

What's more important and precious to fight for than food - that gives us the ability to walk, talk and live? We need to rescue our food - and rescue our bodies to boot!

Please join me in an International BOYCOTT - of factory farmed, GM, processed and imported foods for a week in October, to start on Farmer's Day, October 12, 2009 (coincides with Columbus Day - A Federal Holiday)

The same week, we will have a BUYCOTT -buying only fresh, locally produced foods. 

We can use the three day holiday to visit farms, farmers markets and restaurants (those that sell entrees made with local food) to stock up for a week-long boycott of factory farmed food sold in grocery stores, restaurants and fast food chains.

Boy-cott will EMPTY factory farm food outlets - grocery stores, fast food and chain restaurants.

Buy-cott will FILL homes and tummies with fresh grown local produce!
Buy-cott will FILL farmers pockets with cash to kick start a comeback!
Buy-cott will FUEL our local and national  and international economy!

You will see the power of your purchases this week, as factory farms fall, animals are liberated from confinement, grocery stores and restaurants clamor for local products,  and GM seeds are used as bean bag filler.

You will see the power of your voice this week, as farmers use the dollars you give them to enrich their soil, nuture their animals and create more good food.  

You will see the power of your money this week, as local farmers use it to prime the economic engine and end the recession.  Small Farms Ended the Depression.  With your purchases they will end this one as well.

You will see the power of ending your silence.

I am hoping that you will join me in a - 
  • "Fast" from Fast Food.  
  • "Sit-In" at restaurants serving local fare.  
  • "Drive-Out" to the country to visit your food being grown or raised. 
Bigger than the Civil Liberties Movement. More legendary than Woodstock.  Something to build a monument about in Washington DC. Something our children will be proud to put on their facebooks.

The week we break the cycle. The week we break the rhythm. The week we find our old-is-new again groove and kick start our local enconomy and eat great food while doing it!

The current merciless machine will utter a gasp, faint, falter and fall and crumble from our inattention to it.   

The new rhythm will be established across the land. 

Let's take our food back.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Living Off the Fat of the Land

Tim Wightman is researching a lecture now, with information about how small farms saved the national economy in the Depression.

If his information is right on - local sales fuel not only farm economy but "prime" the engine of the national economy as well.

It makes sense to me when I think of Tom Cowan's "The Heart is Not a Pump".  Where the true pump is in every cell of the body, not the heart.

So, what if true economic recovery is in every purchase WE make, not the government (stimulus etc.)

Then, it is not only ethically and environmentally sound but also economically sound to purchase fresh and local.

Here's a first attempt at a comparison of circulation (blood and national economy)

(from "Fourfold Path to Healing" by Tom Cowan, M.D. page. 145)
  • Consumption of 10 grams of protein releases 4 grams water into circulation (VERY SLUGGISH CIRCULATION)
  • Consumption of 10 grams of carbs releases 6 grams of water into circulation (SLUGGISH CIRCULATION)
  • Consumption of 10 grams of FATS releases 10 grams of water into circulation (VERY HEALTHY CIRCULATION)

(the numbers used below are invented for the sake of meta comparison only)
  • Consumption of 10 dollars of imported (even organic) foods releases only 4 dollars into our economic circulation. (VERY SLUGGISH  ECONOMY)
  • Consumption of 10 dollars of factory farmed food (even organic) releases only 6 dollars into our economic circulation. (SLUGGISH ECONOMY)
  • Consumption of 10 dollars of local-direct from farmer food releases 10 full dollars back into our economic circulation. (HEALTHY ECONOMY)

Think about it - imports (even organic) - the money goes outward - most of it leaves our country. 

In factory farming (even organic) - the money goes upward  - to investors and stockholders.  

In small family farms - the money gets completely used (ask any farmer) and stays in circulation in the community.

Actually Tim proposes that the circulation effect for the family farm is more $10 consumed and $70 circulated for local-direct sales.

So, we "live off the fat of the land" metaphorically when we eat the "fat of the land" practically.

"Fat of the land" - living well, fed by abundant crops. The "fat" being the richest, choicest part.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Positive Psychology, Congress & Farming

Positive Psychology now shows us that it's more productive and life-enhancing to focus on our strengths rather than our problems. We can thrive rather than dive into depressive depths dwelling on the mistakes of the past.

Can Congress learn from the Positive Psychologists?
The new bills - HR 2749 etc. ect all dwell in the depressing past.

They are attempts are trying to fix problems in our food system with heavy fines and imprisonment rather than focus on creating a new future from our strengths.

The big stick approach will not work and cannot work, because it keeps us focusing on what does not work. You cannot solve a problem at the level at which the problem was created. We need to dwell on carrots...

So, if HR 2749 and other legislation can't improve our food, let's put to use our other powers...

Let's use the power of Proclamations.
"Small family farms have demonstrated their ability to provide safe & quality food for their neighbors and local communities. All small farms are here and now free to conduct direct to consumer sales to their local communities. All prior regulations & legislations restricting them are now null and void."

Let's use the power of Resolutions.
"We the people, being of sound mind and tattered bodies, resolve to create a more perfect food!
A great nation is fueled by GREAT food!

We resolve to......encourage the best and brightest among us to find remedies to our food ills.
We resolve to .....create the department of "Best and Brightest", and offer rewards (not patents), for those who find new solutions that offer collateral benefits to the environment, economy and communities.
We resolve to..... create a new order of the Green Cross - for those that save lives in peaceful times for their courage to think differently.

Let's tap into our nation's greatness, our diversity, our genius!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The One-Sized Fits None - HR 875

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund lawyers have reviewed the HR 875 bill extensively, and have created this analysis. Pete Kennedy, Esq., the author, is not an alarmist, but an advocate for the small and medium sustainable farmers who want to sell their products directly to the consumer, and have to navigate already-over-regulated waters to get food on our plates.

One of the problems I see with this bill is they are lumping in the small mom and pop farmers providing food to their neighbors and church, with the big commercial outfits.

The other big problem is putting the regs in the hands of the Feds, is basically putting them in the hands of the big agribusiness lobbies - the same folks that bring us great gourmet foods like Crisco, Rancid Vegetable Oils (replacing stable traditional fats), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Grain-Hormone-Antibiotic Fed Dairy, yummy GMOs and last but not least Cloned Beef and Pork!

HR 875 comes at a time when the trend towards direct-to-consumer sales has started to boom and resurrect small farm-based rural economies. Instead of buying from grocery stores the consumers are now putting their dollars directly in the pocket of the farmer. This creates a VERY stable farm economy and, and a transparent, SAFE food system.

This new "get-to-know-your-farmers" distribution is working, and working very well... and now, here comes HR 875, strapping the small farmer with the VERY same rules as giant agribusinesses that control most of the food in the supermarkets.

There are thousands of families that order their food weekly via the Internet, and farmers deliver directly to their neighborhoods. The rapidly growing market for raw milk is part of the rocket fuel. Many of us buy because it’s fresher, better, tastier. Many of us buy because we like knowing where our food comes from. Even more of us do it to support our small farmers and their families.

Look how the direct to consumer sales affect dairy alone –

The commercial dairy farmers with 300 cows that sell their milk to the bulk milk buyers for pasteurization, are LOSING money on each gallon of milk they sell. These farmers produce milk for about $2/gallon and can only sell it for $1/gallon this year. See the Farm Aid article for more about this. Yet, they continue to have to feed their animals, and every day they dig deeper into debt. The tourniquet they apply to stem the outflow of farm dollars is the "culling" (killing off) of their herds. Many hundreds of thousands of commercial dairy cows are now ground beef.

On the direct-sales side, the farmer with 30 cows receives the whole and premium price for their raw milk (intentionally produced with the idea of raw consumption) for $5 - $13/gallon. This is organic raw milk from humanely cared for and sustainably raised cows on PASTURE. You can imagine the difference this profit makes in the farmer’s life and community. You can also imagine the difference this food makes in our lives! We also have the pleasure of knowing our farmers and their practices. We eat the SAME food they feed their families. There’s no better FOOD SAFETY act that that!

All that being said, they want to regulate these two VERY different farmers the same.

It’s like...
Lumping local micro-breweries in with Bud, Miller and Michelob -
Mom and Pop restaurants with McDonald's -
Little League with the Major League!

They don’t scale the regulations.

The small farmers are hurdled even with the CURRENT regs –

The current regs require small farmers to install $30,000 stainless steel kitchens before they even make $1 from the sale of a pickle! This kills the entrepreneurial spirit!

The current regs in Maryland and Virginia (and many other states) won’t let farmers sell raw milk.

The current regs won’t allow many small farmers to slaughter animals on the farm, requiring the animals to be shipped for MANY hours, in ALL WEATHER, without WATER on the highways to specially USDA inspected slaughterhouses.

The non-scalable regulations have all but closed the small slaughter houses that used to be part of every farming community. Any farmer that won't put their animals through this trauma isn’t allowed to sell their meat to you or to a restaurant or store. And, yet, you see the footage of what goes on in these Federally Inspected Slaughterhouses. Inhumane…but regulated!

“You can’t regulate integrity” – Joel Salatin

The sad thing, is that a million dollar fine to a large food company is just figured in as the cost of doing business.

The same fine would wipe out a small farm. Remember, these farms are ALSO their homes. None of the big agribusiness guys live where the food is made…just go near a CAFO (confined animal facility op)and you’ll smell the reason why.

Where is the bill to support, protect and encourage artisan food producers? Where is the bill to encourage more small farms to get into the mix, and produce transparently raised food for our families?

Million dollar fines and weekly inspections from investigators would stop me cold.

And, there’s more to the bill than that…