Archive for July, 2009

Is eating locally the first “pet rock” of century?


24 Jul

There was a great article that came up a few days ago on the MPR website about smaller farms coming together to buy larger trucks to create delivery systems for themselves.  It is a story that needs to get read and talked about because distribution issues need to be solved for local eating to become more stable.  If anyone was at “Policy and a Pint” this last spring, it also came up in the conversation there.

The article (rightly) raises the question of financial viability of such an endeavor.  Unfortunately, the answer from one of the industry experts was shocking:

Jean Kinsey, however, thinks it’s a fad. Kinsey co-directs the Food Industry Center at the University of Minnesota. She said the interest in local food may last, but she’s skeptical that it will ever be a significant part of the market.

“It’s probably useful to know that organic food has been growing at double-digit rates for several years, and in total still occupies less than 3 percent of the total food sales,” Kinsey said.

Full article: Organic farmers hope trucks increase business

This to me is an example of how people who are in the food system, think about the food system.  Getting food locally is being dismissed as a small number.  This movement, really can’t amount to much.  I am sure these were some of the same thoughts that when large scale grocery stores started coming in to small towns and the butcher shops, the bakeries, and the farmers markets thought, well, this idea of a “grocery store” can’t work.  It is just a fad.  Possibly, when even the idea of feeding excess corn to cows started.  I bet there were a number of people in our government, on farms, and the general population that thought, this is just an idea that won’t work.  In comparison, yes, it is small, but, really, what is wrong with starting small?  (Last time I checked a couple of guys who started a small “computer company” and named it after a fruit were doing pretty well.)

The total food sales?  NOW, there I have a question.  Where is that research, and who was surveyed?  When was that research done?  Where was the research done?  I would love to know a lot more about that research.  Who funded the research?  What was the point of the research to begin with?  What questions were being asked?

The point of this article for me is to get people to stop talking about if this is a fad or not, and go on hard facts.  One fact:  this is not something new.  This idea of eating locally has been around forever.  it had a lot to do with how this country was founded and how this country ran for a very long time. Another fact: with human rights abuses, animal abuses, the massive rise in food allergies, bovine hormone injections (largely unlabeled) linked to human and bovine health risks, overfishing, topsoil erosionwater scarcity, and (unfortunately) more, we have got to change the way we get our food. The commodity food system is just so pervasive over the past 60 years that we have forgotten that we have the ability to try something a new and, to borrow a line from the computer guys who named their company after a fruit; to think differently.

I would like to ask all those that read this blog and support local family farms to send an email to Jean Kinsey and give her your feedback as to why you don’t think this is just a fad.  Again, we know the power of people being called to action.  Maybe, just maybe, that if more people speak up and say what is on their mind, those in the food industry might change the way they think about what is possible.

Jean Kinsey
Professor
Co-Director, The Food Industry Center

Email: jkinsey@umn.edu

317b Classroom Office Building
1994 Buford Avenue
St Paul, MN 55108

In the interest of being fair.  Please do not send her any mail that is negative.  I would like for people to share stories of how they eat and how they accomplish things locally.  Also, I personally have sent Jean and email and have informed her of this blog post.

Hardest working man


14 Jul

Everyone that knows the name Riverbend Farm knows how hard Greg Reynolds works, well, just to make things even more impressive he finds time to write a newsletter that keeps us all up to date on what he has going on at the farm.  To those of you who have read these over the seasons, you know how much thought Greg puts into his posts.  This one is from last month, but it just gives you an idea that yes, he is a farmer, but in this day and age, he is much more.   He is someone that a lot of people look to for leadership and direction when it comes to the community and what it means to make an impact in your job. 

Riverbend Farm Newsletter June 29, 2009

Sorry, I have not been keeping up on my newsletters. I have been choosing to get some sleep instead.

Today was a long day. We finished up at about 9pm. We were short handed. Jolyne was not feeling well and I had her go home. I can’t take the chance of her having something contagious and someone else getting sick. She felt really bad about having to leave, and being a good worker, we were short handed…

The rain and warm weather has been just what we needed. Everything is green and growing. The tomatoes and beans have doubled in size, and are flowering. The time we are saving on watering is being spent of weeding. All the weeds have decided that now is the time. Between the hoes and the cultivator we are just a little behind. Weed control will be the focus for a while now.

A week ago I worked up the quack grass in the green manure field on Friday. Planted soybeans on Saturday. Sunday it rained. Monday should have been the perfect day to blind cultivate the field with the tine weeder ( to kill the little weeds that had sprouted ), but the beans had germinated and were right below the surface. Any disturbance would kill them. Everything is growing really fast.

The first two plantings of lettuce are all harvested. The Sugar Ann snap peas are done. They produced pretty well for being such small peas. The fall brassicas were transplanted out to the field on Friday. I’m getting ready to plant fall radishes, carrots, and beets. The CSA started up without a hitch. Now we are harvesting three days a week. Transplanting is just about done, there are a few late cucumbers to go in yet.

The organic inspector came by on last Tuesday. It went fine. I found out that I am supposed to be saving all my seed packs for five years. It is hard to imagine that anyone is going to say ‘I don’t think that arugula that I ate in 2003 wasn’t grown with organic seed. Let me see you seed packages.’ Our inspector was not too interested in trying to match up a couple hundred seed packages with 20 different invoices… The problem is guys who are into farming for the money buying one bag of organic corn seed and nine bags of conventional seed, planting 30 acres, keeping the organic seed tag and claiming that their seed was all organic. Seems like the inspector would have to catch that the first year by comparing the seed tags and the seed purchase invoices. Once the crop is gone it would be pretty hard to tell.

We are getting ready to take the grandkids to the Black Hills. Does anyone have any great out of the way places to see ? How about games for whiling away the long hours in the car ? Good kids books to read, etc. ?

 

 

The following was lifted from the newsletter from The Organic Center (www.organic-center.org). The Organic Center has people form Dean Foods on the board, but they a seem to have a pretty good newsletter and website. It is interesting that most people in the US think that they have never eaten genetically modified food.

Excerpts from a Statement Approved May 8, 2009 on the Safety of Genetically Modified Foods

Issued By: American Academy of Environmental Medicine

Access the full text and references

According to the World Health Organization, Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in such a way that does not occur naturally.”1 This technology is also referred to as “genetic engineering”, “biotechnology” or “recombinant DNA technology” and consists of randomly inserting genetic fragments of DNA from one organism to another, usually from a different species…

Both the location of the transferred gene sequence in the corn DNA and the consequences of the insertion differ with each insertion. The plant cells that have taken up the inserted gene are then grown in a lab using tissue culture and/or nutrient medium that allows them to develop into plants that are used to grow GM food crops.

Natural breeding processes have been safely utilized for the past several thousand years. In contrast, “GE crop technology abrogates natural reproductive processes, selection occurs at the single cell level, the procedure is highly mutagenic and routinely breeches genera barriers, and the technique has only been used commercially for 10 years.”

Despite these differences, safety assessment of GM foods has been based on the idea of “substantial equivalence” such that “if a new food is found to be substantially equivalent in composition and nutritional characteristics to an existing food, it can be regarded as safe as the conventional food.” However, several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food consumption including infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.

There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation as defined by Hill’s Criteria in the areas of strength of association, consistency, specificity, biological gradient, and biological plausibility. The strength of association and consistency between GM foods and disease is confirmed in several animal studies.

Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease processes is also supported. Multiple animal studies show significant immune dysregulation, including upregulation of cytokines associated with asthma, allergy, and inflammation. Animal studies also show altered structure and function of the liver, including altered lipid and carbohydrate metabolism as well as cellular changes that could lead to accelerated aging and possibly lead to the accumulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
Changes in the kidney, pancreas and spleen have also been documented.

A recent 2008 study links GM corn with infertility, showing a significant decrease in offspring over time and significantly lower litter weight in mice fed GM corn. This study also found that over 400 genes were found to be expressed differently in the mice fed GM corn. These are genes known to control protein synthesis and modification, cell signaling, cholesterol synthesis, and insulin regulation. Studies also show intestinal damage in animals fed GM foods, including proliferative cell growth and disruption of the intestinal immune system.

Also, because of the mounting data, it is biologically plausible for Genetically Modified Foods to cause adverse health effects in humans…

Therefore, because GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, the AAEM believes that it is imperative to adopt the precautionary principle, which is one of the main regulatory tools of the European Union environmental and health policy and serves as a foundation for several international agreements…

With the precautionary principle in mind, because GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:

  • Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.
  • Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease processes of the patients they treat and to document any changes in patient health when changing from GM food to non-GM food.
  • Our members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects, begin epidemiological research to investigate the role of GM foods on human health, and conduct safe methods of determining the effect of GM foods on human health.
  • For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is necessary for the health and safety of consumers.

I’ll try to do a better job of keeping up with the farm news.

Greg

 

 

PS.  Hey Greg, I think you do a great job keeping up with things.  Keep up the good work.

This is why I cook.


11 Jul

Look at all this food that is available!!

I had to get this list out here.  Take a look at all the food that is available locally right now.  This is a list that comes from one of my farmers.  They have reached out to some of the neighboring farms and they are able to have one list, and one delivery.  This is how it works.   Now multiply that by about three other farmers like this and I have access to over 50 farms and the list is growing every month.

This kitchen is doing a lot of cooking these days.  Confit, freezing, picklling, preserving, etc., getting ready for the winter already, but this is a great way to spend the day.  This is also how you do it.  In the next could of months keep looking here for some news about how you can learn, participate, and reep the benefits.  There are some things in the works here, and with some really good friends.  We are going to make this fall and this winter better than ever for local food and we want you to help us as well as learn with us how to eat locally year round.

Products available this week (7/13/09)

VEGGIES: (Keewadin Farm, Viola, WI; Whitewater Gardens, Altura, MN; Fairview Farm, Plainview MN; William Yoder, Utica, MN, From the Earth Farm, Rochester, MN)

LETTUCE:
Lettuce Mix – 5 lb cs
Pablo Batavian Lettuce – 24 ct cs
Bibb Lettuce – 24 ct cs
Greenleaf Lettuce – 24 ct cs
Redleaf Lettuce – 24 ct cs
Green Romaine Lettuce – 24 ct cs
Red Romaine Lettuce – 24 ct cs
Mixed Head Lettuce (Includes basic lettuce plus specialty lettuces)
MISC GREENS
Big Leaf Spinach – 4 lb cs
Baby Spinach – 4 lb cs
Beet Greens
Collard Greens – 24 ct cs

CHARD
Rainbow Chard – 24 ct cs
Red Chard – 24 ct cs
Gold Chard – 24 ct cs
Green Chard – 24 ct cs

KALE
Green Curly Kale
Red Curly Kale
Red Russian Kale
Winterbor Kale (Dar green, crinkly leaf)
Lacinato (Dino) Kale
White Russian Kale

ONIONS
Mini Red Onions

SUMMER SQUASH
Green Zucchini, small
Yellow Summer Squash

RADISHES
French Breakfast Radishes , 24 bu cs
Red Radishes, 24 bu cs

MISC VEGETABLES
Sugar Snap Peas – 5 lb cs
Green Beans – 5 lb cs
Green Cabbage, 40 lb cs
Napa Cabbage, 30 lb cs

Garlic Scapes – 5 lb cs

Fennel, 10 lb cs
Slicing Cucumbers – 8” long; 10 lb cs
English variety also available
Pickling Cucumbers – 20 lb cs

POTATOES:
Red Potatoes, mostly B size – 5 lb cs
Yukon Gold Potatoes, mostly B size – 5 lb cs

HERBS:
Cilantro
Flat Parsley
Curly Parsley
Italian Dandelion Greens
Dill
Oregano
Sage
Chives
Thyme
Micro Pea Vines

MAPLE SYRUP: (From William Yoder, Utica, MN)

FRUIT: (From Whitewater Orchard, St. Charles. MN; Fairview Farm, Altura, MN, Hidden Stream Farm, Elgin, MN, Keewaydin Farms, Viola WI)

Frozen Plums

Apple Butters: (Apple, Apple Blueberry, Apple Cranberry, Apple Plum, Sugarfree Apple)

EGGS
Chicken Eggs, Certified Organic, Brown

DAIRY: (Pastureland Coop, SE MN)
Salted Butter
Unsalted Butter
Raw Milk Cheddar (Allow 1 week for delivery)

FRESH PORK PRODUCTS:
2 hogs available
4 – Whole Pork Loin with Tenderloin
4- Boneless Loin
4 – Pork Bellies
4 – Boston Butt Roasts (Bone-in or Boneless)
4– Picnic Roasts (Bone-in or Boneless)
4– Spare Ribs, St. Louis Style – Whole Rack
4– Fresh Jowls
4– Fresh Ham, not cured
4 – Pork Hocks
30 lb Fresh Trim
50 lb Ground pork
Back Fat Unground
Pork Leaf Fat

All Natural Smoked Ham
Whole All Natural Boneless Ham¸ pressed
Boneless Ham, Old Fashioned Style
MSG-Free Mild Seasoned Sausage (Maple flavored)

Italian Sausage
MSG-Free Breakfast Links (Maple flavored)

FROZEN PORK PRODUCTS:
Whole Pork Loin with Tenderloin
Whole Boneless Pork Loin
10 Rib Roast