The U.S. food system is too industrialized, too opaque and too segregated to be sustainable.
The system's failures start at the top of the regulatory chain, he said.
"We don't have a way for food innovation to occur on a local level because ... (the USDA and Food and Drug Administration) don't allow small-scale, embryonic innovation to come to the marketplace, unless it comes through their infrastructure and regulatory and paperwork sieve," Salatin said. "And that sieve is prejudicial to all small-scale operations.
"They want to separate us at the federal level from local food choices," Salatin said.
"They have decided that it is perfectly safe to feed your kids Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs and Mountain Dew, but that raw milk (and) Aunt Matilda's pickles ... are hazardous substances," he said.
Sustainable farmer Joel Salatin spoke recently about innovation and local foods:
The Soil Fertility Workshop we hosted led by world famous soil expert Neal Kinsey was a great success! We had 40 growers attend the 3-day intensive. One of the participants shared this with us: "I just wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks to all you folks that brought Neal’s workshop to our area!!! It was really special, beautifully located, at a reasonable price, and great food provided with loving care. This was most likely a life changing experience for me."
We would love to host another workshop with Neal Kinsey sometime in the future--he is passionate and extremely knowledgeable--his company performs soil tests that nobody else in the world does, so farmers from all over the world send him soil samples to interpret. It was a pleasure to work with him.
The Verde Valley CSA is hosting a three-day intensive workshop with world-famous soil expert Neal Kinsey. We have growers coming from Mexico, Texas and Utah, as well as many local growers. Class is January 28, 29, 30 from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, and is limited to 50 participants to allow for questions and sharing of information. Cost is $150 and includes artisan lunches and refreshments (vegetarian option available). Workshop will be at Red Rock State Park, a beautiful wilderness area on Oak Creek. Buy tickets at verdevalleycsa.com
Have a safe holiday and avoid this unfortunate kitchen mishap (special effects involved).
One of the great joys of my life is enjoying fresh milk I get from a local farm. I belong to a cow share program and every week I thankfully pick up icy cold, creamy jars of milk from a Jersey cow raised humanely on green pasture.
However, the Arizona Department of Agriculture deems cow share programs illegal, even though they are private agreements between consumers and farmers. I am, therefore, committing a crime in their eyes.
Small scale direct sales from farmer to consumer must be treated differently than industrial agricultural operations selling to supermarkets and restaurant chains. The milk I'm getting is a completely different product than pasteurized milk from a Holstein cow being fed GMO corn, antibiotics and growth hormones in a confined feedlot standing in manure, and must be treated as such.
There are people who want to buy artisan foods, fresh milk and produce directly from the farmer. Chefs want to be able to buy seasonal, local foods from nearby farms. Consumers want to develop relationships with the people who are growing their food, and they absolutely want to be able to choose from whom they buy.
Accountability, pride of ownership and a free market unfettered by government dictates are the building blocks of sustainable food economies. For many of us food is art and community. We do not open a can of Spaghetti-Os when we are hungry--we want traditional, wholesome food raised by people we know. For people who want to buy certified, inspected food, fine, go to the supermarket and eat at the many restaurant options you have.
But for those of us who are not interested in the seal of approval of the USDA, FDA and County Health Departments, that must be fine, too. The freedom to choose our food is a fundamental, inalienable right, and we have only ourselves to blame if we allow that right to be eroded and ultimately taken away.
"USDA Good Agricultural Practices & Good Handling Practices (GAP & GHP) audit verification program is a voluntary program offered to the fruit and vegetable industry to verify an operation’s efforts to minimize the risk of contamination of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts by microbial pathogens." So says the USDA website.
Fine. These are voluntary programs. However, recently some restaurants in Jerome, AZ were forced by the health department to throw local produce out because it was not from a certified source. Not fine.
Local, small growers are being told that GAP-GHP classes are the first step to being a "certified approved food source" to be a legal supplier to restaurants, along with undetermined certification fees. Also not fine.
The use of force, coercion and intervention in our food choices is simply not acceptable. We must be able to opt out of certification, licensing, fees and inspection programs "offered" by government agencies. This isn't rocket science, folks. It's common sense. It just does not make sense to create more barriers to local economies when our food policy should be doing just the opposite: making it easier for restaurants, markets and individuals to buy directly from our local farms.
Sandor Katz, who inspired me (and many others) to experiment with sauerkraut and other fermented foods, will be making a rare appearance in Arizona at Prescott College on Oct. 24 from 6-8.
For information go here
We're having our first annual gleaning (collecting leftover crops from farmers' fields after they have been harvested) at Murdock Family Farms in Camp Verde Friday, September 21 from 9am-3pm. Visit their beautiful family farm and stock up on organic tomatoes, eggplant, winter squash and peppers at bargain basement prices. Let us know you're coming: http://gleaning.eventbrite.com
The Kovacovich Family has grown melons in the Verde Valley for over 40 years. They used to sell so many melons that they weighed their truck empty and then filled with melons to figure the pricing. Apparently there are tricks to growing watermelons, as anyone who has cut open a seemingly perfect one only to find mushy granular insides knows. You need to cut down on the irrigation at some point to make them sweet. A resonant thump when you give it a sharp rap with your knuckle is an indicator of ripeness. Add to that the insects and coyotes dining on their sweet flesh. The art and science of growing food is remarkable--we are lucky that there are those special families who have the strength, discipline and persistence to keep doing it. The more I hear about worms eating ears of corn, racoons invading the hen house and curly top virus decimating tomato crops, the more I respect and appreciate farmers.
I had a cooking adventure over the weekend. My husband is half Greek and I had a bunch of eggplant and lamb, so I made moussaka using this recipe. It was delicious, and made a boatload, so we're going to be eating Greek all this week!