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News for April 2, 2010

Delicious, Nutritious, Local Food

Our communities desperately need a transformation of our food system. All over the country, people are calling for locally produced, healthy, fresh, affordable food.

We know that the support for change is growing. People are ready to get their hands dirty, growing fresh food in their neighborhoods, their children's schools, and their own backyards. Just this week, I heard from a sustainable, organic farmer in Oregon that local demand is so high that she can hardly grow enough to keep up.

It's about time that the market and public policy recognized and rewarded these realities.

[ READ MORE ]

The battle over raw milk will spill into the future

Raw milk continues to flow from a Chilliwack dairy even after a B.C. Supreme Court decision in March which ordered the Home on the Range farm to stop distributing the product for human consumption.

Raw milk is a health hazard, wrote B.C Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper in the decision. When coupled with B.C.'s Public Health Act, which “prohibits a person from willingly causing a health hazard,” Home on the Range is ignoring the court's decision with ongoing distribution, said provincial Health Officer Perry Kendall.

“People continue to want to take risks,” he said.

[ READ MORE ]

Drenched: Emily DeVoti’s MILK

Anne Washburn (RAIL): Your parents were Back to the Landers, right? You grew up in a remote Berkshire’s location with a garden and chickens; you drank raw goat’s milk, but it wasn’t a full-fledged farm. I suppose my question is, in setting a play on a working dairy farm are you writing about what you had, or about what you didn’t have?

EMILY DEVOTI: My parents moved up to the Berkshires before I was born. We weren’t completely self-sufficient, but we did drink only raw milk from the goats, and my mom made some cheese and yogurt and we had a huge garden. And we made maple syrup, and had bees. We didn’t make money from it—my dad was a teacher by day, and kept up the place after work.
I’ve never written about that experience. I usually write historical plays. What led me to write about this is, I was in a corporate job (where I worked with a certain other playwright, Anne Washburn), and I was chatting with a lawyer there. He was lamenting the bad leisure habits of his kids. “I have every confidence that they can learn to hang out at the mall when they’re 18,” he said. “Meanwhile, I want to teach them some values.” He mentioned how a colleague of his had bought a farm for his family, in South Africa. My head immediately went into a spin. This was so ridiculous, and obscene. And yet this guy couldn’t see that. I thought—well, I don’t know South Africa, but I DO know the Berkshires. And I did grow up amidst the tension between locals and “weekenders.” I can write about this!

[ READ MORE ]

Farmers at tailgate markets will ask consumers to question Senate food safety bill

A Carolina Farm Stewardship Association alert is urging farmers to join in its statewide effort to raise concerns about what it calls “threats to healthy local food in the Senate’s food safety bill, S. 510.” CFSA is organizing farmers to spread the word to consumers at farmers’ markets.

The alert says, “Congress needs to hear from our communities that federal food safety legislation must protect healthy local food.  To mobilize consumer support, we have organized a week of grassroots action at farmers markets across NC.  Farmers markets and vendors will be sharing information ... at markets throughout the state from April 3 to April 10.”

[ READ MORE ]

Overkill hurting small farmers

On a quiet spring evening in 1940, 75 members of a church in Oswego County, N.Y., gathered for supper in the chapel basement. They had no idea they were about to make history.

Over the next 24 hours, three-quarters of the diners became sick with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The cause of their illness was contaminated ice cream.

It turned out a local dairy had used unpasteurized milk, and staphylococcal bacteria got into it. While all of the victims recovered, their ordeal revolutionized the way food production is regulated.

[ READ MORE ]

Bill Introduced to Aid in Tracing Slaughterhouse Meat Contamination

Adding to a slew of recent food safety proposals in Congress, Senator Jon Tester (ironically), a Democrat of Montana, recently introduced an amendment to the Meat Inspection Act designed to trace meat contamination back to what is often its original source: the slaughterhouse.

As the law currently stands, government inspectors only trace a contamination back to the packing house or butcher shop from whence it came, ignoring anything prior. Stunningly, government inspectors are not currently allowed to record the source of the meat at the same time they collect test samples, and by the time the test results are in, it's too late to find out. Tester's proposed amendment (S. 3163) would change that. Inspectors would not only be required to collect such traceability information when taking samples, but in the event a contamination is found, they would be required to investigate the slaughterhouse the meat came from.

[ READ MORE ]

Home-Butchered Meat: Classes Take Off in New Food Trend

The thud of heavy knives bashing bones, the splat of dead muscle hitting the table, the twisting of heads off bodies and the ripping of flesh from limp, cold limbs. Is this a nightmare vision from the makers of Saw or Hostel? An autopsy? No, it's actually the scene at a home kitchen near you, as more and more young Americans are taking a DIY approach to meat. It's part home economics, part politics and certainly at least part fad. But it's changing the way many Americans approach meat, chop by succulent chop.

Many of the young pioneers of this latest culinary trend may not even realize that butchers, like milkmen and iceboxes, were a mainstay of American culture for most of our history. The rise of supermarkets in the 1960s and '70s, and the general decline of the blue-collar trades throughout the postwar years, contributed to the near extinction of the retail butcher - that gruff but loveable lug in a white apron who stood behind a counter and cut up chops for your dinner, and whom you knew as well as your baker and, yes, your banker. Butchers mattered in people's lives, because they were part of the food supply. And they're not coming back.

[ READ MORE ]

 

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