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The Fresh Revolution

Farmers and retailers joining growing local food movement

by Sylvia Anderson

Article from stjoenews.net

A large plastic crate holds dozens of tiny, yellow baby chicks. Not more than a few days old, the fuzzy babies with bright orange beaks look like they’re ready for some kind of Easter commercial.

But these chicks are featured in a new movie produced by Ana Sofia Joanas called “Fresh,” which was recently screened in Kansas City. As you hear the chorus of chirping birds, a man picks up the crate, turns it over and tosses them on the ground like dirty water out of a bucket. He does it again and again with more crates, chick falling on chick, until the ground is covered in a sea of yellow. And then the camera takes you to the scene of a large windowless facility, where hundreds of lifeless looking chickens are crammed into cages, unable to move, their beaks cut off.

The filming was done on an industrial chicken farm in Arkansas, where more than 100,000 chickens are kept per chicken house. The feed is laced with arsenic and antibiotics — to prevent disease. The bags of poultry litter have warnings that it is dangerous to humans. And this large-scale farm is typical of the modern industrial model designed to produce food cheaper and faster. But as the movie explains, the model is not working any more.

“Mono cultures (a lot of the same species growing together without variation) are dangerous,” states Michael Pollard, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” in the film. “When you grow too much of one thing, you end up with too many pests of that thing.”

Without diversity, he explains, the animal manure that is a natural fertilizer on a family farm becomes a toxic waste in the large animal “cities.” Farms with only corn or soybeans must rely on increasing amounts of fertilizers and pesticide to grow. The consequences are food contamination, environmental pollution, depletion of natural resources, morbid obesity and food that is not really food anymore.

“You can only tip the balance of nature so far,” says Professor John Ikerd, professor of agricultural economics at the University of Missouri in Columbia. “We are so obsessed with productivity, with more cheap stuff, that we are suffering the negative consequences. It’s time to shift to another vision for the future.”

Fortunately, a new vision is beginning, fueled by consumer demand for healthy, tasty food and farmers looking for a better way to do things. Grocery stores, such as Hy-Vee in St. Joseph, Price Chopper in Platte City and Hen House in Kansas City are responding by starting to partner with small farmers to sell locally grown food while paying the farmers a fair price for their labor, making it feasible for them to use a natural approach.

Carol Maddick with Campo Lindo Farms in Lathrop, Mo., is one of those farmers. She and her husband, Jay, raise about 2,000 laying hens, sheep and turkey based on the method of farmer Joel Salatin of Swope, Va., who is featured in the movie. Mr. Salatin states he has not bought any chemical fertilizer in 50 years and makes $3,000 an acre rotating a diversity of plants and animals on the land.

“We heard him speak at a small farmer’s conference in 1993,” Mrs. Maddick says. “That’s what we set out to do. It’s more labor. You have to manage your pastures. But it’s a model that really makes sense.”

“Fresh” film producer Ana Sofia Joanas spent two days at the Maddick farm, observing and discussing their operation. For one thing, they don’t hurl baby chicks onto the ground like in the film.

“When we get chicks, we set them down and let the chicks out gently. I can’t imagine the way they were throwing them around. That’s the industry standard, though. They don’t think of them as animals, they think of them as a product.”

At Campo Lindo, they have a stationary barn the hens come into at night, but then at daybreak, the chickens range free on 15 acres. To keep other animals from getting the chickens, they run their Great Pyrenees with them. The dogs are raised with the chickens, so they become “their protector,” she says. The chickens are fed only a high-quality, all-natural feed without antibiotics or hormones. They must meet USDA standards for cleanliness, but since the couple hand process all the chickens, they don’t have the need for harsh chemicals as do the industrial farms. It all adds up to better-tasting chicken that’s healthier to eat.

“It can be overwhelming,” says Mrs. Maddick, regarding all the ecological, sociological and economic problems with the way food is produced now. “The way I think of it is, you vote with your dollar. If what you want is more wholesome, more natural, local food, then that’s what you ought to buy. The grocers will bring in what the customer is demanding. Our chicken has made it into the stores because people come in and say, ‘Hey, we would like some Campo Lindo chicken.’”

Lifestyles reporter Sylvia Anderson may be reached at [email protected]

To get more information on “Fresh” the movie, visit www.freshthemovie.com.

Campo Lindo chickens and eggs are currently sold at the following locations, but check with your local grocer: Green Acres — Briarcliff Village (they also use the chickens in their deli department), Cosentino’s Price Choppers (Liberty, 95th & Mission, Brookside), Cosentino’s Brookside Market, Cosentino’s Downtown Market, Hy-Vee – 95th & State Line, Nature’s Pantry – Independence, all three Whole Foods stores in Kansas City and Mother Nature’s Pantry in Liberty.

Restaurants that use Campo Lindo products:

American Restaurant – Crown Center

Bluebird Bistro

Bluestem

The Carriage Club

Classic Cup Café

City Tavern

Hallbrook

Country Club

Justus Drugstore –a restaurant

Kansas City Country Club

Michael Smith

Pierpont’s

Piropo’s

River Club

Room 39 – both locations

Starker’s Reserve

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