Author Archives: planb247

Get Your Farm Aid On

With Farm Aid in town this weekend, there are alot of great things going on for the local food community (see below for some info on those). One thing you might not have heard about is a public event co-sponsored by the Missouri Rural Crisis Center called “A Farmer/Urban Connection,” which will run from 5:00 – 6:30pm on Saturday, October 3 at the First Presbyterian Church at 7200 Delmar Blvd. The event will discuss a number of challenges and opportunities facing family farm agriculture and how the public can help create a vibrant family farm food system. Please register at www.farmaid.org/RSVP.

Also, going on this Farm Aid weekend:

Homegrown Country Fair at the Tower Grover Farmers Market – Saturday, October 3rd, 10am-2:30pm
Farm Aid Farmer Cook-off at the Taste of St. Louis – Saturday, October 3rd, 11:00am-12:15pm
Farm Aid Eve at Blueberry Hill – Saturday, October 3rd, 7:30pm

– Brian DeSmet

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It’s time for (healthy) lunch!

As patrons and employees of Local Harvest, we all know how important local, healthy food is. We also know that many people do not have regular access to such food. On September 7, Slow Food USA is holding a national day of action called “Time for Lunch” to get real food in schools and “with the goal of creating a world in which everyone can enjoy food that is good, clean, and fair.”

Slow Food St. Louis will be hosting a local event at the Schlafly Bottleworks on Sept. 7 from 11am-1pm. If you’d like to help volunteer for the event, including helping to promote it before the event, please contact kelly at slowfoodstl.org.

– Brian DeSmet

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USDA NAIS Listening Session on June 9

Following up on a previous post on the National Animal Identification System, I thought I’d pass along the following email from the Missouri Farmers Union:

USDA Listening Session National Animal Identification System Scheduled for June 9 in Jefferson City

Truman Hotel & Conference Center
1510 Jefferson Street
Jefferson City, MO
Tuesday, June 9th: 9AM-4PM

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is gaining traction in Washington D.C., and we have the opportunity to let USDA know that the program will adversely affect thousands of Missouri farmers, while doing nothing for food safety concerns. Please plan to attend the listening session on June 9th. If you need assistance with transportation, directions or talking points, please contact Missouri Farmers Union.

Pro-NAIS forces have used myths to try to get farmers and consumers to buy into the NAIS program.  Now it is the time to convey the message that NAIS will severely and negatively impact independent family farmers, consumers who care about local and sustainable foods, taxpayers who object to wasteful government programs and advocates for a safer food system.

What You Can Do:

1.    Attend the listening session on June 9. Please have prepared comments ready, if possible, and remember there might be opportunities to visit with media.

2.   Submit written comments online or mail to:

ATTN NAIS, Surveillance and Identification Programs
National Center for Animal Health Programs, VS, APHIS
4700 River Road Unit 200
Riverdale, MD 20737

– Brian DeSmet

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No Options but Factory-Farmed Food?

Of course, we know there’s a growing movement for good, healthy, local food — it’s why we all love Local Harvest so much. But are there forces at work to “Make Sure We Have No Option But Factory Farmed Food”? And is the Democratic-led Congress helping them by pushing the National Animal ID System (NAIS)? Seems so according to this Daily Kos diary (by one of the people there that focuses on food issues).

As the author points out, there are many reasons to eat locally-grown food — food safety, the environment, health, etc. You may know that free-range eggs taste a lot better than chain grocery store eggs (the yellower the yolk, the better), but did you realize how much healthier they are?

1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

If you want to keep eating those eggs from local farmers — and having easy access to them — you might want to weigh in on the NAIS debate with your US Congress Critter.

As an aside, the Union of Concerned Scientists recently released a study about genetically-engineered (GE) foods that knocks down one of the main arguments for GE foods — their supposedly higher yields. As it turns out, not so much.

Feel free to email me any questions or links to stories at planb247(at)gmail(dot)com.

– Brian DeSmet

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Help Missouri ‘Do It Local’

Hi, I’ve been asked by Maddie and Clara to be a guest blogger for the Local Harvest Dish on food issues. As an introduction, I worked at the grocery briefly when it first opened, volunteered last summer at the Tower Grover Farmers Market, work with the Missouri Coalition for the Environment as my day job, am in an organic farming apprenticeship at the Mueller Farm in Ferguson and will be assisting Andy Ayers with his local food distribution business, Eat Here St. Louis, this summer.

Whew! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk food. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, there’s a bit of a swine flu thing going around. What you may not have heard yet is that some sources are already pointing to factory farming giant Smithfield as the culprit:

According to one community resident, the organic and fecal waste produced by Granjas Carrol isn’t adequately treated, creating water and air pollution in the region. I witnessed—and smelled—the same thing in Hardin County, Iowa, a couple of years ago, another area marked by intensive industrial hog production.

The connection has not been confirmed, but evidence seems to be mounting:

“Government officials today said they believe the swine flu began in a small community next to a large pig farm in the southeastern state of Veracruz, where a four-year-old boy who got sick in April tested positive for the virus,” reported ABC News, which called the small village “Ground Zero,” and said the deadly virus “somehow spread to Mexico City.”

Well, Mexico and Iowa must have a lot in common with Missouri because the Show-Me State has quite a few of these CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). These operations have a LOT of clout in Jefferson City and have stopped nearly any legislation that would control or decrease their numbers, or make it harder for them to obtain permits (for either constructing more CAFOs or controlling the wastes from them).

The possible link between the swine flu outbreak and factory farming is a disturbing one… What can you do about it other than making sure you eat only sustainably-raised pork from Local Harvest? One thing is to use this awful situation to make the case for the negative health effects of factory farming.

You can also contact Governor Jay Nixon and ask him get behind local food. The Show Me Local Food Coalition includes groups such as the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, which has been leading the fight in Missouri against factory farms for some time. Here’s a short primer of theirs on CAFOs and how they affect local communities.

So remember, “Doing It Local” isn’t just about purchasing decisions but also about how we ensure that our political system addresses these problems.

– Brian DeSmet

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