Category Archives: Politics of Food


market season is here!

i have been waiting months and months for this. all those times i almost broke down and bought asparagus from argentina – totally worth the wait.

at the onset of this season i am reminded of one important thing – fresh food lasts so long in my fridge.

i first learned this lesson as a line cook in baltimore – working at Ixia (r.i.p.), we used to get produce from a local farm. one weekend i got beautiful purple asparagus for a special. at the end of saturday night i stuck what was left in a pan and shoved it in the back of my station, without thinking.

i found it again and two weeks later it was still as firm and beautiful as when we first received it.

this week at Local Harvest we received lovely greens, beautiful radishes, bright red strawberries and eye-popping early turnips. all of which look as great as they did the day they were plucked from the ground.

i can’t say enough about those turnips (from three rivers community farm in elsah, il) – the greens and the roots were so crispy and full of flavor.


speaking of fresh, i recently viewed a great movie at the white flag projects…called FRESH.

i would say i spend a lot of time reading and watching all about the ‘new food movement’ – but this is the first film that has been inspirational. not picture after picture of sad animals- a thing we DESPERATELY need.

i was growing weary of the depressing and apocalyptic messages of the food community – telling us that we are killing ourselves and out environment (which i completely agree with!) – finally Ana Sofia Joanes is out there showing us that it is not all lost and that good food is not just for the elite.

the best thing i heard said all night was by a 50 year old man, something like “in my life time, food has gone from wholesome to atrocious – the rise of the fast food culture – this means, in the next fifty years, we can make just as drastic changes for the better.”

(please check out FRESH’s website, especially the ‘call the action‘ section)

i hope to see you all soon,

(originally posted on my blog.)

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Filed under Delicious Tidbits, Politics of Food

Double Feature About Food at the Tivoli

Just wanted to let everyone know that there will be a double feature of ‘Big River’ and ‘King Corn’ next Thursday, January 21 at the Tivoli in University City. Following up on their Peabody winning documentary, the ‘King Corn’ boys are back. For ‘Big River’, best friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis have returned to Iowa with a new mission: to investigate the environmental impact their acre of corn has sent to the people and places downstream.

The Missouri Coalition for the Environment, where I work, is presenting these two short films along with a panel discussion about the effects of corporate agriculture on our environment and health and ways in which local organizations can work to mitigate these problems.

Hope to see you there,
Brian DeSmet

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Filed under Events, Politics of Food

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

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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Filed under Events, Politics of Food

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

– Brian DeSmet


Filed under Events, Politics of Food

Pork Farmers and the economy


Thought our customers and supporters would be interested in this article in the St. Louis Beacon about hog farming. I’ve written about Patchwork Farms before and this article touches on what this group of farmers in rural Missouri is doing to save family farming.  This article also gives a great overview of how CAFO’s operate and the problems associated with them.

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Farm Aid in the Lou

Maddie Earnest and Carolyn Mugar, Executive Director of Farm Aid

Maddie Earnest and Carolyn Mugar, Executive Director of Farm Aid


You’ve probably already heard that this year’s Farm Aid concert is going to be in St. Louis on Oct. 4th.  We are all very excited by this news and look forward to Farm Aid bringing more awareness to issues facing family farmers. 

We had the chance to meet the fine folks who run the Farm Aid organization at the press conference and again when they came to dinner at the cafe last night. Seriously, these folks could not be nicer or more dedicated.  They seemed to thoroughly enjoy the food–trout was a favorite, along with the cucumber bisque, shiitake bruschetta, and Jayne’s Lemon Cake.  Oh, and also a shout out to Claverach’s Chambourcin wine which we all drank with delight. 

Local Harvest Grocery and Cafe plant to help promote and be involved in anyway we can.  Yesterday was another reminder of the importance not only to keep doing what we’re doing, but to let folks know why we buy from local family farms.

More to come surely.  In the mean time please check out the website and see how you can get involved.

yours in farming,


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Filed under Delicious Tidbits, Events, Politics of Food

Missouri Rural Crisis Center

I had the pleasure of attending the documentary “Farming Was My Life” and the discussion that followed. I am going to try to get the video onto our website so more people can see it. I thought I knew a lot about CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), but truly I have a lot more to learn.

The Missouri Rural Crisis Center assisted with the film. This 24-year old organization works to address the challenges faced by rural Missouri families and CAFOs are a big challenge. Here are some of the highlights (Facts taken from handouts from Missouri Rural Crisis Center and these facts were highlighted in the documentary.)

1. A Missouri study found that corporate contract operations create a net loss of employment. While creating 9 jobs for every 12,000 hogs produced, corporate contract operations displace 28 jobs.

2. Corporate concentration in the hog industry does not benefit consumers or independent producers. In the last 20 years, hog number in Missouri have stayed the same (2,800,000), while the number of hog farmers has decreased by nearly 90% from 19,000-2,000. From 1985-2006, the retail price of pork increased 64% from $1.71 to $2.81. During the same period, the hog producers’ share of the retail dollar decreased 39% from $.49 to $.30.

3. According to an EPA study, a CAFO with 4,000 hogs can generate as much waste as a city of 16,000 people. A Class 1A Cafo (17,500 hogs and above) can generate as much waste as the City of St. Louis.   (I’m not an expert on this, but my understanding also is that the CAFO’s are rarely if ever responsible for clean up of the polution caused by their operations.  This expense is passed onto everyone else.)

Some CAFOs house as many as 50,000 hogs. These animals never step outside for fresh air and sunshine. CAFOs strip the “animal” out of the animal!

There’s tons more information to share.  If you’re interested, get involved with Missouri Rural Crisis Center.  A great organization with an important mission.

Patchwork Farms is affiliated with Missouri Rural Crisis Center. We sell their brats, deli ham slices, bacon and we serve their  ham at our cafe. A great group of hog farmers who are doing it right!

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Filed under Meet Our Vendors, Politics of Food