Things we can do together to chart a healthful course for generations
It’s been cool enough a few nights now at Scotch Hill to start a fire in the wood stove. We rely heavily on wood heat for our 80-year-old farmhouse. Before the glowing warmth and flames, Dela and I sit silently entranced at day’s end. I watch the burning elm and oak through the glass door of the stove. I think of cutting those dead trees from along the fence line of a field we farm. So much work yet to finish in that field – and three others – before the ground freezes. My thoughts turn to the three lovely girls who came with their terrific parents from Chicago Saturday. They joined another wonderful subscriber from Madison in weeding and harvesting. The help they gave Dela let me spend a day cutting firewood for winter. Close-in weeding of cool season crops that will go in November shares and for sale in winter farmers markets is especially important now. Days shorten, limiting sunshine plants need to grow. Weeds can quickly overcome our kale, spinach, turnips, carrots, spicy greens and other beds of plants we’ll keep tending into winter. They deprive them even more of this essential sunlight. Children are born naturalists, observing so many things about plants and animals, insects and birds. They often see what we grown-ups miss. Dela and I have also been enjoying bi-weekly visits from Isthmus Montessori’s first-graders. The three girls and two boys accompany their teacher from Madison to help and learn. On alternate Wednesdays, I visit their school to deliver vegetables for snacks. Good eating habits come most easily when started young. Little do these youngsters realize that healthful snacks chart a course for life. We adults, too, reflect very little each day about how we chart the course of children for life. Next week, we conclude our regular season efforts together to restore sustaining, local, safe relationships over the most fundamental of needs – our food and farmland that supports it. If Dela and I are to carry our farm forward into another, 20th season, we need at least 30 more of you to sign up for our fall/winter share in November. We need you to consider purchasing our goat milk soap, which Dela makes and we both sell in fair trade, alternative gift, school benefit and winter farmers markets, especially during the holidays. We need you to put deposits on and sign up for that 20th 20-week season (June to October 2014) as soon as you can. And we need you to respond to our Fair Share CSA Coalition’s call to speak out against the proposed national Food Safety Act rules. These rules are before the Food and Drug Administration, and they could put ours and many other CSA farms out of business. I’ve copied into additional pages of the newsletter a description of the proposed rules and information about how you can address them. Those who seek “value” in food for its cheapness are unwitting victims of a system that merely exploits land and people for profit. Those who love their food, the people who grow it, the land where it is grown by organic practices, must protect it.
This Week’s Vegetables include:
- Cilantro OR basil
- Assorted tomatoes (1 lb.)
- Sweet Peppers (also yellow, orange or green and hot)
- Russet Potatoes (great for baking)
- Bok Choi
- Garden Extra – every delivery point gets something different (broccoli, OR melon); melons may be smaller now and have imperfections, but they’re only possible in October thanks to late frost and warm weather)
Cooking Tips for the Week
Dela’s Warm Potato Kale Salad
Boil 1 lb. potatoes un-pealed in a large saucepan of simmering water for 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cut them into 1-inch cubes and put in a serving bowl. Hard boil 2 eggs. Drain, cool, shell and chop. Put 1 tablespoon plain yogurt, creme fraiche or sour cream and 1 garlic clove crushed OR 1 chopped onion in a separate bowl ad mix. Spoon the mixture over the potatoes, add 1 cup finely chopped kale, 1 small bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped, pepper to taste and the eggs and stir carefully. Serve hot or cold.
Notes on Federal Government Food Safety Act Rules
Proposed by the Food and Drug Administration
That could put certified organic CSA growers and small farmers out of business
Many of you are aware that the national Food Safety Act, intended to halt the worsening safety of food supplies brought on by mass produced food, transported great distances and difficult to track, and often in unhealthful ways, but threatening safe, local, sane small scale food production that is not subsidized or capitalized by either government or industry, has been looming large for the last several years.
The rules that will put that act into enforcement are here (almost!) and, as currently drafted, the rules are problematic even threatening as expected for small farms and CSA growers. A few examples of the problems in the rules as currently drafted:
- The rules include manure and compost application restrictions that would make it nearly impossible for farmers to use these natural fertilizers, pushing farmers to use chemical fertilizers instead of natural ones. These restrictions directly conflict with National Organic Program (USDA) certification provisions on manure treatment.
- The rules would require excessive water testing on farms, where farmers use water from streams and lakes. Farmers would be required to pay for weekly water tests regardless of risk or cost.
- Local food systems are at risk. Although Congress instructed the FDA to not allow their implementation of FSMA to undermine local food systems, the rules can be interpreted to consider farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs “manufacturing facilities” subject to additional regulation. CSAs that sell produce from other farms would be subjected to that higher level of regulation.
- Enforcement of FSMA rules could be grossly unfair. The FDA has given itself broad authority to revoke small farmers’ protections without any proof of a public health threat.
- The rules would be expensive for many farms. Even the FDA estimates that the rules could cost some farmers over half of their profits, which could keep beginning farmers from entering farming.
- Consumers would lose access to important sources of healthy food. Because the rules as drafted would put many farmers out of business and discourage others from entering farming, options to purchase local, healthy food would diminish. Local food distributors like food hubs could close, and new food businesses would not launch.
- The rules could harm wildlife and degrade our soil and water. They could force farmers to halt safe practices that protect our natural resources and wildlife.
- In partnership with Margaret Krome, national sustainable agriculture advocate and public policy program director at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wis., central Wisconsin’s Fair Share CSA Coalition has put together info and comment sessions to encourage supporters to voice their concerns and ensure that the impending rules of the Food Safety Act reflect the needs of our farms.
Please attend one of the two scheduled sessions and tell others near and far (around the country) that you're attending and that the outcome of these rules is of regional and national importance. Tell your acquaintances, friends and relatives that they should JOIN YOU, whether in email messages or in-person. It’s our understanding that the comments process is a little daunting, so we want to make sure we flood the Food and Drug Administration with reasonable, individualized comments to impact the final rules with common sense and true food security.
Sessions are in Madison on Oct. 21 and Nov. 4 (details & event links below). Below are info session details. Let us know if you'd like graphics to include in your newsletter and/or have questions.
New food safety rules are on their way. Everyone wants safe food, but the Food and Drug Administration's first draft of new safety rules have big problems. They will be costly, especially for small farmers. They conflict with National Organic Program rules and undermine conservation practices. They undercut CSA growers and small, independent farmers and other essential markets in local food systems. What's bad for our local farmers is bad for consumers.
“We all want food safety, but we don’t want to destroy the vibrant local and sustainable farming communities we’ve worked so hard to build because we allowed the FDA to implement poorly-designed regulations,” said Margaret Krome, policy director for the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute.
I worked with Margaret at Michael Fields for about 5 years, when I assisted their agronomists, soil scientists and educators with communications and funding for applied research projects with farmers in three states. Margaret held one of only 2 or 3 funded advocacy positions for sustainable agriculture in the nation at that time. She was and continues to be up against hundreds of paid lobbyists for industrialized food and farming systems that would thwart and undermine the estimated 7,000 CSA farms and many more small farms that continue to produce food for local people around the United States.
Right now, we have the opportunity to make sure the FDA gets it right. The FDA wants to hear from you -- farmers and consumers -- on your response to the draft regulations they've posted. And we only have until Nov. 15th to respond!
Public Info Sessions Scheduled
Bring your laptop and come to a public info session. You’ll learn about the comment process and receive instructions and navigation assistance. Refreshments will be served.
Monday, Oct. 21, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Good man Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison [Map]
Monday, Nov. 4, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Willy Street Co-op West, 6825 University Ave., Middleton [Map]
Please help us get the word out by distributing this downloadable flyer about the Info Sessions – [PDF]
Oct. 21 event:
Nov. 4 event: