Farmers and ranchers raising livestock for sale face three possible paths. They can ship their animals to a feedlot, where a large company grain-finishes, processes, and cuts the meat, the most common route of sale. They can raise it to market weight themselves and sell it as a live animal to a potential buyer (or group of buyers, as in the case of a co-op), who will then be responsible for processing and packaging the meat for their own use. Or they can send the animal to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected facility for processing, the only option which enables a producer to sell individual packages of meat to the public.
Ever since 1967, when Congress passed the Wholesome Meat Act, producers have been required to use a USDA-inspected facility for processing if they wish to sell meat directly to consumers, restaurants, and grocery stores. Read more
I have a friend who likes to ask: “Do you want to talk about it? Or be about it?”
For years, whenever author and New York Times food systems columnist Mark Bittman was considering his next move, he’d ask himself a similar question. After writing and talking about the nation’s most pressing food system problems, demystifying home cooking, and proselytizing about the benefits of eating more plant-based foods, he decided to get up from his desk and start doing more to help engage people in solutions. Read more
It’s early Saturday as I set out to meet Madison Woods, ginseng expert. She has agreed to meet with me, but has one request: I must keep mum about the exact location of her home in the Ozarks, where wild American ginseng thrives. At first I find her request a bit paranoid, but as I will soon find out, keeping the world of wild American ginseng under wraps has become a necessity. Read more
Last month, at the VIP dinner preceding Brewery Ommegang’s annual summer festival, employees, volunteers, and attendees toasted the launch of a brand new beer: Hopstate NY. The beer, which had been released in June, struck Ommegang fans as unusual, in part because the American Pale Ale was not made in the Belgian style—a first for the Cooperstown, New York-based brewery. But perhaps more striking: Hopstate NY had been made using 100 percent New York hops. Read more
Sarah Bernardi almost never goes to the grocery store. Instead, her community supported agriculture (CSA) subscription provides 90 percent of what she eats. “I buy crackers, pasta, oils, and nut butters. All those things I could live without if I really wanted to. I have not bought a vegetable since joining the CSA,” she says. Read more
Last November, an explosion at a water treatment plant brought disaster to an agricultural area of Southern California.
The explosion, caused by an apparently inadvertent mixing of chemicals and sewage at 3:30 a.m., blew off the back of a vacuum truck at Santa Clara Waste Water, a plant that processes oilfield waste from throughout the region. Over a thousand gallons of a caustic substance, sodium chlorite, blasted the plant’s intake yard. A few hours later, after the morning fog had burned off, the chemical caught fire, creating a cloud of potentially deadly chlorine gas that drafted over nearby farms, hospitalizing dozens, including medical personnel at the hospital tending to those whose lungs had been burned by the gas. Read more
This article originally appeared in Edible Manhattan.
Despite its pivotal role in helping create civilization, wheat has had a tough go of it for the last few years. Diet fads espousing carb-free or caveman-like eating have inspired millions to say no to the bread basket and quit pasta altogether. Gluten has become public enemy number one to many who blame it for their digestive problems—and the gluten-free market is seeing galloping growth. Meanwhile, some scientists are making dire predictions about how climate change will disrupt worldwide wheat production. Read more
As you read this, wildfires are burning on about 1.7 million acres of land across the western United States. Most are in Washington and Oregon, where fire is raging uncontained in 23 separate locations. So far this year, nearly 7.7 million acres have been directly affected by wildfires—almost three times more than by this point last year. Read more
The menu at the Scottish Bakehouse bakery and café on Martha’s Vineyard is a veritable map of the island’s farms. The chicken comes, mostly, from The Good Farm, a 10-acre poultry operation across the street. The greens come from neighboring Blackwater Farm and the yogurt is made at Mermaid Farm and Dairy, six tree-shaded miles down the road. The basil for the pesto and the cucumbers in the salad are grown right out back, in the bakehouse’s one-acre garden. Read more
Every day, all the members of the intentional community at the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC), gather in one place to eat together.
Located in West Sonoma County, California, OAEC has long been at the forefront of ecological agriculture. One of California’s first certified organic farms, it has existed as a renowned demonstration farm, nonprofit educational retreat center, intentional community, and eco-think tank since the 1970’s. And the group has been eating, and growing food in their “Mother Garden” together for so long, that OAEC has also been pioneering its own cuisine over the years. The meals follow a template that speaks to their seasonal, plant-based approach to eating: one or two garden vegetable dishes, one protein dish, one carbohydrate, a side of pesto, spread or sauce, and a huge salad. Read more