In March, a police officer and two animal control officers showed up at Joshua Rockwood’s farm in upstate New York. They found frozen drinking water in the barn and spotted a steer sticking his nose through the snow to access running water, Rockwood reported on his blog. Despite testing and confirming that his dogs were adequately hydrated, the officer ticketed Rockwood for failure to provide adequate sustenance.
On a sunny winter day, the Ancona ducks at Boondockers Farm in Oregon wandered around their pasture and frolicked in several blue plastic kiddie pools, under the watchful eye of two Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs. The 500 or so ducks spend day and night outside, protected from predators by the dogs, not walls. Cows, turkeys, and Delaware chickens wander in pastures and barns. Vegetables destined for the farmers’ market grow in a nearby garden plot.
Since we Civil Eats started six years ago, we have cast our net wide to report on local food stories about individuals and communities working together to create a more vibrant, resilient, and just food system. There is so much good news about innovative projects happening nationwide: From Alaska to Hawaii, we’ve been documenting the unfolding of what local food likes like on the ground. In this month’s note, I wanted to share some of our inspiring stories showing how local food systems are connecting producers to consumers, boosting local economies, and building community.
As a food and lifestyle writer and someone who works in the seafood industry, I’ve long encouraged people to eat the little fish, particularly sardines, herring, anchovies and other small “forage” fish that are plentiful and local to California.
This summer, the Pacific Fishery Management Council closed West Coast sardine fishing due to very low sardine numbers. In fact, since 2007 there has been a 91 percent decline documented by federal scientists.
Get caught up with us on this week’s food news. Here’s what caught our eye.
Similac Advance Infant Formula to Be Offered GMO-Free (The New York Times)
Similac, the biggest manufacturer of infant formula, will start selling a GMO-free version at Target by the end of the month. Higher-ups at Abbott say the decision was spurred by consumer demand, not by science showing that genetically modified foods are unsafe.
You may have hoped that the national attention paid to organic farming, antibiotics, and other issues affecting the food you eat has resulted in a downturn in the number and size of factory farms over the years.
Editor’s Note: North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory vetoed this bill, saying: “While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity.” Then, on June 3rd, the State Senate and House both voted to override the veto.
Last week, the North Carolina senate approved a bill with a relatively unassuming name—the Property Protection Act. If the bill becomes a law, however, the state’s large animal farms, and a number of other businesses, will benefit from a new level of legal protection against workers looking to shed light on animal abuse or criminal activity.
Every 10 days, Thad Smith enters a piece of land that is otherwise forbidden to most people: The empty acreage around Chicago’s O’Hare airport. It’s there that Smith and his crew from the Westside Bee Boyz tend to 75 beehives. Last year, he and his fellow beekeepers harvested 1,600 pounds of honey in the otherwise unoccupied land beneath O’Hare’s airspace.
In two weeks, an organic farmer at an undisclosed California potato patch will harvest the first crop of potatoes destined for the fryer in the kitchen at the soon-to-launch Amy’s Drive Thru restaurant in Rohnert Park, California. The fast food restaurant with a twist is the brainchild of Amy’s Kitchen, the popular frozen food and soup company.
This is the final in a series of four excerpts from The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience, and Farming. Read more about the book and the author here, then check out the first, second, and third posts.
The sky is a brilliant blue as I drive onto Cherokee land in the Great Smoky Mountains along the North Carolina–Tennessee border. I pull into a small driveway leading up to a modest house with a sign out front that reads “The Center for Cherokee Plants.” This is where Kevin Welch and Sarah McClellan work to save seeds and propagate plants significant to Cherokee culture.