By Andrew Gunther
| October 27, 2009
Asheville, NC Citizen-Times, October 27, 2009–The rural American landscape has changed in a way that can now imperil human health. In the name of efficiency, industrial farms have uprooted the family farm and the numerous jobs that go with it. Today the meat, milk and eggs on the average American’s table travel to supermarkets from places that more closely resemble factories than farms. On these industrialized operations, animals are confined indoors, in numbers far exceeding their natural social groups. They are forced to eat, drink, and in many cases stand in their own feces. These stressful conditions incubate and cause many diseases.
The first Vermont dairy recently passed its state certification to legally sell up to 40 gallons of raw milk per day. The certification is being given in two tiers—Tier 1 farms are only allowed to sell up to 50 quarts of milk per day and they do not have to be inspected or have their milk tested. Farms that wish to sell 40 gallons or more must be Tier 2 certified and both inspection and twice monthly milk testing is required. You may want to read the full list of legal requirements under Vermont’s Legislative Act 62 and as outlined in Rural Vermont’s Raw Milk Sellers Guide .
Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to announce that Eden Earthworks in Mountain View, Hawaii Lowline Cattle Company in Honoka’a, and Kauai Kunana Dairy on Kauai’s North Shore, have recently been awarded the Animal Welfare Approved seal for high-welfare animal husbandry.
According to Animal Welfare Approved Program Director Andrew Gunther, “Hawaiians, like their mainland counterparts, are interested in purchasing locally produced farm products from sustainable, humane farms. Being able to find these products is especially important in a state where an estimated 85 percent of the food is imported. We are excited to be a part of the effort to grow Hawaii’s farming community and to make sure Hawaiians can purchase products that align with their values.”
“People, planet, profit” is today’s measure of how well a company is doing. While corporate social responsibility might have once meant a nice contribution to charity at Christmas, those days are gone. A new study by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) shows consumers are taking “people, planet, profit,” also known as triple bottom line accounting, very seriously, and companies hoping to compete will have to take a good hard look at how they produce what they hope to sell.
According to the NMI study, 50% of consumers avoid brands whose practices they don’t agree with—twice as many as in 2005. Consumers have been educating themselves about the things they buy and the food they eat for years and that knowledge is impacting buying decisions.
Gail Cooley, with the help of her husband, Michael (Mike), and daughter, Morgan, raises Certified AWA laying hens, turkeys, geese and dairy goats at Patient Wait Farms in upstate South Carolina. Set on 20 acres of rolling hills, the farm includes beautiful stands of old oak trees, as well as several different native fruit trees, which all provide food and shade for the turkeys and other livestock.
Kids can be the pickiest eaters around, rejecting anything that smells, looks, or feels “weird,” an all encompassing term with a highly flexible definition. Rather than seeing this as an obstacle to a well-rounded nutritional experience, why not harness a child’s natural tendency to be suspicious of food and use it for good? Michael Pollan is doing just that with the release of The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat. Just released in hardcover, paperback and Kindle editions, The Omnivore’s Dilemma for Kids uses plenty of photos, graphs and charts—and a fun format—to encourage kids, tweens and teens to think about what they are eating, how it was produced and what that means for their future and the planet.
TomKat ranch is dedicated to the health and preservation of their land and community. Located in the lush, rolling hills of Pescadero and San Gregorio, just a few miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, TomKat cattle are raised according to the highest welfare standards. Their animals have free access to natural forages, and consume a 100% perennial grass diet.
Del and Debra Ferguson raise Certified Grassfed by AGW beef cattle and Certified AWA pigs, meat chickens, and laying hens at Hunter Cattle Company, a family owned and operated farm nestled outside Savannah in Brooklet, Georgia.
The October 4, 2009 New York Times story, “E. coli Shows Flaws in Beef Inspection,” is a chilling reminder to the public that we gamble unknowingly with our health every day, even when safer, viable options to the current systems are readily available.
The Times story follows a convoluted and widespread chain of production that ended with hamburger contaminated with the virulent E. coli strain O157:H7 being sold to the public, leaving one young woman paralyzed and more than 900 others ill. The story recounts the secrecy, obfuscation, and duplicity that processors engage in to avoid testing beef for E. coli and to protect a system that gives rise to tainted beef.
With fall harvest season in full swing, there was good news from the USDA for consumers who prefer to buy their produce, meat, dairy and eggs directly from farmers: the number of farmer’s markets in the United States has grown by 13% over the past year. According to the agency, 5,274 farmer’s markets are now operating nationwide, up from 4,685 reported in 2008 (a gain of 589 markets).
The USDA has just launched the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative to help develop local and regional food systems and spur economic opportunity.