Book Discussion: Omnivore’s Dilemma

January 29, 2007

I’m in the middle of Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma and I would love to know how others are responding to it. My husband and I were unable to make it to the book discussion group.

Any takers?

Laura Frazier

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City Budget Cuts and the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market

June 8, 2006

Today, I found out that one of the positions that might be eliminated as part of the city budget cuts is the coordinator for the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market. This person is responsible for publicity, event planning, grant-writing, and is a liason to the city government. This is the person largely responsible for the huge growth in the farmers’ market in recent years, and the wonderful events such as the semiannual Pottery Festival and Crafts in the Afternoon.

The farmers’ market supports local farmers, food artisans, businesses, and craftsmen. The other events support local artists and craftsmen. They provide a great service and a community-building experience for our citizens. Altogether, they are a big part of why Greensboro is a wonderful place to live. The people who frequent the Curb Market are passionate about it.

This year Slow Food Piedmont Triad and others were optimistic about working to obtain money to improve and add on to the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market. Plans had begun to add a tasting kitchen and a social area with tables and chairs where shoppers could eat one of the tasty breakfasts that volunteers at the Market often cook, such as the strawberry pancakes on Strawberry Day, or the local eggs, grits, sausage and biscuits served on Farmers’ Appreciation Day. Or where they can simply sit and chat over a cup of coffee. Design students from UNCG were on board to design the spaces.

Our city manager thinks that we might possibly rather keep a dollar or two in our pockets annually than keep the person responsible for bringing us these delightful days and events on the payroll.

Please let our mayor and city council know that Gerry Alfano is valued in our community, and plays a very special role in making downtown Greensboro a better place to live. Tell them that you think the Greensboro Farmers’ Curb Market is important, and enriches our lives, and that you think that Alfano’s excellent work justifies it receiving more funding, not less.

You can email them from this web page, or you can call and fax them. Their phone contact information is at this web page.

UPDATE: By the time I found out about this and posted it, the city council was already in session. They did not cut the position, so there is no need to contact them, unless you would like to thank them. Thank you, Sandy Carmany, for your timely responsiveness to your constituents!


No NAIS!

February 16, 2006

I have been at a loss for words about NAIS – the National Animal Identification System. To put this kind of shackle on the small livestock producers in this country is shameless. The local farmer from whom I buy my chickens says that when this USDA program goes into effect, he will not be able to sell his free-range hens and eggs to the public anymore. He and his wife have been building a successful business and had made plans to raise heritage turkeys and rabbits this year. NAIS is changing everything for them. It is also taking away a valuable food resource for local consumers.

I received this email from Allan Balliett, a frequent contributor to the Slow Food DC listserv, in response to a query by a listmember. I wanted to share it with you because it does a good job of explaining NAIS from a small livestock farmer’s point of view, and it led me to an excellent blog set up to inform the public about NAIS and help us fight it. If you care at all about food, small businesses, privacy, or needless government regulation, you should care about stopping NAIS.

NAIS is one of several programs that have become necessary because of problems created by confinement animal operations that the government is currently pushing onto small family farms. Is the goal the safety of Americans or is it saving agri-business from the unfair competition created by, as Kathy says ‘Food that tastes like it used to”? It’s amazing how greedy corporate bean counters are, pushing to recollect any crumbs that fall to small farms. Since keeping clean, living food out of the hands of anyone but the rich helps creates profits for corporations invested or integrated in the ‘health’ sector, it’s hard to imagine that this continual and painfully obvious push to make farming too expensive or difficult except at [large] scale doesn’t have larger payoffs in mind.NAIS is just one of many.

Best source of NAIS and anti-NAIS info is at noNAIS.org (which, btw, is also an excellent example of how the internet can be put to work for the betterment of everyone).

The following is quoted from there.

NoNAIS Logo

“The National Animal ID program was originally designed to give the big beef producers help in getting export markets which required disease controls. The idea is that every single livestock animal in the United States will be identified and tagged. All livestock animal movements will be tracked, logged and reported to the government. The benefit is to the big factory farms who probably do need this type of regulation. They get to do single ID’s for large groups of animals. Small farmers, pet owners and homesteaders will have to tag and track every single animal.

“There are no exceptions – even small farms that sell direct to local consumers will be required to pay the fees and file all the paper work on all their animals. Even horse, llama and other pet owners will be required to participate in NAIS. Homesteaders who raise their own meat and grandma with her one egg hen will also have to register their homes as ‘farm premises’ and obtain a Premise ID, tag all their animals and submit all the paperwork and fees. Absurd? Yes – There are no exceptions under the current NAIS plan. The USDA has slipped this plan in the back door without any legislation. This is going to be very expensive and guess who is going to pay for it in higher food prices…You!”

Allan Balliett has a website about his Shepherdstown, West Virginia farm at www.freshandlocalcsa.com. His CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program serves the DC Metro area.


N.C. Natural Milk Meeting

January 18, 2006

NC NATURAL MILK MEETING
Saturday, January 21, 2006
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
(919) 560-0260
Parkwood Public Library
5122 Revere Road
Durham, N.C. 27713
RSVP Alice Hall at tigrclause AT mindspring.com

This is for anyone interested in learning the health benefits of raw, unpasteurized milk and milk products. There will also be a discussion on the current attempt to legalize raw milk and cow share programs in North Carolina that will benefit both consumers and farmers. Raw milk is currently available about 30 states including Virginia and South Carolina.


Beef and dairy petitions to FDA and USDA

October 26, 2005

I’d like to call your attention to two worthy petitions being collected by two consumers’ organizations. One calls for the FDA to end feeding of all mammal remains to cows (and prevent the spread of Mad Cow disease) at www.notinmyfood.org, a site sponsored by Consumers’ Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports.

The other is sponsored by the Organic Consumers Association, and it also concerns cattle, and again, misleading labeling. Some leading “organic” dairy producers are guilty of confinement animal feeding practices. You can read about it and sign the petition at http://www.organicconsumers.org/usda.htm, but I’ve copied the actual petition below for your information.

“We call on the USDA to:

1) Heed the advice of your own National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)
and clarify the National Organic Standards to negate the current
practice of raising cattle on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
(CAFOs) whose products are marketed as “Certified USDA Organic.” The
organic regulations (§ 205.239) clearly state farmers must “maintain
livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural
behavior of animals, including…access to pasture for ruminants.” The
practice of producing “organic” dairy on CAFOs puts family farmers at a
strong disadvantage with corporate agribusiness, violates the spirit of
the organic standards, and is misleading to consumers.

2) Put an end to the practice of allowing organic dairies to increase
their herd size by continually importing young calves from conventional
farms. This clause in the standards was implemented to help family
farmers make the conversion from conventional to organic production.
This was meant to be a “one-time” allowance. CAFOs are now using this
loophole on a regular basis to increase herd size and production by
cheaply, regularly, and continually converting new conventional herds
into “organic” production without having to go through the trouble and
expense of breeding true organic animals. This should be a one-time
clause, after which the ruminants should be bred from organic livestock
on that farm or purchased as organic.

3) Allow the NOSB to make a final ruling on this matter at its November
2005 meeting. There have been five years of public comments on this
issue, all resulting in an overwhelmingly strong majority support of
the above two points. It is time for a final NOSB ruling and for the
USDA to implement actions based on that ruling.

4) Release the names of current NOSB candidates. The NOSB will be losing
five of its current board members after this meeting. Historically, the
board has been made up of appointees chosen by the USDA along with
input from the overall organic community. In the past, the USDA would
release the names of candidates, which ultimately led to an open
process of choosing the most qualified candidates. The USDA has
currently refused to release the names of appointees. It is very
important that the names be released so the organic community can be a
part of helping the USDA choose the best possible appointees.”

Your emails and calls do make a difference. In response to attempts in
recent years to undermine organic standards, public outcry has stopped
industrial lobbyists in their tracks. For example, the recent rider to
add synthetic ingredients to the organic standards has been withdrawn
(perhaps, temporarily) due to public response.