Not Exactly a Sunday List but Kinda

So here is a grab bag of stories that I have been meaning to write about for awhile:

The Grist Mill in Skowhegan has met it’s KickStarter goal and will get it’s funding!!!   Here’s the thank you from Amanda:

“So what makes people give $63, or $28, or $2 to Kickstarter projects?  I have been tickled to hear from many of you about what inspires you.  These have got to be lucky numbers.

I presume this because since we met our goal yesterday, the pledges are still rolling in.  IT’S WONDERFUL! Thank you.  Every dollar makes a difference and helps secure a strong launch for Maine Grains flour mill.

Thanks everyone.”

A little blurb about the new Farm Bill:

The 2012 Farm Bill comes amid an increasingly fierce public debate over food and farming. The industrial model of agriculture and food production is continuing a decades-long drive toward fewer farmers, more factory-style meat production and more processed food—largely to benefit a handful of powerful agribusiness and food companies. At the same time, support is growing for a fair and sustainable food and farm system based on a different set of values: paying and treating farmers and food workers fairly, providing enough healthy food for all, integrating environmental sustainability, and more closely connecting farmers with consumers and communities.

In the U.S., the biggest and most influential farm policy tool is written by Congress every five years: the Farm Bill, which includes programs for crop production, farmers, rural development, energy, conservation and international food aid….70 percent of the money is part of the Nutrition title, which includes the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps….cuts are expected…

There is a lot at stake in the 2012 Farm Bill. In the current political climate, Congress and the Obama administration are more focused on cuts than serious reform…Important conservation programs that protect waterways and wildlife and those that support conservation practices on working farms are also likely to face severe cuts. Efforts to enforce antitrust policy and ensure fair markets in agriculture have already been curtailed, and could face further limitations.

And just in case you think I missed the whole PINK SLIME story.  Here is a good commentary about the whole issue  reprinted from Local Harvest:

If you didn’t see the debate on the “pink slime,” this response, from someone who actually handles meat, feels important to highlight:
Azo Rodrigue
I have been a meat cutter for 30 years. This is what Pink slime is : but first, the basics… when you cut a steak or roast,it requires ‘trimming’. Trimming is like sanding the rough edges off a piece of wood- you are making the steak or roa…st look uniform and give it better ‘eye appeal’. When you trim, you are removing both lean meat and fat. The trimmings accumulate. If I cut a side of beef that weighs 300lbs, then about 50lbs of that is bones, 50lbs. discarded fat, about 50lbs. hamburger trim – depending on how much ‘external fat’ (as opposed to marbling) that particular animal has. That leaves about 150lbs steaks,roasts,and stew meat. As a meatcutter tends to do – waste not – we save all the trimmings to grind into hamburger. If I keep every pound of fat chances are the hamburger would come out 50% lean or less-which is no good. So, we know that most of the external fat has to be discarded and the remaining trim will grind out to the desired 75%-85%-95% lean, what ever the target is. You get good at guessing the % as you cut.So close to 100lbs. per animal is discarded fat – on a fatted animal, also known as ‘prime’ grade.

Pink slime is the end product of a process in which, they claim, they take ‘bits of fat and lean meat’ – or trimmings- add ammonia, put it in a centrifuge much like a washing machine, and spin it hard. the ammonia is not used to sterilize but to release the fat from the meat, the fat dissolves and is spun out and away and they’re left with the lean meat. that meat is then frozen into blocks and added to the real hamburger generated by the meatcutters.

In my opinion, there is something wrong with the industrys’ explanation. First, when I cut up an animal, I have already removed any meat that is any good for hamburger. What I throw away is fat and bone. If you look in my refuse barrel at while I am on lunch break, you will see whiteness… white bones, and white fat. Almost no red – the little red you might see will be negligible bits of lean meat on the bones and the fat I trimmed off. This must be what they are trying to re-capture. So, I guess that when you kill 150,000 bulls a week, this could add up.

Second, ammonia is poison. When ammonia enters the body as a result of breathing, swallowing or skin contact, it reacts with water to produce ammonium hydroxide. This chemical is very corrosive and damages cells in the body on contact.

I propose that if they want to sell the stuff that I as a meatcutter have discarded – then they should be selling it to Purina or Little Friskies – not Wal-Mart or Piggly Wiggly. They used to be happy putting this stuff in hot dogs,bologna,pepperoni etc. but those sales have dipped in recent years, so in the burger it now goes. I’d like to point out here – that if we have been reading about this for 10 years then that means they have been doing it for 35.

And from our friends at the Corporate Criminal Headquarters:

Monsanto Threatens to Sue Vermont

“Despite overwhelming public support and support from a clear majority of Vermont’s Agriculture Committee, Vermont legislators are dragging their feet on a proposed GMO labeling bill. Why? Because Monsanto has threatened to sue the state if the bill passes. The popular legislative bill requiring mandatory labels on genetically engineered food (H-722) is languishing in the Vermont House Agriculture Committee, with only four weeks left until the legislature adjourns for the year. Despite thousands of emails and calls from constituents who overwhelmingly support mandatory labeling, despite the fact that a majority (6 to 5) of Agriculture Committee members support passage of the measure, Vermont legislators are holding up the labeling bill and refusing to take a vote.”

Here is a very interesting event I wish I could attend but will probable not be able to fit into my schedule:

Food Connections: The Conference.

Reconnecting Hands, Mouth & Mind through Food Systems Education
April 20 through 22 – COA Campus

What is the full story of food? While today many people are looking into food production and healthy eating, the intermediary activities – of packaging, processing, distribution, sales, consumption, and waste – are seldom investigated. Yet these activities, and how they are controlled, have tremendous impacts on the well-being of entire populations.

From April 20 through 22, College of the Atlantic will be hosting a sustainable foods conference, “Food Connections: Reconnecting Hands, Mouth & Mind through Food Systems Education.” The conference will feature discussions on what people need to know to transform food systems, and how these subjects can best be learned.

“While many colleges and universities have farms where students can learn about food production,” says Molly Anderson, PhD, COA’s Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems, “learning about the rest of the food system is still fragmented and not integrated with surrounding farms or the community where higher education occurs.”

Keynote speakers are Eric Holt-Gimenez, executive director of Food First/Institute for Food & Development Policy in Oakland, and Gary Paul Nabhan, author and research scientist at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center. Discussion leaders will include those who are forging paths in new distribution methods, policies that favor small organic farms, ways of getting more sustainable food to campuses, cultural connections with foodways, and advocacy for food justice and sovereignty.

The conference will be based on the COA campus, at 105 Eden St. in Bar Harbor, ME, with field trips to local farms, including the college’s organic Beech Hill Farm and its new Peggy Rockefeller Farms, as well as to Acadia National Park. In addition to COA, sponsors of the Food Connections conference are Elm Farm Organic Research Centre and the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Sciences at the University of Kassel through a Trans-Atlantic Partnership with generous funding from the Partridge Foundation.

For more registration information and other inquiries, visit, or contact Matthew Doyle Olson, Sustainable Food Systems Coordinator, at or 207-801-5688.

And for my fellow Beeks:

2012 Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference: “The Practical Beekeeper” July 24-29 2012 Leominster, Massachusetts

Confirmed Speakers: Michael Bush, Kirk Webster, Dee Lusby, Les Crowder, Dr. Paul Arnold, Sam Comfort, Erik Osterlund, Laurie Herboldsheimer, Dean Stiglitz….More TBA!

2012 Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference will take place July 24-29 in Leominster, Massachusetts. Bees on site for daily hands on workshops (weather permitting), 3 amazing meals a day (prepared onsite by our talented and experienced staff from scratch) are included, nearby affordable camping available.

Beginners Intensive (not just for beginners!) July 24 and 25: Michael Bush, Sam Comfort, Ramona Herboldsheimer, Dean Stiglitz instructors. Bees and beekeeping from the treatment-free perspective. Langstroth, Top Bar and Warre styles will all be addressed. $140 (early bee price until May 15…$150 after May 15).

Field Day July 26: This is free for all attendees of either the beginners intensive or the main conference (including 3 meals). There will also be a day rate for others who wish to attend the field day only (TBA).

The evening talk (which we like to span a bit beyond beekeeping) will by by Dr. Paul Arnold, where he will speak about his specialty, “The physiological ecology of mycorrhizal fungi, the effects of toxins in mutualistic relationships between plants…” (this is all the fungi that are fed up to 20% of the plants’ sugar and draw nutrients to the root system in return).

Main Conference July 27-29: Topics will be grounded with the “Practical Beekeeper” in mind.

Michael Bush (Nebraska): After two years away, we’re excited to welcome Michael back to Leominster! Michael’s book, “The Practical Beekeeper”, website, and reprints of old beekeeping books are all most highly recommended…see his website for details.

Kirk Webster (Vermont): Bee breeder,honey producer and organic farmer, Kirk returns to Leominster in the middle of the build-out of his organic farm/beekeeping school. is a collection of Kirk’s writings (with new ones on the way).

Dee Lusby (Arizona): The mother of treatment-free beekeeping, Dee manages 700 hives in the remote desert rangeland of southern Arizona. Dee runs the organic beekeepers list and the annual Organic Beekeeping Conference in Oracle Arizona. Her writings can be found on Beesource.

Les Crowder (New Mexico): Les has been a methodical and observant keeper of Top Bar Hives (TBH) for over 25 years. His upcoming book on top bar management will be published by Chelsea Green soon.

Dr. Paul Arnold (Georgia): In addition to the topics listed above for his evening talk, Paul is a beekeeper, and is well known for his expertise in pollen analysis in honey.

Sam Comfort (New York/Florida): Sam is (the appropriately named) Anarchy Apiarys…no rules, no boundaries. Sam always brings bees, spirit and song…if Johnny Appleseed had contracted terminal bee fever, he would have been Sam.

Erik Osterlund (Sweden): Our great friend from Sweden will again be joining us. Erik is known for his Elgon bee and breeding program, his insight, his wit, and as editor of the Swedish Beekeeping Journal. Eirk always brings us observation,

So enjoy all of these or some of these or none but pass on the information.   Blessed be the interweb!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: