Posts Tagged ‘food dollars’

From the The Complete Patient: They Wonder Why People are Pissed?

More shenanigans in Michigan, notice the mention of Mark Baker (of Baker’s Green Acres)  seems they are going after his friends now.

MI FOOD SEIZURE AFTERMATH: THEY WONDER WHY PEOPLE ARE PISSED?
by:David GumpertSat, 07/19/2014 – 20:11posted in: http://thecompletepatient.com/article/2014/july/20/mi-food-seizure-aftermath-they-wonder-why-people-are-pissed
Regulation,Food Club,Raw Milk,Resistance,

Jenny Samuelson was all set to do the deal dictated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development: Dispose of nearly $5,000 worth of raw milk, cream, butter, eggs, and cheese. Under MDARD supervision, she was to bring the 250 gallons of milk to a neighboring farm, where the farmer would use it for fertilizer. The 10 gallons of cream and 20 pounds of butter would go in a dumpster. And the 100 dozen beautiful unwashed and unrefrigerated pastured eggs (raised without soy feed) would be smashed and turned into compost.

She would also discontinue all deliveries of cream and butter to herdshare members, despite their serious unhappiness about losing access to these foods.

But then the MDARD agents canceled out on the Saturday morning arrangements whereby they would observe the disposal of the food. They then said they would show up Monday morning. So she waits, and ponders her options.

Samuelson is pretty upset, as you might expect. She was trying to be an obedient citizen so she could have unfettered access to her refrigerated delivery truck and resume deliveries of raw milk. She had made the hard decision to go against what she feels is right and just, because she didn’t want to risk any further interruption in deliveries for the more than 600 families around Michigan that depend on her food.

She is still smarting from last Tuesday’s raid on her delivery truck in Washington Township, which saw agents from MDARD swarm aboard the delivery truck while it was stopped in a private parking lot, with her brother as driver. She thinks they had been following her and the truck for a number of day beforehand, and picked last Tuesday morning to do the raid instead of when she was driving, because they knew her brother likely wouldn’t know to demand a search warrant, and the presence of the local sheriff or police before being allowed (or possibly not being allowed) to take people’s food.

They told her brother it would take an hour to look through the Co-Op’s inventory—instead it took six-and-a-half hours.

Later, the MDARD told her she was prohibited from giving the food to a farmer as feed for his pigs, since she didn’t have a feed license.

Perhaps most significant, she doesn’t feel they had the right to prevent the food from being delivered in the first place. “They didn’t seize my products,” she says. “They seized the consumers’ products.”

Samuelson has been doing this drill for more than six years–during which time her co-op has grown from 20 members to more than 600– and knows the rules well. She says the cream and butter the MDARD was supposedly targeting were produced separately by the farmer from milk the members obtained as herdshare members, under contract to them individually. She also faults the special policy group that agreed with the MDARD last year in its policy statement that sanctioned herdshares for raw milk, but disallowed other raw dairy products. “I wasn’t allowed to have a voice in that,” despite her requests.

She wanted to feed the condemned food to Mark Baker’s pigs, or some other pigs, but state ag reps had told her she couldn’t feed the food to farm animals because she didn’t have a feed permit, and insisted the food be destroyed with MDARD agents watching.

Baker is the Michigan farmer who continued raising pigs the state considered wild, and he got the state to agree that he could continue raising the pigs after he sued the the Department of Natural Resources. He had a planned “Constitution Hall” program on slate for Sunday, at which Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff, will be discussing how the U.S. has veered from upholding its Constitution. Baker will be talking about his plans to run for Missaukee County sheriff. And there will be a pig roast for the many attendees expected.

Samuelson is going to have some very unhappy members based on her decision to refrain from delivering the raw cream and butter. “They are very pissed,” she says.

She is encouraging them to sue the state much like Mark Baker did. In the meantime, she is encouraging them to flood the MDARD with calls. Here are people she urges her members and sympathizers to contact:

Kevin Besey, director of the Food and Dairy Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (phone 517-582-1156 or e-mail beseyk@michigan.gov)

Tim Slawinski, Compliance Manager, Food and Dairy Division (phone 517-420-5364 or e-mail slawinskit@michigan.gov)

In a letter to her members Saturday, she said: “The only way we can get cream and butter back is to WIN this war! You the people can do it!”

(This post was revised on Sunday, July 20, to update the situation.)

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Marching Against Monsanto, Again.

So I spoke at the March Against Monsanto today.  Thank you to Whitley and the crew for putting this together.  I arrived without my prepared remarks and had to off-the-cuff it.  It was okay but I wanted to share my beautiful, eloquent speech that noone got to hear today.

<I have come here today to speak about the food sovereignty movement.   And I will do that in a moment but first I want to tell you a story and toward the end I’ll offer you a solution to the food situation in which we find ourselves.

Back in 2006 I was standing around with some friends at one of our Mud Season Dinners.   These are events meant to demonstrate that even in the dark days of February or March there is still enough, entirely local, food to feed a crowd. At that moment we were at the height of our resistance against the animal ID law.  This is the USDA regulations that say all farmers who have livestock have to register and tattoo or tag all of their animals with a number and then do all the paperwork that entails.   So if anyone gets sick from eating meat, when that animal goes into the churning cauldron that is our current food system, the Feds can trace that animal’s life and provenance from birth to slaughter.   Naturally the anarchists, non-anarchist, libertarians and plain old left-wing activists, I was chatting with were none too pleased with this development.  One of them asked plaintively “What are we going to do?”   A good friend of mine, a farmer who feeds thousands of people every year, happened to be standing in the group.  He looked at her and said “We’re going to keep doing what we are doing…it’s just going to be illegal.”

And that is the essence of this movement.   It is; in the tradition of Suffrage, Civil Rights and Marriage Equality; essentially a human rights movement.    We got them out of our voting booths and bedrooms now let’s get them out of our kitchens.  We are; by eating fresh local food, sourced from farmers that we know; committing an act of civil disobedience. Like the Palestinians on the West Bank standing in front of their olive trees,  we are standing in front of our apple trees, protecting them from the encroachment of a hostile government.    They, the government bureaucrats, say they are protecting us from ourselves.   They say that we don’t know enough not to eat bad food.  They say that a farmer would sell tainted milk or meat or eggs or vegetables to his neighbors and friends.   They say that we would feed bad food to our own family and loved ones.    Well, let me tell you, the only bad food we are feeding anyone is the over-processed, GMO-ladden, vacant-of-nutrient foods that the big manufacturers shovel our way every day in the chain supermarkets.  If you are eating fresh nutrient-dense foods you are going to eat less, because your body is going to crave less.   And you are going to be healthier over all.  Twinkies just can’t do that.

This is what I call a “just walk away” moment.   My favorite kind of civil disobedience.   Just as Gandhi lead the salt march  to prove to the people of India, and to the British Empire, that they could make their own salt and did not need to remain enslaved to the English salt monopoly, so too we can grow our own food.   As Ron Finley of the South Central Garden in LA said so eloquently:  “Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.  Plus you get strawberries.”  and my favorite quote from him: “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.”

So we in the food sovereignty movement offer you the opportunity to take back control of what you eat three times a day.   Let the big guys know that they cannot intimidate us into eating rubbish that nourishes neither our bodies nor our souls.   Anyone interested in getting a food sovereignty ordinance passed in your own town can speak to me and we’ll get you started.

We need to protect our small farms and farmers.   They are the people who feed us.  They are also, historically,  the people who brought us the populist movement which lead to so much government reform in the late 1800’s.   And currently the farmers in Nebraska are one of the major reasons we are winning the fight against the XL pipeline.   Farmers are independent, hard-working, tough-minded folk who see the truth more clearly than most and are not afraid to stand up for what they believe.

So stand with small farmers and farmworkers everywhere and take back your power.   Stand up in front of your apples trees or tomato plants or by the side of your local farmer and just say NO.   No to GMOs, no to heavy-handed government oversight, no to caving into the intimidation bought and paid for by the folks that make the most money selling us crap to eat.   Join the next great civil rights movement.   The right to know what is in our food and  to eat whatever we damn well please.

“Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.”  Wendell Berry>

Love Your Soil and Eat More Beans!

As I think more and more about local eating and folk-food patterns the radio seems to be talking to me (no I am not having auditory hallucinations).   This morning on Morning Edition the host was talking to a chef who has written a book called “Third Plate.”  I need to read it to have a good grasp of what he is saying but the bit I heard from him was encouraging.   Kind of a “Diet for a Small Planet” ethos re-imagined for the foodie culture.   Listen to it yourself and see what you think.

Then later in the morning on my local NPR station they were talking to a panel about the Maine Food Strategy  2014 Consumer Survey Report which had appeared in my inbox this week.   Now I was not thrilled with some of the layout of the graphs.   I thought bar graphs would have done a better job of conveying the message than pie charts but if you dig down there is some interesting information.    Anyhow, here is the link to the report and the link to the radio show.

And finally a New York Times piece about “What Farm-to-Table Got Wrong.”   About the need for real sustainability right down to the basics.   Right down to the soil!

Got Raw Milk?

Thanks to my friend Heather Retberg for bringing this to my attention.   Listen all the way to the end where he talks about how the government treats farmers with such disrespect.

[http://wabe.org/post/got-raw-milk-government-wants-know]

I also like the bit where he says GMOs are a contamination, too, and should be labeled at least.

Treat Your Workers Well!

I grew my own home-grown organic salad.

I grew my home-grown organic salad.

This summer I have spent some time with migrant workers downeast during the blueberry harvest.    I am also in the midst of trying to start a workers co-op for farm workers.   So the issues of farm workers are at the front of my mind these days.   When we met with the folks from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers this summer one of them shared this biblical quote with me:

From the book of James Chapter 5

1Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you.

2Your riches have rotted, and your clothes are moth-eaten.

3Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you, and it will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days.

4Listen! The wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.

Then I found this poem:

Cutting stalks at noontime.

Perspiration drips to the earth.

Know you that your bowl of rice

each grain from hardship comes?

~Chang Chan-Pao

 

At the FDA hearings the other day I couldn’t help but think of this quote:

It would be nice if the Food and Drug Administration stopped issuing warnings about toxic substances and just gave me the names of one or two things still safe to eat.  ~Robert Fuoss

 

 

But back in my own garden I remembered of this:

It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.  ~Lewis Grizzard

 

The message? Grow your own.   Know what you are eating.   Take some responsibility.  And if you need help on your farm treat your workers well.   With dignity, respect, decent wages and working conditions.   Wake up folks.   Producing food is hard work and the people who do it deserve to be paid a living wage whether they are farmers or the farm hands who work for them.

 

 

Shame on you Nell Newman!

I serve on the board of directors of my local food co-op.    We have several times  discussed trust.   The trust that our members put in the staff and management to “pre-screen” all the food that is on our shelves.   Many, as one member recently told us, people shop there thinking that they don’t have to read labels because they assume that we have weeded out the GMOs and other stuff that is bad for you and are not stocking or selling it.   That is sadly not the case but with the revamping of the purchasing policy committee it may soon become closer to reality.

I, however, am a compulsive label reader and since I had the inside story that not everything in the store is pre-screened I often took a look at the labels of things I bought trusting, foolish me, that labels don’t lie.    Newman-O’s are one of my favorite treats and I have purchased them often.   Never did I notice that the canola oil did not say “organic canola oil.”

Well, we all know from our long fight against GMOs that no conventional canola oil in the country is GMO-free.    If you want non-GMO canola oil you have to buy organic and that is getting tougher and tougher to find because our friend Monsanto has managed to pretty thoroughly contaminate all the canola seed in the country with the genetically manipulated crap.

So here is a heads up from Cornucopia News.   Read it and weep.   And then might I recommend that you do what I plan to do:  stop buying all Newman’s Own products in protest.   Once again my purchased food options shrink.   Hell of a thing!

Cornucopia News

Have You Been Defrauded? Help Bring Organic Scammers to Justice

June 27th, 2013

Have you been duped?  Ever purchased Newman’s Own Organics or Organic Bistro Products?

Newman OHave you purchased Newman’s Own Organics or Organic Bistro food products?  If so, you may have been deceived into buying food that is not actually certified organic.

We are investigating claims that certain companies are getting away with using the word ‘organic’ in their company name, listed prominently on food packages, even if the product they’re selling isn’t certified organic and does not legally qualify as organic.

As an example, not all Newman’s Own Organics products are actually certified organic.  Newman’s Own Organics Newman-O’s cookies contain conventional canola oil and conventional cocoa.  Their ginger cookies are made with conventional ginger.

Similarly, Organic Bistro (in the process of being rebranded ‘Artisan Bistro’) sells frozen entrees made with some organic vegetables, but uses non-organic chicken and turkey (the number one ingredient by weight in some of their products).

The law is clear: in order to prominently label products “organic” on the front panel, a company must have between 95% and 100% organic ingredients (the balance being minor materials that have been checked for safety and are not available in organic form).  If some certified organic ingredients are used (a minimum of 70%), the label can (in modest size typeface) claim “made with organic vegetables,” as an example.

If you or someone you know has purchased Organic Bistro or Newman’s Own Organics products, we would like to hear from you.

We like to say that, “There is a higher power, in terms of watchdogging the integrity of organics, than the USDA.”  And that is you – the organic consumer.

So today (7/1/13) in my email is this clarification (I wrote back, thanked her for the clarification, and noted that the theme of my post was the breaking of trust and the damage to the “organic” label):

Dear Betsy,

It is important to note here that the complaint we have with Newman’s is that the word “organic” is not permitted on the front of the package if it is only 70% organic or made with some organic ingredients only. If the product is “made with organic ingredients” it means that the remaining 30% follow certain rules, including no GMOs, no irradiation, no sewer sludge and only ingredients approved by the National Organic Standards Board.

Newman’s Organics has sneaked around the issue of not being able to put the word organic on the front of the package by including it in their brand name—a dirty trick. You are not eating GMO products in Newman O’s, but you are not getting a 100% organic product, as the name of the company (Newman’s Organic’s) implies.

 

I hope this helps,

Melody Morrell

Melody Morrell
Associate Membership Coordinator
The Cornucopia Institute
morrell@cornucopia.org

Farm Bill, What Farm Bill?

 

So, as I’m sure you’ve already heard, Congress failed to pass the Farm Bill yesterday.    No surprise from this “Do Nothing” legislative body.    The Grumpy Old Plutocrats have issued press releases claiming that their only reason for failing to vote for this, usual slam-dunk, bill is to save the American people from the spendthrift ways of the government.    Here are just a few quotes from Rep. Steve King’s  (boy it must really piss Stephen King, the famous left-wing author, off to share a name with this right-wing dweeb)  press release:

 

‘A major point that is seldom highlighted is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or what is known as food stamps, operates like an entitlement program.  This means it continues on unless Congress acts to change it or improve it. “  and this is a bad thing, why????   And, can I say, I hate the phrase “entitlement program”  it activates the frame of lazy people (read:  Welfare Queens) feeling like the world owes them a living, or feeling “entitled.”

“Although some argue that SNAP should be removed from the farm bill and considered separately, the more compelling argument is that the farm bill, which has an expiration date, allows lawmakers to implement reforms to SNAP every five years.  Otherwise, SNAP functions like other entitlement programs where there are many complaints about their cost and drag on the budget, but action is left to academics and pundits to study and discuss on cable news shows.”   In my blog post “The 1949 Farm Bill Has No SNAP”  I explain why it is important to keep SNAP in the Farm Bill.   There really are a lot of urban people out there who do not get the truth of “No Farms, No Food.”   They see the farm bill as just a handout to rich farmers, which it is in many ways, but it is also the safety net a lot of small farmers need to keep farming.  The “specialty” farmers that produce the fruits and vegetables we all love to eat.

Here is an explanation of the differences between the original Senate and House bills.    Good luck figuring this all out.    I think about all this a fair amount and still find myself confused at times.

And in honor of “World War Z” being released to coincide with this continuing fiasco I refer you to an article in Grist that tries to explain this mess.   He talks about the SNAP cuts that the Repugnants want and the Demobrat’s issues with the majority of subsidies go to already wealthy farmers.

Here in Maine food pantries and dairy farmers are concerned with the continued delays of this bill.   If SNAP gets cut then the food pantries, already strained, will be faced with trying to feed even more people.   The Maine dairy industry may be in a slightly better place because they are making plans to go around the farm bill to help dairy farmers have a more stable pricing structure.

All in all this bill is a cluster f*ck and everyone knows it.    But we also, sadly, have come to expect and accept nothing less from our elected officials in DC.

Home rule is seeming more and more to me to be the only way to go.   Walk away, do our own thing, feed our own people and expect very little from our government, bureaucrats or elected officials.