Gathering Local, Staying Vocal

Sunday, May 22, 2011
Posted in category Free-Range Life

A couple of years ago, Forbes published an interesting piece: “The Locavore Myth: When Buying From Nearby Farmers Won’t Save the Planet.” Here’s the first paragraph.

Buy local, shrink the distance food travels, save the planet. The locavore movement has captured a lot of fans. To their credit, they are highlighting the problems with industrialized food. But a lot of them are making a big mistake. By focusing on transportation, they overlook other energy-hogging factors in food production.

The article focuses on the EnviroCommunist ideals behind shopping locally – that is, “saving the planet” via made-up carbon footprint contrivances. Some of us localists (I prefer that term) – like me – reject that babble, yet we have very defined reasons for undergoing modern-day hunting and gathering close to home. The problems with industrialized food that concern me are not the size of the carbon footprints, but the size of the Big Government-Big Agra-Big Special Interest footprint that is all over the so-called “food” churned out by the industrial food machine. Americans have become so far removed from a lifestyle of being self-sufficient, resourceful, and accountable for their own health and wellness that they willingly turn over all of the decisions to chemists and bonus-driven CEOs, and their friends in congress and government agencies who create laws favorable to their businesses.

For that reason, the greatest example of the free market for food, in my mind, is a sort of localist-real foodist way of life, where people – such as me – reject the processed food supply that has left Americans irresponsibly obese and sick. You know that local food movements are much too “free” when the heavy and very visible hand of Big Government is consistently smacking down small farmers, farmer’s markets, raw milk sellers, and every other small seller that has not conformed to a zillion regulations backed up by hundreds of pieces of paper that must precede any attempt at making a living by voluntarily transacting with willing customers who desire their products.

I get much of my food this way – by connecting with local farmers and other miscellaneous manufacturers and sellers of fresh foods. I rarely see a grocery store anymore, and when I do, it is usually for very basic items. The first photo below is a typical take for me on a Saturday morning at Detroit’s Eastern Market. This market, one of the biggest and best in North America, has become very “radicalized” over the last couple of years with the availability of prime specialty goods such as grass-fed meats, raw milk products, and as always, the great products from the Amish and the Mennonites who come to the market to sell directly to the consumer.

The items above include grass-fed pork products (ribs, pork steaks, sausage, and ground pork); handmade, smoked beef sticks; raw cheese curds; raw cheddar cheese; raw, grass-fed butter bought directly from the Amish farmer; fresh-picked asparagus; spinach picked from the field the day before my purchase; baby bok choy; homemade beef jerky; and granola sweetened with homegrown stevia, a product that I also purchased from the Amish. Being paleo in my diet, I typically don’t eat oatmeal or other grains, but I will buy the Amish, stevia-sweetened granola during the summer as snacks during my endurance activities (backpacking, cycling, etc.).

This lady specializes in making cheese, only from raw milk.

From my favorite pork farmers who are local and come to the market to sell their goods.

The Amish grow their own stevia plants because even they are aware that something is amiss in America in terms of sugar madness, and therefore consumers desire and are looking for products with stevia.

This is the Amish raw, grass-fed butter. No butter from the industrial food supply can come close in terms of color, texture, and glorious taste. Yet the anti-raw milk police are still defending the interests of the big producers by cracking down on the little guys who give their customers exactly what they desire – fresh, unpasteurized products.

Gathering my goods locally allows me to talk to the producers and farmers about the ingredients they use and how they produce the food, or, we talk about their animals and farming methodology. I can get lambs, hogs, quarters of beef, emu, buffalo, chickens, turkeys, free-range eggs, lard, and stewing hens. Yet somehow, I am supposed to defer to Cargill and General Foods to manufacture my meals so I don’t have to lift a finger (except to pull out a cereal bowl or hit the microwave timer)? Thanks … but, I’ll pass. I have this strange way of liking to be in charge of me – also known as doing your own shit on your own (fiat) dollar.

At the end of the day, there was a meal of the grass-fed pork chops from Melo Farms, grilled cubanelle peppers and tomatoes, fingerling potatoes, and, yes, the melted raw butter for dippin’ my pork. And … it has been years since I had cereal or a microwave meal.

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6 Responses to Gathering Local, Staying Vocal

  1. Sal says:

    May 22nd, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    After seeing that meal, I want to visit for dinner. I’ll run over to Napa Valley & bring a couple bottles of good vino :-)

  2. M. Terry says:

    May 23rd, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    What Sal said. That food looks good – now I’m hungry.

  3. Jeannie Queenie says:

    May 23rd, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Wow, Karen, that sure looks yummy, but the meat alone would be two meals for me. It never seems to come out just how much protein different body types and sexes really need. As a fine boned/small muscled petite frame woman of 130 lbs/5’5″, I have learned that excess protein is like throwing money down a dark hole. For my frame (39/29/37)/and height/weight, fifty grams of protein is tops for me.
    And that includes meat, eggs, dairy/vegies on any given day. To eat more than that really is a drag on my system and I tend to put on weight if I overdue it. Eating loads of vegies has my stomach feeling much better than lots of meat. Ectomorphs have high stomach acid levels which make gaining muscle mass even harder. Spoke with a doctor years ago about building muscle mass and he said to forget it as my body build is not naturally muscled like endomorphs..the best I could so was keep muscles toned. So I think that one should really do their homework about their body type and determine the amt of protein their unique body requires.

    A male Ectomorph athlete cannot absorb more than 8% of their body weight in grams of protein.

    As well, men have 20 – 40% more muscle than females, so women have to adjust accordingly. For me that is 4% grams protein of body weight..Adding to that is the testosterone / estrogen muscle mass thing. Few folks address this fact. Was told years ago that I had one of the highest estrogen counts my Michigan ob-gyn doctor had ever seen..that might account for small muscles for higher testosterone levels demand more protein.

    I recall the farmers market in Detroit with nostalgia. We have farms here in the CT Quiet corner that do a fair job, but the organic beef is super costly. I have yet to try the local bison. A bison farm is not far from me and I’ve read it’s actually better for women than regular beef. Haven’t tried stevia…use the organic agave which is great for cold drinks, ie, ice tea or lemonade, for it stays liquid and doesn’tt congeal. I read this below on stevia regarding price on stevia packets versus pure product, espec if you buy at WHole Foods..”The
    Short Lesson–
    When you get stevia extract in a packet you are paying for appx 1 percent stevia extract and 99% filler. You can make your dollar go further if you get pure product… Like our JAJA Stevioside’
    “If you look at Wholefoods pricing, it is very competitive for a stevia extract (stevioside) blend. If I remember correctly it was something like $3.99 for 100 packets.
    Of course each packet is ONE serving! So to get 1000 servings you would spend a whopping $39.90. Yes, that is correct. Thirty Nine Dollars and Ninety Cents! While over 1,000 servings of JAJA Stevioside (pure stevioside with absolutely nothing added) would run you only $13.95 instead of $39.90″

  4. PC says:

    May 23rd, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    I just discovered a local dairy farm that produces and sells raw milk, raw cheese, organic eggs, meats, etc. all from grass fed animals. It is so good my 8-year old son now demands dad’s “cow milk” as if the “other” milk doesn’t actually come from cows. Who knows? Maybe it doesn’t.

  5. clark says:

    May 24th, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    “…my 8-year old son now demands dad’s “cow milk””

    That is so cool.

  6. Kevin says:

    May 25th, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks Karen. Great article!

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