Monthly Archives: January 2013

America is becoming a land without farmers, says USDA anthropologist

From Evaggelos Vallianatos at Independent Science News:

Abandoned farmhouse, Washington. Photo: Homini

The plutocratic remaking of America has a parallel in the countryside. In rural America less than 3 percent of farmers make more than 63 percent of the money, including government subsidies.

The results of this emerging feudal economy are everywhere. Large areas of the United States are becoming impoverished farm towns with abandoned farmhouses and deserted land. More and more of the countryside has been devoted to massive factory farms and plantations. The consequences, though worse now than ever, have been there for all to see and feel, for decades. Continue reading

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The true price of a gallon of raw milk

From the Midlife Farm Wife:

Midlife farm wife rings bell to trigger conditioned response.

“Yesterday we had some very unusual visitors, raw milk farmers like ourselves. But because they work very hard to stay under the same radar I am always swinging from dressed like a clown grabbing as much attention as I can, I will not share their names or their location. Continue reading

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Ancient grains from Biblical times

From Justin Cascio, on the Boston Local Food Festival blog:

University of Massachussets Organic Wheat trials 2011. Photo via Boston Local Foods Festival

“Eli Rogosa has a long history with rare seeds. Twenty years ago Rogosa went to the Middle East to work with farmers in the ancient lands of the “Fertile Crescent,” the birthplace of wheat. She discovered stunning heirloom varieties of grains and vegetables, unlike anything available in the United States, that grew robustly in the harsh desert climate without irrigation. Curious how this vigor had evolved through the local traditional farming methods, Rogosa embarked on a journey that would lead her to remote traditional farms across Europe and the Middle East. Continue reading

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Long-term dangers of covert farming

From Heather Retberg, on the Complete Patient blog:

Heather Retberg with her daughter, Carolyn. Photo via The Complete Patient blog.

“….For the last three years, I’ve been engaged in the urgent and pressing work of understanding who else is defining me, other farmers, and our community, and what impact those definitions bear on my life at Quill’s End Farm with my family.   These definitions also impact the whole renewed system of feeding each other, and the impact on the many farmers and their patrons across our land.

I’ve heard with increasing frequency farmers talking about “staying quiet”, or “just staying under the radar”, or “I’ll do it this way until I get caught”. I used to smile at this, even laugh.  I don’t any more.  Now it makes me very sad.  Because, of course, these ways of speaking about our work do make it sound like drug dealing.  Know any other honest profession that is just trying to “keep quiet” and “stay invisible”?  Continue reading

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90 min “Moo Man” documentary about British raw milk farmer to premiere at prestigious Sundance Film Festival

From Steve Robson, in The Daily Mail UK:

Milking it: The film follows farmer Stephen Hook in his battle to keep his dairy business afloat. Photo by David McHugh. Caption and photo from The Daily Mail. The sign at the top of this picture is the only clue in this story that this farmer supplies “raw” milk.

“With the leading lady a 12-year-old cow called Ida and the story set against the backdrop of a Sussex dairy farm, it doesn’t scream ‘Oscar winner’.

But a documentary about maverick farmer Stephen Hook and his herd of 55 cows has won the hearts of the judges at Robert Redford’s prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Continue reading

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Michael Schmidt’s raw milk tribulations as an example of the evisceration of liberty in Canadian courts

From the Fraser Institute.org

by Karen Selick, Derek From, and Chris Schafer

A scene from the operetta “Milk Trial by Jury”, a retelling of the Michael Schmidt story with music by Gilbert and Sullivan. July 2010

“….A constitutional guarantee of liberty, to be consistent with J.S. Mill’s description, should ensure that everyone has the right to freely pursue their own happiness as long as their actions do not harm others. Such a constitutional guarantee would protect individuals from unjustified state inference with their chosen way of life. But there are many ways in which the courts in Canada have permitted the government to impede individual liberty.

For example, the government may confiscate your property without compensation (R. v. Tener). It can force you to have your photo taken even if it conflicts with your deeply held religious beliefs (Alberta v. Hutterian Brethren of Wilson Colony). It can force parents to educate their children in a particular fashion (R. v. Jones). It can force individuals to pay union fees even if they are not union members (Lavigne v. Ontario Public Service Employees Union). It can punish you for putting certain substances in your body (R. v. Malmo-Levine; R. v. Caine). And it can prohibit you from entering into mutually agreeable contracts with other individuals (Reference re ss. 193 & 195.1(1)(c) of Criminal Code (Canada)). Continue reading

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The low risk from raw milk

From the Canadian raw milk consumer advocacy group:

Dairy is the lowest risk of all these food categories.

“The unfortunate truth is that, no matter what we eat, all food has some inherent risk.  The question is of course, comparative risk.  At a conservative estimate, there are at least 10 million raw milk drinkers in the United States (no similar survey was done for Canada), based on a 2006 consumer survey (this estimate does not even take into consideration any increase over the last 7 years, and we all know that consumer demand has vastly increased).  But for these 10 million raw milk drinkers, we do not see thousands or millions of them dying each year. In fact, there have been two raw milk related deaths since 1997, and at least one of these two was actually linked to illegal raw queso fresco cheese….’ Continue reading

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