The CAFO subsidy

“Americans have begun to ask why the farm bill is subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils at a time when rates of diabetes and obesity among children are soaring, or why the farm bill is underwriting factory farming (with subsidized grain) when feedlot wastes are polluting the countryside and, all too often, the meat supply.
“For the first time, the public health community has raised its voice in support of overturning farm policies that subsidize precisely the wrong kind of calories (added fat and added sugar), helping to make Twinkies cheaper than carrots and Coca-Cola competitive with water.”
That was Michael Pollan back in November writing in the NYT about Big Food’s welfare check, which will be paid on or about …. Continue reading

Goat getting

Being a good writer often involves some deep personal craziness. Farm writer Jon Katz is a good example. At 50, his career off track, he bought a cabin in the mountains in rural New York (against the better judgement of his wife) and spent long vacations there with his two dogs, reading Thomas Merton. He wrote about it, of course, but he also developed an affection for animals and the rural life.

Now he writes about it for Slate, the online daily magazine, and it was hard to resist showing you this column about the jeering goats who follow him around. So i didn’t.

Slow coverage

John Friel at Lancaster Farming magazine did a great piece about the first Slow Food Harrisburg dinner, which you can read here:


(It will take a while to load. Okay, I’m not too good at posting PDFs.)

And this is the farmer’s point of view on Buy Fresh Buy Local … you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to figure that it may be a seller’s market this year.

(Warning: these links will expire, because it’s a magazine preview … so print it out if you want to keep it.)

New Organic Farm Market

Making it easier for growers and eaters to get together is a persistent hope for the future of food.

So Ngozi, a Harrisburg nonprofit known for urban cultural and artistic programs, is launching a seasonal open air farm market for natural, organic products. The market will be organized at a meeting Monday, March 24, in Steelton, at the borough council chambers, 123 N. Front Street. The meeting will start 6 p.m.

Natural and organic farmers who raise fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, plants, honey, maple syrup or almost any other shelf-stable farm product for sale to consumers are invited. Sites, rules, products, and sales time will be discussed.

For more information, contact Rafiyqa Muhammad at 232-8803 or email or

Radical Again

This is the last post here, and the first post on Slow Food Harrisburg. I’ve been vexed by my current radicalization about food, because I don’t know if it will interest anyone but me. And I didn’t want to keep writing about Slow Food on a page supposedly devoted to eating out in Harrisburg, which definitely has a Restaurant Row implication.

Anyway, I renamed the blog, moved all the past posts here, and will laboriously move all the links, which will give me a chance to reconsider them.

And it’s all about slow food.

The question today is this: am I willing to drive to Carlisle to buy eggs?

The Slow Food thing is re-radicalizing me.

Oh, there are lots of things to get radical about. American foreign policy, for an instance. The Pennsylvania Legislative Pay-Grab, for another.

But food, having food stolen away from farmers by industrialists, that just sucks.

A long time ago, when I was in college, a guy I knew used to say there was no use worrying about selling out. (Fix the time frame for you, does it?) “You can always buy back in,” he said.

Okay. I’m all in.

Let me try a parallel to food, if I may. After WWII, a nation turned its transportation system over to the Detroit car makers and Big Oil. It allowed Detroit to buy up all the trolley car companies in the U.S. and shut them down. Then it built super highways across the nation, with no pedestrian or bicycle access. And it built massive finned vehicles that used incredible amounts of fossil fuels to run on the highways the government donated.

Money for highway maintenance became an expenditure. Money for trains became a subsidy. Which is why you can not book a sleeper car to Chicago, but must sit your ass in your SUV for 12 hours or jam it into an undersized airline seat to get there. As an added feature, a bonus, we got sprawl.

Much the same thing happened with food. The U.S. farm bill stopped supporting small farms and started welfaring Monsanto and Cargill. Thank our local rep, Tim Holden, for continuing the screwing of small Pennsylvania farms.

Anyway, we had some California foodies here over the weekend and besides my incredible deep-dish pizza and Curtis Vreeland’s cab and cab franc, we fed them Otterbein Farm eggs on the morning they left. They were astonished. Otterbein yolks stand up and flex their muscles in the pan. They are awesomely good.

Do I drive 20 miles to Carlisle to buy eggs?

Oh, yeah.

sourcing food

True Food was established in 2000 as a means to engage non-farmers in the struggle against genetically engineered crops. It’s now a 40,000 member network dedicated to stopping the genetic engineering of our food, farms and future, and working with others to create a socially just, democratic and sustainable food system.

The True Food food list is really two lists — a list of real foods, and a list of Frankenfoods. genetically modified organisms scientifically designed to separate you from your money and your connection to good taste.

Take that most utilitarian meal, the TV dinner … or Heat & Serve meal, as it’s called by Big Food.

Here’s a True Food list of edible Heat & Serve meals:

— Amy’s Kitchen Chili
(Medium & Spicy) Chili with Vegetables

— Annie’s Naturals P’Sghetti with Tomato Sauce All-Star Pasta with Tomato Sauce

— Bernie O’s Pasta with Tomato sauce

— Bearitos Chili Black Bean Chili Spicy Chili Baked Beans

— Ginny’s Vegan Foods Savory Soy Chili Classic Ratatouille Roasted Red Pepper Chili Mexican Fiesta Stew

— Grandma Millina’s Kids Meals Pasta Rings in 3 Cheese Sauce Vegetarian Franks & Beans

— Health Valley (Hain/Celestial) Chili Fajita Turkey Chili & Beans 3 Bean Chili

— Yves Veggie Cuisine Veggie Chili Veggie Country Stew Veggie Macaroni Veggie Penne

While here are the Frankenfood dinners:

— Chef Boyardee (ConAgra) Beefaroni, Macaroni & Cheese, Mini Ravioli, ABC’s & 123’s

— Dinty Moore (Hormel) Beef Stew, Turkey Stew, Chicken & Dumplings

— Hormel Chili with Beans, Chili No Beans, Vegetarian Chili with Beans

— Kids’ Kitchen (Hormel) Spaghetti Rings with Meatballs, Macaroni & Cheese, Pizza Wedges with 3 Cheese

— Franco-American (Campbell’s) Spaghetti O’s, Mini Ravioli, Power Rangers Pasta in Sauce