Monday, November 30, 2009

Are you a Meeple People?

Do you know what a Meeple is?
Ticket to ride, Carcassone, Agricola, Power Grid, and more...
(I am a Meeple People.)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

New cookbook but...

This is the time of year when I love to cook. Stews, soups, and hearty meals and now a great new cookbook - Micheal Symon's Live to Cook.

We made his Blue cheese tomato soup which was very good, spicy and complex flavor, but a snap to make. But so many of the recipes call for things that are hard to get... beef cheeks, chicken feet, pig head, sheep milk ricotta, a quart of duck fat... Really?

How often do you see a cookbook with an entire section on pork belly? Even less often would I think "Wow, I have to get some pork belly!" (I especially love the part where he started calling it Fresh bacon, at which point he was able to sell the pork belly dishes that did not before.)

Today I made a test run of ravioli, using Alice Walter's recipe from the Art of Simple Food to practice the technique in advance of hunting down the milk sheep ricotta the recipe calls for. And as long as I am going to that trouble, I will want to use a high quality butter to. I am glad I did not use Symon's recipe because my dough was tough (overworked?) and the raviolis not well filled (my machine.) Looks like more ravioli is in my future!

What new recipes are you playing with, this year?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Something to think about.

Your waiter made more money off an egg for bringing it to you then the farmer did for growing it!

If a farmer earns 69 cents a dozen for eggs (a 2008 average) that is less then 6 cents an egg. If he is lucky he might net 2 cents.

If your restaurant charges 50 cents an egg and you tip 15% your waiter made 7.5 cents off it.

I am not saying that waiters are over paid. But he does not have to buy buildings, equipment, new chickens, feed, and coolers. Neither does he have to actually raise the chickens, and care for them. All he has to do is carry it a few feet.

Maybe the farmer is UNDERPAID for that egg. Just Maybe...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Some thoughts...

Maybe, the solution to helping Ohio family farms is not Issue 2 but rather for the consumer to realize that our food costs are some of the lowest in the world, and lower then really makes sense. In 1929 the average American spent 23.4% of their income on food. Today it is around 10% with nearly half of that being from eating out! Maybe, the solution is to realize that an egg should cost more than 15 cents each! And maybe price increases should go to the farmer.
Out of that 15 cents the farmer sees maybe 6 cents. And that has to feed, house, and care for that chicken for a day (1 egg a day on average is very good production.) That 6 cents also has to pay for buildings, new chickens, insurance, and pay the farmer's salery.

The reason a dozen organic eggs is $3.50 or $4.00 is because that is how much it costs to raise chickens in conditions which most people would consider “reasonable.” The reason true Pastured eggs cost even more is because that is how much it costs to raise chickens in more “optimal” conditions.

Most people would be shocked to realize that in most egg farms chickens are kept in battery cages. On average, each caged laying hen is afforded only 67 square inches of cage space—less space than a single sheet of letter-sized paper on which to live her entire life.

We don’t like to think that the amount of money we choose to spend on our food has a direct relation to how the animals are raised. The extra $2 a dozen for cage free eggs does not buy the farmer European vacations and expensive cars, it buys them the ability to treat their animals the way most farmers want to, in the most humane way possible.

U.S. consumers spend roughly 10 percent of their income on food compared with 22 percent in the United Kingdom, 26 percent in Japan, 28 percent in South Africa and 51 percent in India. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reports that in 1919 the average American had to work 158 minutes to buy a three-pound chicken; nowadays, 15 minutes gets you the bird. Americans spend less than 6% of their after-tax income on groceries, a figure so low they can afford to spend another 4% eating out.

Add to that fact that today a much smaller percentage of the food dollar goes to the farmer then used to. Look at how even the price to farmers is compared with the price to marketers over the past 40 years.

From Envirovore: On average, farmers and ranchers only receive 20 cents of every dollar that consumers spend on food.
Lays Classic potato chips: $3.79 = .08
One head of iceburg lettuce: $1.99 = .37
One pound top sirloin steak: $7.99 = .92
Pound of bacon: $3.29 = .55
Loaf of sliced bread (one pound): $2.99 = .17
One gallon skim milk: $3.99 = 1.55
Five pounds of flour: $2.89 = .86
Add to this the fact that farmers costs from seed and fuel to fertilizer and land are steadily rising every year. It is really no wonder why large operations are so scared of additional regulation which will require them to give their animals ore space. They simply do not have the profit margin to do so. Many have little or no profit at all, even after long days and high risks.

Large farmers in Ohio are in a catch 22. If legislation passes in Ohio which limits confinement livestock operations what will happen? Probably most consumers will not even register the blip, grocery stores will just buy their product from states that do not have those regulations and hundreds or thousands of Ohio farms will go quietly out of business. And the funny thing is, many of the same voters who will vote AGAINST cruel confinement animal operations will be shocked that now their normal eggs have doubled in price, and will happily change to the cheaper out of state product.

Still, I feel the solution is not Issue 2, but rather for all of us to realize the true cost of the food we eat, and the way it is raised/grown, and vote with our dollars. Maybe eat out a couple fewer times a month or buy less processed food and use the diffrence to support farmers and farming techniques we agree with.

(I know, probably to much to hope for...)

Issue 2 will pass unless YOU vote

This morning I, a small farmer, voted "NO" to an issue which said it would "encourage locally grown and raised food, and protect Ohio farms and families." Why would I do that and why do I think you should to?

From the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund:
  • By, now you've heard about Ohio Constitution Issue 2. You've gotten the robo calls, received the glossy postcard, and heard the radio ads, all telling you that Issue 2 is about "safe, local food." On the surface, Issue 2 sounds great-creating a Livestock Care Standards Board that will oversee and livestock care in Ohio and protect local foods. However, Issue 2 will have the opposite effect. Here are the real facts:
    - Issue 2 AMENDS the state constitution to create a Livestock Care Standards Board, stacked with Big Ag and factory farm supporters, which would have sweeping authority to make decisions related to farms and food in Ohio that would have the force of law. The Board would have largely unchecked power to override any act by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Ohio Assembly.
    - While Issue 2 requires the membership of several "family farmers" on the Board, this is not a safeguard to prevent the panel from being overtaken by corporate agribusiness and factory farming interests. While there is no legal definition for a family farmer in the U.S., the USDA has stated that 98% of all factory farms are operated through what would beconsidered "family farms."
    - Issue 2 serves the economic interests of factory farms, opening the door for the proliferation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in Ohio.
    - Issue 2 emphasizes the need of the livestock industry to provide "affordable food," yet ignores its hidden costs, including environmental contamination, human health impacts, and the loss of rural communities.

    This is an abuse of Ohio's constitution and our liberty. The issue is backed by major agri-business interests seeking protection from national animal welfare groups working to phase out problematic animal production practices like battery cages for chickens. The newly proposed board would give 13 political appointees absolute power to decide rules on animal welfare, potentially reshaping regulations on how animals are raised, tracked and traced. Currently, animal agriculture is regulated by the Ohio Dept of Agriculture, which makes rules through a formal process that requires public input.

    This new board would make decisions independent of public input, with no review, no forum for public comment, and no avenue for appeal. The board's decision is final!! They will be the ones to determine proper and "humane" animal care - we do not want a board that supports CAFOs being able to dictate their version of animal care (confinement, hormones, antibiotics, genetically modified feed, expensive animal ID systems) to the local farmers we know and trust.

    We fear that passage of Issue 2 would eventually put small local farmers out of business due to expensive regulations imposed on them by the Livestock Care board.

    The argument most commonly used in support of Issue 2 is California's 2007 passage of Proposition 2, Standards for Confining Farm Animals, which requires by January 2015 that certain farm animals be confined only in ways that allow them to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely. Florida, Arizona, Oregon and Colorado have passed similar legislation.

    Issue 2 supporters are using this as a scare tactic, claiming that if Ohio doesn't pass Issue 2, the Humane Society of the United States will "come in and attempt to outlaw meat production and make everyone vegans." The people of Ohio would not tolerate that. Ohio already has an alarming number of factory farms-and that number will increase if this Board eases regulations on animal production.
    According to the Ohio EPA, the state has close to 200 factory farms, including four beef operations with more than 3000 animals, 29 dairy operations with more than 1000 animals, and a staggering 98 poultry and egg-laying operations with more than 100,000 birds each, including 9 with more than a million birds. Consumers are discovering the real costs of cheap food (Time Magazine Aug 31, 2009) and it is dangerous to use government to silence "WE THE PEOPLE." A vote for issue to is a vote to silence the people!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The CSA season is over...

Nov. 1 the last day of our 2009 season...

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Under cover...

Difference for being covered with floating row cover for three weeks! Just 3 weeks... Plants are the same variety and planted at same spacing in same field on the same day...

Not under cover...


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