What Is Your Government Doing to Protect Small Farmers from Big Food?


It’s no secret that we ES-ers are all for locally sourced, minimally processed food. You may remember forkitude’s post about how big food conglomerates have an outsize say in what America eats. Clearly, we’re wringing our collective hands about such things. But apparently, not everyone agrees. I had an interesting conversation on this matter last week and received the surprising response that I was anti-business and a “borderline hippie.” I find it interesting how divergent food views have become and how efforts at improving the quality of food are often ridiculed or even worse, politicized.

Surprisingly, it appears our government may actually be listening. The US Department of Justice and the USDA recently convened a series of public workshops exploring corporate concentration and competition in food and agriculture. The five meetings, led by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, included discussions about the dairy, poultry and livestock industries and how corporate food is affecting small farmers and consumers.

While we do not know yet if these meetings will yield any real change, it was impressive to see how many small farm and community groups made sure they were heard. The big industry voices were not present, but that may be because they can relay their opinions through other channels (like lobbyists). Here are a few of the topics touched upon:

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What’s In Season: Cherimoya


Spring is this close and that means our long winter nightmare of farmers markets with only apples and sweet potatoes is just about over. Hopefully, this will be the first weekend when we show up to the market and say, “ooooh, what the hell is that?!”

To help us decode our anticipated bounty, our pals over at Good Bite have launched a weekly column on What’s In Season, focusing today on something I’ll admit I’d never heard of:

You may have seen this irregular, green, leathery-skinned fruit at the supermarket but it originates from South America. A cherimoya, or custard apple, tastes like a combination of banana, pineapple, and papaya with a cream-colored flesh flecked with black seeds. Cherimoyas should be firm without blemishes, and can be stored at room temperature until slightly soft and ripe. To serve, chill the cherimoya, cut it in half, spoon out the seeds and eat the flesh with a spoon.

As far as cooking, cherimoyas are frequently used in dessert recipes such as custards and puddings, hence the name “custard apple.” Because cherimoyas are in season right now at local farmers markets, next time you see one of these odd-looking fruits, rather than stare at it unknowingly, score a cherimoya to try raw or in one of the following recipes:

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Reason #237 Why You Should Shop at the Farmers Market

garlic on the stalk

When I was a girl I thought farming was the dorkiest thing ever. Who would want to be in the middle of nowhere (hello?!?! malls?!?!) with animals and vegetables and have to be up early to do weird manual labor stuff? I really wasn’t sure what went on there, but I knew I loved my nails painted and my mornings free.

Clearly there’s been a sea change. While I haven’t quite exchanged my 42-inch TV for a hay stack, I’ve rethought my opinion of farms and farming and farmers. If only for the knowledge of where food comes from and how it grows.

Maybe I’m a suburban girl, but I had absolutely no idea how garlic grows. (I also never knew Brussels sprouts grew on a stalk). I know about garlic scapes, but I never really put together the life cycle. And then I saw garlic on this long, rod-type thing. Tons and tons of garlic bulbs attached to 2-foot rock-hard sticks. They’re actually quite dangerous, as my market companion kept having to excuse me for bumping into people with my garlic rod.

You know what I’m gonna say next: you don’t see this at your local grocery store, folks. So please. Head to the market over this long weekend. Find something new to cook. Learn something about your produce. Stop judging those dorky 4H kids.

Artsy Photo of the Day


Currently, there are no plans for DC to switch to using currants as a new form of currency concurrently with the dollar.

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