Thursday, May 10, 2007

... My Farmer

The phone rang and it was Joel- my farmer. He had arrived in town a little early with my buying club order and was wondering if I could come early too. See, I order my meats and eggs from a farm in rural virginia. Joel, the head of the family who runs the farm, chooses to deliver the foods to his customers directly. He prefers to have the eye to eye contact believing that you can't regulate morals, real morals come from looking your customers in the eye. I like the novelty of seeing Joel face to face on a regular basis. I was even a bit star struck the first time as I'd read a few books about him and his style of farming.

I jumped in the car, eager to get my eggs, chicken, and beef. The radio was tuned to NPR and The Diane Rehm Show was just beginning. Ironically they were discussing food safety. You may remember that a while back there were recalls on contaminated pet food. The wheat, grown in China, had been intentionally injected with a chemical contaminant named Melamine in an effort to make the wheat appear to be a higher quality. The Melamine was reacting with other contaminants and causing the animals kidneys to shut down. The story focused on the FDA's responsibility to protect American consumers from food contaminants. An ever increasing amount of our food (or ingredient in food) is imported and most countries don't have the safety regulations we have. Food born illnesses have doubled in the past 5 years. They stressed that we need to know where our food comes from. By how? asked Diane. Unfortunately there is no way as of yet. The current administration has not allowed laws to pass that would inform consumers.

What sparked the story this week is that the FDA had discovered that chicken raised for human consumption had eaten feed containing the melamine contaminated wheat. They decided that the potential for melamine poisoning was minimal and they would not pull chicken off the shelves. They are leaving it for us to eat.

I listened in concern, but was not tempted to fear. Why? Because I do know where my food comes from, Joel and his family. Their chickens don't eat feed, they eat grass. Grass that is grown on their farm. I know the ins and outs of Joel's farm because he makes them well known. He encourages his patrons to drop in any time and give themselves a tour of the entire farm- full access- to see everything. This, he feels, keeps everyone on the farm accountable and he likes his customers to be educated.

I am hoping to make it up to Swoope, Virgina this summer to visit Joel and his family and my chickens whose eggs I eat every morning. I'm grateful for his desire to farm "beyond-organic", to educate the public, and to be so politically involved with the legislation regulating farmers. And, I'm grateful that I can enjoy tonights dinner without wondering if my kidneys are going to be ok.

11 comments:

Heather said...

Hey, Michelle! I'd love more info. about your buying club!

Jennifer said...

I sometimes have the privelege of buying my produce fresh. It's grown in PA and NJ (no more than an hour away) so I know I'm eating fresh and organic... I wish I could find eggs/meat. I need to check out my farmer's market. I hope you do get the chance to check out the farm. sounds educational and a chance for a fun road trip!

Love,

JL

Bethany said...

That sounds so cool. I do the farmers market. But this sounds even better. Tell more tell more.

I read that story about the chicken and melamine YUCK that is freaky. I wish our government would allow us to be experimented on so much. Wonder what they eat.

Judy said...

Thanks for the post. I recently read an article in the paper about the FDA. Apparently they were aware that the factory in GA that was putting out the E-coli contaminated peanut butter had contamination problems, or something along those lines. They've also been aware of the whole lettuce / spinach contamination problems for quite some time. I guess the point of the article was that the FDA says they're too busy, or too overwhelmed & food safety isn't the top priority. They said it would be years before there are more regulations put in place. Sad & scary, huh?

Michelle said...

Actually Judy, the radio program I listened to said the same thing - that the FDA is radically underfunded. They pointed out that food is an open door for terrorists to get into America since most of our food comes from other countries and those countries have little to no regulations and since the FDA checks almost none of the incoming food at port of entry. Yikes!

Rodrigo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Libby said...

i'm jealous michelle! i need to figure out how i can do the same - buy organic and beyond if possible. sounds delicious, nutritious and safe! the terrorism through food is definitely a scare...but does the government have to do everything for us? why can't we consumers demand food from our local farmers?

Jenn said...

That sounds so neat.

Judy said...

Hey, I just noticed that you're reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime. You'll have to let me know what you think of it. I read last year & I liked it. :)

Ashleigh said...

Sounds like you have a great farmer. Ted and I are going to look into getting more food locally here. We're not sure yet what our options are.

Michelle said...

ok judy, just finished 'dog', very cute. very sensical (if that is a word). i enjoyed hearing how he processed things. what did you think?