10.19.2007

A New Layer of Confusion


Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

"There you go again", USDA.

You have probably read of the confusion that our government has created in the lexicon of natural, sustainable agriculture, but let's review that US Government double-speak dictionary.

Natural means nothing more than "minimally processed".

Free range means only that the creature has "access to the out of doors".

Organic allows for the use of some 60+ non-organic products.

The USDA is poised to add a new term to its double-speak dictionary: Grass Fed.

What's the problem?

In the real naturally-grown community, grass fed has always referred to beef cattle that was
1) raised on open pasture its entire life,
2) ate exclusively on grass, be it fresh during the growing season or baled during the winter, and
3) free of all drugs, hormones, and steroids.

The USDA has now re-defined "grass fed" to exclude all 3 processes. "USDA Grass Fed" can come from cattle that was confined in a feedlot, drugged and injected, and came from mothers that were grain-fed or were grain-fed themselves, until weaning age.

I am not making this up, folks. Go to the usda.gov website and see for yourselves.

And this definition comes despite majority objection to this process during the discussion period preceding the finalization of the rule.

This is probably not news to you, but you just cannot trust your own government anymore.

What is the counter-balance against this pro-industrial bias of our government? More and more we are seeing the creation of private certification agencies. "Certified Naturally Grown" is one (see www.naturallygrown.com).

With the new USDA Grass Fed announcement, the American Grass Fed Association has announced its plan to set up its own certification process for grass fed beef which will require the 3 standards mentioned above.

What does all of this mean for the consumer? Get educated, know your producer, ignore government "certifications", and look for standards promulgated by private certification agencies. Otherwise, you too may fall victim to government double-speak.

Yours in the local harvest,

Glen Boudreaux
(comments are welcome at boboud@aol.com)

10.15.2007

Always Becoming

We are thinking about strawbale construction on our farm, and came across this inspirational piece, thought you may enjoy... earth sculpture


Always Becoming | Canelo Project from quatica on Vimeo.

8.16.2007

Speaking of Addictions...


by Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

El Presidente recently accused us of being addicted to cheap oil. Well, that may be true, except it ain't cheap anymore.

I didn't like it when he said it, and I don't like it now, because he is one of a large class of politicians that have ignored - and continue to ignore - our energy dependency for a long, long time. But my real question is, why did the president stop at oil. "Free trade" agreements have made us dependent on Cheap, period. He just didn't go far enough, because to do so would further indict his entire profession on policies that go well beyond oil. We exist on cheap food, cheap toys, cheap clothes, cheap bedsheets. Cheap is everywhere we look - otherwise, how could a WalMart come to dominate our shopping? (Not mine, by the way. I'm from a family of too many blue collar workers to be able to suppress my inbred sense of support for the American worker. WalMart, and its imitators, is an awful place where grandmothers greet you at the door because they can't subsist on their pension. The place reeks of cheap. I can't get poor enough to shop there. Sorry if that offends you.)

If you ask a free-trader crowd why "cheap" is good, you will be told that it actually raises the living standards of America's working class by making their necessities less expensive. That might have been true at the very first, when they were making a middle class wage. But now their middle class jobs have been exported to third world countries and their income has been cut in half or more, if they have a job at all. So they go to WalMart because they have no choice but to find the cheapest that they can find, which happens to include poisoned food and leaded toys. This is smart policy? Run that by me again...

I've always loved the Andy Rooney line, "Most of us are not trying to get rich, we're just trying to not get poor."

It's getting harder and harder, Andy.

Yours in the local harvest,

Glen
boboud@aol.com

8.01.2007

Subscription Farming (CSA)

Brad Stufflebeam of Home Sweet Farm in Brenham,TX talks about community supported agriculture. Houston Chronicle August 1, 2007.

See related article... Sharing the Risks and Rewards of Farming

7.21.2007

Bringing Local Food to Your Community


How does Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) work, and what is it? The details vary as greatly as there are different types of farms and farmers. Most of what we read about CSA farms is from up north where the season is short and specific. The challenges are different in the South which has longer and more defined seasons. In the South, spring is spring and summer is summer with months in-between fall and winter. Beets and lettuce will not be available at the same time as tomatoes and water melon. It is up to the farmers to explain the seasonal availability to their CSA Members.
We have been providing CSA memberships for over 24 seasons now, about 12 years, delivering to 13 different drop-sites serving our local communities. Every year we tweak the program to best fit our needs with the members we serve. I have also spent time talking with other farmers and the challenges they face in serving their members. After some reflection, I would like to share what the ideal CSA arrangement would be for most of the producers, the type of CSA program that our farm will be promoting in the future.
Before January, a minimum of 30 families get together, usually organized by an individual coordinator, interested in finding a local farm to provide seasonal vegetables to their group, in this circumstance, they are a pre-existing community. After contacting and inspecting a local farm, the group secures a drop-site location (preferably a home, business, church or community center) and collects pre-payments providing the farmer with the income needed to begin planting for the season. While the farmer is preparing fields, planting seeds in the greenhouse, adding amendments to the soil, gathering irrigation and other supplies, the group coordinator is planning volunteer rotations from the group and how to best manage the drop-site.
Once the season begins, the coordinator will be the liaison between the farmer and the CSA Members. On a scheduled day each week, the farmer will deliver cases of produce to be divided by the members when they pick-up. The farmer may have the added expense of providing delivery to the group, but the service provided by the Coordinator allows the farmer to focus more upon the production of food rather than the marketing.
In the past our farm offered a monthly payment plan, however, this does not always provide the commitment from the members that is necessary for a CSA to be successful. It is not uncommon for some members to drop out in the middle of the season, due to vacation or other personal reasons, leaving the farmer to hold the bag with produce that they had previously committed to purchasing, at the farm's expense. Today we offer seasonal payments, better insuring our member's commitment.
So, to break-down the steps on how to bring local food to your community:
  1. Ask your business, church or community center to host a drop-site (help them understand how this can be a valuable community outreach program).
  2. Find at least 30 families or individuals interested in participating in a CSA Program.
  3. Schedule a meeting for the farmer to come out and explain the program to everybody, or plan a farm tour.
  4. Members pre-pay online to secure the farmer’s work for the season.
  5. Get organized, hopefully with a designated Coordinator to work out the details.
  6. Get ready for good food! When the season begins, you will experience a fresh difference, enjoying food like it was meant to be.
If you are interested in bringing food to your community in the Houston area, please give us a call, 979-251-9922 or 979-530-7992 (cell).
- Farmer Brad

“You Changed My Life!”

This is a comment I recently received from one of our faithful CSA members last weekend during our Monthly Market Day. It’s a remarkable statement, and really one of the most fulfilling rewards anyone could receive, to hear that you have impacted someone’s life for the better. It’s understandable if you are a mother, teacher, doctor or minister, but a farmer? It seems a little strange that we can change people’s lives with our "simple" work.

Real food and fresh food has become extraordinary in America. Our work is reuniting people with one of the most basic and elemental necessities in life. We try not to take it for granted, eating fresh and in season everyday. “You changed my life” seems incredibly profound, but it is something that I have been experiencing more frequently. At least once a year I hear this feedback from our members, and it always stops me in my tracks as I have to gulp back the tears realizing that the path we have chosen as farmers is to serve others and to love our neighbors with blood, sweat and tears. These words are what keep me going. They make it all worth it. Thank you!

Yours in the harvest!

-Farmer Brad

PS: May our humble works inspire you to be a local food evangelist in your community. Have you hugged your farmer today? (They could use one.)

7.11.2007

A Message from the MacGregor School Gardens


The MacGregor Elementary School garden has made amazing transformations in just a matter of a month. I drew four garden designs, focusing on beds for each grade level and after school classes. After some design advice from Gracie Cavnar and Brad Stufflebeam, who owns and operates Home Sweet Farm and is president of TOFGA, the “Sun and Moon” design was approved for the garden by Dr. Patricia Allen, principal of MacGregor.

Board Member Glen Boudreaux of Jolie Vue Farms contacted Jimmy Gibson, of Gibson Landscaping Company, to scrape off the existing grass and level the area with sand. Mr. Gibson generously donated his company’s time and equipment for this invaluable service. Garden beds were staked, and on June 8th, 100 volunteers from PriceWaterhouseCoopers built the 19 raised beds.

Now we are in the process of laying irrigation to each bed. The next PWC volunteer work day is June 22nd. Come and join us as we finish up--filling the beds with soil and laying sod in the pathways. During the school year, the students will beautify the garden with art, a sundial,
and benches—and of course plant our first seeds. It’s been incredible to watch it all come together.

Thank you to the GLC crew, PWC volunteers, and RFS staff and board. It wouldn’t be possible without you!

Sharon Siehl
Recipe Gardens Coordinator


Local Trumps Organic?... or "Beyond Organic"

Part 2 of 2
by
Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

Last week we briefly traced the evolution of the organic movement, and it went pretty much like this:
-a halting start by a small group of radicals
-development of the lost art of true organic farming
-the foodies of the world respond and trigger the inception of Whole Foods Market and others
-Big Food gets interested due to surging demand and involves the USDA
-Industrial Organic is the result. Not a bad thing, but certainly not the same thing as true organic.

So, bringing the story up to date, did Big Food take the market away from the true organic farmers? Yes and no.

Yes, in the sense that consumers can now get a form of organic produce at their grocers'. No, in the sense that 1) demand for nutritious food that does not also spoil the environment or treat earth's creatures cruelly has grown commensurately with the expansion of supply, or perhaps faster, and 2) farmers have become quite entreprenurial, moving beyond organic to a place that is superior - local and sustainable as well. And it will be harder for Big Food to take that superior product away because their systems have difficulty operating locally rather than globally.

What is the local/sustainable market? How does it differ from simply "organic"? The differences are important. These are some of the factors that distinguish the two brands.

Local and sustainable puts its emphasis on food production and delivery systems that occur in close proximity to the consumer and enhances rather than depletes the farming resources of your community. The advantages are many, including but not limited to these several points:

-there is nothing more tasty or nutritious than food the day it is harvested. The longer it is stored after harvest, the more it deteriorates in both respects. Most of us know the taste deteriorates, but might not have considered that the nutrients are doing the same. Recent studies have demonstrated the loss of nutrients as shelf life increases.
-industrial organic depends upon a very limited variety of plants that have been developed for quick growth and shipping hardiness, not nutritional values. Local farmers can afford to grow the heirloom varieties, thus giving you the diverse nutritional values and a product that has reached its nutritional maturity on the vine or plant - shortly before you eat it.
-food that is grown where you live is more compatible with your system. We see this truth in plants and animals, so assume it is true with humans as well. One will always have trouble bringing seed in from Wisconsin and making it prosper here. That seed has adapted itself to a different geographic place. Similarly, your body is going to more quickly recognize plants growing naturally in southeast Texas, thereby utilizing that plant's values more completely.
-when you eat from the local, sustainable harvest, you are not only supporting your neighbors, you are improving your environment.

As the Europeans say, "eat your view".

Yours in the local harvest,

Glen
boboud@aol.com

6.26.2007

Local Trumps Organic... or do I have that backwards?

Part 1 of 2
by Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas


OK, so a bunch of Flower Children got together in their slightly herbaceous version of the smoke-filled room at Berkeley and decided that spraying chemicals all over our food was not such a bright idea. So they sent some words of support but no money to Jane Fonda, Che Gueverra and Ho Chi Minh, made a commune, threw out some vegetable seed, made love not war, despaired for a while, got exhausted, and mostly grew weed(s). They were pretty much ignored, except by J. Edgar Hoover, who soon gave them plenty of free time to work out their mistakes.

To call the inception of the organic era inauspicious might be an understatement.

Nonetheless, the FCs learned from their mistakes, got off of J. Edgar's dole (we called him Jedgar in Texas), and went on their merry organic way. Eventually, the more sober among them figured it out. Before you could say brussel sprouts and sushi-patushi, Whole Foods was raking in 5 billion dollars a year. (It must be in tribute to their ancestors that WF always sells flowers - daisies mostly.)

The 5 billion part of the story attracted a more traditional crowd, and pretty soon they got with some pals at the USDA. "It's not fair" they cried, "these darned love-making, pot-smoking, hippie-pinko whackos are growing a bunch of sissy food and killing our high-fructose corn syrup market, not to mention our DDT coated carrots. We told Jedgar he was letting them out too soon. Next thing you know they'll be spouting off about animal rights. For God's sake and the 'merican way, Nuke 'em!"

"Not to worry", said their friends at the USDA, "we are the protectors of the American Way - Jedgar told us so one night at The Princess' Ball. We'll just redefine a few words in the Merican Heritage Dictionary so true-blues can sell their food and call it organic too. We'll adulterate the standards so any idiot can grow it. We'll put our stamp on it and make those hippies get our approval before they can use that word again. Then we'll make the bookkeeping so burdensome only you true-blue'rs can comply." And they did.

So there was peace in the land, organic labels in Wal-Mart, melamine in Felix's bowl, and everyone prepared to begin living happily ever after.

They thought.

Yours in the local-but-not-necessarily-organic harvest,

Glen
boboud@aol.com

6.18.2007

Vegetables of Mass Destruction: Sneaky provisions threaten your food supply

Picture yourself eating healthy, fresh, flavorful foods, raised by local farmers who care for their land and their animals in a way that improves the environment, supports local economies, and promotes animal welfare. This vision stands in stark contrast to the current mainstream food supply, controlled by large industrial agriculture companies. In pursuit of the greatest profits, they have sacrificed people's health, environmental quality, and any trace of compassion for animals.

Growing numbers of farmers and consumers share a vision for change,one that promotes healthy people, animals, and the environment. But thelarge industrial agriculture companies are seeking government help to preserve their market control and profits in the 2007 Farm Bill. Beforeyour eyes glaze over at the words "Farm Bill," ask yourself whether youwant to be able to get local, grass-fed meats and eggs. Hormone-freemilk? Organic foods free from genetically engineered contamination? Achoice whether or not to buy genetically engineered foods? If any ofthese things matter to you, then the Farm Bill affects your life – it’s about your food!

Two sneaky provisions in the Farm Bill could force sustainable farmers out of business and cut off local control of food safety.

Read the entire article here

6.13.2007

And Viola! A Garden Appeared

Thought you might enjoy this report. I have the great honor to have been involved in the design of this new edible school yard in Houston. Hopefully this will soon spread across the metroplex with the great leadership of Recipes 4 Success.

- Farmer Brad

And Viola! A Garden Appeared

The heat index soared above 100 degrees on Friday in Houston, but hundreds of PriceWaterhouseCoopers employees worked from 8:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon to transform an empty 1/4 acre of MacGregor schoolyard into our first Recipe Garden. READ THE STORY and SEE THE PICTURES.


Where Cultures Meet, Amid Coconuts

Here is an exciting new take on Farmers Markets! The future is now, and it's bright!!!

- Farmer Brad



Where Cultures Meet, Amid Coconuts

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 13, 2007; Page F01

Just when you thought farmers markets had become not only ubiquitous but maybe even a tad predictable, along comes one with surprising possibilities.

Such as fresh sugar cane. "Fourteen years in this country, and I haven't eaten that thing," Haiti native Emie Cadet shouts as she excitedly waves a juicy stalk in the air at last Wednesday's opening of the new Crossroads Farmers Market. "This makes my day." Behind her, two small Hispanic boys contentedly sip milk from green coconuts as big as their heads.

There are 4,400 farmers markets in the United States, more than three times the number in 1994, with an estimated sales volume of $1 billion, according to the Department of Agriculture. That includes 90-plus markets in the Washington area. But not one is quite like Crossroads in Takoma Park.

View the article, CLICK HERE

6.06.2007

Local is the New Organic? What on Earth am I Supposed to Eat?

By: Leah Koenig


Imagine you are standing in the aisle of a supermarket in New York City. Two adjacent bins of peaches are displayed in front of you. The sign over one bin reads "organically grown, Mexico." Over the other, the sign reads, "low spray, upstate New York." Which of the peaches, if either, do you put in your cart?

Over the last several decades, "organic food" has morphed from a virtually unknown idea, to a buzz phrase favored by granola-eating idealists and, more recently, into a billion dollar business. Once confined to natural food co-ops, organic foods - those grown or raised without synthetic pesticides, growth hormones or antibiotics - are now common fare at supermarkets and restaurants. The USDA certified organic logo graces the labels of mainstream products like macaroni and cheese, mayonnaise, and even decorative cake sprinkles.

As organic foods have grown more popular with consumers (they now represent the fastest-growing sector of specialty foods in America), large corporations have begun to offer organic versions of their conventional products (organic Heinz ketchup recently hit the shelves), and have started buying smaller organic companies (Stonyfield is owned by Dannon, Seeds of Change is owned by M&M/Mars. These large companies have joined the organic movement - genuinely interested in using their corporate leverage in the world, but many others simply recognize that the joining organic food sector could increase their own profit margins.

Whether or not the attention from big business will ultimately equal a victory for the organic movement is still unclear. The emergence of "big organic" does mean that organic foods are now being purchased and eaten by more families in America than ever before. But whereas organic certification standards (like the USDA organic label) were originally created to assure customers of more sustainable growing standards, their connection to big industry renders them a potential source of consumer confusion. A USDA organic label on a peach is one thing, but organically certified Oreos or Tostitos? The organic movement was pioneered by small food producers that wanted to move away from conventionally produced foods. Should food items filled with saturated fat and processed sugar grown 1,000 miles from the factory be considered organic simply because the wheat in them was grown without synthetic pesticides? A number of smaller organic certifications (e.g. NOFA, Oregon Tilth, Pennsylvania Certified Organic), which are arguably more thorough in their certification standards than the USDA, might be reluctant to certify Oreos. But according to the USDA, which is currently the most widely-recognized organic label, organic Oreos are just fine (and will hit the shelves in the near future).

More recently, the concept of eating locally - which roughly translates to eating foods grown and harvested within about a half-day's drive from one's table - has begun to percolate into the American food conscious. (Though, people who remember eating before World War II, which marked a major turning point in American consumerism, would rightly point out that locally grown food is not a new phenomenon.)

According to Michael Pollan, author of the current best seller, Omnivore's Dilemma, (highly recommended by the Hazon staff!) local foods appeal to the consumer's desire for authenticity - the idealized notion that food is more pure if it was grown by a real, hardworking farmer or caught fresh from the wild. In theory, eating local foods also connects a consumer more directly with the place the food was grown ("Poughkeepsie! We vacation right near there!), and with the
people - typically small family farmers - who grow it.

READ more of this article, CLICK HERE >>


5.26.2007

Farm to Table Cafe

Congratulations Bryan and Elise! Local food is catching on... this is a great video featuring our friends and wonderful cafe in San Antonio... check it out

4.28.2007

Our AG Exemption gets Press!

We wanted to share an article about our farm in the Houston Chronicle on April 25th. Many of you are aware of the challenge we have been faced with this year when we were denied our AG exemption back in February (see previous post). We received many letters from you in support of our case, and because of your concern, the news finally got into the hands of Lisa Gray, a journalist with the Houston Chronicle. Lisa came out to our farm last week to investigate, and wrote a beautiful report on our farm (read below). Having a journalist interested in this issue was both a surprise and a concern, as we did not want to upset our county appraisers, however, we considered this dilemma, from the very beginning, as another educational opportunity for local food and sustainable agriculture.

Needless to say, our county appraisers came back out that morning, after reading the article, taking photos and re-evaluating our agricultural enterprise. The appraisers were more than friendly and gracious, and by the time the farm tour was over, we were all smiling together as they rewarded us our AG exemption!

Lisa Gray did a follow-up piece announcing the good news which was published in the April 27th Houston Chronicle.

Thanks to all our friends and community, for your support and encouragement. We could not do it without you!


-Farmer Brad


The Articles:

E-I-E. You Owe.
All's Sweet now down on the farm.

4.25.2007

Heroes In Unexpected Places

by:
Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

Most of us know about the local heroes of sustainable agriculture and "eating where you live". Monica Pope of t'afia; Gerard Bach of Chez Nous French Restaurant; Chefs Joseph and Chris of Quattro's; Joan Gundermann of Gundermann Organic Farms; Brad Stufflebeam of HomeSweetFarm and TOFGA; John Mackey of Whole Foods; and Gracie Cavnar with her Edible Houston Schoolyards.

From there, you can spread out to the coasts, where you find Alice Waters and her Farm to School Cafeteria program on the left coast and Nina Plank's Greenmarket on the right coast.
But now we have to add another local and one foreigner to our list of heroes in unexpected places, Monty Dozier of Texas A&M, and Prince Charles. Yes, that is Princes Charles of the Royal Family of Windsor.

I, and my devoted earth mother/wife and children, have been some sort of livestockman and gardener since 1989 when we acquired Jolie Vue Farms. I have had many conversations with various professors in the Ag department at Texas A&M. When I was doing things the "modern" way, those conversations were always friendly, information-rich, and helpful. That changed when I made the decision to go "au natural". Suddenly, my friends at A&M became disdainful skeptics. Mostly, they had no clue as to how to answer my questions about organic, chemical-free, or sustainability. I stopped calling, and that was fine with them. There simply was no benefit to either party to discuss issues about which we had nothing in common.

That has apparently changed, or at least is changing. Be introduced to Dr. Monty Dozier of the Agriculture College at A&M (m-dozier@tamu.edu), who is bringing his extension agents and students out to places like HomeSweetFarm to study sustainable agriculture methods. I am told by Farmer Brad, who was as surprised as anyone by Dozier's request to visit his farm, that Dozier said "this is a trend that people are interested in, we are public servants, so I am here to learn about it and teach it"(paraphrased). If our agricultural college gets behind sustainable agriculture, folks, you will see warp speed advancement in the art and therefore in the supply. Send the professor your support and congratulations - you can bet he's having to swim upstream at the college.

And how about Prince Charles, a guy who will be King of England someday? Well, he's no johnny-come-lately to the movement. In fact, he is one of the earliest leaders. Hear this, from and about the prince, as reported by the recent NY Times: "Given another life, I think he'd have been a farmer." (his farm manager) From the prince: "I can only say that for some reason in my bones I felt that if you abuse nature unnecessarily and fail to maintain a balance, then she will probably abuse you in return." and, "We no more want to live in anonymous concrete blocks that are just like anywhere else...than we want to eat anonymous junk food that can be bought anywhere".

Prince Charles owns and personally oversees Home Farm, an 1100 acre sustainable farm where he preserves British meadow and wildflowers, raises GMO-free vegetables and heritage stock, and promotes his farmer cooperative "Duchy Originals" products for the benefit of charities and British sustainable farmers.

So there you have my "heroes in unexpected places", Monty at A&M and Charles of Windsor. Congratulate them.


Yours in the local harvest,
Glen

Our Local Food Cooperative and how it Works.


Our farm provides fresh vegetables and herbs to our CSA Members. These dedicated members are what make our farming possible. Knowing that our work and food is pre-sold each month assures our efforts and guarantees our income to continue operating throughout the year. Our CSA Members are confident that they will receive the freshest seasonal food each week. It’s a beautiful relationship between our farm and our community. Thus the term, CSA, meaning Community Supported Agriculture.

The Dilemma


Although we are one farm, our members and others in the broader community (from Austin to Houston) are in constant contact with us wanting to find more local food than just our farm can provide. As we have worked to promote good eating and seasonal food, we have met great local producers, and every farm is different, providing different culinary delights.

The challenges we collectively face as local producers is distribution. Producers, like our family, live in rural communities an hour or more from major metroplexes. Farmers Markets are great, but they do not necessarily meet the needs of all the producers. For example, when we sold at a downtown Farmers Market, our family would get up at 5 am, do our farm chores (feeding animals, milking, gathering eggs, etc), mom would wake up the children (ages 5 and 7 at the time), get them dressed and breakfast prepared for them to eat in the car, dad would load up the van for market sales, and we would hit the road driving over an 1.5 hours to get to market. We would then set-up our stand a half hour before Market opening, settle the kids to help with customers (they loved it, and so did we) and interact with our customers selling our produce hoping to have a good turn out and a good sales day. After 4 hours of sales, we would be beat, exhausted and hungry, so the family would have to go out to eat at a restaurant (spending a good percentage of our sales for the day, and against most of our principles about eating local). The family would then get back in the van driving the 1.5+ hours to get back home, in order to unload and do the afternoon chores (watering plants, animals, milking again, etc). Needless to say it was the most exhausting day of the week, and the promise for good sales was risky for all that effort. Thus our CSA… and it has worked out great for our family farm. However, the problem still remains: more people need more local food; the solution: a local food cooperative.

The Solution

Food Cooperatives generally offer their members (for a $50 annual fee) an opportunity to pre-order organic produce, however the food options are generally no different than the factory organic food offered at our specialty grocery stores, i.e. organic produce from California and around the world. Although these Coops are great for some, and need to be encouraged, as they provide food cheaper than most of the specialty grocery stores, they really do not satisfy the demand for more local food, or help cut down on the use of fossil fuels used to distribute food over 1500 miles (on average).

A Local Food Cooperative is different in many ways in that it is a local food network. Local food eaters, for a $38 annual fee (covering administrative costs, location and maintenance), partner together with local producers committed to providing the freshest quality food for our communities. This is going beyond typical factory organic. The Local Food Cooperative offers only local seasonal food, which can be pre-ordered by its members. The program is designed to be more farmer-friendly in that the farmers receive one collective order to deliver each month, making their lives a lot easier, and cutting down on the risk of having a good sales day at a downtown market along with additional costs and time for distribution. Local farmers and local food eaters then gather together each month on the 3rd Sunday to celebrate local food. The best part about it, members and farmers get to experience a rural setting, eliminating the need for everyone to go into the big city. We find that most of our members live in the suburbs outside of the metroplex, and after a hard week’s work do not want to go back into the big city to shop on the weekends. By meeting in a central location and in a rural setting, people can be in more contact with where the food comes from, the country, the fresh air, the rolling hills of green pasture, basically, the farm.

The Details

Members, who join, can order artisan cheeses, raw dairy products, grass-fed beef, lamb, poultry and bison, from an online list updated with the monthly availability from the participating local farms. Fresh produce and eggs are available seasonally, first come, first served. Like other coops, there is a deadline to order, because the meat and dairy producers need to custom process for each month’s market day. Members can join by sending their membership dues by mail or at their first pick-up. Then, by ordering before the deadline, your food will be delivered directly by the farmers for pick-up on the 3rd Sunday of the month from 2-4pm.

You can join our local food market, serving South Central Texas, by visiting www.homesweetfarm.com. Look for links to our Monthly Market Days for more details.

We hope that this innovative local food cooperative can become a model for others wanting to establish a local food network in their region of Texas. Local food, it’s a thousand miles fresher!

4.24.2007

The Farm Bill

Michael Pollan has done it again with his recent article in the New York Times. This article eloquently breaks down the impact of our US Farm Bill. Its not just about cheap commodities (corn, soy and wheat) for food producers, it is about health, obesity, global justice, immigration, the environment and our local food economies.

The Farm Bill happens every 5 years and ALL food eaters should be concerned.

-(unsubsidized) Farmer Brad

4.22.2007

Monthly Market Days... The Omnivore's Delight!


Eating local food can be an ominvore's dilemma for most families. For one, it's hard to aquire all you need from one local farmer or Farmers Market, plus it takes too much time driving to all the possible farms to gather what you need. Farmers also have a hard time preparing everything for market and heading into the "Big City" to hopefully have a good sales day.

Our new monthly market hopes to connect local food buyers with local food producers by taking the risk out of the process for everyone. Local food buyers can become a market member to pre-order food for pick-up every 3rd Sunday afternoon of the month. This eliminates their risk that the time will be well spent knowing that the food they want will be waiting for them to pick-up. It also eliminates the risk for the producer knowing that they have a customer waiting to pick-up their product. It's a win-win situation. It's also a new technique for promoting local food.

It is a community supported program that guarantees the best food for everyone.

More details on our website www.homesweetfarm.com.

Join the local food revolution! Be a part of the omnivore's delight!


-Farmer Brad

4.20.2007

Local is Better & Grass-fed is Greener...

Local food is gaining attention, and the public is becoming more aware how it supercedes the organic factory fare from California and far off countries... with little accountability.

A few local stories this week about Grass-fed beef (featuring yours truly, Farmer Brad)... is helping to draw more attention. One article gave excellent attention to the fact that Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Delima, has created a lot of awareness for local food.

One thing is for sure... who do you trust? The USDA or your local farmer? Knowing who produces your food is the ultimate food security. Buy Local! Buy food that you can trust! It's a thousand miles fresher.

Health benefits of grass-fed beef:

Studies have shown a number of health benefits to eating beef from cows that were 100 percent grass-fed.

* Lower in saturated fats

* Slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids

* Higher in vitamins A and E

* No antibiotics

* Substantially lower chance of E. coli contamination

4.15.2007

4.11.2007

CSA video podcast by TX A&M

This is an educational podcast produced by Texas A&M Soil & Crop Dept. It is a great introduction into Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and features our farm with scenes including myself giving a tour, my muddy boots, spring chicks and our farm dog "Sunny".

Enjoy!
Farmer Brad

4.07.2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

whichever season you choose

by
Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas

As I sat my tractor yesterday, pulling the Bush Hog to shred standing hay from last year, and observing the lush green undergrowth that was waiting for its turn at a shot of bright sun and clean air to herald our 2007 Spring Flush, the Christmas song that is one of my favorites kept coming to mind. I didn't know that the next morning I would be writing this while a 35 mph Canadian norther was blowing in, bringing us weather more like Christmas in the Northeast than springtime in the Southwest. (OK, so I heard rumors about this norther, but didn't really believe it would happen quite so forcefully.) Yesterday I gloried in the bright cloudless skies, sweet dry air and cool temperatures of Washington County, Texas. I reveled in the sight of the emerging blue-green bluestem and grama native grasses and the reds, blues and yellows of the eager young wildflowers, singing "Wonderful Time" to myself. This morning I can hear the sleet hitting the tin roof on our porch as I write. Farming has always been about the weather, but this is getting out of hand.

We rely on the rhythm of the seasons to set our schedules in the farming community. Weather is never absolutely predictable, but if you look at the typical signs, know what your last average freeze date is, and generally observe Mother Nature, you can predict within a week or two when the season has in fact changed. Let me modify that - you used to be able to predict. What happens when stockmen are thrown a curveball like we have today, the 7th day of April, 2007?

First of all, the cattle get the blues. By this time of the year, they are anxious to get back to the springing, juicy, new-growth grasses. Their diet has been pretty monotonous for the last 4 months. Also pretty dry, even though we put out some winter varieties to give them some green stuff along with their standing hay. Before I mounted the tractor yesterday, I cut the herd into a small pasture we call the oak patch. Having been protected from the northwest winds all winter, the early grasses of spring were knee deep. If the cattle could talk, I'm sure they would have been singing "Auld Lang Syne" to me. Boy, were they grateful. It's going to be a short-term treat, Daisy. Sleet and lower temps will set the flush back by a good 2 weeks. Get ready for more dry hay from the barn, old girl.

Still skeptical about global warming? Well, call it what you will, but our weather patterns are changing. Here are 3 historically significant events in the weather records of Jolie Vue:
-in 18 years of keeping close rain records, we have never recorded 10+ inches of rain in January. The average is 4.7 and the previous high was 6 inches. January caught 10.25 inches. We had to bring the herd up to the top of the farm to keep them out of the mush.
-in the same 18 years, including some pretty droughty years, we have never gone more than 3 weeks without some recordable rain. This February recorded no rain for the entire month. So we went from too much rain to none at all from one month to another, each one setting a record.
-in my 58 years, farmers could always rely on the pecan tree to tell us when the freezes were over. When they budded, there was no more freezing weather to come. Well, they budded last week. And it will freeze this evening. Maybe not in Houston, but it will at the 400' level at Jolie Vue.

From the friont line, I remain

Yours in the local harvest,

Glen
boboud@aol.com

3.31.2007

Ingredients

This is great about the local food relationship between the farmer and the chef.

- Farmer Brad

3.28.2007

Ripe Target

A recent article in the Guardian Newspaper is reflecting upon Whole Foods which is soon to open it's new store in London, England. This will be an interesting endeavor, and I can't help to be concerned and inspired by Whole Foods who has really been one of our greatest advocates for organic food in America. But, Whole Foods is currently stuck between a rock and a hard place, where becoming BIG is almost synonymous with becoming evil. Don't get me wrong, Whole Foods is probably the best when it comes to being a conscientious retailer; they are definately at the top of the list. It basically comes back to the food consumer who demands produce out of season, requiring massive transit and exploited labor from foreign countries. Thus the power is in our hands, the conscientious consumer.

Check out the article... It features myself and my friends, Jason Duran from Whole Foods, Carol Ann Sayle of Boggy Creek Farm and Joan Gunderman of Gunderman Farm. Let's help Whole Foods do the right thing... Buy local, buy fresh, at the least support American farmers.

3.21.2007

Growing Goodness Broadband TV

Growing Goodness is a great new website featuring small documentaries highlighting small farms and the local food revolution across the country. Hope you enjoy it, I have been trying to view every clip. We are also hoping to get HOME sweet FARM on the broadband channel real soon. View the site here... www.growinggoodness.com

Enjoy!

2.28.2007

Farmer Brad Testifies at TX House Ag Committee Concerning NAIS and HB461

I spent the day Tuesday, Feb. 27th at the capitol testifying in support of Rep. Miller's HB461 which limits the Texas Animal Health Commission's plan for Animal ID to be a voluntary program, with full disclosure and non- discrimination for those who choose not to participate. This bill also allows those who have been coerced into registering their premises to opt out, and to be deleted from the data base.

Tuesday's session was completely different then the day I spoke before the Senate Ag Committee a few months back. BIG business was no where to be found except the Farm Bureau and Dr. Hillman, E.D. of the TAHC. There was overwhelming support for the bill putting restrictions on the TAHC's authority to create a mandatory program at their discretion.

To watch the video archive follow these links:

Morning Session - includes Judith McGeary's testmony (from Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance), along with Chairman Miller's eloquent introduction on how this program is not needed.

Afternoon Session
- includes Farmer Brad's testimony (second to the last) along with an excellent testimony from an experienced veterinarian, and the shameful testimony from the Farm Bureau and Dr. Hillman, E.D. of the TAHC.

Don't forget the Don't Tag Texas Rally this Friday at the capitol March 2nd... click here for the details. BRING THE WHOLE FAMILY!

BE ACTIVE! Show up for the rally or contact your Representative telling them to support HB461.

2.09.2007

Help Save Our Farm (from the tax man)

Dear Members & Friends,

On Feb. 5th we received a registered letter from the Washington County Appraisal District (WCAD) giving us a NOTICE OF DENIAL for 2007 Agriculture Exemption, stating that the reason our “Property does not meet the degree of intensity requirements as set out in the 2007 WCAD Guidelines for 1-d-1 Ag Use.”

We are entitled to protest this denial before the Appraisal Review Board. We are writing to you, our customers and friends, asking you to support us in preparing our case. If you can prepare a letter to the Appraisal Review Board, stating how you as our customer or associate have benefited from our services in any way, this will help us in our defense that we are a legitimate small family farm that is securing our livelihoods in commercial agriculture.

We see the challenge that we have before us as an opportunity to teach our county appraisal district about the local food economy and the future of sustainable farming. We realize that our production methods and direct to customer sales are a new concept for conventional agriculture, and we hope to promote this new and unique opportunity for small family farmers across Texas. This battle may have a big impact, not just for our family, and for yours, but for Washington County and possibly the whole state.

We write this letter to you, because we need your support. We need our community to stand with us as we work on this issue. If our family farm loses our Ag Exemption, there is a good chance that we may not be able to financially afford to stay in business. We need your help in securing our right to produce and sale fresh local food. We need you to stand with us. Please take a few minutes to write a letter to the Washington County Appraisal Review Board telling them how our small family farm benefits your lives. This letter needs to be sent to us so that we may add it to the material we are compiling for our defense. DO NOT send your letter durectly to the WCAD.

Yours in the harvest & thanks for the support!

Farmer Brad & Jenny

Please send your letters to our address:

The Stufflebeam Family

HOME sweet FARM

7800 FM 2502

Brenham, TX 77833

Texas HPV Vaccine Opting Out Rules

Below is a link to the official State of Texas site on how to elect to avoid the vaccinations due to religious or philosophical objections. It clearly outlines what a parent must do in order to opt out of vaccinations in Texas. Each state is different and we must know what is required rather
than generalities.

http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/docs/faq_exemption.pdf also see
http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/school/school_exclusion.shtm

Here's a sample http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/docs/sample_letter.pdf of the initial "exemption from Immunizations Conscience form which should be completed and then either mailed or FAXED to the address indicated on the form. The Department of State Health Services will then type up an official exemption form which will be mailed to you , needs to be notarized and then given to the child's school.

2.07.2007

Vaccine Center Issues Warning

The National Vaccine Information Center yesterday warned state officials to investigate the safety of a breakthrough cancer vaccine as Texas became the first state to make the vaccine mandatory for school-age girls.

Negative side effects of Gardasil, a new Merck vaccine to prevent the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer, are being reported in the District of Columbia and 20 states, including Virginia. The reactions range from loss of consciousness to seizures.

"Young girls are experiencing severe headaches, dizziness, temporary loss of vision and some girls have lost consciousness during what appear to be seizures," said Vicky Debold, health policy analyst for the National Vaccine Information Center. READ MORE >>

2.05.2007

Texas Govenor Mandates Anti-Cancer Vaccine for Schoolgirls

By employing an executive order, Govenor Rick Perry has bypassed the state Legislature by mandating that all schoolgirls in Texas entering the 6th grade are to receive Merck & Co.'s new vaccine against strains of the sexually transmitted human papillomvirus, or HPV, that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer.

Perry has several ties to Merck and Women in Government. One of the drug company's three lobbyists in Texas is Mike Toomey, his former chief of staff. His current chief of staff's mother-in-law, Texas Republican state Rep. Dianne White Delisi, is a state director for Women in Government. The governor also received $6,000 from Merck's political action committee
during his re-election campaign.

With at least 18 states debating whether to require Merck's Gardasil vaccine for schoolgirls, Merck has funneled money through Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country.

This news provides a vivid example of government corruption involving pharmaceutical lobbying, bribing and manipulating health care policy decisions.

Texas allows parents to opt out of inoculations by filing an affidavit stating that he or she objected to the vaccine for religious or philosophical reasons.

The question is, will our constitutional checks and balances continue to let our executive branch of gevernment make new laws?

One has to wonder,
why are parents ready to put chemicals into little girls bodies without a full understanding of what harm those chemicals could cause in the short and long term?


1.10.2007

NORTH AMERICAN UNION

Here is a little background on the agreement made between Canada, Mexico and the U.S.A... signing over our national sovereignty to the corporate elites.

CNN/DOBBS: W FULFILLS HIS DAD'S DREAM OFA NEW WORLD ORDER

This is reality, and I guess when you start seeing it on CNN, more folks will believe it is true and begin to wake up. Corporations are destroying our democracy, and our paid-off elected officials are allowing it to happen. I recall a little party happening in Boston over a small tea tax.

1.08.2007

TAKE ACTION: FDA APPROVES FOOD FROM CLONES

The Organic Consumers Assoc. has set up a way to contact the FDA during their 90-day risk assessment on meat & milk from cloned animals. The FDA plans to approve food from cloned animals WITHOUT the need for labeling these products. The public will be the unknowing guinea pigs for transgenic science.

Please take action by visiting the OCA website here >>> http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/oca/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=6433

- Farmer Brad
www.homesweetfarm.com

1.04.2007

Cloned Cows Continue...

Transgenic science is getting out of control, and the recent news reports are bringing it to light. I wonder if they expected no one to notice all this breaking news during the busy holiday season. Now they tell us that they are cloning cows without the prion proteins that cause the mad cow disease. But don’t worry, these beeves are not meant for our food supply, they “were created so that human pharmaceuticals can be made in their blood”, i.e. future vaccines against Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, worth billions to the drug industry.

The Washington Post article published Dec. 31, 2006 quotes “Barbara Glenn, director for animal biotechnology at the Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Washington industry group that counts among its members Hematech, the Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company that created the gene-altered cattle. ‘This shows the application of transgenics to improving livestock production and ultimately food production.’"

How can science improve anything? They forget that the cause for mad cow disease is conventional agricultural practices, feeding animal by-products to animals that were designed by our Creator to forage on grass. Just as e-coli 0157 is caused from feedlot grain-fed contaminated cow feces. Now science can come up with a new profit driven solution to the problems that they have created.

The real solution is not releasing more unproven science; we need to get back to nature. Animals need to leave the feedlot, and return to the farm. Artisan farmers need to be restored, producing food that has brought about thousands of years of healthy civilization. The modern food system is moving us backwards as food contamination becomes the norm. Farming has changed over the last 30 years, and the problems will not be remedied with radiation, genetic modification or cloning. We need to buy local food from the family farms that we can trust.

This phenomenon is being driven by industry bulldogs, and is allowed unchallenged by our compromising government. The governments power is to be given by the people, and the people do not want this new technology unlabeled in our food supply, as meat and milk from cloned animals is improved by our FDA. When are they going to hear our voices?

Checkout the Washington Post article: Scientists announce mad cow breakthrough CLICK HERE >>

Befuddled

Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas
www.jolievuefarms.com

We only now learn the following from our protectors at the FDA and USDA:
1) e-coli 0157 outbreaks in lettuce and leafy greens have been occurring "for a long time" and on an "ongoing basis...we're seeing an increased number of outbreaks, an increased number of cases in outbreaks, and an increase in the number of types of produce involved." Dr. Christopher Brady, chief of outbreak response at the Center For Disease Control.
2) we have "nowhere near the resources" to inspect the facilities that handle fresh produce. Dr. David Acheson, chief of food safety and applied nutrition at the FDA.
3) the government doesn't have a clue as to how they are going to solve the problem of e-coli contamination in our produce. "There are a lot of unknowns." Dr. Acheson.

I suggest a good start would be to get their facts right. They start with this false assumption: "We know that 0157 is a natural contaminant of cow feces", says Dr Acheson. But 0157 is not a "natural" contaminant in cow manure. It was first discovered in 1982 and it is found only in cattle confined to feedlots and fed an unnatural diet of corn and other unmentionables. Corn sets up an extremely gaseous and acidic condition in the ruminants' digestive tract, which creates the condition which allows 0157 to initiate and grow. When that happens, the likelhood of contamination of other cattle in the feedlot is compounded, since they are all lying and standing around in their fellow-beeves' manure. Joel Salatin refers to this condition in feedlots and pig and chicken confinement houses as an e-coli soup, infecting everything in the confinement operation, air, water, and dirt. Take the cattle off corn, remove them from the feedlot, and put them on fresh green pasture, and Voila!, 0157 dies out in a week or so. Now that's "natural".

Isn't this the real problem, folks? Our government, with all good intentions but ignoring the objections of the naturalists, from Thomas Jefferson at Monticello to my grandfather at Fair View Dairy, instituted, taught, promoted and subsidized the industrialized production of our food. 60 years later, the chickens are coming home to roost on that project. To fix the problem, they would have to admit that they created it. It will take one fine public servant to do that, and so far there are no volunteers.

Take your food fate into your own hands by supporting the natural agriculturalists in your own community. Shop the farmers markets, organize a food buyers club or home delivery farm, speak to your government representatives and bureaucrats. Eat and encourage your friends and family to eat Real Food. Start today.

Yours in the local harvest,

Glen

1.03.2007

NY Times: When Bad Things Come from Good Food

This is a must read article… NY Times: When Bad Things Come from Good Food CLICK HERE>>

This should be the quote of the year from the chief of the outbreak response and surveillance team:

Dr. Braden said: “The way produce is farmed and processed has changed. It’s become more centralized, and you have these huge processors and distributors that produce tens of thousands of pounds of a particular produce in a particular day. If something goes wrong with that produce you’ve got a big problem, whereas with small farmers, if there is a problem it’s much more limited.”

In addition, he said, bagged and prewashed produce didn’t exist 25 years ago, and people today eat more raw vegetables than in the past.


It’s time to get serious about supporting local food!

Farmer Brad

1.01.2007

No GMO: A New Year Resolution

This is from Jeffery Smith, author of Seeds of Deception and the founder of the Institute for Responsible Techology. GMO food and cloned meat/milk is becoming a major issue to be dealt with. I encourage everyone to be informed and to be active... buy local, buy fresh, support the freedom of choice.

-Farmer Brad


Spilling the Beans

Iowa, Dec. 26 -- Consumers of any age can improve their health with one New Year's resolution. "Avoid eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," says expert Jeffrey M. Smith, who points to evidence of mounting health risks associated with gene-spliced foods.

Smith urges consumers to cross off brands that contain genetically modified (GM) ingredients, which are in 60-70% of foods sold in the U.S. The principle offenders are non-organic soy and corn derivatives and canola and cottonseed oils. Thus, Ragu tomato sauce would be off limits, since it contains corn syrup and soybean oil, but Light Ragu or Barilla brand sauces, which contain olive oil and no corn sweetener, are non-GMO.
"Consumers in the U.S. are being used as human guinea pigs by biotech companies, which rushed their GMOs to market without adequate studies and before the science was ready," says Smith. "Once Americans learn they are feeding these high-risk foods to their children, they will demand non-GMO alternatives." In Europe, where consumer knowledge about GMOs is considerably higher, shoppers' concerns prompted food manufacturers there to remove all GM ingredients. Smith sees this trend building in the US, with more and more healthy brands declaring ingredients "Non-GMO" on the label.

Smith's new book, Genetic Roulette: The documented health risks of genetically engineered foods, due out in the spring, links GMOs to risks such as allergies, immune system dysfunction, potentially pre-cancerous cell growth, stunted organs and death. "Many of the beliefs about DNA that were popular when GM foods were introduced ten years ago," he says, "have been proven wrong. Swapping genes between species turns out to have far more unpredicted dangerous side effects than we thought."

Animals choose non-GMO

Smith also documents how several animals, when given the option, choose non-GM food over GMOs. These include cows, pigs, elk, deer, raccoons, squirrels, mice, rats and geese. He says a non-GMO New Year's resolution will help people elevate their choices to match the wisdom of the animals.

Cloned food may be FDA deja vu

“The FDA’s recent announcement declaring milk and meat from cloned animals as safe,” says Smith, “reminds us of their 1992 approval of GM crops. When the agency’s internal files were made public years later, they revealed that the FDA’s GMO policy was dictated by corporate manipulation, not sound science. Warnings by government scientists were ignored by political appointees from the biotech industry.” Smith adds, “And like GMOs, the FDA does not want labels on cloned food, thereby forcing the entire population into their dangerous uncontrolled experiment.”



Jeffrey Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception, the world's bestselling book on GMOs. He is the founder and executive director of The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) and a leading spokesperson on the risks of GM foods. Go to www.responsibletechnology.org for eater-friendly tips for avoiding GMOs at home and in restaurants. Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of Seeds of Deception, the world’s bestselling book on GM foods. His forthcoming book, Genetic Roulette, documents more than 60 health risks of GM foods in easy-to-read two-page spreads, and demonstrates how current safety assessments are not competent to protect consumers from the dangers. He is available for media at media@responsibletechnology.org.

There You Go Again


I wanted to share this commentary by our rancher friend Glen Boudreaux of Jolie Vue Farms. His comments on the approval of meat and dairy from cloned animals are very insightful. Glen's family produces drug-free 100% grass-fed beef serving the Houston area. Glen is also an attorney and very dedicated to the local food movement in Texas, he is one of the few that are really doing it!

- Farmer Brad



"There You Go Again"
Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
Brenham, Texas
www.jolievuefarm.com

Remember the 1980 presidential debates when Ronald Reagan responded to an apparent misstatement by Carter of his position on Medicare with the now famous line: "There you go again". Well, there goes the FDA and USDA again. The "again" is the non-disclosure policy recently adopted by our government designed to keep us in the dark about what we are eating. First, with genetically-modified vegetables, now with cloned beef.

Orwell or Heller?

If you missed it, the Food and Drug Administration has approved cloned beef for sale to us, the "eaters", so long as we aren't told that we are eating cloned beef. I can't tell if I'm reliving Orwell's 1984 or Heller's Catch 22. Or is this the logical extension of Clinton's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy. We can't ask and they can't tell.

Goodness gracious, what has happened to the democratic principle of an educated and informed populace? And how in the world does our government square this fake-food favoritism against the multitude of food labeling mandates of the past? Why has the FDA decided to go back to a policy of caveat emptor when disclosure has worked so well? I find myself in a state of perpetual anomie with all of the government double-speak.

When the FDA announced its intention to study the safety of cloned beef, its Director of the Center For Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Sundloff, promised us this, and I quote in relevant part: "We want to make sure the public is clearly informed [about the safety of cloned beef]". Who brain-washed him in the meantime?

How close is "pretty close"?

Do we need to worry about whether cloned beef is safe, even while being assured by our government agency that it is? Well, we just finished reviewing Seeds of Deception, which spells out the risks associated with introducing genetically-modified produce. The risk to humans and the animal environment are the same, because predictability of result encounters the same risks when trying to duplicate an animal as when we are trying to modify then reproduce a tomato. That long DNA string has a lot of ways to re-route the original prescription that we send it. If you doubt that, just reflect on this model of equivocation announced by one of Sundloff's lead investigators of cloned beef progeny: "In theory, they're pretty close to identical twins" (emphasis mine). In "theory", not in fact? And how close is "pretty close"?

The unannounced policy:Caveat Emptor

Let's review where the federal agencies have taken us so far as they protect the Fake Food industry against the onslaught of the small family farmer.

-Free Range means that a chicken has "access" to the out of doors, even though we know from Michael Pollan that by the time the door is opened, no self-respecting, cage-raised, over-fed and over-doped chicken would even consider going outside.

-Natural means "minimally processed". Whatever that means, it has no relationship to the common understanding of the word.

-Organic now allows 60+ synthetic materials to be used in the "organic" process.

-And genetically-modified tomatoes and cloned ribeyes are so safe that it is better that we don't know that.

What you can do

I would suggest that you write the FDA and the USDA except I have many times. They never respond. Never. Not even a form letter. Ditto Senator Cornyn, or my Congressman. The popular Senator Bailey-Hutchinson does, even if it's just a form response (and it is sometimes more than that), which probably explains her overwhelming popularity in our state. Otherwise, I can only suggest that you put a face on your food by shopping at the Houston Farmer's Market. That's where you'll find full-disclosure. We stake our livelihood on it.