Miolea Organic Farm

  (Adamstown, Maryland)
Organic Farming from a City Boy's Perspective
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Crabs and nutrient management.

When we talk about nutrient management for us, it has deeper meaning then how much fertilizer to use.  Our land contains part of a tributary, water that runs through our land and down on the line to the Chesapeake Bay.  What we do on our land has a direct impact on the Bay.  We have the potential to hurt or help the Bay, just as millions of us have.  In the city, they started painting the words "Chesapeake Bay" on the storm drains.  It was part of the City's effort to help educate citizens by letting them know what went in the storm drain ended up in the bay.  We all have a responsibility to help protect our environment, from farmers to homeowners.

Whenever the topic of nutrient management comes up, in the farming community sometimes tempers flair.  I understand why, if you look at the farmland and compare that to all home and business land, farms are a minority in total land mass.  This is not just local to Maryland; it is all across the United States.  Yet, farms get the bulk of the attention and focus, but the math on farm acres versus the rest of the land mass does not add up.  Everyone needs to realize his or her own role in helping protect our environment for future generations, from lawns to dish and clothes soap, we can all protect watersheds.

What we do on our land, the notion and responsibility for nutrient management is highly regarded.  By growing up in Baltimore, the Bay and crabs were as much a part of my heritage as was Italian cooking.  Like every other state, Marylander's celebrate their heritage through festivals and activities that are indigenous to the State.  Ours is the celebration of all that is good with the Chesapeake Bay.

Here is an article, from the Baltimore Sun, on the annual seafood festival and the crab picking champion, we like all things crabs.  I have never entered the competition nor could I.  I cannot pick a crab without eating it.  Before this Champ, there was a sister duo, who held the title for a bunch of years.  The one sister would have the title for some years, then the other would, this went on for a long period if I recall.  The sisters, featured on Chef John Shield’s cooking show, were excellent pickers. 

This is how we as Marylanders, celebrate the bounty that the environment provides us.  I know all over the States there are similar festivals; the first to come to my mind is the Gilroy Garlic festival.  I am Italian after all.  We as a nation celebrate food of all kinds and types.  However, we have split personalities when it comes to growing and selling food.  If we have so much reverence for foods, why doesn't that translate into a demanding consumer, stringent safety standards and food purity?  Standards that include lower trace amounts of carcinogenic chemicals   and label GMO-food products as such.

I think the reason there is so much fighting by the IFC against labeling food pertaining GMO products, is because the majority of us would not consume the foods.  My greatest fear about GMO is the anti-biotic spliced into the DNA helix.  Then there are the other problems.  Ask yourself, why is the IFC fighting so hard against the labeling of modified foods?  

Just like there are farms in Maryland that violate the nutrient management policies, people will do what they have to do to make money.  Growing is incredibly hard, doing it right, growing sustainable, with integrity and environmental sensitivity are some of the tenants of why the local movement is gaining in popularity, not just with people buying from local farms but also the wonderful people that do take the leap and decide actually to grow.  By focusing on proper techniques, fertilizer management and green manures, we actually help the Bay.

Many of the people we meet are people that "get it".  They want to eat healthier but they are concerned that spinach, peanut butter, hamburgers, tomatoes, lettuces, or whatever they eat from the IFC can harm them.  We do play Russian roulette when we do not take the time to prepare foods properly.  In the hospitality industry, they have a process of educating the food side safety.  You must pass and receive your "Sanitation Certification,”.  You learn all the food borne illnesses, how to clean and prepare food, cross contamination and so fourth.  The test is hard to pass and does involve significant knowledge of temperatures, bacterial and viral outbreaks, prevention and of course, safe food handling.

Most of my friends and many of the people I know have basic rudimentary knowledge of cross contamination and proper cooking temperatures.  Nevertheless, food safety and handling has become more complex and rudimentary knowledge has turned out to give us all a false sense of security.  Who knew you had to wash the outside of a melon before you ate the thing.  More people do now, but it was at a cost that no one family should ever have to pay.  Not because all you wanted was a fruit, vegetable or meat product.

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