LocalHarvest Newsletter, August 31, 2008

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter. Sorry for the delay in this "August" issue. We were eating tomatoes. Lots of tomatoes. And making really incredible sauce.

Through much of the summer, we have been hopeful. It's hard not to be, when being so well fed by the garden and the local farmers. Everywhere we went, people were talking about buying local food. We like that. It felt like the tide was turning. But in the last couple of weeks, it has seemed like The Insanity is gaining ground again. The FDA decided it was a fine idea for iceberg lettuce and spinach to be irradiated. A science advisor to the Bush administration equated seed saving with multi-species gene manipulation. Then a small scale cattle rancher from Texas told us that fuel and feed prices are going to put some of his neighbors out of business this year. A poultry farmer in the Midwest said the same.

I don't need radical change right this minute. I'm willing to watch it unfold, if it does so kind of quickly. But when it looks like momentum is gathering in a direction that seems fundamentally wrong, well, it's a little discouraging. I mean, irradiated iceberg lettuce?? That has to be a bad idea in about six different ways.

The up side of pondering the news is that it got me thinking about this notion of momentum. Motion, shift, gathering power. Harnessed for the common good, it could be our golden ticket.

When we choose to eat a more local diet, we first have to learn about what is raised near us, and when. Our minds are thus engaged on a new level with the land and the seasons. Buying our veggies and meat from the farmers market or a CSA, we strengthen both our social and economic ties to the farming community. We develop a taste for seasonal food, and may find we prefer plums from a neighbor's tree to any corn syrup laden snack in a box.

Little by little, the authenticity of real food reveals itself to us. Our eating habits change. Food, not as international commodity, but as deep nourishment, becomes important and interesting to us. We plan meals, we cook, we sit down to eat. Small acts, really, but ones that undermine the dominant food system's ethos of convenience and instant gratification. Slowly, momentum builds.

Having experienced real food, we see through the lies of irradiation and genetic manipulation and agricultural consolidation. We are willing to stand up for the real thing. Maybe we march in the streets, as the French are fond of doing. Or write letters, as over 275,000 people did a decade ago when the USDA was shaping the rules that would define ‘organic.' Maybe we simply keep putting our money where our mouth is and keep local farmers in business. More motion, more gathering power.

It's safe to say that the industrial food system is going to continue to roll out weird technologies and advertising campaigns and laws to ensure its profits and self-preservation. They will do so in the name of safety and satisfaction. No matter. Individuals can still recognize what is real and whole. Making contact with the authentic is truly powerful. When we do it together, in every community, great shifts will happen.

As always, take good care and eat well!


Erin Barnett
Director, LocalHarvest

From the LocalHarvest Store:

Want to guess how many products America's family farmers now offer through the LocalHarvest catalog? I'll give you a minute to think. Got it? Did you guess 5,127? You did? Amazing!

How about this: when you've finished reading about how great tomatoes are for you, you could whip up some of Lorna Sass's "Emergency Ravioli with Tomato Sauce" (see below) and browse through the LocalHarvest catalog. I'm sure you'll find some intriguing items in there, all from family farmers, direct to you.

Nancy's Nutrition Corner: Tantalizing Tomatoes

Many of you have probably heard the news about tomatoes' all-star compound lycopene and its ability to aid in the prevention of prostate cancer. Studies on lycopene have been so large and conclusive that even big name vitamin companies such as Centrum have touted the lycopene content of their multivitamins.
(Read on...)

Recipe Corner: Ravioli in Fresh Tomatoes - By Lorna Sass

In Italy and Mexico, various forms of salsa cruda have been around for eons. I don't recall exactly when uncooked tomato sauce for pasta became fashionable in America - maybe about ten years ago - but it's such a practical and delicious warm-weather approach to a quick dinner that it's difficult to imagine how we managed without it.
(Recipes and More...)