LocalHarvest Newsletter, February 24, 2011

Welcome back to the LocalHarvest newsletter.

Last week a LocalHarvest farmer said something that has had me thinking ever since. This gentleman sells his products through our online catalog, and mentioned that compared with many of his other customers, LocalHarvest patrons tend to be, shall we say, 'discerning'? In his words, "If there's something not right, they're not bashful about letting us know." It's not just him, we see the same thing across our catalog sales and throughout our directory. Many LocalHarvest fans consider themselves foodies, and take food and its quality seriously.

Surely there is nothing wrong with that. I am the same way. But for myself, at least, it can go too far. I notice in myself a growing tendency to see the marketplace as the only arena in which calling for a higher standard or expressing displeasure seems worth the bother. With dispiriting news coming in from all corners of the environmental and political spheres, if I'm not careful, speaking up as a consumer could become the only place I expect results, the only place righteous indignation can gain a foothold against skepticism and pessimism. When "But I paid for that!" moves me to the phone, and "But that's not right!" doesn't, that is a problem.

Here's an example. Many of you read about the Obama administration's recent move to deregulate genetically modified alfalfa, and Big Organic's tacit endorsement: after all, we can't expect to keep organic meat GMO-free forever, can we? Within a week I had received a half a dozen emails encouraging me to call the Administration and urge them to make it right. I deleted them all.

Then I read an article in Time, talking about how the local food movement is the new environmentalism. I don't agree with it entirely, but the author's point about the flavor factor being a strong motivator is one with which we at LocalHarvest wholeheartedly agree. We hear the same story over and over again: people join a CSA, start shopping at the farmers market, or plant a garden because it seems like the right thing to do, but more often than not the rationality of "good reasons" quickly gives way to pleasure. They go back to the market week after week (expand the garden, re-up for the CSA) because in some little or big way they've fallen in love with the sumptuous pleasures of food at its best.

Which, in the end, is food worth defending. If the food movement is the up and coming grassroots political force, then people like me have to get over our pessimism and general reluctance to speak up, and pick up the phone. Allowing ever more genetically engineered crops to bury their untested roots into our precious soil is simply not acceptable, agribusiness behemoths be damned. Washington has been moved by a couple hundred thousand phone calls before and will be again. Why not over the issue of GE alfalfa, which, besides the usual threats of genetic engineering, promises to introduce herbicides to millions of acres of alfalfa that currently grows just fine without them? Since the USDA has already approved the altered seeds, we need to take our comments right to the top: the President Barack Obama Comment line, at (202) 456-1111. Or you might prefer to use the White House contact web page. Let's speak up about the things that matter.

Take good care this month, and eat well. And as always, we'd love to hear from you.


Erin Barnett

From the LocalHarvest Store:

With cold season dragging on, and the cleansing season of spring coming soon, it is a great time to stock up on some herbal medicines to support your physical health. We work with several well-versed herbalists, whose products are among our most popular. Speaking of health, few decisions affect it as much as your food choices. How about trying a CSA this year, and giving your body plenty of fresh, tasty vegetables?

Thinking of growing some of your own this year? Our annual Seed Giveaway -- in honor of LocalHarvest's birthday -- is right around the corner! This year, we are going to be announcing the giveaway in our monthly email featuring a couple of products from our mail order catalog. If you don't yet receive that email, and would like to get in on the seed giveaway, you can sign up for the email here. Watch for the giveaway announcement on March 3!

CSAware: We Love This Work!

For those of you who have been thinking about looking into CSAware, and those who just like to know what we're up to generally, here is a little update on CSAware, our CSA management software. Every week we are signing up few new farmers, and walking them through the set-up process. It is so much fun to have a new project that people love, and that really improves the day to day operations on these farms. We're even starting to get little love notes, and if that doesn't make you love your job, I don't know what would. Here's one: "Also, total kudos to CSAware. It is so easy to use, I love it!"

Good Food Jobs

We heard this week about a great new gastro-job search website called Good Food Jobs. If you are a passionate, food-centric job seeker, you might want to give it a look. A variety of sustainable food careers are represented, and as with all such directories (LH included!) it will just get more and more useful as the word spreads. Have a food or ag job you're looking to fill? Good Food Jobs deserves a spot on your Places to Post list.

Food from the Farm: Garlic Soup with Parsley Spaetzle

My household was struck by some sort of pestilence this past week, resulting in a lot of sniffling and sneezing, head holding and throat aching. My husband and I fell on our garlic stash several times a day, pressing a sliced clove or two onto a little hunk of bread slathered with butter. It helped, but one evening we needed more.