Chipping Away

It’s really early in the morning as I post this.  I’ve got to take a couple of goats to market then hurry home to pick the produce we’re delivering this morning to drop points in two nearby towns.  We love and appreciate the folks who are getting their produce from us, but it’s also a little frustrating to know that thousands of folks in this community will go to grocery stores today and spend tens of thousands of dollars (most of which will end up in faraway corporate coffers) for food they ought not eat.  But we’ll just keep chipping away at the system, and we enjoy being part of our little (but growing) rebellion.

There is a good article in Orion Magazine this month that highlights some of the problems with the food infrastructure in our country.  We have cities in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas that are unsustainable, and can be only be fed with massive transportation expense and the environmental damage that entails.  Meanwhile, the government encourages agricultural communities like ours to produce for the export market.  It’s almost literally insane.

At a conference we attended recently I heard a talk led by a farmer from Kentucky, who mentioned his epiphany moment.  While his wife was grilling burgers he went out to check on his herd.  He began to wonder whether any of the steers he’d sold off his place might have ended up the burgers she was grilling.  He thought about the fact that after he took them to the livestock auction and they were sold, the buyer would have then trucked them to some feedlot in the southwest, where they would be fattened (“finished”) on grain.  Then they would be trucked to a slaughterhouse in another part of the country.  Then the beef (mixed in with the ground flesh of thousands of other steers) would be trucked to yet another facility in yet another state to be packaged for retail sale. From there it would be shipped all over the country and world.  And just maybe, he thought, some little bit of the burgers they were grilling might be from cattle raised on his farm.

That, he realized, is insane.

After that epiphany moment he began having his steers processed and sold locally.

He now has started a local processing facility to try to encourage others to do the same. It’s an uphill battle of course.  Their burgers will never be as cheap as the ones sold at Walmart.

But he’s trying.

So are we.