Genuine Faux News of the Farm
Vol 3 Issue 11 - November 2007
One of the difficult things about organic foods and organic certification is the verification process. How can we know for sure that spinach in the package or the milk in the bottle is wholly organic?
The USDA recently found Aurora Organic Dairy to be in "willful violation" of the organic standards. They were cited for illegally confining cattle, and knowingly selling non-organic milk as organic. Aurora is a large private label dairy operation. You may find its milk under Walmart, Target or Safeway labels in Iowa grocery stores. From Local Harvest News, Sep 2007.
This news is mildly alarming and frustrating to the many certified and uncertified producers of organic products who follow organic practices from start to finish. As an organic producer, it is important to us that consumers be able to trust that certified products were created by following organic practices.
On the positive side, Aurora was caught. Organic certification standards and record keeping actually make it much easier to track a product back to its origins. This may also signal a willingness by the USDA to enforce these standards, rather than avoiding confrontation with larger producers.
Unfortunately, when the bottom line is involved, there is always a temptation to cut corners. Clearly, one can charge more for organic products and have willing buyers. It could be very tempting for some to take the shortcut and simply change the label on the product, rather than investing in an entire process.
This does beg the question: should organic foods cost more? We would rather see sustainable/organic practices as the norm, which would make this question moot. But, the reality is that organic foods DO cost the grower more to produce. Some of the additional costs come with certification and record keeping. Costs for organic seeds, equipment cleaning and separation of organic from non-organic product add to the expenses. But, perhaps one of the biggest costs we have isn't really an expense. As organic producers, we expect to lose a percentage of production to pests and diseases that we might have prevented by using non-organic treatments.
We believe organic processes are good. We feel that the certification process is sound. We can't vouch for enforcement of certification, but we feel the mechanisms are there if someone calls a producer into question. And yet, we still believe that if you must make a choice, you should choose local over organic.
A good, local producer will be more responsive to your requests. Local growers can be inspected by you, so that you can decide for yourselves if they are to be trusted with their practices. And, perhaps most important, buying from local producers encourages you to become more aware of what it takes to put food on your table.
We are fairly certain that there will be up to three (3) work shares in the CSA for 2008. Our vision for the work share is still in development, and we are willing to make adjustments depending on who shows interest in this idea. Currently, we feel a work share would entail the following:
We are hopeful that we can pair up with persons who are interested in coming to the farm on a consistent schedule. This will allow us to plan for and best utilize the help we receive.
To apply for a workshare, send us an email. We will be choosing those applicants from the pool who will best fit the farm's needs.
We would like to identify potential work share candidates by the end of THIS YEAR. Please let us know of your interest before the Holiday Season (rightfully) diverts your attention from the CSA.
3 Issue 11 - November 2007
We do still have winter squash in storage on the farm. CSA members may purchase additional winter squash from us at a special 50 ct per pound rate. For comparison, organically grown squash typically has a BULK price of 65 cts per pound. Groceries often sell non-organic squash at 65 cts per pound as well.
Currently available for purchase: butternut, hubbard, spaghetti, long island cheese (pie pumpkin) and buttercup squashes.
This offer good as long as we have supply.
The CSA season has come to an end and there are no more share deliveries for us to put together and for you to pick up. However, this does not necessarily mean that we will have no produce at all. It is still possible that late season cold crops such as radish, spinach, brussels sprouts and leeks could still be harvested.
We will use our newsletters and email to alert you to available produce and prices.
Other than winter squash, there hasn't been enough of other produce to warrant the trips and setup for additional distributions for the CSA. We were able to deliver 19 to 20 weeks of vegetables to you this season depending on the location, which meets our yearly goal. We feel that our distributions were good once produce started really rolling in during the month of July. Preliminary data indicates that we were able to exceed last year's share value, despite a slow start. Thank you to all for your support for the farm this past season. We hope you will consider returning next year.
If you haven't had a chance to try milk from Hansen's Dairy (the milk with the Wallaby on the label), then you should arrange to do so. Hansen's is a local producer that treats their cows humanely. They produce milk and ice cream and their milk is used by cheese makers in the region.
We can personally vouch for their product and find it difficult to drink milk with any other label. We are skim milk drinkers and find that their skim milk tastes richer and stays fresh longer than other brands we have tried. Additionally, their milk is not homogenized. As a result, the fat in the milk is not broken down, allowing our bodies to digest only what it needs.
Hansen's milk can be found in Waverly's Fareway Grocery and at their outlet store in Waterloo at 127 East 18th Street in Cedar Falls. You may also wish to try a malt or ice cream cone at their Moo Roo shop located at 3015 Kimball Ave. in Waterloo.
Southern Turnip Greens
4 to 4 1/2 pounds turnip greens
Cut off and discard tough stems and discolored leaves
from greens. Wash greens thoroughly and drain well.
Vol 3 Issue 11 - November 2007
For the second year in a row, owners of the Hub Grill will be hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for those who have limited income or persons who might be alone during the holiday. Last year's dinner was a successful event that fed many people. It is anticipated that there may be anywhere from 75 to 150 diners at this year's event. We are extremely proud of their efforts!
The farm is preparing to support them by supplying one of our free-range turkeys and processed winter squash for the dinner. In addition, if YOU would like to support this dinner, please contact us and we will be happy to serve as a liaison.
Things that would help with this dinner that you could provide:
In addition to their fine work on the Thanksgiving Day dinner, Brenda and Sue have purchased the old "Mama Marcia's" building in Tripoli and are looking to move their restaurant there, naming it "Someplace Else." Restaurant ownership can be particularly different in a small town. Even if the community is supportive, there is a need to attract from a wider base of customers. In an effort to do this, they will work to include more local foods on their menu in the coming year. We hope that you will consider visiting them once their new location is open to the public.
We will send out an announcement indicating their grand opening date when it is known.
Children's book author Rick Sanger has written a book that addresses the issues of sustainability and food production that may be of interest to anyone who knows young readers in the 8 to 12 year old range.
Rick has identified CSAs as a good way to promote his product. As a result, the Genuine Faux Farm was able to secure a sample copy. If anyone wishes a preview of the book to see if it will work for that special 8 to 12 year old on your shopping list, let us know. We certainly felt the book was worthwhile!
We need more authors like Rick Sanger who are willing to take on food topics in an entertaining way. If we are going to make a difference in our food systems, we can do it best through education.
Vol 3 Issue 11 - November 2007
The Northern Iowa Food and Farm Partnership (NIFF) is an organization that has been formed by various stakeholders in the 8 county area surrounding Black Hawk county. Members include food producers, institutional food buyers, restaurateurs, bankers, extension agents and other interested individuals. The overarching goal of the group is to strengthen the local food systems in our area.
Rob is a member of NIFF and is one of approximately five producers involved. Therefore, you will see periodic reports on NIFF and requests for information and/or support for our mission in this newsletter. We are in the process of selecting tasks for 2008 and Rob will report on those tasks in the January newsletter.
Joining the Slow Food USA Movement
A few years ago, I became aware of Slow Food USA and was impressed with the goals and intent of the organization. Unfortunately, it felt (to me) like a 'West Coast' thing and I initially wrote it off as a good thing that others would enjoy.
Since that time, their web materials and outreach have improved dramatically and there are now five slow food chapters in Iowa. The intent of the organization is summed up by the following quote from their website:
While we are not necessarily indicating that everyone should immediately become members of Slow Food USA, we are suggesting that you take a look at what they have to say.
Their Ark of Taste intrigues me, as a producer. A quick glance shows that we grow the following items found on their Ark of Taste:
CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, but we like to think that GFF also participates in ASC (Agriculture Supported Community).
We are proud of the community that is formed by our CSA members and those who have invested themselves into the farm. Our lives are better simply because we have gotten to know each of you. We hope that all of you will continue to integrate yourselves into our community.
We also take our responsibility to other communities very seriously. As part of this community, we felt you would be pleased to hear how we distributed produce during the season.
In 2007, the farm donated 1488 pounds of produce to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo. We would like to thank Bill for being willing to come to the Thursday market in Waterloo to facilitate the transfer of produce. The Food Bank set new records in 2007 by collecting over 13,223 pounds of produce from local farmers such as ourselves. This is an increase of nearly 5000 pounds from 2006.
We were also able to donate another 300 pounds of produce to the Cedar Valley Friends of the Family, thanks to their willingness to send representatives to the Waverly markets.
In addition, we donated 40 pounds of cucumbers to the Tripoli Nursing Home and a part season small share was auctioned off as a part of the Habitat for Humanity auction during the spring. Our thanks to Diane and Eldon Duesenberg for purchasing this share and supporting Habitat. We also donated 50 tomato and pepper plants to the community gardens in Waterloo.
The grass fed beef (from David Burns) has been processed and is now in our possession. You will be receiving an email in the next day attempting to line up delivery for those of you who are in this buy. We will work on a second buy for those who are on the waiting list. If you wish to be in the second beef buy, email us.
The pork has been processed at the Ionia Locker. We will pick up the pork and contact participants within the week. We still need to receive a price confirmation from the producer (Pat Menenga).
John and Jodi Berlage have informed us that there will be hogs available from them in January. Let us know SOON, if you have interest.
Vol 3 Issue 11 - November 2007 page 5