Steve’s Weekly Update for 9-17 & 9-18

Hello Members,

This week I want to give a brief summary of produce information and take a bit of your time relating another aspect of my work in agriculture.

Today, I am working from the National Sustainable Agriculture office in Washington DC.  I consider myself fortunate to have become involved in a smattering of policy issues that effect farmers and ranchers around the US and as such have enormous potential impact on our communities of eaters as well as the choices that are and will be available to us.

Food Safety is ever-present as on opportunity and a threat for the emerging local and regional food system. I hope you all got to see the recent editorial in the New Mexican and my response. The House hurried its bill through and now the Senate is beginning its process.

I am working today drafting proposed changes to the language of S510 that will strengthen the lines of authority and process around the movement of food over distance and through many hands. Special effort is being made by USDA and FDA to create scale appropriate solutions. This is part of the change that we have seen in DC this year. These important agencies now see the need to support small business and rural development. They are beginning to seek out our views and to embrace our language. It is surprising, and also not an opportunity to be taken lightly.

Truly we are in a time when new forms for the future are being created and we, as farmers and ranchers who appreciate the need and value of local and regional food systems, are players in the game.

Meanwhile, connected to food safety is the ongoing problem of disappearing “community capacity” for processing locally produced meats. It is my personal belief that there can be no truly sustainable agriculture in the semi-arid lands that do not depend on livestock for fertility and creation of healthy soils. To me, this makes addressing the ongoing challenges associated with revitalizing local livestock production an issue of utmost importance.

In 2007 the USDA took over the responsibility for inspecting all NM meat processing plants. Thus far USDA involvement has further hindered local processors. I am working today and tomorrow to find the right people at the USDA in Washington to help us improve the situation on the ground in New Mexico.

It is clear to me that USDA and FDA have no desire to harm our local and regional food systems and the businesses that comprise these systems. I am grateful and honored to be a part of the group of voices that are working with the staff of these agencies to assure that we are not caught in adverse effects of the movements to create a safer global and industrial food system.

THIS WEEK’S SHARE

We will see our first arugula from Mesa Top. The cukes and squash are getting smaller and there are fewer on the vines. We skipped the local pears this week because we had 2 weeks worth of Shiroz red grapes and did not want to offer 3 types of “sweet fruits” in the same week. We have the one batch of very tasty Fuji apples from Shiroz. We hope you will enjoy them.

POMS POMS POMS! Look for the photo essay on the blog, how to open and eat a pom. For information on the amazing health properties of poms, there is a new menu on the blog called POMS that can be found in the top menu. We will be featuring poms on an ongoing basis. For the next few weeks we will have the sweet poms with the edible seeds. Then you will see the more traditional deep red, tangy pom. Watch for ongoing recipes and advice on how to enjoy this amazing and unusual fruit from the Tularosa Basin.

Thank you for your continued support and suggestions,

Steve W

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