Steve’s Weekly Update for 11/19/09

Dear members,

I am writing from Washington DC again.  I have made about eight trips here this year and I think this is the last one for a few months.  I am participating in a first-of-its kind meeting to help develop GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) that are good for farms of all scales to help deliver safe food to all consumers.

At the same time the Senate HELP (Health Education Labor and Pensions) Committee, which NM Senator Jeff Bingaman sits on, is finalizing its proposed food safety bill.  The work of advocates for small and family farms has been very well publicized, but to my ongoing dismay, the debate over GAPs has been positioned as “Big vs. Small”, as if to say that Big Farms want safe food and Small Farms do not.  The framing of the debate in this way does not serve the best interest of any farmer or consumer, but is characteristic of the polarized political world that we have created in the US.

All food needs to be grown according to “best practices” and these practices need to be under constant review and improvement to incorporate the latest best thinking, sound science and address consumer/buyers preferences.  But the methods by which best practices are implemented are not fair or effective in a one-size-fits-all-top-down regulatory environment.   Generally, larger business can adapt to top down regulations but smaller ones disappear, unless strong technical assistance and training are available with the resources to support implementation.

I find myself constantly caught between my loyalty to the principles and values of small-scale farming and the reality that small farms alone cannot feed our current or future population.  We need sustainably grown food, safe, environmentally neutral (at least), and socially fair from farms of all scales.  We do not need a polarized battle over market access between the food industry and the small farms.  We need one healthy food system composed of farms of all scales, and with diverse opportunity for farmers and choices for consumers.

My adherence to this belief makes me regularly unpopular with both extremes. I continue to call, wherever I can be heard, in the halls of USDA, in the meetings of Industry and of Sustainable Agriculture, in the Halls of Congress, and here to you in the weekly blog now, for civil dialogue and cooperation to improve farms of all scales and types toward the goal of feeding our growing population in ever healthier ways without adverse environmental, social, or economic consequences.  I cannot abandon this viewpoint.

Meanwhile, lets eat!!!!

This week’s special treat is the organic Pecan pieces from Del Valle Pecans in the Mesilla Valley, South of Las Cruces.

This week we will also be giving pie pumpkins so you will have these for your Thanksgiving meal preparation.  We hope that pecans and pie pumpkins will be welcome ingredients for your Thanksgiving festivities.

Along with the “customary” array of fresh veggies, there will also be Mesa Top turnips and carrots as well as potatoes.  We did decide to hold the Mesa Top Leeks until December.  We do have our very first sustainably grown onions from Scheback Farms of Moriarty.  These will be around for a few weeks, maybe longer.  Mesa Top storage onions are being held for January distribution.

This week marks the end of Mesa Top Salad Greens for the season, and the changeover to Southern NM Salad Greens. As we now have 3 weekly fresh produce items from the south, we can see the importance if our southern growers and their favorable winter climate as part of our family of farms.

We have more fabulous fresh and local food surprises in store for you as the season progresses.  We hope you will continue to enjoy the mix that we are able to offer.  Watch for our holiday season gift option to give the gift of local food.  Details to follow in Dec.

Remember that there is no CSA distribution over Thanksgiving and have a safe and wonderful holiday and we will return to the local food festivities that are beneficial CSA on December 5th,

Steve Warshawer



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