Steve’s Weekly Update 11-10-10

Hello Members,

Climatology 2010: We are expecting our first “arctic blast” and maybe a few snow flakes.  Is it winter?

Steve’s Soapbox: The “Sustainable Agriculture Values for a Healthy and Safe Food System” is being released for public view and comment later this week.

Sustainable Food Safety

Here it is, for Beneficial Farm CSA members and friends.  We have been advised that this is a bit too wonky and technical for most people, and that we need a simpler “one pager” for the general public.  Would any of you who read this please comment to me on that?  Does it make sense?  How does it read? Do we need to present a simpler face for our “citizen eaters?”

I was in Washington the day after the election.  I attended meetings of produce industry groups on Thursday (mostly conservative) and USDA departments on Friday (more liberal).  It was interesting to me to note that despite the earth-shaking election of the day before, all I felt was “business as usual.”  One of the interesting qualities of our democracy is that the work of delivering services and programs to our communities continues “no matter what”.  We have even grown accustomed to lengthy recounts with no disturbance to civil society.

The massive shift in power that occurred last Tuesday will have enormous ramifications for governance in the next 2 years.  As progressives lament the loss of faith in President Obama, I personally tie it to a single enormous error, one that we may never stop paying for:  Obama bailed out the banks and then allowed them to resume crippling policies that have destroyed and continue to destroy the entrepreneurial and small business sector in this country.

There is no “economy “without a vibrant small business sector and there is no growth of small business without access to affordable credit.

The finance world has evolved into a single minded pursuit of “money making money,” with no limits, no conscience, and no reference to civil society, whose existence makes investment possible.  The expectation that enormous returns on investment are the “right” of holders of capital simply because they hold it, regardless of how they acquired it, have created a perversion of purpose that was recognized clear back to the time of Jesus who decried the money lenders.

When Obama bailed out the banks, he had the opportunity to redefine at least some of the terms of the financial world.  We could not afford big bank failures that would have thrown us into depression.  But as a result of his lackadaisical intervention, all we have now is banks again making big profits while strangling credit to the public.  And his failure to assure that credit would stream back into the economy assured that there would be no recovery except for the rich, and that he would take the blame.

I am sure all of us have noticed that we are making 3/4% interest on our checking and money market accounts, or 1% to 1.5% on our multi year CDs.  Meanwhile we pay 18-21% interest on credit cards and receive a constant stream of invitations to open more such accounts.

My solution?  Since none of us are making any money on our checking or savings accounts anyway, WE THE PEOPLE need to pool our resources and start a “people’s bank,” committed to relending to each other at affordable rates, with the help of a  properly organized credit union or Community bank.   I have begun talking to finance world people about how this might happen.  Let’s consider accepting a 1-2% interest on our savings so that we can lend money out in our own community at 4-5%.

Imagine if hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars of OUR MONEY was moved to institutions committed to relending to their own communities?  Lets take back our money and help each other put it to work for the benefit our neighbors, our communities, and ourselves.

I will update you on progress with this and if there are members interested in such a project, let’s get together and form a community finance working group!

Obama lost this opportunity, now it’s our hands!

This week’s Cow stories:  Mesa Top cows, and Jim Miller Ayrshire project:

Dottie Jr. made her first trip to the milk parlor at Common Sense Farm on Sunday.  Up until then she had been handled only in the training barn.  That facility is not designed to produce milk for human consumption.  It is convenient for the cows, and is the starting point for training the cows to our program, where calves run with their mommas during the day and are separated at night.  Once the “family” is comfortable, we are ready to walk them to the milk parlor and the extra milk (what the calf does not get) is ready for cow share members.

Dottie was wonderful!  She walked the extra 100 yards and went straight to the stanchion and stood for milking.  We milked off about 1.5 gallons and turned her boy loose to nurse what was left.  She is now a daily regular on the milk line.

The interesting thing about hand milking is that the quarters of a cow are often very different.  The teats are not uniform, the shape of each quarter is not uniform, and the yield is not uniform.  Often there are 1 or 2 quarters that give the most milk and 1 or 2 others that give less.  We found with Dottie that she has one hugely productive quarter, 2 modest ones, and one with very little milk, but overall she is fine.  She is raising a terrific, healthy calf, and she should be able to provide a couple gallons a day of milk for shareholders.

That is the “equation” for a successful cow in the Ayrshire program:  2+ gallons per day and a healthy calf.

Now we can finally dry off Brownie Jr., who looks big as a house boat and is starting to have trouble keeping her balance going in and out of the stanchion.  I think Brownie will calf in the next month.

Meat program update:

Please consider supporting the Ayrshire program by signing up for Beneficial Beef!

We are still looking for meat share members who may wish to split up the table meat from our half Tarentaise / half Ayrshire steer.  He should be available in late November.  Please contact Dena with questions.

This week’s cheese share update:

This week the cheese share will be a variety of artisanal cheeses.

This week’s Veggie/Share Update:

This week we have what could be the last greens from Mesa Top, salad mix, arugula, and collards.  We will supplement any shortfall with greens from Agricultura.

We also have carrots from Gemini and potatoes from White Mountain.

We will begin now to offer the hail damaged Mesa Top Butternut squash.  Some of you will remember that we had 4 different hail storms at Mesa Top of varying intensities.  The result was that the butternuts are not beautiful on the outside, even though they are very tasty and sweet on the inside.  They will not store well, though if you do not want to eat them right away, they can be cooked and stored (frozen). Bake or cook in your usual fashion, then put in ziplock bags (good to write the amount on the bag).  Frozen squash make excellent bases for soup/stew/curry.

This week’s special treat is 4 pods of carefully dehydrated Chimayo Chile grown at Mesa Top Farm.  The seeds are from the unique and flavorful chile that has been grown for centuries at Chimayo.  The chile has a wonderful flavor.  When you break down the pods, if you want a milder taste, separate out the seeds.

We have apples and poms.  There will be one or two more pom offerings between now and end of year, and then those will be done.  We are going to receive Shiraz persimmons soon, and will also offer them in the share one or two times.

Membership news: Remember that we will not have a share on November 25, Thanksgiving Day, nor will we adjust the delivery to a different day of the week.  Please keep an eye out for our December schedule, coming soon.

Thank you for your continued support!

Steve Warshawer

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