Death Of The Local Farmer
0 comment Thursday, May 29, 2014 |
Today, on my mission to find local suppliers of meat, I made some further, rather frightening discoveries:
- three of the farmers I had ordered from formerly are no longer doing meat trading. Apparently there is a black market for organic meat at the moment, and each of these farmers who tried doing mail order or online sales has had trouble with orders arriving incomplete or not at all. The meat is disappearing before it even gets to the customer. These aren't 1,000-head herds, but very small local farms, and having to replace an entire order of meat is a massive undertaking. As a result, they've had to stop doing it and are raising solely through their markets or not at all.
- out of the other six I tried to chase up - names I was aware of from the year before - only one is still trading. The others have either been sold, stopped trying to be organic, or have given up trying to sell to anyone but retail markets. And do they do trading online? Nope, not a chance.
Now, if I want to get local meat, it looks like I have to order from up North, or anywhere BUT local. I've spent possibly one of the most depressing mornings making phonecalls to people who obviously love what they're doing, but they're being scuppered at every turn. One of the farmers was actually in tears, and I spent a few minutes reassuring her that her efforts were appreciated, she was not alone, but I understood entirely what her frustration was about and wished her well.
It seems really strange that the current trends of saving local farming seems to be doing absolutely nothing for farmers, or perhaps it's just the general unscrupulous public, since organic and local are such buzzwords, will stoop to any lows to beg, borrow and steal to fill their freezers. In the US, organic farmers are being encouraged by scientists and the government to change their backdated ways and switch to GMO. In some cases, they're literally being pressured into doing so - already in debt with bank mortgages threatening to take over their farms, the government has offered subsidies if they switch to GMO crops. Farmers who dare to stick to their principles are at threat of going totally under, and so of course - and I can't blame them, when the choice is losing your whole way of living - they cave in.
I'm seething. Seething that there are people out there who truly care about their livestock get lumped in with the mega-butcheries that don't give a toss about the animals solely to put 3-for-�10 packs of tasteless protein on supermarket shelves. I'm seething that the movement to eating local can also be the target for rip-offs and scam artists. I'm seething I have to reassure a sobbing farmer on the phone who desperately loves what she's doing but is going broke trying to do it, and there's absolutely nothing I seem able to do to let her know I appreciate everything she and people like her are doing...especially when some jerk-middleman is ripping off �100 work of meat s/he should be delivering solely to sell out the back of his trunk in a parking lot.
But I'm worried too - worried about feeding my son produce I can trust (and I'm even eyeing my milk lately with suspicion; friend of mine who runs a dairy can't even drink her own milk unless it's been processed due to some sort of disease in their herd). I'm worried about what happens when meat gets even scarcer due to all the issues (and it's whole other post but I do not believe vegetarianism is the answer to that one when you have to ship protein foods from halfway cross the world), and the farmers who are giving up and making way for the big boys with the possibly-cloned/GMO meat they "weren't aware" they had.
I'm going to market on Wed, pain or no pain (hell, agony or no agony) and going to get very chummy with my local farmers. It's still a toss-up even then (I got food poisoning from one farmer's meat, and the pheasant they had was rotten the day I bought it). But I'll learn who I can trust, who I can't, and they'll know my face as well. We'll have to take care of our own.
Local farmers, long may they continue.

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