COVID-19 Has Exposed the Fragility of Our Food System—Here’s How We Can Localize It

Yves here. This story on relocalizing food production is a counterpoint to our other Covid post today, which illustrated the “can’t do” reflexes that are hindering Covid responses.

I particularly like the small scale chicken farms idea. I never realized chickens were canopy birds. My sister in law had a go with them, and they all wound up as prey for hawks or coyotes.

By April M. Short, an editor, journalist and documentary editor and producer. She is a writing fellow at Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute. Previously, she served as a managing editor at AlterNet as well as an award-winning senior staff writer for Santa Cruz, California’s weekly newspaper. Her work has been published with the San Francisco Chronicle, In These Times, Salon and many others. Produced by Local Peace Economy, a project of the Independent Media Institute

The U.S. was once a haven for small-scale, family farmers. Today, food giants have gobbled up most of those family farms, creating the monstrous and unsustainable food industry known as Big Ag. The extent to which this massive, industrialized, global food system falls short became especially unmistakable in 2020. The current food system is “fraying.” It relies on the horrendous treatment of laborers, a wasteful allocation of resources, worldwide environmental devastation—and in a pinch, can quickly devolve into near-collapse of the entire system, as evidenced by the delays, shortages and pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the deepening hunger crisis in America. Among the many necessary systemic changes 2020 has illuminated is the need to majorly restructure the way we cultivate and access food in our communities.

Faced with the shortcomings of the current food systems, food producers across the Pacific Northwest have been innovating ways to reestablish locally sourced, regional food systems. In the process of localizing the food supply chain, they aim to establish food security for their communities, create local jobs and support the surrounding ecosystems.

During a free, online event called Festival of What Works, which took place in November 2020, entrepreneurs from an array of backgrounds shared their success stories to demonstrate how it is possible to build and scale local food production across geography as well as institutions and create more food-secure communities. The festival was a project of a newly launched eco-trust network called Salmon Nation. It gathered a collection of voices from various cultures and focuses, to showcase solution-oriented projects from Northern California through Alaska (a region called “Salmon Nation” by many of the area’s Indigenous people) that offer place-based responses to the current political, economic and climate realities.

Here are three examples of localized food projects successfully challenging the current system—all of which lend themselves to replication in other areas.

1. Localizing Flour Mills Across a Region

When food giants wiped out family farmers, mills were no exception. Just about 120 years ago there were 24,000 mills in the United States. Today there are only 180.

In recent years, both Indigenous groups and small-scale, independent farmers in the Pacific Northwest have started to bring back regional grain farms and flour mills. These mills process non-commodity grains that are meant to grow within the specific regions where they are cultivated, and a regionally oriented food supply chain is beginning to reemerge around flour produced by the mills.

Kevin Morse, the founder of the regionally sourced and operated Cairnspring Mills flour mill in the Skagit Valley in Washington, says he founded the company as a way to bring back small-scale, local flour milling and respond to the ecological problems and issues of climate resilience associated with large-scale production.

The Cairnspring Mills sources from grain farmers across the region between Northern California and Northern Washington.

“[Regional food supply chains will be key into the future] when it comes to climate resilience because we’re going to have food deserts and food shortages,” Morse says. “By bringing back local supply chains and local production capacity to turn that crop into food, we automatically make the community more resilient because we’re not relying on imports.”

A video on the company’s website details how Cairnspring Mills was instrumental in keeping flour in production in the region during the COVID-19 outbreak. When many food supply chains were interrupted and grocery aisles sat empty, many of them without flour for months, Cairnspring stayed in operation and supported other local businesses in the process.

“Our supply chain is local, our grain storage is local, so we never skipped a beat on production [during the pandemic],” Morse says. “We were able to keep people employed and were able to help businesses that relied on flour to stay in operation. We were [also] able to keep the farmers farming and give them contracts so that they could go to the bank and get their financing. [Having a local mill] really brings back control [and] resilience.”

During the Food Democracy at Scale panel discussion on November 16, 2020, at the Festival of What Works, speaking about Cairnspring, Morse said that it is “the first craft mill in this country,” and currently operates at a similar scale to some of the early craft beer companies and small coffee roasters. He said the mill is doing for flour what “Starbucks did for coffee and Sierra Nevada did for craft beer.”

The mill has the capacity to make about 7 million pounds of flour per year, and it sells its flour to the surrounding community via commercial customers and craft bakeries—both locally and down the West Coast region into Northern California. In comparison, a single mill belonging to the large-scale milling companies in operation today can make the same amount of flour his mill produces in a year, in just two days, he says.

He, however, pointed out in the panel discussion that the flour produced by these large-scale milling companies is “a very different flour… What they have brought us, unfortunately, is grain that’s not healthy. What they have brought us is grain that’s oftentimes polluted with chemicals or grown in monocrop environments, which are contributing to other issues we have with water quality and disease resistance… They can source grain from Kazakhstan, Canada and Kansas, and that could all be in that white bag on your shelf.”

He says Cairnspring is doing the exact opposite by sourcing from farmers and paying them premiums above commodity pricing so that they can stay economically viable while being incentivized to steward the land. They’ve helped provide a market for regionally viable grains that have long been used as a financially unsustainable rotation crop. And, they’re focused on producing a quality, flavorful craft product rather than driving down prices with mass production.

Morse says when the pandemic hit, more people began to understand the importance of local food systems for community resilience and in the six months since March, the business has raised $2 million.

“There’s been a shift in consciousness—not only of people seeing the need for this, but more people are seeing that it’s just a better product and it has real market potential,” he says.

Morse has a background in farming, economic development and conservation ecology. Prior to founding the mill, he worked for a decade with the Nature Conservancy and was director of the Puget Sound Working Lands Program. It was his job, he says, to find ways to align conservation and farming, “to achieve conservation outcomes on private land.”

After working in various fields for 35 years, he came to see that all of the things he cared about—from regenerative and sustainable farming to conservation—were in response “to a food system that wasn’t serving us well.”

He explains that as the food system was centralized, local communities lost their access to local food processors. This, in turn, forced farmers into the commodities system, or into single-buyer markets, making them more vulnerable to market changes, and pricing out the majority of small-scale farmers. He came to realize that many of the environmental issues he came across in his work—like issues with water quality or wildlife habitat—stem from that commodity system.

“Modern farming and chemical agriculture were destroying habitat and not giving farmers an alternative market to take care of their lands,” he says. “I’ve never met a farmer that says, ‘I’d really love to use more chemicals on my land,’ or ‘I really don’t want to see any wildlife on my land.’”

He came to realize that in order to rebuild local food systems, there was a need to rebuild local processing infrastructure. He also realized farmers would need to get a higher premium for their “higher-value, better-tasting, more nutritious products.”

“Thankfully, we’re at a time where the consumers are demanding cleaner food and they have more awareness of the challenges with some of our modern agriculture,” Morse says.

The idea to create a local mill came out of community interest in adding value to local grains, which were seen as “a crop that farmers have lost money on for a hundred years, but they’ve used in cereal grain rotations as a way to break disease cycles and add organic matter to the soil to maintain a high quality in their other cash crops like potatoes or brassicas,” Morse adds.

At the time Morse had the idea for the mill, the Washington State University Bread Lab as well as port officials at the Port of Skagit, farmers and other interested stakeholders were already looking into better ways to utilize the grains grown in the region.

The mill now provides a local, resilient model of producing flour using those undervalued regional grains—and the model encourages ecologically supportive farming practices.

“[Farmers] have a market incentive to improve their stewardship of the land for healthy soils, water conservation, carbon sequestration,” he says. “They’re incentivized to implement those best practices instead of pushing them to the side because they can’t afford them in the current commodity system.”

Looking at the next five years or so, Morse says the company is considering expanding to bring small, locally operated mills with similar models into other regions—but not before the current mill is well established.

“We’re looking at a half-dozen places around the West, maybe one or two on the East Coast that are prime for partnerships and collaboration with new communities to build new mills.”

2. A Regenerative Way to Farm Chickens

An innovative chicken farming model in British Columbia could help pave the way for a new standard of poultry farming that is regenerative and solar-powered. The system is referred to as poultry-centered regenerative agriculture (PCRA), and Skeena Energy Solutions (SES), a project started by the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC), is putting it into action. It has 1,500 chickens living in sustainably built, solar-powered coops, with free range to wander during the day under a low canopy of brush, which encourages increased egg production and healthier birds while also fertilizing and replenishing the soil where the birds graze.

“Canopy is really important as we discovered because chickens are jungle fowl, [not pasture animals],” says Kesia Nagata, energy coordinator for SWCC. She notes that even if poultry farms are free-range, but the range does not have a covering canopy to allow chickens to hide from potential predators, chickens’ wandering range will stay limited.

The regenerative poultry model gives the birds free access to rotating, fenced grazing areas. Rotating the area where the birds graze allows chickens to fertilize and nourish the soil while avoiding damage to the land by overuse, Nagata explains. The chickens are given locally grown feed from small-scale producers, and the project has hired local workers, the majority of them Indigenous people, who are paid living wages.

One of the big incentives for SWCC to explore the regenerative chicken farm concept is that it models a potential way for communities to stimulate their local farming economies. Ideally, it provides a method of raising 1,500 healthy, productive chickens at once on plots of land that are two acres or smaller, which keeps the cost of entry low.

“With this set-up on 1.5 to 2.5 acres, a single farmer can work three hours a day to produce 4,500 four-pound, free-range chickens in nine months, along with thousands of pounds of nuts, berries, and other cash crops… [translating] to over $80,000 (meat) or $250,000 (eggs) gross income per year, per single plot,” states an article by BC Local News while quoting a description of the project provided by SES.

The idea behind the pilot chicken farm program was to demonstrate a sustainable, land-based, inclusive, ecologically and socially viable way of farming, Nagata says.

She says the idea to incorporate a chicken farming model for an organization like SWCC, which is usually focused on salmon, was inspired by a similar regenerative farming project in Minnesota that works to pair Indigenous and immigrant farmers with small land plots.

“The focus of [SWCC] is to look at community economic development as a basis for salmon conservation, and it’s all holistic. If you don’t have communities that are healthy and wealthy and connected, they don’t have the privilege to protect the land that they depend on,” she says.

The pandemic, intense weather and other unforeseen hiccups delayed certain aspects of the project as it was getting set up through 2020, and Nagata says one of the goals for SWCC is to work through all the potential kinks so that they can eventually offer a streamlined, regenerative chicken farming model that small-scale farmers might be able to replicate across the region.

“We wouldn’t expect a small-scale, low-income farmer to be able to do all of the research and take all the losses that we are taking,” she says. “Our hope is that we can iron out those details to make it a lot more accessible to people and potentially have a working business plan and a template for how to get loans and grants and so on for this type of project. Because it’s so adaptable. The whole thing can be scaled.”

Nagata says while the project’s first months have illuminated the challenges inherent to straying from the current food system, they also ended up stimulating the local economy in some unexpected ways.

“I’ve been really humbled by how hard it is to make such a tiny little dent in such a huge problem—as well as having to be part of the problem in some ways in order to make it work—but I get excited about the fact that one project like this has inspired so many people to think about how else they can tag onto it,” she says. “Supportive jobs, businesses, and products can be created around this one idea—and that’s where the real economic development part is for me. Like, okay, great, there are some chickens. But there’s also a chicken soup and a chicken pie company. There are also local grain growers. We’ve got the local feed store interested in helping out. There are also all the administrative jobs involved in running things. There’s also the potential for pet food—and whatever else. There’s so much potential for change from a single project like this.”

3. Sustainable Livestock Ranching

The American meat industry is unsustainable, and beef alone carries a significant carbon footprint. During the Food Democracy at Scale panel discussion at the Festival of What Works, Cory Carman, a fourth-generation cattle rancher, shared how and why she operates Carman Ranch, which is spread across 5,000 acres, as a sustainable, grass-fed, locally oriented meat business.

Carman Ranch, located in Northeast Oregon, is a century-old family business that raises grass-fed cows on an open pasture. The main focus of their business is on building healthy, carbon-sequestering soil while producing beef that is more nutritious and healthier than many of the mass-produced options.

The ranch recently began to partner with other family ranch producers across the greater region in order to stay afloat in a meat industry saturated by major conglomerates.

Carman said as she took charge of the family ranch and looked at what the fourth generation of the farm would need to look like into the future, she realized partnerships with other producers would be key.

“Individuals doing their own thing is not how you create change,” she said in the panel. “I started marketing grass-fed beef from our ranch and added additional producers from our region. Now we work with eight to ten producers in the Northwest, from Montana into Idaho, Washington and Northern California, to provide a year-round supply of grass-fed beef.”

The operations of Carman Ranch are also unique in that they ship cattle directly from the farm where they are raised to the meat-processing plant. From there, the meat goes directly to wholesale, or directly to the customer—and all of these steps happen within the local region. These steps are highly uncommon in the meat industry.

Carman said in the panel that the ranch produces 20,000 to 30,000 pounds of meat per week, on average. This is far less than what industrial cattle farms produce, and Carman said the biggest meat players can produce in a single day or even half a day what their ranch produces in a year. What they do provide, bolstered by regional partnerships, is enough to meet the demand for their product, which remains niche, and has a dedicated customer base.

“[Our customers] share our vision… [about] what the food system could look like and the values the food system could deliver,” she said during the panel discussion. And, through the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve already proven more resilient than the large-scale meat industry.

“When it comes to food security, with the huge processing [plants] shut down [due to COVID], we weren’t impacted at all,” she said in the panel. “We have been a family-owned, smaller-scale processing facility, and a smaller crew that could take much more precautions… Nothing about our supply chain was impacted at all through COVID.”

Rather than focusing on expanding or scaling up their production to drive down costs, the company is focused on carving out a space in the market with their present setup, and investing the time to develop a successful long-term alternative to the unrealistic mainstream model.

“There is absolutely a vision toward changing the whole food system,” she said. “My biggest hope is if we have some success it will only make it easier for other people who want to do that same type of work.”

Their ultimate goal is to serve as a model or “learning laboratory” for sustainable meat production that future farms can pick up and replicate, Carman said. And, according to her, Carman Ranch is in a unique position to explore what does and doesn’t work well, as they have investors who support their larger vision of a more sustainable future for meat.

“We have a really distinct theory of change, [which] is that the food system of the future will be more distributed, more regional, and it will be scaled to ecological realities, not processing realities,” she said in the panel. “In that, we think about something like livestock production, we think about the places where it makes sense to [raise] livestock and how different regional companies could be connected to each other. In our vision of the future, there are a lot of regional grass-fed beef companies and they collaborate to potentially trade cuts, to do things like value-added co-packing that would benefit from aggregating products, maybe they do marketing together.”

She said that collaboration with other regional producers is what keeps the larger vision alive and inspired.

“The biggest breakthrough moments and things that bring me joy, they have to do with our alignment as a group around things like regenerative agriculture, soil health principles, carbon sequestration, animal welfare,” she said. “All these disparate producers are aligned; we’re doing things like nutrition testing on our beef to help us internally understand… what the relationship is between the soil health and nutritional density of the beef. Those are really esoteric things for the customers, but that sort of foundation of all of us working together, around these shared goals and vision… is the success that we feel every day.”

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  1. Bruce F

    I’m an organic row crop farmer (corn, beans, small grains) in NW Wisconsin. There are many people, among them John and Halee Wepking (quoted below), trying to/building the infrastructure necessary to make grain production more “local”. There are a lot of challenges, but I consider it a hopeful, positive story. I’m grateful for the people who are developing these new markets, and am doing my best to work with them.

    Mills used to be hubs of economic opportunities forming the foundation of rural economies for decades. Production of grains such as wheat, oats and barley required labor both on farm and off it which kept whole families employed in their local communities. Today, by contrast, many farms operate on too thin of margins to bring more employees or a next generation onto the farm and grain is outsourced to big hubs for processing.

    John and Halee Wepking of Meadowlark Organics are taking a page from history, leveraging small grains and local, community-based markets to start farming and to give their farming partner and mentor Paul Bickford a next generation to manage his farm and land. In this closing keynote, they share their path to farming through small grains and community connections.

    Here’s the link to a video of a presentation the Wepking’s gave to a Practical Farmer’s of Iowa group in 2019.

    1. Rod

      Row Crops are a tough Bulk business, which means pairing with Value Added Local Enterprises (Milling/Baking/) holds the key—like Local Meat Processing Facilities to Livestock. Like this:

      Growing the stuff is often easier than finding a reasonably compensating Market Partner. Ag Ext running out of the Univ. should be tangentially working up Distribution Markets with their cohorts in IT. No reason this can’t be State or Regionally oriented.

      This Article cracks the egg on what is at hand.

      1. a different chris

        >Ag Ext running out of the Univ. should be tangentially working up Distribution Markets

        Of course whose grants fund your average Ag Department? Sigh, no need to quote Upton Sinclair again methinks…

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye. the county ag extension guy(in Texas, they all come out of Texas A&M) has always been a marketing professional for big ag, before anything else. it’s his number one job.
          “here’s the latest miracle chemical!”…and immediately, it’s for sale in the feed store.
          our extension guy is the main reason i can’t do anything about the herbicidal manure problem: he stands in the way, insisting that those chems are safe…and with the government right there behind him…which of course means i can be written off as that crazy hippie guy with all the geese.

          and…someone above mentioned that it’s often easier to grow things than to find a reliable and fair buyer/market for them. This is definitely the case out here.
          if i were 50 miles closer to austin or san antone, i could prolly engineer a market, between restaurants and farmer’s markets, to just pulling the truck up on the side of the road outside a suburban warren.
          but that extra 50 miles makes this unworkable(even when i wasn’t as broken/agoraphobic)
          local grocers won’t buy local produce…blaming the contracts with the big boys, sometimes.
          attempts at farmers markets over the last 25 years(i instigated the first 2 attempts)…were quickly subsumed by local government and back room pressure from the local grocers.
          local restaurants, oth, have limited(and rather boring) menus that never change….along with skinny margins, they are averse to using what’s coming off right now(like, “it’s turnip season! lets make a bunch of turnip recipes!”), and instead, want iceberg and flavorless tomatoes all year round.
          a lot of this…wioth bidness as well as “consumers”…is habit: one stop at the grocery store…or one order to Sysco or Ben E Kieth.

          I grow for us, as a result…and when i have a surplus, i put the word out and then deliver all over town(10 miles away, rather than 100).
          Usually, i just give whatever surplus away to my neighbors(which definitely has it’s rewards, although these rewards are not amenable to accounting and measurement).
          the chicken system mentioned in the article is a large part of this infrastructure i’ve been working on this year…rotating birds like i rotate crops…for bug control, as well as manure…and gearing up for processing and smoking and whatnot.
          it will take a bigger disaster than covid for the current system to change…and by then, it will be too late to implement systems like what i’ve been working on all these years.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            It won’t start all at once. It will start in stages. If the first stages can survive, then they can grow more stages.

            In order for farmers like this to make a decent living, there have to be potential customers pre-ready and pre-willing to become actual customers who are willing to pay a decent price for decent food so that decent farmers can make a decent living by selling decent food at a decent price to decent people who are willing to pay a decent price for decent food.

            Potential decent customers will have to do their part to find their way to potential decent farmers. It can’t all be left up to the farmer to try and engineer his very own brand new market into existence on top of all the actual farming work he already has to do.

            So how potential customers can turn themselves into actual customers willing to pay to support this decent concept in return for getting decent food in return for supporting this decent concept and these decent farmers . . . . is a question worth asking and worth developing answers to.

            * * * * * * * *

            ( And by the way, you know what? Sh*t people who want to pay a sh*t price can just keep eating sh*t food).

    2. Bob Haugen

      Thanks for adding John and Halee to this inspiring conversation. We get flour and beans from them and think they would be a great seed for a regional food system.

  2. Rod

    Wow, thanks for the good news today.
    First read was inspiring, second one will be better–and great links to the initiative is rich with working ideas.

    the problem:
    He explains that as the food system was centralized, local communities lost their access to local food processors. This, in turn, forced farmers into the commodities system, or into single-buyer markets, making them more vulnerable to market changes, and pricing out the majority of small-scale farmers. He came to realize that many of the environmental issues he came across in his work—like issues with water quality or wildlife habitat—stem from that commodity system.

    The 3 Pilot initiatives are targeted right and niches exist now for adoption. But here is where I think the real solutions are identified:

    “Individuals doing their own thing is not how you create change,”

    She said that collaboration with other regional producers is what keeps the larger vision alive and inspired.

    As said, we have done this before and well—before the Big Conglomoration of Commodification

    The Chicken Plan give me tingles, and not just from those Number$ (downwinders take note)

  3. Louis Fyne

    there should be a number 4, eat to your region.

    meaning if you live in the Pacific NW or pretty much most of the US (as an example), don’t expect guacamole 365 days a year.

    but I doubt this will catch on.

    there are some Michelin -starred chefs how eat to their region and season (see Noma)….but don’t hold your breath and expect it to trickle down anytime soon

    1. David B Harrison

      Actually you can expect to have guacomole 365 days a year.It’s called microclimate gardening.A guy that lives a few miles from the Canadian border in Minnesota raises peaches commercially using this method.The biggest problem we have in food production is Neoliberalism.It teaches us that local anything is impossible.If you study food production you realize that almost anything is possible.The corporate state has destroyed small scale food production.The overhead for small scale production makes it unviable as a way to earn a living.As Earl Butz said “go big or get out” then he made sure that was true by using the corporate government to pass laws and regulations that destroyed the small farms(this was the 70’s).I live on one of those farms destroyed by the corporate government(my father and grandfather farmed the land).I cattle farmed from 2012 to 2018 so I could be a caregiver for my disabled parents so I got to see the current version of Earl Butzs’ philosophy.

    2. vlade

      Actually, what you eat has a much higher impact on the GHG (green house gases) emissions than transport.

      Beef is massively expensive in terms of GHG, while plants are low emission, mostly from fertilizers. To the point where efficient (mass) transport of plant food even over long distances can be more GHG efficient than eating local beef.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Humans ate some things from outside their regions for thousands of years. Even during the time of the Greek City States, olive oil, wine, etc. travelled hundreds of miles at least. We may want to keep eating and drinking those things while localizing everything that can be localise.

      Perhaps localise every basic survival food and let the luxury fun foods remain long distance? That way if the luxury fun food supply chains burn down and die, survival is not threatened. Only pleasure is threatened.

  4. Arizona Slim

    I’m learning how to grow my own food. Which means learning from my mistakes. I make quite a few of those.

    OTOH, yesterday evening’s homegrown salad was divine.

  5. TimH

    Quick check of the chicken numbers: “farmer can work three hours a day… to produce 4,500 four-pound, free-range chickens in nine months… over $80,000 (meat) gross income per year”

    That’s $17.78 per chicken, or $4.44/lb, around the farmer’s market pricing I’ve seen. **Retail pricing**. So, ignoring plucking and bagging costs, the **farmer** has to sell 29 chickens per farmer’s market, presuming Fri-Sat-Sun attendance to sell these retail and get that gross income advertised. That’s already more than the ‘3 hours a day’ average for the entire farming operation.

    To put this in perspective, I talked to a Californian dried apricot seller at a farmer’s market some years ago. He said that his volume commercial business essentially broke even. The profit dollars came from the farmer’s market sales. That’s why he bothered.

    1. Louis Fyne

      exactly. if chicken wound up being $4+ a pound, people would be rhetorically rioting on the internet.

      around my neck of the woods, a tray of chicken quarters only costs $0.99 a pound, thanks to some healthy competition from national, regional and local grocers.

      1. John

        Around my neck of the woods, chicken quarters cost $.99 a pound due to slave like working conditions for the growers and processors….there, fixed it for you. It has little to do with competition among grocers.

        1. John A

          And horrendous conditions for the chickens, overcrowded, stuffed with growth hormones and antibiotics, debeaked covered in their own shit and that of their cellmates.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, that’s probably Mainstream Corporate petrochemical GMO-fed sh*t chicken. And its probably worth the price.

        Meanwhile, at Peoples Food Co-op, the chicken costs somewhat over $2.00 a pound. I haven’t done blind taste testing to see if it is “worth it”. I hope that it is.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I looked up the price per pound on that co-op chicken I referred to just above. It turns out to be $4.85 per pound. Expensive? Well, that’s the price of shinola chicken.

          And sh*t chicken is the price of 99 cents a pound. Some people only have enough money for sh*t chicken. Other people have enough money for shinola chicken. But they choose to choose always the low price, always. For that second group of people, let them eat sh*t. They choose it and they deserve it.

    2. Ignacio

      An alternative for family farms would be their association with institutional support. Small producers are badly treated in the food chain no matter if we are talking about farmers, breeders or fishermen. In the EU an indicator of their bad situation is that their workforces are ageing faster than in almost any other sector. Associating would help them to gain market power against processors and commercial structures and this wouldn’t necessarily mean higher prices but a re-distribution of income in the chain (probably with the removal of many middlemen). Without being knowledgeable on this I have the intuition that, for instance, Netherlands’ farmers tend to be very good organizing themselves and having more direct access to the consumer. There could be a model to study.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Real food is so hard to come by in the USA.

      If the figures you mention are the price I must pay to keep from, say, ingesting poisons…it’s a bargain.

    4. Big River Bandido

      This didn’t occur to me until after I wrote the previous post, but with regard to the point about time and hours spent… You mentioned the time that the business aspect of this model of farming would consume, and that’s true. But farmers are already paying that tax on their time.

      And even if the “business” chores are still there…in this model, the actual work of *farming* — the hard physical labor — is greatly reduced. The farmer’s lifestyle is and always has been physically very hard — almost unimaginably so for a modern urban dweller. This I know from personal experience; my grandfather first started to farm for himself in Iowa after WWII, and continued for 60 years in which the industry changed greatly. Through the mid-1970s he raised a little of everything — corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, rye, hay, garden vegetables, fowl and livestock of all kinds, both for meat and dairy. With consolidation and the growth and control of Big Ag in the 1980s he refocused almost solely on cattle thereafter. It was what he was best at and most enjoyed.

      Even with the limitation to that one product, my grandparents’ days and nights were endless, and they could hardly ever leave the farm. “Chores” are a twice-daily occurrence; animals eat, a lot. On Christmas Day my grandparents might drive 2 hours to see us…and drive back before nightfall so they could still do their evening chores. If one of your cows goes into labor at 2AM during a blizzard (exasperatingly common in Iowa in the early March birthing season), you have to be out there to make sure both mother and calf (i.e., your investment) survive the night. And even with all that backbreaking labor, they *still* had to take care of business; that never went away.

      I’m quite sure my grandfather would have looked at these business models with envy. In fact, if the time investment in the actual physical labor is really borne out, this suggests a possible model for re-inventing a type of “family farming” that doesn’t depend on having a huge family or a huge operation. If the actual physical portion of the job were reduced to only a few hours a day, farming might prove attractive to an awful lot of people who like the lifestyle and locale, but don’t want to be slaves to the Big Ag Farming Machine.

    5. alexisS

      Unfortunately, I have not been able to verify anything about the chicken farming project. I have contacted two of the organizations mentioned, and the Alaskan University that funded part of this project– no responses. Can’t find any current info about how it worked out.

  6. juliania

    Right now, anyone CAN start supplementing their diet with nutritious greens. All you need is a windowsill, and a supply of the old style milk cartons cut in half, seeds, and dirt! If you insist on overheating your home during the winter, this won’t work, but healthwise you will be better off to lower the temperature of the ambient air in any case, and growing as much as will fit on every sill (save those plastic trays!) will help humidify the air. Cold weather plantings are exactly that – kale and peas thrive in weather that’s cold enough to coat your windows INSIDE with ice, so you can even close the curtains on your babies – they’ll love it! Plus aphids don’t come till the weather is mild. And half a milk carton, with corners snipped for drainage is all that’s needed. I space my kale nine seeds to a carton, peas four. If spring comes on quickly you can use an old window leaning against a south facing wall to put these outside when crocuses are blooming, and cartons make it easy to lower the intact soil plus plants into garden spaces. I use the blue dwarf kale but also broccoli raab and spinach – even chard though that I grow in a tub on the floor as it gets too big too quickly. I don’t do lettuce, not nutritious enough, but parsley, yay and peppers winter over — I have a black krim tomato slowly making a few fruit – that one needs early sun though, and he’s really just for fun and company.

    If you grow your own greens that will cut the travel needed for resupply – they are right there awaiting an omelet every morning!

    1. Synoia

      I’ve planted in my garden. To make an Impact on my food bill I estimate I need one acre or more of land. The books I read claimed that the minimum was about 5 acres, and realistically one needed 10 acres.

      I believe that’s why it takes a village to feed itself. For an individual it appears barely possible.

      As a child we my parents had a 1 acre garden, many 20 apple trees and a soft fruit area. We came nowhere near feeding ourselves.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There is a book called One Circle: How To Grow A Complete Diet In Less Than 1,000 Square Feet.
        It is by Ecology Action of the Midpeninsula . . . . the John Jeavons bio-intensive group. I don’t have time to find a clean NOmazon link. So all I can bring is the Amazon link. But enough time might reveal a NOmazon source for the book.

        Or maybe its available from the publisher itself . . .

    2. Zakiya Alake

      Juliania, that was so helpful! I’ve been a part of a citywide food insecurity assessment during COVID here in Boston since October. My biggest takeaway is “grow for self.” Put the tools in the hands of the willing and support them to grow according to their means. I’ve enrolled in Urban Food Institute’s next course to learn hands on. As a community reporter for Dig Boston and a producer for our community cable tv access studio, I have the opportunity to learn, grow & share as I go! I’m so excited.

  7. Steve

    An interesting case is that of Arva Flour Mills in Arva, Ontario, which has been in continuous operation, using water power, since 1819. We bought most of our flour there when I was growing up in the 1970s in London, Ontario, and it is still going strong:

  8. Eclair

    This read was a ray of sunshine in my day: with my morning coffee, I had read two devastating climate change articles and was preparing to spend the rest of the day huddling under the duvet.

    But, we need structural change. My spouse’s cousins are farmers: one, grew row crops, pigs, chickens and beef, in Pennsylvania, before he died in 2019, at age 58, worn out. Two others, small dairy farmers, one in Washington, the other in PA, both struggling to compete against the gigantic factory farms milking thousands of head. They’re hanging on because they don’t know any other life.

    They need government support, laws that help the local, family farms, not the enormous, corporate operations. They need local supply chains that enable them to get their products to the local markets. Dare I say, they need help with ‘branding?’

    Note: as a home gardener, I started setting up my market basket/wish list of seeds from Johnny’s Seeds in Maine a few weeks ago. When I went to order last week, the website was restricting home gardener orders to two days a week. Logged on this morning to place order and there was a notice that no home gardener orders will be taken until February. Went to another site to place an order for corn, either dent or a variety for grinding: they are so overwhelmed that they have stopped taking orders. Fortunately, Baker Creek Seeds is still operating, although many varieties are out of stock. Any other home gardeners having difficulties getting seeds or plants?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Interesting. It wouldn’t be the petrochemical megafarmers who are buying up all these seeds ( unless there is a petrochemical agribussiness conspiracy to pre-buy and de-available-ize these seeds in order to drive millions of gardeners out of gardening).

      But assuming there is no such conspiracy behind the seed shortages, that would mean that a growing number of new and newish midsize and small farmers are buying this much more seed. Meaning a lot of people have had their attitudes adjusted for real.

      The small and tiny seed companies should avoid overgrowing too fast and recklessly, lest they find themselves over-extended and then see demand for seeds crash back to former levels.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Another thought occurred to me. Johnny’s sells seed to gardeners and to small farmers. They may well be choosing to serve their farmers first in order to keep them as happy clients in future years.
        When the farmers have done all their ordering, Johnny’s will sell any leftover seed, if any is left over, to gardeners. If that is part of the problem, then other companies which sell to gardeners AND to farmers might be selling to farmers-first, and gardeners later if at all.

        That could default-mean that companies selling ONLY to gardeners might be able to handle the gardeners’ orders.

        Then too, farmers AND gardeners might be massively over-ordering in order to stockpile seeds against supply-line failures over the next few years. If such failures indeed happen, that might push people into seed-saving who would never have wanted to have to save their own seeds.

  9. Phacops

    I think that everybody can help to thrive locally. Saddled with dry mesic soil, we have done a lot of conditioning with compost and other basic materials. I enjoy growing a nice German Red, hard-necked garlic, and have given friends and neighbors heads to start their own beds. I should be able to bring in about 50 heads this summer. Enough to share.

  10. taunger

    There is much work on this being done in New England as well, where many factors have kept massive agribusiness at Bay compared to the west and midwest.

    Millennials are leading bthe charge in many cases. I’m an example – my wife and I bought 8 acres and homestead of former dairy farm that we’re rehabbing into apples, bush nuts/berries, and chicken/sheep pasture. We may never make a $, but hopefully we can build a system to support our progeny, and maybe some others in the neighborhood.

    Also, I don’t think we could ever try something bthis scale and non-till without both of us working day jobs in the PMC.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Hopefully there are or will be enough potential shinola customers in your area who are prepared to pay a shinola price for shinola food that you will be able to make a shinola living selling shinola food at a shinola price to shinola customers.

      The farmer should be able to run a business, not have to run a charity. And if the farmer can not make enough money running a farm to be in business as a farmer earning a living, then he/she is running a charity, and in the long run will only be able to keep subsidizing that charity by taking on second-job full-time-equivalent work off the farm in addition to the full time work of farming on the farm.

      And it becomes up to potential customers to solve that problem for the farmer by becoming actual customers. All the farmer can do is spread awareness of his work to people who are already seeking awareness of that farmer’s existence and work.

      1. taunger

        Without debt it would easily be profitable at market prices. Burying the mortgage is my job. The next generation can make profits and high quality foods.

        Not sure exactly the thrust of your comment, but it sure doesn’t appear intended to provide support in any way, even useful info. Did I miss something?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Yes, you missed something. My comment is meant to be a you-deserve-a-fair-price and settle-for-nothing-less comment. And for potential customer-readers, it is meant to be a “farmers-deserve-nothing-less-than-a-fair-price” comment and customers should be ready to pay a nothing-less-than-fair price.

          As to materially useful specific-actionable information, I have written many dozens of comments over the last couple of years with specific information, links, and sources in them. They are still here in the record and only need to be searched for.

      2. Lex

        I had this shinola cheese for breakfast this morning. Two pieces of toasted fruits-and-nuts bread, schmeared with homemade plum sauce, slices of rotisserie chicken. and thin slices of shinola cheese on top, melted in the microwave and washed down with hot tea. The price of the cheese was $11. I did a double-take on the price, but my hand was telling me that by the weight and low resistance of the rind, that the cheese had a very soft center. I sniffed the paper packaging… not stinky. Darn!

        I paid for it anyway and opened it the moment I got home; a little piece on a Ritz cracker (where everything tastes better). It was simply delicious, everything my hand reported it would be. It reminded me of another cheese company’s product – Haystack. They have a distinctive rind, texture, and tang to their cheese, and they charge shinola prices for it. It is in fact Haystack that’s producing Origin. To find that out though, you have to go to their website. On the Origin website you’ll read about the farmers that are featured by this company. Makes you feel real good to be part of such a virtuous endeavor, and their products are good too, and even as I’m feeding cheesy crackers into my piehole and nomnomnoming, my swamp creature of an inner cynic rose out of the muckier parts of my brain to say, ‘Yeah, but where is money really coming from? How long will they build this brand before they sell to Kraft?’ How long do I have to enjoy this excellent cheese before ten years down the road, the owners cash in and the conglomerate that bought it crapifies it into something I’ll deny ever having once enjoyed?

        Shinola today; crap in a too-soon tomorrow. How much of that largess do the farmers get? Hope they bought stock.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          As long as this cheese isn’t extinct yet, it is still there to be enjoyed. So why not enjoy it while it still exists? And who knows? This particular cheesemaker might stay in business as a free-standing little artisandustrial cheesemaker.

          I remember decades ago liking a kind of cheese called Liederkranz. Borden held the patents and the rights but it was still hand-crafted good. Then they retired it. It was extinct for decades. And then maybe 10 years ago or so, a small scale individual-or-group bought the recipe and the name and the rights from Borden to try reviving this cheese. I bought some and liked it reasonably well. It was very close to the original though not exactly the same. They sure tried and are trying.

          So, it can happen. And sometimes does.

  11. Rod

    imo–it will be the future, somewhat because

    “Individuals doing their own thing is not how you create change,”

    She said that collaboration with other regional producers is what keeps the larger vision alive and inspired.

    In Rod’s world, Amfortis and others would have outlets in the local schools and in the County Meals on Wheels deal or who knows what else as localism and neighborliness takes aholt.

    But, we need structural change. indeed Eclair!

    And yes, AgExt is pretty moribund, ’cause there are no bridges for today to tomorrow without imagination and funding.

  12. Bob


    If we choose we can make a difference.

    We choose to keep a few chickens in the back yard. They are much quieter than a dog, cleaner too, and the added benefit is that their antics can provide hours of entertainment – Chicken TV.
    We get enough eggs for our family. As far as predators some over head cover in the form of trees and a good fence have kept our girls safe and sound for the most part.

    And a very small garden that produces even through the winter – Arugula, Oak Leaf Lettuce, etc. I’m always surprised that folks don’t plant a winter crop of turnips, etc.

    In a very small way we live better and cheaper.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And a hundred million people could make a hundred million differences. How many snowflakes in an avalanche? Many many. Each individual snowflake is small, but when they all move in the same direction, they produce the mighty avalanche. As the Czarist Army saying used to have it . . . ” quantity is a quality all its own”.

      Every dollar is a bullet on the field of economic combat.
      Lead the money around by the nose.

  13. farmboy

    Converting to organic beginning 4 years ago, the biggest challenge was going to be marketing. Agronomics was the open door with the decline in function of glyphosate and was just made decades easier by the release of commercialized psuedomonas flourescens. Being a member of an LLC marketing group with affiliation with ADM gave me contacts in the industry from United States Baking (Franz) to Essential Baking. The dearth of flour milling capacity of size is a big barrier to much acreage conversion of the over 4 million acres of cereal production in the PNW. Although interest is high from the consumer, flour milling is either boutique or huge. The Bread Lab is a great story with an affiliation with King Arthur. GrainMillers has a flake and roll plant in Eugene. Ardent Mills has a flour mill in Klamath Falls, Ore. and in Ogden, Utah along with Central Milling. Basis or trucking costs take a big bite and the pricing structure is opaque at best. The export market has shown some interest shipped by container. In conversations with endusers they often say “We don’t usually deal with farmers”, hey ya gotta start somewhere.

  14. Stephen V.

    What a post! Came home yesterday to some stynchronicity as Wuk might say: a 28 Oz can of this–
    In addition to the Bread & Cheese mentioned above, their Food Science also has kick butt ice cream!

  15. Rod

    farmboy says:
    The dearth of flour milling capacity of size is a big barrier to much acreage conversion of the over 4 million acres of cereal production in the PNW. Although interest is high from the consumer, flour milling is either boutique or huge.

    capacity to process meat and grains on small scale—where’s AgExt in pushing this out? DoA? Why are not FFA and AgExt linked at the hip and partnered with

    jeez–i’m just a carpenter that was raised on a farm…who is going crazy??

    my apologies for the linkfest–but this thread has traction

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Klass Martens and Mary Howell Martens are addressing and solving some of these same sorts of problems in upper New York State. They have a roughly 1 thousand acre Certified Organic small grains ( and small grain derived products) operation in upper New York State.

      Yahoo does NOT deliver any images for ” Klass Martens”. But it DOES deliver some images for ” Mary Howell Martens”. Mixed in with some irrelevant images. So I will offer a link to that bunch of images in case anyone wants to click the relevant images and do a wormhole URL search if any URLs seem interesting.;_ylt=AwrJ7F02GBNgruoAZb5XNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=mary+howell+martens+image&fr=sfp

      The first line of images is relevant. Search for the people in THESE images. Also any image of farm machinery which might show up deeper into the images. ( There are also some irrelevant shoes-and-fashion images mixed in).

      And here is a link-to-some-text.

      1. petal

        Oh wow, Penn Yan. That makes me happy. Have some family there. Yahoo might not be giving images for Klass Martens, but DDG does for Klaas Martens. I wish this kind of thing would take off in Wayne County. There is so much spraying-of apples, corn, you name it. My school was surrounded by apple orchards that regularly got sprayed. It pains me to think of the affect on soil health, damage to insects and birds, and to local residents. My grandmother lived across from an orchard and called the stuff “spray dope”. It got on everything, so when the tractor came through it was time to go inside, close the windows, batten the hatches for a while.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Thank you and shame on me for mistyping Klaas Martens. NOT Klass . . .

          And what do you know . . . when I type it the RIGHT way, the KLAAS way . . . a whole bunch of relevant images come up.


          And every image gives its own URL and any one of those URLs could be a wormhole portal to a very interesting obscure blog or site.

          So thanks again.

  16. Andrew

    I am looking at the food flier as I read the comments here; Jacks Pizza 17 0z size – 2 for 5$, Post Honey bunches of Oats Cereal – $1.66 (bought with other Items in groups of six), 28 oz pork and beans – 2 for$3. Growing up my family owned an IGA store in a small farming community so I have always been keen on grocery prices, even if I don’t eat the food. I thought I would be a Grocer.
    Our Town also Had a hardware store, three service stations, two taverns, a feed store, a First National Bank with a community board of directors, two restaurants, a bakery, a meat locker, two sawmills, an arcade, our own k-12 school with around 150 students, a Michigan State extension farm up the road a ways, a park, a baseball field, back-roads with swimming holes, an ice rink, and a Fourth of July parade with fireworks after dark. Its almost all gone now. Like a nuclear family blogging bomb.
    The bakery survived; They are famous for their crispy sweet cinnamon toast that is quite delicious buttered and dipped in coffee, but everything else is gone or just a shadow of what it once was. On a brighter note though things are starting shift in the direction discussed in the article. Younger people with or without former ties to the community have been moving in for the last ten years or so, and they have been starting market gardens and or running beef, pigs, sheep ,chickens etc. (I hate the term “hobby farm” , it sounds degrading like “side hustle” to me) There is a lot of enthusiasm. I can get local beef, eggs and chicken at will around here, as well as vegetables in season. Also a lot of this land hasn’t been farmed for thirty or forty years so it has not been whacked with chemicals. I want to see it all come back.

  17. Lex

    I walked around the house listing the many varieties of flour on our shelves and in the refrigerators:

    All Purpose from Blue Bird, milled in Cortez, CO
    King Arthur bread flour
    Jovial einkorn
    whole wheat organic

    Neither of us is allergic to gluten, but many years ago my naturopath convinced me I was, so I avoided it for about a decade until I was further convinced it was all horse puckey. Also dairy. If you really want to throw an American for a loop, tell them those two food groups are injurious to them.

    On the upside though I came to appreciate the flavors and textures that the wider world of flour brought to my baked goods. I’ve even considered buying a high end residential-sized flour mill, just to see what on-the-spot fresh flour would taste like. Maybe go out and talk a farmer into selling me a 25 lb sack of dried just-harvested wheat grain. A few more decades have passed and I still haven’t talked myself into shelling out $700+, even as those flour mills have improved. I just don’t bake enough to justify the expense.

    Meanwhile, the unscientific diagnosis that once upended my diet and placed me out at the edge of the herd has become commonplace middle of the flock. Grocery stores now have enormous gluten-free zones, and therein lies the problem with the return of the community flour mills. The mill will have to pick which side of the flour divide they’re going to grind for. The capital outlay to be certified as ‘gluten-free’ is cost prohibitive (I imagine) since they can never allow a glutenous substance to contaminate the mill. It would only take one, or may two, lawsuits to drive them out of business, unless they were unusually well funded. I’ve seen too many businesses with good ideas go under while they built a customer base and ironed out the bugs in their plan. I further imagine that all of the flours in our house have big money backing behind them somewhere. Blue Bird doesn’t look like much from the outside…

    Consider now the ‘vested interests’ that have developed over the last thirty years in alternatives to wheat and dairy. The thing that happened with milk was that once I got off bovine mucous, it was difficult to go back to drinking milk. The cheese drawer is packed but that’s Oatly on the shelf above. Oatly is supposed to be the most sustainable of the alt milks, but I wondered last year when it showed up in the local markets, how it hoped to compete in such a crowded alt milk market. It exploded with popularity, helped by all that ‘green’ marketing and what I’m going to guess is some deep pockets. The profits were turned into shelf space and eye-level placement in the dairy refrigerators. Its further advantage is it has a better consistency over the Silk brand product.

    The grocery store chains may have taken a hit initially last winter, but they’ve come roaring back in this little city. It’s the farmer market that’s going to have a hard time recovering.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read about the suspicion that the GI upsets which are attributed to gluten are really due to Roundup residue in mainstream food, especially mainstream grain. Roundup attacks the “shikimic acid pathway” in plants and in gut bacteria. So traces of Roundup in the food are deranging, degrading and attriting many peoples’ gut microbiomes, leading to intestinal diseases and symptoms.

      Professor Emeritus Don Huber says he has seen a very suspicious very tight correlation between the rise of Roundup and the rise of celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, etc. in the population.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles


      If you plan to buy a 25 lb. bag of wheat from a farmer, you might want to consider checking as to whether that wheat is Certified Organic or whether it is mainstream conventional. If it is Certified Organic, then it was grown without Roundup. If it is mainstream conventional, you might want to ask whether the farmer is one of those who are taking up the practice of spraying all the wheat plants with Roundup a week-and-a-half or so before harvest, in order to speed-ripen and dessicate the wheat plants all at once, for greatest ease of one-pass harvest.

      Because if the farmer you plan to buy the wheat from is a One-Pass Roundup Dessicationist farmer, your wheat will be full of Roundup. So will your mainstream potatoes. So will your mainstream soybeans. In fact, the only protection you have against Roundup in your grain and beans and everything else is to buy Certified Organic or to buy those things which inherently can NOT be sprayed with Roundup.

      ( Of course, those who feel Roundup is innocuous and safe . . . . as Riverdaughter claimed on her blog several years ago . . . . should feel free to show their support and gratitude to Monsanto by eating all the Roundup they can. And I hope they do that very thing.)

  18. John Anthony La Pietra

    How much would the commentariat say the Community-Supported Agriculture concept can contribute to successful scenarios on this? Can it help farms build a path from roadside stands and farmers’ markets to perhaps online or virtual co-ops?

    One farm in our area has apparently taken the lead in working with others to provide a consolidated online storefront using Farmigo software. (I think there are other packages available, too.)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I have read about that. It certainly works for some people. It deserves to be tried widely to see how well it can work in how many places.

  19. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is another approach to local farmer sales outlets. A small store which carries and sells strictly only produce and products from local farmers. The farmer gets 80% of the price and the store gets 20% of the price for the work that it does in bringing all these items together into one place and working / selling with/to all the customers who come into the one place.

    Recently in Ann Arbor someone created a store called Argus Market which does exactly that. All the farmers who sell at local farmers markets also sell through Argus. For some, Argus has become their main money-earner and their presence at farmers markets is more in the manner of a trade-show display.

    I read that the concept is being trialed in some other towns and cities.

  20. Scott1

    I have thought about food insecurity more often since reading histories of Stalinist and Mao famines. If you know of famines in other countries during the same era I need to know their causes. My theory is that democracies with free speech and free press traditions do not suffer famines the way so called communist countries do. There is not so much a chance of famine in a democracy is my theory.
    As late as the mid and late 19th Century the Irish were starved to death in a similar fashion as were Slavs in the USSR during the 20th Century. As late as 1953 Stalin was working up another famine. According to the history book published by Old Town Press, “The Great Hunger” the English, simply did not respect the Irish.
    Stalin wanted the Russian farmers who were successful with private property to give up their land so there would be collective farms. Collective farms were an ideal of Marxist Leninism. Stalinists were so committed to their ideas that famine was better than the NEP, or New Economic Policy that put up with private ownership of farm land for the practical reason that murdering and starving the Kulaks resulted in lower, much lower agricultural success. Apparently artificially creating famines was Stalin’s preferred way of mass murder.
    Mao, Mao got it into his head sparrows? little finches? ate so much grain that he’d have the population exhaust them to death with pots and pans noise.
    As capitalists using the McNamara standardization for grocery store distribution standardization of diet did not kill American Kulaks, but it sure put them out of business right often.
    McNamara’s system is becoming worn out and a dangerous system for many reasons. It does not integrate small local agriculture well, or if at all.
    What I have seen challenge the McNamara system where one will require government help or starve has been the Co-ops where one may work for the Co-op so as to have access to food.
    Man, so many dead bees. Many, multitudes less birds. Capitalism as it has been supposedly working has without a doubt come to perfectly threaten the entirety of the food chain. Imagine that, the whole of the food chain for the majority of animals including human beings is approaching collapse.
    I am my ideas. One of my ideas is to never believe in anything too much.
    If we combine the McNamara food system with the essence of the local food supplying and distributing system of say the Thomas Jefferson ideal then what do we get? If you go to the grocery store and everything is from far away, it is obvious you have a food insecure life. That’s the way it is anywhere you are in the whole world.
    An international Food Friends Party may be the best political party you might ever join.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . . the British authorities passive-default engineered a famine in Bengal during WWII.

      And you know . . . . for the past several decades we have had a rolling stealth nutri-famine here in America, also engineered by the Overclass using petrochemical agribussiness as the weapons system and delivery system for carefully depriving several hundred million Americans of health maintaining nutrition in their food.

      Whence the steady rise of mass chronic diseases of physio-metabolic decay through nutrition-deprivation.

      Does that count as a “famine”?

      Sh*tfood for the masses and shinola food for the classes.

      1. Rod

        Like the way you think—solutions are at hand already. Here is is an argument booster (because of its mainstream circulation) for our side:

        Rather than amend or add to what currently exists, the new Administration and the USDA need to design programs and policies based on what is best for local farmers and food systems. –my bold

  21. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is some material about a good soil-centric blogsite from The Water Cooler, put here to be more easily findable hopefully.

    “How do different root structures affect soil?” [Soils Matter, Get the Scoop!]. “The soil is not a very welcoming environment for plant growth. It does not provide everything a plant needs freely and without reservation. In fact, left as is, the soil probably would not produce very many plants at all. Proof of this is found in the tremendous amount of soil modification plants engage in just to improve their chances of survival. Plants modify soil. That is a fact. They spend a lot of energy doing it, and they do it to their own advantage. Organisms (which, of course, include plants) are even one of the five soil formation factors, along with climate, relief/topography, parent material, and time. Plants modify the soil chemically, biologically, and physically in very substantive ways. This blog entry focuses mostly on the physical side of things by considering how root structures affect the soil.” • Introduces the concept of “root architecture.” Well worth a read even if your garden consists of a single pot on the windowsill.

    And here is that soil blogsite URL itself.

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