Market Watch: Maplewood Farmers’ Market Starts Today

200904010645.jpgWhat many consider to be the most festive market–The Maplewood Farmers’ Market–begins it’s season today (Wednesday April, 1) and will run through the end of October.

I think this is a little earlier than in the past because it actually caught me off guard. But it’s totally sweet news, right?

Harvesting Fear

Corn GrenadeRecently there was an article in Vanity Fair about Monsanto. It was, I think, a good article and one that strikes fairly close to home as I work about one half mile down the road from the Monsanto location discussed in the article. It is the same facility Michael Pollan discusses in his books, and it is there that much of Monsanto’s plant research takes place.

Each day as I pass the facility it’s hard not to think about the stories I’ve heard regarding farmers being sued for reusing their genetically modified Round Up ready seeds, and the Vanity article leads off with one such story showcasing the ruthless tactics with which Monsanto goes after farmers that are often economically unable to fight back. Much of the article, however, lays out a brief history of the business and details some examples of the environmental devastation Monsanto has created in their wake of research. Also, there’s information about Monsanto’s new pet project: the dairy industry.

Not happy with their current level of entrenchment in the agriculture industry, it seems Monsanto is now making strides to ensure they will assist with the fast, cheap supply of all your families dairy needs as well. All this of course from one of the same companies that brought you Agent Orange and dioxin.

However you feel about the consumption of genetically modified foods, Monsanto has homogenized many agricultural commodities, and I think most of us would agree that having 90% of anything coming from one source is a bad idea. Even before you get to the environmental ramifications the lack of biodiversity could cause, there is simply the matter of taste; and for those of us that love food, variety is everything.

Take the time out of your Earth Day to read the article and in two weeks show your support of the farmers doing things the right way at our Local Farmers’ Markets.

Blogs: Chefs > Food Ethics > Farmers

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Not that I want you scurrying away from my site, but I recently added a few blogs to my RSS feeds and thought a few were worth mentioning:

Line Cook was started recently by the obvious: a line cook. He lives in San Francisco and I find it pretty interesting. I especially like his Plate Up posts where he shows step by step photos of the changing foie gras torchon plate ups where he works

Shuna Fish Lydon, also from San Francisco has one of the most beautifully verbose chef run blogs around — Eggbeater. I’d read her posts on opening a restaurant a few months ago, but hadn’t virtually earmarked it at the time. I’ve corrected that mistake now.

Stepping away from San Fran, I somehow overlooked that former Philly underground restaurant chef Shola Olunloyo had started a blog under the same name, Studio Kitchen.

An American in Paris, Daniel Rose, detailed the opening of his restaurant Spring in Paris. It was incredibly interesting until the posts stopped in late August, but the backlog is recommended for sure. I suspect the reason for nothing new is his success.

Moving away from chef blogs…

Law For Food has been talking a lot about Foie Gras recently. I like Foie Gras as you’ve seen, so I’ve followed this story closely through each years twists and turns and wear my shirt with unabashed pride.

Chews Wise “aims to shine a light on the food system and discuss where our food comes from and what we really want to eat.”

Last, there’s a new favorite, The Ethicurean which aside from this great article about Alice Waters , of whom you may offensively find out I am not a fan, led me to another new blog Edible Nation and this post about young famers in which they say:

“With no offense intended to my spunky, fiftysomething parents and their baby boomer friends, U.S. farmers are getting old. The national average has climbed to 55.3 years as of the last agricultural census in 2002 (the 2007 census is currently underway), and the trend is ever upward.”

If you read that and think “who cares,” then you need to seriously consider where your food will be coming from if all the U.S. farmers are gone.

Knowing Your Meat

happy pigI’ve inquired recently with a few farmers about whether I could see their slaughtering facilities and specifically the slaughtering itself. Generally, when I discuss this with most people (non-farmers), it is met with looks of horror, and is quickly followed by a question along the lines of “why would you want to see that?”

I guess I want to see it because I feel, at least on some moral level, that if I can’t watch say — a pig being slaughtered, then I don’t really have the right to eat it in the first place.

While catching up on my Next Iron Chef reading tonight after finally watching episode three this afternoon (go Cosentino!) Michael Ruhlman had also posted about this sentiment saying:

“…one of five things you should eat before you die is the meat of a freshly slaughtered animal, preferably having witnessed the slaughter.”

He then linked to this great essay at the New York Times about raising pigs for slaughter.

Barbara Kingsolver made what I consider to be a phenomenally great point in her book about people using different names for the commonly eaten meats than they use for the actual animal. (e.g. beef is cow, pork is pig)

What do you think? Is it important to understand where your meat comes from?