Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Jen's Turkey Update and Yay for All the Good Things Happening!

I wanted to give an update on my Thanksgiving turkey for those of you interested! I talked on the phone with Dominic last night and he mentioned my blog post about the heritage breed turkey I cooked for Thanksgiving. Dominic sort of admonished me, “You trotted out the thing they always say about heritage and free-range turkeys. The truth is they’re turkeys—you don’t have to do anything special, just cook ‘em!” I sheepishly agreed, “I know, I know, but I read you need to brine and take special care, blah blah blah!” Despite what I’d read, in the end my turkey was seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper and thrown in the oven. And despite a lack of tedious and intricate prep steps, it was incredibly delicious and juicier than any turkey I’d ever tasted.

Dom and I talked about all the good things going on at his farm and in the food and farm world. Dom mentioned he had recently read about one of Farm Aid’s sponsors, Chipotle. As a pork farmer and a good food aficionado, Dom is excited about Chipotle’s work to source their meat products from sustainable family farms. Chipotle started out with pork and now they’re sourcing some of their chicken from family farms too. They plan to serve 40 million pounds of sustainably-raised meat this year. A recent article outlines how they’re trying to regionalize their sourcing, so when you order a pork taco at a Chipotle in West Virginia, the pork you eat comes from a farm in West Virginia. 40 million pounds a year! And as more and more people demand family-farm food, companies are stepping up to deliver it.

It’s a fantastic circle – you discover the benefits of eating local, organic, sustainably-raised, family farm food and you seek it out. You tell your friends, they seek it out. They tell their friends, they seek it out. And so on and so on. As people get more and more interested in their food, some decide to become farmers themselves and new farmers are grown! It’s a process--it’s not something that happens overnight. But it is happening!

Recently here at Farm Aid a staff member said, “Ok, being green is all the rage. What’s the NEXT thing?” We all looked at her blankly and reminded her what we’re often reminded of here in our work: When you’re starting to get sick of the message, it’s just starting to be heard. For us, there’s no next thing… this just keeps on going and we keep working so that it gets bigger and bigger. We still have work to do to demonstrate the connection between being green and supporting family farmers. But darn it if we’re not just a bit excited that it seems like the message is really getting out there, to a broader public than ever before. People want food from family farms and they’re going straight to farmers for it. Companies like Chipotle are going straight to family farmers too. It makes people like Dom and I just a bit giddy. Giddy and, all of sudden, hungry! Luckily, I’ve still got Thanksgiving leftovers!

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