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40 Acres and a Mule

Lately, I have been thinking about the phrase, “40 acres and a mule.”  My perspective of what this actually may have looked like, back in the 1800s when our government was giving out land, is colored by the fact that part of our farm is horse powered. Although my hunch is that not all of those 40 acres were being farmed, I can pretty much guarantee that that farmer/mule team was always moving J. 

At the last National American Farm Bureau (AFB) convention in Seattle, the AFB president said, “There are those in America that want us to return to the days of 40 acres and mule,” and, of course, he followed up with, “and we are not going back there.”  Why was he making such a big deal about not going back to 40 acres and mule? Everyone knows that only a few of us farmers are using real horse power and the rest are using John Deere or Case or Kubota or New Holland. 

I believe the reason the AFB president made this statement is because the public—yes, the consumer—prefers to eat food from smaller family farms like mine.  But the reality is that most of our food comes from mega farms and mega corporations, and their mega operations are not nearly as pretty and picturesque as my farm.  In fact, our beef cows actually eat real green grass, and our vegetables are raised more like a family garden, and our family lives and works on our farm.  I highly doubt that the presidents of mega food operations have ever farmed in their lives. I do believe that the founders of those mega farms probably did farm and did manage the farms directly, but today all the decisions are made from a corporate boardroom.

But what is the rub? Why did the AFB president call out “40 acres and a mule?” I believe it has to do with advertising—dishonest advertising. In fact, one could argue that it is a case of stolen identity.

Whoa Katie (that’s my draft horse’s name)!!! What do I mean? Well, if you look at all the advertising around meat products (a.k.a., the protein industry), for example, what do you see?  Cows on grass, a beautiful old barn in the background, and a barnyard of different farm animals. In fact, you could very well be looking at a picture of an old time farm run by a farm family and a mule. (Hmmm, that looks like the Klesick Family Farm.) All of the advertising by mega operations implies that they are still raising animals just like grandpa did prior to 1940.  Yet, if the American corporate farm is so proud of their food, why don’t they advertise pictures of their factories and factory farms? Why do they have to advertise their products with a picture of grandpa’s farm? The fact is, it would hurt their sales and quite possibly require them to change the way they raise food. 

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to the way corporate America raises food. We always hear how American farmers raise the safest and most healthy food in the world. If America’s food is so great then why are Americans so sickly? So I say to corporate America, “If you are so proud of your products and you believe in your farming practices, then advertise your feedlots, your hog operations, and chicken farms for what they are and let the consumer decide what food is healthy and what food they want to buy. Just quit hiding behind my farm!”

Tristan Klesick

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On the hunt

by Ashley Rodriquez

I have recently become aware of a sub-culture that exists in the ever growing world of food lovers. The people that exist in this culture are passionate, determined, generous, adventurous, tough, gentle and secretive. They are at times self-less and giving and conversely elusive and greedy. For the mushroom hunter, finding the perfect specimen is the ultimate priority but to share their find and to introduce one to the often secretive world of the forager – well, they are just too darn excited and in love with the fungi not to.

Our day of foraging happened a couple of weeks ago while the sun was still warm and the heirloom Brandywine Tomatoes plucked from the garden prior to leaving, were at their peak. The English language lacks the words to describe the honor and privilege I felt to be a part of this expedition. A permanent grin painted my face as I spent the day with some incredibly passionate local foragers.

In all honesty, my lust for mushrooms is a recent development. As a child I would meticulously peel them off my pizza, remove them from strogonoff and avoid them in stews. I still get slightly squeamish at the texture but can greatly appreciate the depth they lend to many of my dishes. But it wasn’t until taking the proper actions in order to seek out the mushroom rather than simply grabbing them from the store that I was able to truly appreciate fungi.

I have come to honor the mushroom not just for its unmistakable flavor that it imparts but because I now understand it much better (with infinitely more to learn). I have discovered where they come from, the care taken to properly find the best variety and the work needed in order for them to be a part of my dinner.

The more I come to learn about food the more I fall deeper in love with it. Good food is both simple and incredibly complex. The good news for us is that if we choose to select and seek out “good food” – food that is seasonal, often local and grown with skill and passion – then much of the work is done for us and it’s quite easy to convert that food into an unforgettably delicious meal.

Ashley Rodriguez is a chef, food blogger, and full-time mom. You can read more of her writings at www.notwithoutsalt.com

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Crimini Pilaf

by Ashley Rodriguez

This is a simple vegetarian side dish that is quick to throw together. If you prefer you can use chicken stock but I’m really hoping you all have vegetable stock in your freezer after the newsletter I wrote a couple of months ago. 🙂

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white part sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups quartered crimini mushrooms
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups vegetable broth (homemade is best!)
1/2 teaspoon salt (unless the broth you use is very salty)
Fresh cracked black pepper 

Directions

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter and olive oil. When butter has melted add leeks and minced garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes.
Add crimini mushrooms. Cook 3 minutes or until mushrooms soften slightly.
Stir in rice, cook until rice becomes slightly translucent. Stirring occasionally to make sure rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. About 4 minutes.  Rice may brown slightly.
Stir in vegetable broth, bring to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp salt.  Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and let cook 20-25 minutes.
Taste. Add more salt if needed. Sprinkle with some fresh cracked black pepper.  Stir. Serve.

adapted from lifeambrosia.com

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"Share the Good" Contest

This is a time of year when people are making lifestyle changes for good. We all start to focus on maintaining healthy eating, exercise and setting goals for ourselves to keep us eating healthy. However, there are so many others—friends, family members, and neighbors—who could benefit from the fresh variety of fruits and veggies that you’ve been enjoying!  This season, we want to partner with you in the goal to share the good!

Many new customers join our team of faithful customers at this time every year, and many of those new customers are referrals from you! We are always so excited when a new customer signs up and gets on board with “a box of good” that we send out a thank you gift! Be it one of our incredible coffees, artisan sourdough breads, or delicious products from Sweet Creek Foods, we send out one of these offerings to both the new customer and the existing customer that referred them to us!

This has been a fun way for you to sample some of our product offerings, and yet we decided to make it even more fun for you to refer your friends. We are having a “Share the Good” contest! From now through the month of February, not only will you receive the standard thank you gift for your referrals, but for every two people you refer, your name will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win one of three unique prizes!

Chocolate Lovers Cookie Box
A completely unique, beautiful gift package of Breadfarm’s most delicious chocolate concoctions
Cocoa Nibs
Espresso Shortbread
Chocolate Thumbprints
Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Breakfast Selection
½ lb. of Camano Island Coffee Roasters’ Coffee of the Month
Artisan Chuckanut Multigrain Bread
Local Organic Eggs, 1 doz.
Local Creamed Honey, 12 oz.
2 jars of Fruit Spread, 10 oz. each

Lunch Assortment
Artisan Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread
Albacore Tuna, 7.5 oz.
Dill Pickles, 16 oz.
Peanut Butter, 16 oz.
Fruit Spread, 10 oz.

The prize drawing will take place February 26 and winners will be notified immediately thereafter.

We are excited about making your referrals more rewarding! So spread the word! Share the good!

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Beet Salad

Ingredients

1 head lettuce, chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1 ¾ cups (14 oz.) sliced pickled beets, drained
½ red onion, chopped
½ cup walnuts
½ lb sunchokes, sliced in thin rounds
½ cup crumbled feta cheese, optional
½ lb snow peas cut into bite-sized chunks 

Directions

Toast walnuts in a small pan over medium heat, 3 to 4 minutes, then let them cool
Combine chopped lettuce, spinach, beets, onion, and toasted walnuts in a salad bowl
Arrange sliced sunchokes, feta cheese and snow peas on top
Dress salad with your favorite homemade vinaigrette, or use the recipe for Blood Orange Vinaigrette, below

Serves 4

adapted by Marty Cedarland

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Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (regular orange juice will work here)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions

In a small jar with a tight-fitting cover, combine the orange juice, vinegar, mustard, honey and pepper
Cover and shake well until combined
To store, refrigerate for up to 1 week
Shake orange vinaigrette well before serving

from www.vinaigretterecipes.com

Posted on

"Share the Good" Contest

This is a time of year when people are making lifestyle changes for good. We all start to focus on maintaining healthy eating, exercise and setting goals for ourselves to keep us eating healthy. However, there are so many others—friends, family members, and neighbors—who could benefit from the fresh variety of fruits and veggies that you’ve been enjoying!  This season, we want to partner with you in the goal to share the good!

Many new customers join our team of faithful customers at this time every year, and many of those new customers are referrals from you! We are always so excited when a new customer signs up and gets on board with “a box of good” that we send out a thank you gift! Be it one of our incredible coffees, artisan sourdough breads, or delicious products from Sweet Creek Foods, we send out one of these offerings to both the new customer and the existing customer that referred them to us!

This has been a fun way for you to sample some of our product offerings, and yet we decided to make it even more fun for you to refer your friends. We are having a “Share the Good” contest! From now through the month of February, not only will you receive the standard thank you gift for your referrals, but for every two people you refer, your name will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win one of three unique prizes!

Chocolate Lovers Cookie Box
A completely unique, beautiful gift package of Breadfarm’s most delicious chocolate concoctions
Cocoa Nibs
Espresso Shortbread
Chocolate Thumbprints
Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Breakfast Selection
½ lb. of Camano Island Coffee Roasters’ Coffee of the Month
Artisan Chuckanut Multigrain Bread
Local Organic Eggs, 1 doz.
Local Creamed Honey, 12 oz.
2 jars of Fruit Spread, 10 oz. each

Lunch Assortment
Artisan Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread
Albacore Tuna, 7.5 oz.
Dill Pickles, 16 oz.
Peanut Butter, 16 oz.
Fruit Spread, 10 oz.

The prize drawing will take place February 26 and winners will be notified immediately thereafter.

We are excited about making your referrals more rewarding! So spread the word! Share the good!

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Judge Tristan Klesick??

Last week, I attended the American Farm Bureau (AFB) National Conference which was held in Seattle. The AFB hasn’t held its national conference in Seattle since the 1950s.  Normally I wouldn’t head off to an AFB convention, but it was so close to home that I decided to go.  It didn’t hurt either that the local agricultural bank I work with asked me to come and be a judge at one of the AFB contests.

I served as a judge for the Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet.  Essentially, these are the future leaders of American Agriculture and they are competing in a mock policy meeting. The goal is for the participants to demonstrate their abilities to communicate and build consensus around a certain question that is asked of the group. Each group is made up of four to five participants.  This is a big deal and the winner has had to win their state competition and then has to compete with the best from every other state at the national convention.  The winner takes home a brand new Dodge 4×4 pick up. Needless to say, there were some motivated participants.

The question my group was asked to debate was (paraphrased):  We know that the American food supply is the safest in the world, but how do we get that message out to the public?

This was a pretty loaded question and the participants (three men and one woman) discussed it for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, I was ushered off to a “secret” room to tally my scores and turn in my evaluations. 

Sadly, I do not necessarily agree with the presupposition that America’s food supply is the safest in the world.  I certainly do not believe that our system produces the healthiest food in the world.  Our entire focus as a nation has been to direct national farm policy towards cheap grain and, consequently, cheap and empty calories. And because of this national policy we have created an industrial farm model that doesn’t value quality, nutrition or variety, but values quantity and control of our food supply.  And I, personally, believe that this focus has weakened the safety of our food supply and the quality of our food supply to the point that it drastically impacts our educational systems and health care industries in America. 

I would contend that if American farmers were producing healthy food we wouldn’t have a national healthcare crisis and we would not have children “bouncing off the walls” from being fed a high sugar and overly processed food diet.

Thankfully, the organic farmer has stood up and said, “We are going to grow food that is filled with health and nutrition!”  It is not easy to farm organically, it takes more labor and applying minerals and compost to our fields cost more money. But, if we are going to have a healthy food supply, the soil has to have the nutrients available to grow and raise the healthiest fruits and vegetables Americans and everyone else in this world deserve to eat.

Tristan

Posted on

Judge Tristan Klesick??

Last week, I attended the American Farm Bureau (AFB) National Conference which was held in Seattle. The AFB hasn’t held its national conference in Seattle since the 1950s.  Normally I wouldn’t head off to an AFB convention, but it was so close to home that I decided to go.  It didn’t hurt either that the local agricultural bank I work with asked me to come and be a judge at one of the AFB contests.

I served as a judge for the Young Farmer and Rancher Discussion Meet.  Essentially, these are the future leaders of American Agriculture and they are competing in a mock policy meeting. The goal is for the participants to demonstrate their abilities to communicate and build consensus around a certain question that is asked of the group. Each group is made up of four to five participants.  This is a big deal and the winner has had to win their state competition and then has to compete with the best from every other state at the national convention.  The winner takes home a brand new Dodge 4×4 pick up. Needless to say, there were some motivated participants.

The question my group was asked to debate was (paraphrased):  We know that the American food supply is the safest in the world, but how do we get that message out to the public?

This was a pretty loaded question and the participants (three men and one woman) discussed it for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, I was ushered off to a “secret” room to tally my scores and turn in my evaluations. 

Sadly, I do not necessarily agree with the presupposition that America’s food supply is the safest in the world.  I certainly do not believe that our system produces the healthiest food in the world.  Our entire focus as a nation has been to direct national farm policy towards cheap grain and, consequently, cheap and empty calories. And because of this national policy we have created an industrial farm model that doesn’t value quality, nutrition or variety, but values quantity and control of our food supply.  And I, personally, believe that this focus has weakened the safety of our food supply and the quality of our food supply to the point that it drastically impacts our educational systems and health care industries in America. 

I would contend that if American farmers were producing healthy food we wouldn’t have a national healthcare crisis and we would not have children “bouncing off the walls” from being fed a high sugar and overly processed food diet.

Thankfully, the organic farmer has stood up and said, “We are going to grow food that is filled with health and nutrition!”  It is not easy to farm organically, it takes more labor and applying minerals and compost to our fields cost more money. But, if we are going to have a healthy food supply, the soil has to have the nutrients available to grow and raise the healthiest fruits and vegetables Americans and everyone else in this world deserve to eat.

Tristan

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Zucchini & Potato Bake

Serves 6

Ingredients
2 medium zucchini, quartered and cut into large pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
Paprika to taste
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
In a medium baking pan, toss together the zucchini, potatoes, red bell pepper, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper.
Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and lightly brown.

from www.allrecipes.com