CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) are something many of us are familiar with. CSAs are programs where customers pay farmers to share in their harvest (usually in the form of a farm box that is delivered or picked up at a farmers market). But this model of purchasing food has gone beyond weekly bundles of squash and kale — I've seen weekly share programs evolve into meat, cheese and pasta CSAs. And now for the first time, a company in Boulder, CO has started something really new — a CSA for preserved goods.
With our recent focus on American farmers and growers it seems like this land we love has more than enough food to go around. If we took all the food harvested from American soil and distributed it evenly to all our citizens, would it be enough to go around?
Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States are used on animals to make them grow faster and to prevent disease in the crowded, unsanitary conditions of factory farms. With rising concerns about "superbugs," or bacteria resistant to antibiotics, many of us are looking for meat raised without antibiotics.
"It was so magical," Scott told me, as we drove from the train station to the farm. "A tempest was literally happening! [The actor playing] Prospero, the magician, was talking about his art and magic, and as he waved his hand, there was a flash of lightening outside! It couldn't have been better."
That's the first thing Scott Chaskey, poet-farmer of Long Island's Quail Hill Farm, wanted to talk about when I made my mid-summer visit to him earlier this week. For the second year in a row, six actors performed a play on the grounds of Quail Hill—this year was, obviously, The Tempest—and Scott went to all four performances. Shakespeare performances on a farm? Well, that's just one element of this farm's mid-summer swing.
By now you've almost certainly heard about the intense drought scorching much of the Midwest this summer. Clearly farmers and ranchers are feeling the effects of the drought most immediately, but the damage done this summer is likely to cause a ripple effect that touches us all, even as soon as next year. On Wednesday the USDA announced that food prices are set to increase between 3% and 4% in 2013 as a result of this summer's shortages, with poultry, milk and beef prices experiencing the greatest price hike.
All week long The Kitchn has focused on farms and farming, but we'd be remiss if we didn't mention one big farming trend to emerge in recent years: urban farming, specifically backyard chicken keeping. Chickens (and their coops) have become so popular that there are now multiple chicken coop tours around the country, like the Tour de Cluck, a 200-chicken-coops-in-16-miles biking expedition in Davis, California. These tours draw hundreds of chicken keepers and wanna-be chicken keepers, all pondering "the increasingly intense relationship among kitchen, coop and garden." You can just call 'em coop snoops!
Perhaps you have a healthy kitchen garden and chicken coop, and you are ready to move onto something a little more challenging. How about pigs? In The Washington Post, food writer and backyard pig farmer Tamar Haspel writes in fascinating detail about what it takes to set up your own backyard habitat for pigs.
Q: My husband is a farmer, and it's almost harvesting time. Any ideas on some good, non-sandwich based lunch items? Since he travels with a just lunchbox and blue ice, things that will spoil easily are out (mayo-based salad dressings, etc).
On a farm, the sound of birds singing isn't always a pleasant reminder of nature. It can also be the sound of an incoming pest, one that attacks crops at peak ripeness, damaging or decimating fruits before they can be harvested. Instead of turning to chemical poisons, some organic farmers are turning to birds' natural predators for help, enlisting falcons to patrol the fields. I recently met a falconer and a couple of his falcons and learned a little bit about what their work day on the farm looks like.
Are you intimidated by grass-fed beef? Along with being told that grass-feeding is better for the steers, better for the environment, and better for us to eat, we're also told that we need to be careful how we cook grass-fed beef. Which, when you take into account its significantly higher cost, can be downright intimidating. No one wants to mess up a $25 steak. Lynne Curry's new book Pure Beef: An Essential Guide to Artisan Meat with Recipes for Every Cut is here to help ease our minds and teach us all about cooking with grass-fed beef.