Category Archives: Farms

AgLocal Joins the Conscientious Consumer Movement

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Newly launched AgLocal sources and delivers humane and naturally raised meat from family farms throughout the West Coast to your door. 

The company is joining the movement toward more conscious consumerism by sourcing high quality, responsibly raised meat from family farms throughout the West Coast and delivering it directly to consumers’ doorsteps. Seeking to create demand for sustainable, trustworthy meats, AgLocal’s model ultimately empowers more farms to thrive – bringing profitability back to American agriculture while resulting in delivering better meat to consumers.

AgLocal’s mission is to bring healthier, tastier meats that are better for consumers and the environment.  With fewer full time farmers able to maintain profitability in an economy of rising costs for land, feed and food, AgLocal provides a platform where responsible ranching practices are rewarded through providing a larger platform of demand for trustworthy meat.

“We are thrilled to bring this concept throughout the West Coast, to customers who share the same like-minded vision as we do when it comes to locally farmed meats,” says Naithan Jones, CEO of AgLocal. “We are seeking to level the playing field for independent farms by providing access to resources, fair market pricing, and a viable marketplace while delivering customers with a convenient and transparent way to receive good meat from good farmers. By purchasing a subscription, our customers join the movement to help community farms thrive.”

Currently, AgLocal is focused on working with farms throughout the West Coast to service consumers in the regions. Example farms include Devil’s Gulch (Nicasio, CA) SunFed Ranch (Sacramento, CA) and Anderson Ranch (Brownsville, OR). With a farm sourcing team, AgLocal researchers and meets directly with farms to vet and affirm sustainable livestock production that takes into account the health of the land, animals, and community. The team’s goal is to work with each farmer and reduce the challenge of selling whole animals to the public.

AgLocal offers four, monthly-subscription lifestyle-based subscription boxes to meet the culinary needs of consumers.  The versatile product line and easy to master recipes included in each box bring AgLocal’s farms to consumers forks in a delicious, healthy and fun way, while most importantly, highlighting the producers that raise the meat.

The convenience of AgLocal’s monthly subscription model and lifestyle-based boxes provides consumers with direct access to better meat. A small box subscription contains 4-7 lbs. of high quality meat for $85, while a large box subscription for $150 contains 10-14 lbs. of meat, delivered monthly to consumer’s doorsteps.  Each box is packaged in the San Francisco warehouse. The meat is shipped frozen, unless otherwise specified.

How Slow Food SF Members Can get Involved

-Hungry? Interested customers can sign up now on the AgLocal website by selecting and purchasing a subscription box.

-Want to Blog about Sustainable Meat? The AgLocal Blog, “Pasture to Plate” is looking for guest bloggers. If interested, please send an email to ep@aglocal.com

-Have a favorite farm? Let AgLocal know! We are busily growing our farm database and would love to hear about your favorite farms. Please write to support@aglocal.com

 

About AgLocal

Launched in San Francisco in 2013, AgLocal is a conscious company dedicated to rewarding responsible ranchers and consumers by sourcing sustainably raised meat and delivering it directly to customer’s doorsteps in a monthly subscription format. AgLocal’s goal is to provide extremely high quality meat at a worthwhile investment to sustain American agriculture at its finest, and bring profitability back into the ranching process, while providing consumers with a more healthy meat product.  For more information, please visit www.aglocal.com

Our Homes, Our Food

I’ve had several conversations about what the most recent housing crisis will mean for American culture and that persistent, driving dream. Note well that the Great Depression of our past was similarly marked by foreclosures and a national conversation about how to protect homeowners. Out of this discussion came a more convinced country that homes were our greatest assets and that we must defend homeownership. The government created the thirty year mortgage, provided subsidies for suburban living, backed home loans, and created an agency to rate neighborhood values and stability to inform loan policies. With housing once again in a state of collapse, what will our national debate bring this time? My father is optimistic that we will no longer look to our houses to provide us with capital leverage but to provide us with a home. I am a bit more skeptical. Housing construction is still read as an index of growth and renting is still, on average, more expensive than owning. Anything less than owning land in a nice zip code is considered indecent and perhaps immoral.

But what does the home mean for the 35% of U.S. households that participate in food gardening? In the New York Times Magazine today, Peggy Orenstein made a compelling argument that some of the zeal for the household scale farm comes from a group embracing the ideas of “femivorism.” Femivorism provides stay-at-home moms the opportunity to find autonomy and satisfying labor at home (in addition, of course, to the satisfaction of having a family). It is a way for families to come closer to sustainability while negotiating gender equity. Orenstein warns that even the wires of a chicken coop can be confining in the end but overall she seems impressed with the efforts of homemakers to completely challenge the idea of home. I too admire that radical rethinking and I think it offers a window of hope for Americans to save the meaning of home, the process of housing. But my skepticism always finds a reason to worry. While I think it is important work to reclaim our homes, our foods chains, and our families I am worried it represents a retreat from public life. As Orenstein notes, it is often the earnings of the husband, modest but critical, which makes possible this movement. But this is not always possible. Families with less money, single parents, renters, and other groups face a huge obstacle when it comes to home farming. I worry this obstacle will only continue to grow if we stand by and allow our public goods to be privatized, watching the death of our public safety net, the same net that was shakily born out of the Great Depression. We must not value the homemaker over the service worker. We must not forget that the need to fight for labor protections, a fair minimum wage, and other social services still exists. This steady informalization of the workforce is something UC Berkeley Professor Ananya Roy has termed the feminization of labor. It seems the house is now the respectable place for the feminist female to occupy herself, whereas the workforce is for less valued members of society. I certainly do not blame the various new food movements for these developments. I blame all of us. We must find an effective way to give everyone the opportunity not necessarily to own houses and create capital but to make a home in the fullest sense of the word while supporting a strong public sector.

Behind the Organic Label

For those who fight for access to organic goods, it is a relief that at last the USDA Organic label on our milk will mean that the cows had more than just ‘access’ to pastures. The requirement that organic livestock be provided access to pasture had often been abused by large dairies as a poorly written loophole. But the passage has been updated to specify the terms of access. As The New York Times reported February 12,

“The new regulations, which go into effect in June, are much more specific. They say that animals must graze on pasture for the full length of the local grazing season. The season will be determined by local conditions and agriculture authorities, like organic certifiers or county conservation officials, not by the dairy alone. While the grazing season must last at least 120 days, in many areas it will be much longer. The rules also say that animals must get at least 30 percent of their food from pasture during the grazing season.”

All in all, it is a victory for organic. Large dairies will now have to do what small dairies were often already doing and consumers can have a bit more confidence in the organic label. But one thing left unmentioned by both the Times and Marion Nestle’s victorious entry for The Atlantic  is the role these local “agriculture authorities” will actually play. Of course the nature of these bodies will vary depending on location but just to offer an example of what agriculture authorities may entail and the incredible extent of poorly written legal documents, I would like to draw your attention to Ohio. The voters of Ohio recently approved a constitutional amendment creating the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board. This board was presented as a humanely-minded regulatory body that would improve conditions for farm animals. And who wouldn’t vote for that, even if it is in the rather extreme form of a constitutional amendment? Fortunately, the more sinister details of the issue have begun to enter the public debate. To start, the body is not an elected one. It is comprised of the state department head of agriculture as well as ten individuals appointed by the governor meant to represent family farms (left undefined), consumers, veterinarians, and “someone who is knowledgeable about food safety.” These individuals are then given the authority to set the standards of care. The constitutional article tries to include details that would deflect criticism aimed at the reach of the Board with notes like, “The state department that regulates agriculture shall have the authority to administer and enforce the standards established by the Board.” I’m not sure how comforting that should be when the head of that same department sits on the Board. Fortunately, there is a move to put this amendment back on the ballot because, even if the Board does not become a reflection of big agriculture business, there is no accountability or opportunity for citizen participation.

This is not to say the new USDA requirements are not a victory. They are/ It is just to point out that phrases like “the season will be determined by local conditions and agriculture authorities, like organic certifiers or county conservation officials, not by the dairy alone” should be considered carefully. County conservation officials sounds good. As do livestock care standards. But the mechanisms are intentionally obscure to deter individual resistance. Inform yourself about your local management bodies.

Read Up:             http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/res.cfm?ID=128_SJR_6 http://food.theatlantic.com/nutrition/organic-milk-loophole-closed.php http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/13/business/13organic.html?scp=1&sq=pasture%20rules&st=cse

“The Biggest Civil Rights Settlement” Goes Unpaid

Discriminatory land use policies have left a legacy of inequality that has yet to be rectified. Though the labor of slaves and later sharecroppers helped support American agriculture, African Americans were often denied access to land as well as to many of the processes of wealth accumulation that allowed the concentration of capital necessary to support a farm. For example, practices of red-lining, managed by the Homeowners Loan Corporation, ranked neighborhoods and prevented the black homeowner from acquiring the same line of credit and advantageous mortgage terms. On top of this economic isolation, racially restrictive covenants maintained a physical separation. Many deeds still include clauses on race, specifically forbidding black, Jewish, or Asian families from owning the home. These are the mechanisms that met black migrants moving from the South to the North in order to escape the oppression of sharecropping. Northern manufacturing cities actively recruited young black males. Once in these cities, they were pushed into poorly maintained parts of the city. For decades, the presumed inability of blacks to assimilate and follow the concentric model of social mobility by which other minorities began life in the inner city but steadily moved out toward the suburb, was blamed on the black population and a “culture of poverty.” It wasn’t until a 1945 publication entitled Black Metropolis by Drake and Cayton that scholars began to acknowledge the institutionalization of racism that created both economic and geographic inequities. Not only did the government have its hand in persistent poverty but it, along with big business, also had its hand in dispossessing African Americans of land.

The National Black Farmers Association is still fighting to gain recognition for the discrimination faced by the black farmer. In what The New York Times calls the “biggest civil rights settlement in American history,” black farmers won a settlement of $2 billion as payment for subsidies and loans that had been denied them due to racism. That class-action suit was in 1999 and the payments have yet to be made. President Obama has requested that payments be included in the new budget and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has stated his commitment to righting this wrong. But, as the February 7th New York Times editorial details, this same budget proposal was included and denied last year. The National Black Farmers Association is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Its president, John W. Boyd Jr. led a rally in Washington D.C. today as the end of a string of rallies held across the South. He is asking that the outstanding $1.15 billion be included in the budget.

Clearly, the struggle for civil rights is far from over. The phrase “forty acres and a mule” stands as a reminder of our unfulfilled promise. It is a promise of a land that is my land, your land. It is a promise where the mountaintop meets the farm.