Monday, August 18, 2014

Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Farmers!

Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Farmers!

A recent New York Times article made a case that parents should not let their children grow up to be farmers for lots of reasons, and there is some truth to the writer’s arguments. Some of the same reasons that make it sometimes really tough, are the same reasons we love the life we live. But it’s not for everybody.

The basic premise of the article is that in spite of the collective interest in the local food movement, there is still not much financial benefit for the farmer. This is basically true. Most all the food farmers we know around the country, are paying their bills and making a living. The corporate cheap food policy in the US does in fact set the commodity price for each and every food item. Then the perceived attributes of local, organic, fair trade, etc. beg our society for just and fair compensation. The reality is, the market will only bear so much for all the added value we deliver. So our job is to take a countless number of variables combined with sporadic weather patterns and produce wholesome food, but we do not get to name the price. As the next generation grows up and works their way in, the need for more revenue motivates the operation to diversify and simplify and modernize and market their food, all at the same time. With your support through the CSA Farm Share program, our business is sound and making plans for the next generation, but capitalization of expansion and re-tooling systems is expensive.  In farming circles, we recognize that we are land rich and cash poor. And, we have to work long hours for low pay, in order to maintain that richness.

The other basic premise of the article is that farming involves close contact with things that are heavy or cold or dusty or wet. This is all true, but they have little to do with why farmers like being farmers. The worse the weather, the longer we are out in it. A summer storm can drop tree limbs on fences, or a snowstorm may drift several feet up against the barn door, making it impassable, but that is no reason not to farm; it simply means you get out there a little early with a can-do attitude and tend to your work. When we bale the hay in the heat of summer, we are thinking about how precious it will be in the barn to nurture the next generation of animals, not how tired and hot we are. When we have to assist an animal during delivery, it might seem unpleasant to some, but to us, it’s as close to Mother Nature as it gets. So if a little adversity and unpredictability bother you, then you better stay away from farming. Ironically, that may be one reason we do it. Once your relationship with Nature takes place, it’s the greatest way there is to spend time. Refer to a previous newsletter on Chores vs. Work.

So all that being said, should you let your child grow up to be a farmer? First of all, if they are afforded a taste for it, and like it, then they should be encouraged to see if it gets in their blood. If they have the drive to evolve to a type of farming suitable to them, they can have a great lifestyle. With a sound financial footing underneath at the start, there is a better likelihood of success. There are many programs aimed at assisting young people to get into farming, but the financial burden often seems too overwhelming. We do need more young farmers in this country. And we need to figure out a way to support them.  The Annual Slow Money Conference will be in Louisville, November 10-12 this year, with food being a thread throughout the program. With a powerful program offered, we hope to gain some insight on bettering the local food system. Hopefully some you will go as well, as we need to all work together to make farming a chosen occupation and lifestyle for our children.

In Your Share :

Sweet Corn
Fresh Herb
Bell Pepper
Summer Squash


Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers, thanks to a CSA member for sharing this internet recipe, she reports using several types of peppers with equal success. 
1 pound ground beef (or cooked chicken or turkey)
1 oz taco seasoning
¾ C water
2 tsp chili powder
½ C cooked rice
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
16 oz tomato sauce, divided
3 large red bell peppers
6 (1 inch) cubes Colby-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.   Place the ground beef into a skillet over medium heat, and brown the meat, breaking it apart into crumbles as it cooks, about 8 minutes. Drain excess fat. Stir in the taco seasoning, water, chili powder, cooked rice, salt, garlic salt, black pepper, and half of the tomato sauce (8oz); mix until thoroughly combined. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove stems, membranes, cores, and seeds. Place a steamer insert into a large saucepan, and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place the peppers into the steamer insert, cover the pan, and steam until just tender, 3 to 5 minutes.  (This can be done if the microwave).

Place the steamed peppers into the prepared baking dish, and fill lightly with the meat filling. Press 1 cube of Colby-Jack cheese into the center of the filling in each pepper, and spoon the remaining 8 oz. of tomato sauce over the peppers. Cover the dish with aluminum foil.   Bake in the preheated oven until the peppers are tender and the filling is hot, 25 to 30 minutes.

Easley’s Slaw, from Revel: Junior League of Shreveport
1 large or 2 small heads cabbage, shredded
1 large white onion, cut into rings
1 C less 2 T sugar
2 T sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 T salt
1 tsp mustard seed
1 C vinegar
½ C oil

Pour 1 C less 2 T sugar over cabbage and onions.  Set aside while making sauce.  Mix all other ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil.  Pour over cabbage immediately.  Blend well.  Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours – can be kept up to 1 week refrigerated.

Scalloped Potatoes, Revel: Junior League of Shreveport
1 C diced onions
½ C celery leaves
¼ C parsley
3 T flour
3T butter
1 ½ tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 ½ C milk
4 large potatoes, peeled, boiled 30 minutes, sliced
1 ½ C grated sharp Cheddar cheese

Mix first 8 ingredients in blender.  Place potato slices in buttered oven-proof casserole dish.  Pour mixture over potatoes, top with cheese.  Bake at 350°F for 1 hour.  Serves 8.

Pepper Pasta, serves 6-8
2-3 large bell peppers
3 lbs chicken cut in 2-
inch pieces
salt and lemon pepper, to taste
1/4 C oil
6 green onions, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, pressed
1 lb hot, cooked fettucine
1/4 C bottled teriyaki sauce
1/4 C soy sauce
ground black pepper, to taste

Cut bell peppers into strips. Generously season chicken with salt and lemon pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté green onions and garlic 1 minute to soften; don’t brown. Add chicken. Stir-fry 5 minutes. Add bell peppers; sauté 3 minutes. Add teriyaki sauce and soy sauce; cover, reduce heat to low, and steam 2-3 minutes, until peppers are tender but not soft. Pour mixture over pasta in serving dish. Season with pepper. Serve hot.

Herbed Tomato Salad
1/4 C olive oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 T chopped onion
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp fresh chopped herbs
3 large ripe tomatoes

Combine oil, juice, salt, pepper, onion, garlic, paprika and herbs in jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake; refrigerate 30 minutes. Slice tomatoes, pour the dressing over and serve.

Cucumber Yogurt Dressing
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2/3 C plain, unsweetened yogurt
2 T minced red onion
1 T toasted sesame oil or olive oil
2 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp chopped fresh dill

Puree cucumber, yogurt, onion, oil, vinegar, salt and dill in blender until creamy and smooth. Chill 2 hours. Serve over salad greens, use as dip for raw vegetables, or use as condiment on sandwiches. Makes 1 ½ C.

Easy No-Cook Tomato Sauce
4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 T olive oil
3/4 tsp each salt and sugar
½  tsp ground pepper
1½ - 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Process to make a rough textured sauce. Adjust seasoning to taste. Makes about 1½ C sauce. Use on pasta or as condiment. Variations: Add 1/4 C chopped fresh basil; 1/4 C chopped Greek or Italian olives plus 1 ½ tsp finely grated orange peel; ½ C feta cheese plus 3/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary; or 3 T capers plus 2 T chopped parsley.