Monday, December 14, 2009

Why Choose Heritage Breeds?

There's a fantastic post by The Ethical Butcher on why choosing Heritage Breeds is crucial to developing sustainable meat production. 

From the article:

Every farm that is raising and selling heritage meats is one more that IS NOT a disgusting feedlot. As I stated earlier, the needs of these breeds make factory farming a non-option. They basically demand a farmer to revert to old methods, seasonality and bio-diversity. All of this requires respect, attentiveness and a connection to the earth and its cycles from the farmer. By raising far fewer animals, the problem of pollution from the waste products are greatly reduced. A natural diet lessens pressure to produce the corn and soy used in commercial feed, and therefore also lessens the amount of fossil fuels needed to transport these foods. All that waste only results in diseased animals.* Because heritage breeds eat good food, are given space to live their lives the way nature intended, and allowed to form familial bonds and have farmers deeply committed to their health, I can only imagine these animals are much happier than their industrial counterparts. At this point, most heritage breeds are raised on very small farms and so often become local products by default. Supporting these local farms bolsters local economies. It's like killing 10 birds with one stone. On a purely visceral level, it is not even worth comparing the flavor and texture of heritage breed meat to that of industrial breeds.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Animal Rights Groups Enter The Backyard Chicken-Keeping Fray

There is a new campaign by animal rights activists against backyard chicken-keeping.

These folks are well-intentioned, and their work is valuable. I was a vegetarian for twenty years primarily for ethical reasons and only went back to meat-eating when I discovered local, pasture-raised meat from animals that live as animals should. I have no ethical objection to the eating of meat, but I don’t want to eat an animal that has lived a life of misery ending only in a horrific death in a factory-farm slaughterhouse. But animal rights activists tend to believe meat-eating itself is unethical and therefore have an axe to grind when it comes to backyard chicken-keeping. They don't believe animals can ethically be used for food production, even when the animal isn't killed to produce the food. They advocate a vegan diet -- no eggs, no milk or cheese, no honey -- and their opinions and arguments are profoundly colored by this.  However, some of their concerns are valid, and those considering keeping chickens should be aware of these concerns.
  • There are no laws controlling methods by which breeding hens and roosters are kept, which means some hatcheries could be keeping them in small, crowded cages with no access to pasture.  Be sure to investigate where your chicks or fertile eggs for hatching come from; don't buy from any hatchery who mistreats breeding animals. Buy from a those who raise birds on pasture, just like you want to raise yours. Your best bet may be a small producer of heritage breeds, preferably someone local whom you can visit to see how the birds are treated.
  • Male chicks are not in demand for backyard flocks and may be mistreated because of their relative lack of value to a hatchery focussed on producing laying hens. Again, choose your hatchery carefully and don't buy from one that mistreats its male chicks.
  • Shipping day-old chicks is not ideal.  I don't know what kind of stress chicks experience in shipping, but while most chicks survive, it's probably a safe bet that no baby animal should ideally spend its first few days in a shipping box.  Again your best bet may be a small local producer of heritage breeds.
  • Roosters are often unwanted and sometimes illegal.  If you can't have or don't want roosters, have a plan for any bird that turns out to be male.  The producer who sold you your chicks may be willing to take the males to add to their flock of meat birds; ask ahead of time. Or you may be able to slaughter your unwanted males yourself or send them to be slaughtered.  It go should go without saying that dumping them on a shelter or otherwise abandoning them is not an ethical option.
  • Hens may be abandoned after they are no longer productive.  As an ethical backyard chicken-keeper, it's incumbent upon you to either treat your no-longer-productive hen as a valued pet, the same as you would an aging dog, or to either slaughter her yourself or send her to be slaughtered.  Have a plan in mind before you get your chickens.  
When push comes to shove, though, what's also true is that if you eat eggs, these problems are not ones that can be solved by not keeping your own chickens.  Producers of eggs, even those you buy at the farmers' markets, are probably getting their laying hens from the same hatchery as the chicks down at Tractor Supply.  So whether you get your eggs from Kroger, the farmers' market, or your own backyard, at some point some hatchery was likely involved.  Unless you are willing to give up eggs altogether -- which is what the animal rights groups want you to do -- keeping your own chickens is always going to be the best way to ensure you know how your eggs are produced.

These animal rights groups are asking supporters to actively oppose backyard chicken-keeping by attending meetings of their local city council, writing letters to the editor and to their government representatives, and talking to friends and neighbors. If you are waging a chicken-keeping fight in your town, be aware of this potential source of opposition.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Nomerati On Mayberry, Redux

Cincinnati Nomerati liked Mayberry (which sources locally) so much a couple of weeks ago that they went back for brunch and a second review. 

Mayberry on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 7, 2009

OEFFA Conference Feb. 13 & 14, Granville OH

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) will hold its 31st annual conference, Growing with Integrity, Eating with Intention, February 13-14, 2010 in Granville, Ohio at Granville Middle and High schools. The conference will feature keynote speakers Joel Salatin and Chef Ann Cooper; workshops; exhibitors; a kids’ conference; locally-sourced meals; a child care area; and Saturday evening entertainment.

Keynote speaker Joel Salatin is one of the best-known farmers of the sustainable food movement. Joel’s family farm in Swoope, VA serves more than 1,500 families, 10 retail outlets, and 30 restaurants with grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs, pork, forage-based rabbits, and pastured turkey.  In his Saturday evening talk, Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, Joel will get to the heart of the local food movement challenge. From zoning to food safety to insurance, local food systems face regulatory hurdles designed and implemented to benefit industrial food models. Joel will call for guerrilla marketing and other solutions.  Joel will also be speaking at an all-day pre-conference event, Ballet in the Pasture, on Friday, February 12, at which he will discuss how his farm’s choreographed plant-animal symbiosis heals the landscape, the community, and the eater.

Author and educator Chef Ann Cooper is an advocate for better food for all children. Chef Ann’s mission is to transform the National School Lunch Program through lunch menus emphasizing regional, organic, fresh foods, and nutritional education.  In her Sunday evening keynote address, Chef Ann will detail the importance of changing the way our children eat and why parents, schools, farmers, food service providers, and governments must work together.

In addition, the conference will feature more than 60 hands-on, educational workshops with topics including: cheese-making, becoming a successful farmers’ market vendor, off-grid energy production, goat husbandry, organic certification, weed control, successful farmers’ market management, social networking, green building, organic dairying, urban gardening, fruit production, organic grain production, pastured poultry, sustainable agriculture policy and grassroots organizing, soil testing, rain water harvesting, pruning, pork production, community kitchens, on-farm record-keeping, tree grafting, healthy lunch programs, green cleaning products, drip irrigation, worm composting, farming with horses, beekeeping, renewable energy, and cover crops.

The conference will also feature a kid’s conference offering a variety of workshops for children ages 6-12; a playroom for children under 6, a book signing by Joel Salatin, an exhibit hall offering an array of information, products, services and resources that relate to sustainable agriculture; and a Saturday evening film screening featuring King Corn’s Curt Ellis.

The Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1979 by farmers, gardeners, and conscientious eaters who committed to work together to create and promote a sustainable and healthful food and farming system.

To register or for more information about the conference, including maps, directions, workshops, speakers, and a schedule, visit the website or email Renee.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

CityBeat Podcast Featuring North Bend Beekeeper Richard Stewart

CityBeat's Stephen Carter-Novotni interviews Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm in North Bend about his bees in a forty-minute podcast.  Richard talks about the bees and his no-chemical approach during the first twenty-five minutes, and then photojournalist Andrea McLaughlin discusses her experiences learning about bees and beekeepers. Great listening!

Boulder Belt 2010 CSA Program

Boulder Belt Eco-Farm in Eaton is now accepting applications for their 2010 Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. That's the share they provided the last week of May this year.  Look at all those asparagus!  For complete details, visit the website.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Woodstone Creek Spirits Now Available Online

Woodstone Creek's bourbon and vodka are now available for online purchases through Binny's.  If you'd like to try them, the bourbon is served at Hugo, Nicholson's, and Chalk, and the vodka at Below Zero and Chalk.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mayberry Reviewed At Food Hussy

Every food blogger in town is checking out Mayberry (which sources locally); now it's Food Hussy's turn.

Mayberry on Urbanspoon

Montgomery Re-legalizes Chicken-Keeping

Montgomery's City Council last night voted unanimously (7-0) to re-legalize the keeping of chickens in the city, after criminalizing it in July.  Residents had objected to criminalizing an activity that was currently legal and had been causing no problems and provided City Council with extensive research showing that chicken-keeping was not a problem in suburban backyards, and City Council listened. Re-legalizing the practice required a public hearing and three readings of the amended ordinance. 

Chickens currently being kept illegally in Montgomery will once again be legal starting January 1st, under the following conditions:

  • No more than six chickens may be kept
  • No roosters will be allowed
  • Coops and enclosures must not be visible from the street, must be screened from neighboring properties by fencing or landscaping, and must adhere to setbacks and property maintenance codes.
Congratulations, Montgomery-ites!  Raising a little of our own food -- whether by planting a garden for vegetables or keeping chickens for eggs -- is a way to develop a more sustainable suburban lifestyle. And for freshness, quality, and knowing where your food comes from, you can't beat an egg laid a few hours ago by one of your own hens.

An announcement ("Hens Find A Home In Montgomery") and link to the new ordinance are available on the city's website.

Blue Oven Bread At Park+Vine Sunday Dec 6th

Local farmers Mark and Sara Frommeyer of Willamsburg's Blue Oven Bakery will be selling their wood-fired specialty holiday breads at Park+Vine from 1 p.m. until it's gone Sunday, Dec. 6. For more information contact Park+Vine at 513-721-7275.

No Impact Man Screenings

Two screenings of No Impact Man are scheduled next week on UC's campus.  The movie follows the one-year experiment by Colin Beavan (dragging his wife and toddler along for the ride) to try to live without impacting the environment -- eating locally and vegetarian, living without electricity, buying nothing but food, walking or bicycling everywhere, producing no garbage -- in Manhattan. 

University of Cincinnati
Monday, December 7
Swift Hall 500

Wednesday, December 9
MainStreet Cinema

Free; donations accepted to offset cost of screening. For information, contact Jeff Cobb at 937.287.7208 or by email.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Fresh Beef And Soup Hens At Green Acres

GreenAcres (8255 Spooky Hollow Rd in Indian Hill) will have fresh soup hens available December 11th ($2.50/lb) and fresh beef available the week of December 14th.  To place an order or for more information, call Peggy at 513.891.4227 or email her.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Review Of Lavomatic At Chickpeas, Please

Chickpeas, Please has done a review of Lavomatic, which sources locally.

Segoe Symposium On Smart Growth

The Segoe Symposium on Smart Growth at the University of Cincinnati on December 10th will feature a panel discussing the formation of the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, followed by Kami Pothukuchi, PhD, speaking about SEED Wayne (Sustainable Food Systems Education and Engagement in Detroit and Wayne State University), a campus-community partnership dedicated to building more sustainable food systems. She'll discuss her research on the links between food and community & economic development, including urban agriculture, community food assessments, local policy and planning.

Panel at 5:30, speaker at 6:30, local foods reception hosted by Slow Food Cincinnati at 7:30 featuring small bites and local wines.  Niehoff Urban Studio at 2728 Vine St. in the Short Vine area of Corryville. Free, but email for reservations.

2010 Native Bee Calendar

The Great Sunflower Project is offering the 2010 North American Native Bee Calendar as a fundraiser.  The calendar has twelve of the most common bee genera and descriptions to help you learn to identify your garden's bees. Photographs are by Rollin Coville. All proceeds go to supporting the Sunflower Project.

$14.00 (including shipping). Order here.