5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.
Josh Smith is the executive chef of Local Roots in Roanoke, Virginia - and the restaurant is just as its name implies.
The farm-to-table eatery supports and utilizes locally-sourced produce and meats to crank out modern American cuisine with classic Virginian touches. (Did someone say pimento cheese?)
For Smith, the local food movement has taken root. He's livin' la vida locavore and encourages you all to do the same.
Five Reasons to Use Local Farmers: Josh Smith
1. It keeps the restaurant's money in the local economy.
"Why spend money on products from across the country or even across the world when you can feature ingredients from a farmer down the road from the restaurant? I would much rather support someone like Craig Rogers at Border Springs Farm than someone who can’t even place Virginia on a map."
2. Building personal relationships lead to the farmers growing heirloom seeds and raising heritage breeds for the restaurant.
"The rise of heirloom vegetables and animal breeds is one of the most exciting things happening right now in the culinary and farming world. It has become that way because of the personal relationships that chefs have created with local farmers across the country. It’s incredible that this partnership is changing the way that Americans are eating."
3. Our staff is able to visit the farms, meet the farmer and know exactly what they’re serving.
"It’s sometimes very easy for servers to be disconnected from the food that they’re serving to diners - they see it come in the kitchen as raw product and they deliver it as a composed dish. When they meet the farmers and see - and sometimes even work - the farms themselves, they can convey that to diners and truly know the ins and outs of what goes in to dishes on the menu."
4. It builds trust in our community when we're able to tell the guests exactly where the food on the plate is coming from.
"You hear so many stories in the media nowadays about national food contaminations and the problems of factory farms, and it's definitely disconcerting for chef and diners. Thankfully, we know where all of our products are coming from, and that’s not only great for our community, but also for our guests who may otherwise be skeptical of eating a certain food because of its image in the media."
5. The absolute best thing is that our farmers actually dine as guests here and it's amazing to see their faces when they taste their product. They have a sense of pride and ownership in the restaurant.
"We love it when our farmers come in and eat at the restaurant. They work incredibly hard and are oftentimes not able to take a night off to enjoy themselves. When they can see their product on the menu and taste what we’ve done with it, it's an exciting experience for the both of us."
Do you make a point of eating locally? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.
I eat locally whenever I can, and I admire restaurants that go out of their way to build a relationship with local farmers. There's nothing like being able to actually see the conditions the animals are being kept in, or how the produce is being grown. And fostering a good relationship with people who can actually come to your restaurant and reciprocate is just good business.
I have always felt that if people bought more of any product from local businesses instead of national or international chains we'd have more quality products at reasonable prices for the area.
Local is the best in many ways. We still need to supplement, but local provides what the people want with much less transportation cost and the added benefit of supporting a local farm/ business. I say good for CNN to post this article.
The math is the easy part. The difficult part is the assumptions. Anyone can come up with assumptions that to prove their point. My town in eastern Massachusetts has a small farmers market which often has about 5 farms represented. They are all within a 10 mile radius of the town common where the farmers market is. Certainly not an AVERAGE of 50 miles. It's 2 miles for me to get to the farmers market and it's on the way to the grocery store. Most of the produce that is carried in the grocery store comes from California (3000+ miles from Boston) or further. Using these assumptions the math comes out dramatically different.
A semi moving 60,000lbs 3000mi @ 6mpg: 3000mi / 6mpg / 60klbs = 8.33 gal per 1000lbs.
A local farmer moving 500lbs 10mi @ 18mpg: 10mi / 20mpg / 0.5klbs = 1.00 gal per 1000lbs.
With these assumptions that head of lettuce in the grocery store uses more than 8 times the transportation fuel than the one bought at a local farmers market. If you stop at a farm stand on the way home from work or another errand this uses no transportation fuel.
JE, I picked something in the middle, not at either extreme. Also, you forgot that the farmer has to drive home (now 2gal/klb). You have to drive at least a little bit extra, so I'll assume 0.01gal to pick up 10lbs (now 3gal/klb). However, I'd bet the typical shopper at your farmers market drives at least 1 mile out of their way, so 2mi/30mpg = .066gal (now 8.7gal/klb).
And then when you figure I was pretty generous assuming the farmer carries 500lbs, that not all of your food comes from CA, and that some food from CA will travel by rail (much more efficient than truck), we're still back to the big, non-local farm using quite a bit less transportation fuel than a local farm.
Now how do you think the math works out for local vs non-local in, say, Los Angeles?
This is hyperbole unless you provide the Math and / or links to backup your arguement.
If that was directed at Chef Smith's comments, everything he said was true and very reasonable. The same can be said of most of the comments here.
The big problem is that too many people use organic/local as a badge of honor – "I'm doing this for the world!" The one valid thing that organic/local is great for is the general taste/quality of the food, and that's my reason; it doesn't make the world a better place, but I like good food, so that's that. Everything else, from being green and whatever, is unproven/junk science.
The negative here is (once again) Internet anonymity and the lack of consequences. Someone says one false thing, and earnest people, because they both want to believe something and it makes some sense, buy into the hype. A couple of examples would be the home garden and grass-fed beef.
Home gardening is great, but it ain't energy efficient. Large farms have more experience and the right equipment (again, mass production) to produce anything more efficiently than a few of us can. The energy spent in ordering seeds, equipment, fuel to transport manure, etc., home gardens spend far more energy than large farms. This applies to other places. A bakery spends a lot less energy making bread than we do at home, since they produce in high volumes and oven space is less likely to go to waste (more of the heat energy is used to cook). Then there's the simple fact that we spend a ton of energy on heating the stove and (the most) running refrigeration units. All of this ends up at one simple conclusion: The best thing to do is to always eat out. Cooking/storing energy is maximized and distribution is simplified/direct. But, it's very expensive, and some just can't handle losing their "merit badge" of being "organic" and "local." In my case, I just like cooking and playing around with food, and I don't make silly claims of being green.
I'm not sure if it was in this topic or another, but someone claimed that grass-fed beef is better since it contains more omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef. Now, that was a true statement (And I guarantee you'll see someone else make that point in the future), but it was a pretty sad one, since the amount of omega-3 present in either is insignificant. It's like saying candy bar A is better than B, since A has 200% more fiber than B. Well, if B only has like 1% of the recommended daily amount, it really doesn't matter. The other one I find funny are those that freak out about mercury in HFCS processing. Yes, there is mercury, but it ain't the type that's really dangerous for you and you really can't eat enough HFCS foods for it to reach a dangerous amount (If you can eat that much, you're the type that can conquer those Man vs Food challenges).
The "badge of honor" people use misinformation to further the cause. It's a seriously misguided and Internet driven form of revolution – The kind where you're not subjected to any real form of risk. But, because it makes them feel better about what they do, it stirs passions. Unfortunately, too many get caught up in all the misinformation and make bad decisions, such as buying expensive products that really aren't doing any good for them. That affects the bank account, which pretty much affects everything else.
Buy local/organic because you care about having tasty food. If you want to be green and whatnot, there are far, far better things you can do (and they require a heck of a lot more work than just switching what you eat). Me, like I said, I like good food. And, if that means driving over an hour to get good pizza, I'll do just that – carbon footprint be damned.
anna–Yes, you're right. I realized that expecting a typical American to actually attempt do the math himself/herself was very naive of me. It's so much easier to just assume.
Hence I provided the math.
I think "this is BS" is being generous with the amount of produce a reefer truck can hold. I would also say that 50 miles to the farmer's market is a little far. 40,000 lbs of produce in a reefer truck is probably more reasonable. The best thing about locally produced food keeps money in the local economy. There will always be a market for non-local produce, but it makes no sense shipping lettuce from California to Florida in the winter and spring when we can grow our own during that time period. Walk into a wal-mart in Florida and you will see grapefruit from Texas and Oranges from California even though we produce those fruits right here. It's like selling ice to eskimos.
Whatever. The math works out the same way. I was the most generous with assuming the local farmer puts 500lbs in his truck. I've never been to a farmers market and seen a guy there with 500lbs of food. Often it's not even 100lbs. And the 50mi assumes the farm is 25mi away. A local farmer makes a round trip. A commercial truck picks up another load and goes elsewhere.
Don't forget there's also wild foods, free for the taking- crabapples are now ripe and dripping off the trees in local parks and neighborhoods: Gently cook until tender, strain and save juice- it adds a lovely edge to overly sweet fruit juices from the grocery store. Or, add a splash of gingerale ( or a very dry white wine) and you have the perfect apertif.
Every cook/chef should visit Maui and do nothing but eat out three times a day for two weeks straight to see and taste how farm-to-fork is executed with excellence.
We have a small 10 acre farm and raise veggies, chickens, and pigs for ourselves and friends and family. We also buy half a beef each fall from local farmers. There is no comparison for flavor, quality, and peace of mind knowing where our food came from. We don't produce all our food, but ours is better.
I agree it is less efficient, but it is called natural for a reason. Have you ever wondered how non organic food is so much more efficient and cheaper?
Gov't subsidies, genetically modified food, growth hormone, pesticides. Here a few quick reason factory produced food is cheaper.
That is a laughable argument.
#1 reason FOR ALL PRODUCTS and why it's cheaper:
Mass production. The more you make of something, the more efficient the overall process and the lower the cost for each product.
I dont eat animals and I dont care which farm my vegetables and cereal come from because I buy the cheapest (and in some cases organic) veggies.
It is obviously good to eat local but how much premium we pay for the privilege is the question- 10%? 15%? 20%?
As far as carbon footprint is concerned, most carbon is spent for growing the vegetable and not transporting it and small farms as most local farms are use up more carbon per pound of veggie than a largescale farm thats far away.
So in some cases buying non-local leaves a smaller carbon footprint.
Awesome. Glad somebody gets it.
I'd like to see you support your statements with data, emma.
Hey you are b_s – you're kidding yourself. The WORST part is carting the crammed in animals hundreds of miles. Absolute torture for them – maybe you don't care about that. There are videos where pigs are FROZEN to the sides of the trucks and have to be ripped off by chain. Does that sound OK to you? Go to Humane Farming Assoc. at hfa.org and see for yourself.
I'm not going to defend animal treatment. That could definitely be improved. However the cases you described (or the cases such as chickens being dipped still alive into scalding water) represent a tiny minority of all animals. And since you "went there", true free range birds are much more suceptible to being ripped apart by predators or killed by disease. So alternative methods are not ideal, either.
It is a well known fact about factory farming conditions and so prevalent that the FDA put regulations on cage size for the birds. If you wish to say it is a small minority I want to see some proof because the FDA doesn't think it is as small as you do.
I said the specific cases of illegal cruelty or excessive suffering are rare. I also said I'm not defending the way many animals are treated. That would include animals stuck in cages where they can barely move. I don't like it. Lots of people don't like it. And consumer demand for better conditions is starting to result in improvements.
I am glad we are moving towards treating animals like living beings instead of machinery.... Sickening...
Local animal farming is still horrible for the animals, for your health, and for the planet. Everyone, please go vegan, for your health, for the environment, for the animals! Thank you very much!
How much food do you produce per year Oh sanitmonious one?
What a pig. You must not be getting any if you have to entertain yourself by putting such inappropriate and irrelevant crap into a discussion about local farming.
Hey this is b_s: get a life.
When you have no facts, resort to personal attacks.... I'm not going to stoop to your level.
I run a locavore restaurant that sits on 70 acres of ag land, and we farm most of our own produce. We purchase only grass-fed, free-range beef from the rancher down the road. Our lamb, pork and free-range veal come from farms less than 15 miles away. Our beef is dry-aged for one month to lessen the 'grass' flavor. Our food is fresh, wholesome, environmentally responsible and supportive of the local economy. Still, at least once a day, I get a complaint on an arugula leaf with a pinhead-sized spot, or a steak that can't be cut with a spoon. As a nation, we have become lovers of style-over-substance food, just like our tastes in music. The French say "Americans talk dry, but drink sweet". We will continue to eat beef that has spent its life standing in its own waste, stuck with synthetic hormones, and fed a toxic diet of corn (which they cannot properly digest) and antibiotics.
You make a good point as well. We pick tomatoes based on what they look like. So "big agriculture" grows tomatoes that look good but taste like crap. The solution here is simple. It's not "buy local" (although tomatoes, if any, are probably a decent food to "buy local"). The solution is to care less about looks and more about flavor. And make sure "big agriculture" knows. They grow what we demand, so we need to demand something different.
Big AG tomatoes are all about storage length and shipping durability that is why they are thick skinned and taste like crap.
Grow your own garden next spring/summer and you will see and taste the difference.
farmerjim–Yes, I understand. That's why I said tomatoes just might be one of the few foods where it makes sense to do things locally. And I have grown a mostly-organic home garden for years. I understand the difference very well.
B_S you think that local farms are the devil incarnate. There is nothing wrong with local farms. They focus on making high quality food that consumers demand, its called free market system. If we switched 100% to mass produced food the quality would be shit because they would not have any competition on the market so they focus on making products that ship and look good, even if it tastes like crap and is not what the consumer wants. Because they have competition they must compete with the local farmers that compete with better tasting food. If the large farms quality gets too bad people will switch to local farmers and large farms would go out of business. If it wasn't for the balance between the two we would have either a or b:
a) More expensive food across the board that tastes better but you get less of
b) Cheap food that tastes like shit
I'm not against local farms, per se. I'm against all the myths surrounding the trend. They lead people to do dumb stuff. Local farming still has it's place. And as you say, free markets are good.
Gotta comment on this article. Our family raises cattle, pigs, and chickens on a small fam in Washington State. Having been involved in both large scale and small scale AG for 26 years, our experience has shown us clearly that small scale livestock production provides a vastly superior quality of food. We will do the "Pepsi Challenge" against any of that mass-produced beef, eggs, or pork anywhere, anytime. Big AG excels in quantity at the expese of quality (among other things). Small AG focuses on quality– because the scale of the opertaion enables it to do so, and it captures a market niche that big AG cannot fill.. While on the subject of quality, in our experience it is also abuntantly clear that the quality of life for the animals is vastly superior in small scale operations than factory production. Our critters have plenty of room and natural feed.
Some folks object to harvesting animals for food. Taking life (even a cow or a chicken ) is a big responsibility and we take it seriously. When it's time for slaughter we insist that it is done here on the farm rather than a slaughterhouse, and take steps to ensure that is it quick, merciful, and that they do not suffer by knowing what is coming. We think that's the proper thing to do.
There are folks who say that small farms can't feed the world. That may or may not be so. It is not our job to feed the world, just our tiny corner of it. That's just this farmer's view- Gotta go feed the cows now...
I will agree with one thing. "Local" food is often higher quality. However, this is because for decades, consumers have demanded cheap food. I think we're starting to see "big ag" take notice. Hopefully this will result in higher quality food produced by big, efficient growers.
Love it Jim! Thanks for sharing your story, and BIG thanks for doing one of the hardest jobs on the planet, the hard way!
My husband and i live right up the street from this restaurant and it has great food! There is just something special about eating a meal where all of your food was grown within a 50 mile radius. Every bite is like a little piece of heaven.. It is so cool to see this restaurant on CNN! Wow! go Roanoke!
How do you know your "local" food really is local (unless you get it from the farm personally)? Nothing says your local farmers market people have to be local or farmers. they just have to buy the food and then sell it to the suckers at inflated prices.
I avoid "organic" like the flu. Having studied mycotoxins for the past 11 years I'll take my chances with pesticide protected foods before I'll put anything in my mouth that may have aspergillus, fusarium or some other natural contaminate.
"Eating local" is one of the worst trends I've ever seen. Not only is it a rediculous waste of money, you wind up growing fewer crops per acre. Doing this in greater and greater quantity, the world will produce less food, and deaths from starvation will increase. All so people can "feel good" about "supporting their local farmers".
Eating local doesn't even save energy. Studies have shown that "local" farming actually consumes more energy because the techniques and the transportation methods are DRAMATICALLY less efficient. I even saw a study from an organization that supports local farming point out this fact. The math on transportation is actually easy. Give it a shot some time.
Until very recently, the trend was to not vaccinate kids so they don't get autism. More BS not backed up by science, and now kids are dying of preventable diseases. Eating local will send us down a similar path. Except the people that die will be the poor in developing countries who could never afford to "eat local".
It is not a demonic trend like you make it out to be. You are like a fanatic going on about how much you hate local/small farms and you cannot give any VERY good reason why. All you do is say "they are less efficient". I want to know what is so terrible about them... I see them as being great for the local economy and you get to choose the most efficient option presented to you in the free market system. Also I have been buying apples locally because the ones at the stores have been terrible quality, rotten, and are bland. The local farmers however have the best tasting apples I have had in a long time and at about the same price. So I have decided to spend my money there to encourage the free market system to focus on making local high quality apples instead of mass produced rotten apples.
Also the smaller the field the more crops per acre you are able to manage, I'd give you a link but its in a college textbook and powerpoints (by a professor that researches crop production)... The reason we switched to huge fields is because of machinery and due to the fact that farmers could make more money, it actually decreases production as less time is spent per acre (Increases farmer wealth though).
I don't get the flu shot anymore. The reason why people stopped taking it was because it had proven toxic chemicals in the vaccines, mercury anyone.
I responded to your other, similar post.
Production/acre on large farms is way up, not down.
Do research on the amount of mercury in a flu vaccine. Not only is the amount not hazardous (unless you're sensitive to thimserol), but you get more mercury by eating tuna than you do by getting the vaccine.
I stopped eating most fish due to the mercury... I also stopped eating shimp thanks to BP -_- bastards. I also do not care if I am eating More with this than this. What I care about is I am ingesting mercury and that is unacceptable. Your body does not have a natural method of removing certain substances from your body. As such those substances should be avoided as much as possible, whenever possible.
Wrong, as your field size increases you have a slight decrease in crop/acre due to decreased management per acre. If you water your entire field equally you will have some dry spots that do not get enough water and some wet spots that get too much. Smaller farmers can identify this and correct it. Thus higher crop yields for smaller farmers.
You know, GOM seafood is being routinely tested and none has been found to be contaminated with oil. You might try it again.
The fact is factory farms grow food in huge monocultures that are more dangerous to the consumer. i.e mad cow, E.Coli, Factory farmed products are loaded with chemicals, pesticides, hormones and pharmaceuticals. They have a larger negative impact on people and environment than a local small scale sustainable farm can ever have.
It should be required in Manhattan............
I love the vegetable stands on the street corners in Manhattan. Some of the freshest food I have ever tasted. Upstate NY has some of the best farms in the world.
"Eating local" is one of the worst trends I've ever seen. Not only is it a rediculous waste of money, you wind up growing fewer crops per acre. T
Coming from a family "factory" farm I think its sad that no one understands farming anymore. If farms were the same size they were 50 years ago this country would starve because there are not enough of us anymore. Every job occupation has had advancements in technology. So why can't the farming industry? Everyone wants us to go back to the way things were 50 years ago. My question is do you want to go back to the way things were? Factory Farms are the size they are because they are good managers and know how to keep cows happy. Instead of judging us by hearing all the negative why dont you come see our farms and support your farms.
Thank you, Andrew. Well said. Most people are so far removed from farming and ranching that they get their information from the internet (unfortunately, usually incorrect). I don't have to look on the internet to see how my cows are treated, I just walk out my front door and see them grazing happily in the meadows and on the hills. Most calves spend approximately 8 months on grass while nursing their mothers. They are then weaned and sent to a feedlot for a few months before slaughter or are finished on more grass. I've been in the cattle business for 42 years in California and Oregon and have never seen an assembly line of cows eating corn. I can, however, go hundreds of miles in any direction from my ranch and see thousands of cows grazing on grass. Take a drive through Central and Eastern Oregon and see happy, calm, peaceful cows eating grass, not corn.
Why am I going to pay a premium for something that’s the same as a non local brand but costs less? I don’t have that kind of money and now local farmers are telling me to support them instead of spending it on my family? That’s just crazy, enjoy your same food at a higher cost.
Makes perfect sense. Locally grown, you know exactly what's gone into it, and the more you eat, the better for everyone. Very satisfying!!
You can't grow beef on a farm. It is the cows which you can grow. Happy cows and chickens uh..I wonder if there is anything more painful or unhappy feeling a cow or chicken could experience than when they are mercilessly slaughtered. I agree with the local thing, other than the fact that global is the new local. Unfortunately that is the hard reality we all have to live with in a capitalistic world.
IT's so nice to see America going back to it's roots and eating locally. My wife and I have been supporting organic farmers and shopping at Farmer's Markets in and around the Indianapolis area for years now. You won't find a more appreciative and informed sales person than the actual farmer themselves. Knowing where your food comes from is incredibly important in these times. Think Globally, Eat Locally!
Henry that is a true statment, we buy as much local as we can and the food is Fresher and has more taste and we keep our money closer to home,Sorry no stockholders see any of my money from dinner unless they have a stake in one of the local farms in Knox Co. Maine. I know where all my food comes from and talk with some of the farmers while I shop at the farms.
Actually the best way to go, is vegi! Eating meat is supporting cruelty to animals.
I think the best way to go is vegan.
Very good point, Vegans taste great!!
how does one switch to a meatless diet. i've tried but it has all been tasteless. Do you just have to keep at it until you are used to only vegetables and grains?
you dont taste anything in fruits or veggies? vegetarian meals are very good–a lot of indian and middle eastern food is veggie. i guess you have to know what to get and cook - i mean if you are trying to live on boiled broccoli well thats not what most vegetarians eat.
Not fundamentally true, but practically true if the meat one eats comes from big agribusiness.
@Bruce; Yes It IS documented Eggs , milk , and beef that are raised in small farm environments (and cared for accordingly by concientious farmers) DOES taste better and is healthier. Books have already been wrtten on that subject , so I won't elaborate here. Larger operations do add other products to "enhance" flavor thus adultering the actual food being consumed into our bodies.
Books don't have to contain accurate information. Also, documentation and something as subjective as taste really don't go well together. The common example is comparing grass and grain raised/fed cows. Some people prefer one while others prefer the other. Healthier? Sorry, but unless you're talking about possible (and unproven) risks from hormones and pesticides, that's outright false.
More than anything else, the breed and feed of the animal is going to determine the end product.
Cole, the big difference in health between grass- and grain-fed beef is that the grass-fed has a much better ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. It's not even in dispute that the ratio is different. The consequence of too much omega-6? Google it and prepare to be surprised.
Define "grain-fed" beef. All cows spend about 2/3 of their life eating grass in pastures, and are only "finished" on diets high in grain. Is this what you mean by "grain-fed"?
Oh, sad and sorry-ass Mr "This is B_S" – you are the only one who is b_s. 'All cows spend" X % of time eating grass. you are pulling fake info out of your oversized butthole. But we already knew this based on your other ignorant remarks. Go eat a MacHummer and quit trying to appear informed or intelligent.
voice–Do some research. Out in Colorado there are hundreds of thousands of head of cattle that essentially roam free (unfenced) until they reach the point where they're ready to go to feed lots. If you live in "cattle country", what do you see? You see cows in fields.
Here's a place to start your research: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feedlot#Scheduling_and_diet. If you don't like Wikipedia, follow the references to the sources. Also, note that "green wheat" is grass (wheat grain is the seed of wheat grass).
Most cattle are not fed grass diets most of their lives. I am not sure what country you are in but its not the USA. Most factory farmed cattle are fed corn which is murder on their stomachs, i don't feel like explaining but there are many things on the internet that explain all the details.
Good for you living in Colorado where they raise cattle the right way. Those cattle would be the more pricey cattle, actually they should never be fed corn diets as their stomachs cannot handle corn correctly. However not all our cattle come from good sources like that. Research a little on factory farming. The reason you cannot see the cattle there is because the cattle are on a production line and fed corn most of their lives, sometimes they cannot even move their whole lives D:
I would invite you to do the research, starting with the link I posted. I don't live in Colorado. I know that because a few years ago, these cattle were hit hard by blizzards and ranchers had a hard time getting hay to them. So many starved.
I have also been to cattle country in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, California, and other places (work takes me to lots of rural areas). I've only seen feed lots in two or three places (yes, they are nasty). Everywhere else, cows are in pasture. Please educate yourself.
If you don't like my wilipedia link, here is another:
If you do the math, according to this source cows spend 70% or more of their life in pasture and only 4-8 months in a feed lot. Would you like more sources to show you you're wrong?
Yes, I would like to see a source that shows what percentage of cattle are grown like that. I am quite aware of that meathod, however that source only refers to the old style meathod used and does not touch on factory farming.
I'll let you find that. The Wiki link may lead you there. And there's a cattle rancher here who confirms what I said.
I am not doubting cattle are raised in the open so I am not sure why you are stuck on it. I am doubting you saying most cattle in the USA are field raised. One rancher does not = all cattle growers (I don't want to refer to factory farmers as ranchers).
I know what you're doubting. You're wrong. Beef cattle spend most of their lives at pasture. I've given you resources to start with, and you could go verify all this if you want to. Your belief that most cows are NOT raised on pastures is not based on any actual data or evidence. So go get the data.
The amount of omega 3 in beef is irrelevant. That's why you NEVER see proponents of it state the ACTUAL AMOUNT, but just that "it's higher!" A serving of grass-fed beef (about 3.5 ounces) has about 100 milligrams of the good stuff, which is about 60% more than their grain counterparts. Is that good? Well, for the same serving size (of about 3.5 oz) you can get 10x more omega 3 from a trout. And, for the same amount, anchovies will give you 20x the omega 3. Touting the benefits of grass-fed beef for its omega 3 is a very poor argument.
As for what is grass and grain fed, it's easy – It's whatever their primary diet is. As for the other points brought up here:
To those that say that cows eating grain is unnatural, I ask this simple question: What do you think cows eat during winter, when there isn't any grass to feed on? Eating grain is completely natural for them. What they're fed depends all on economics. Beef in South American countries, such as Argentina, are grass fed because it's cheaper than feeding them grain.
The environmental impact is easy to figure out. Grass fed cows need more time to be "ready" for the market, just under 1/3 the time that grain fed cows need. So, pound for pound, the grass fed variety leaves a much larger carbon hoof-print because they live longer.
This is great except when you live in an Urban setting as I do. Los Angeles is sparse on "Local Farms". There needs to be a major push towards urban high rise farming. This would limit or end contamination, transportation costs, over used land and would keep money in the local economy.
There are a lot of urban gardens and urban farms springing up everywhere – I would imagine LA would be ideal for this, as at least the climate is more conducive than, say, New York. Maybe you could start something in your area?
Also better to support alternative supply lines.......so that when one is contaminated , the whole supply isn't likewise contaminated. When food is supplied closer to home , from smaller suppliers , they are in touch with anything that even in a tiny way will impact on quality/safety issues , whereas larger suppliers know that they don't have to respong to a problem or concern unless it affects a certain PERCENTAGE of their production , which would translate to MILLIONS of people in some far away place.
I wish I had that option.
This makes us all feel good, but Josh doesn't really make his case. Is the food really any better? Is it cheaper to produce and serve with a smaller environmental impact? Does it taste better? We don't really know any of this. This is one of those anecdotal things that becomes accepted without one shred of analysis to back it up. It may be true. Or not. We really don't know anything other than Josh feels really good about it.
Yes, it does taste better. Yes, it is cheaper.Yes, it is better for the environment. We've cut our food bill in half by buying all of our meat locally. Like Tonya, I also grew up on a dairy farm. Unlike Tonya, I cringe when I see and taste the quality of most of the meats and vegetables sold in the grocery store these days.
Yes, yes, yes!!! You're absolutely right. I live in a 'gardening challenged' area – I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and at 7,000' elevation our growing season is short and it's very hard to get a long harvest season, but I still can get a lot of tomatoes (not nearly as much as when I lived in Ohio, LOL!) and they taste – even when harvested too early due to frost, and ripened on the windowsill – about three orders of magnitude better than those mealy, flavorless, cardborard imitations of tomatoes in the supermarket (even during tomato season, sadly and ironically). On top of that, the local farmer's market has a lot of local produce that is vastly superior to supermarket, mass-cultivated yukky produce. i'll put up with that stuff in the winter when locally we cannot produce it, but the locally grown, small harvest stuff is SO much better. And it keeps my money here, in the state and probably even in the county.
Bruce, just go to the farmers market. One taste and you will know, the food is better.
The most important way it is better is that it supports the members of your own community, your neighbors.
Lots more accountability is on the farmers when they know its the people in their own community that are eating their goods. When we buy food from who know what large company located in china or wherever, they don't know or care who is eating the food and what it does to them. Case in point – the foods laced with melamine in china
As someone who grew up on a dairy farm & has a degree in animal science, I know that the majority of America's farms are owned by hardworking families. I do not go out of my way to eat locally. I trust America's farmers. Locavorism WILL NOT feed the world population that just keeps growing & growing, while farming becomes less & less popular of a profession. Without innovations & efficiency, we will just get further & further behind allowing more & more people to starve. Animals welfare & the environment are 2 hugely important issues for farmers. They take care of their animals to provide a godo product & they take care of the environment to preserve their farmland. Too many people follow the propaganda of documentaries like "King Corn" & "Food Inc" when what they should be doing is asking farmers, not farmer's with chips on their shoulder willing to talk bad about ag on camera. You can meet 6 American farmers on ww.causematters.com on the "Gate to Plate" tab.
Factory farming is disgusting. They mistreat their workers and the animals. Not to mention how horrible the run-off is that pollutes the surrounding land and water. I buy my eggs, meat, and the occasional seasonal veggie from a farmer who is located 30 mins from my city home. It's worth the drive. I wish more Americans had this luxury. I don't think mass production so we can have $ .99 burgers and a cheap crate of eggs is ok (especially at the expense of overworked laborers or the animals' welfare).
The truth, as usual, is in the middle. Farmers work long hours in precarious conditions to produce food that is what Americans demand: cheap. To produce food that does not reflect its true cost requires raising animals in conditions that frankly suck. This is fact, not propaganda. But if farmers don't do that, they get outcompeted by China and can't make a living. Just look at the Dairy Depression this past year. The solution needs to be cultural. People need to understand that raising high quality food under humane conditions is not cheap and they must be willing to pay more than lip service for it. Doing that would allow farmers a means of producing food that is humanely raised and that can still provide them a decent living. Who wrote this? A farmer with two master's degrees who has been studying this issue for a lot longer than it's been popular. We produce most of our own food and are very well aware of the effort that goes into high quality, humanely raised food. It isn't cheap and it's a helluva lot of work. We could not sell our food at Wal-Mart prices and even break even.
Of course, you're concerned about the environment, but you don't consider the impact of you driving 60mi every time you want eggs. Not to mention the cost. The typical car costs around $0.50/mi to drive (all costs, not just gas). So your trip costs you upwards of $30 and burns an ENORMOUS amount of energy relative to the amount of food you are aquiring. So you say you do this in part for the environment, yet what you do makes it worse.
B_S is actually not full of BS this time. It is stupid to drive that far for eggs... However I guess if those eggs taste THAT much better than go for it. Just be sure your recycling and trying to save energy in other places.
I think I'm growing on you, darth. Sleep on it, check out some of the resources I posted. Find other scientifically valid data, etc. You'll come around. I do actually know what I'm talking about. I just happen to be pointing out the scientific fallacies of popular opinion. Everything I'm saying is independently verifiable if you have an open mind.
No, you are just saying you hate local farms for some god forsaken reason... You are blindly following one side and not looking at the full economic picture. They both have a part in the economy and taking either one out will cause major problems in the economy. You would also be denying the free market system from balancing the demands of the people and the supplies they ask for.
I want high quality awesome tasting apples. The store bought apples are dry, rotten, or tasteless. The ones at the farmers market are juicy, solid, and drool worthy. I will buy the ($.25 more for 3 pounds XD) more expensive ones at the farmers market because that is what I wish to purchase instead of apples I am just going to throw out for reasons said above. I am also supporting the local economy which means that farmer now has $3 which he may spend at my office. If he spends that $3 at my office and then I buy another bag of apples we now have an increased dollar turnover rate in the local economy.
You've said the same thing three times now. Can you go read my response to the one down towards the bottom? I'm not against local farming. I'm against the myths and people acting based on these myths. I like free markets and I like people making informed choices rather than doing whatever makes them "feel good".
So clearly birth control is the answer, and China's one-child policy should be extended internationally. No, really. Overpopulation is the root of a lot of the problems we are facing today and will certainly be the root of the next century's issues. As long as we continue to think that growth is 'good' and we continue to take more than we can return to the planet, the ecosystem, etc., we are headed for our osn Gotterdamerung – and what's so sad is that it COULD be avoided. Quit making more babies than we can feed and quit using more than we can return. But that will never fly in today's 'rape and pillage' and 'I got mine, to heck with you' developmental psyche.
I'll take you seriously only when you volunteer yourself and your family as some of the ones who need to be culled.
Nobody is talking about culling anyone...just using birth control. You seem to be big on math...what happens when the amount of humans exceeds the planets ability to sustain them?
@eater SImple, we get india and China to get into a nuclear war, problem solved XD
The god of War desires blooooood
We don't have to feed the world population...just ours.
Says the typical American who is also upset that the US doesn't produce anything and imports everything. You want our trade deficit to be worse? Food exports bring a lot of wealth to this country. Wealth that we all benefit from.
Tonya. You're not getting it. We have to reduce the demand for food and the only way to do that is to reduce the human population. The world cannot sustain increased demands for limited resources and to find more and more efficient ways to produce more and more food addresses the symptom but not the problem. The problem is that we presume reproduction to be a right, not a responsibility. We need to reduce demand for resources and that means to reduce population. Stop reproducing uncontrolled.
Tonya: you say: "the majority of America's farms are owned by hardworking families". Let's have some stats to back that up. Even if the majority of farms are owned by hardworking families (and let's face it, a gigantic factory farm could be owned by a hardworking family), I'll bet the majority of the product comes from the fewer factory farms. Get the difference?
Eat more steak!
The only meat I purchase on a regular basis is rabbit :) No, it's not for me , it's for my cats.
How about all the food scraps, by-products, and leftovers? -Here's a company I've found right in our backyard that additioanally keeps things green & local by recycling food products and farm waste from local restaurants, school districts, and our farms!
Eat more chiken.
The article forgot to mention that the meat and eggs bought from local farms most likely come from animals that are much happier and better cared for than what you would buy in the grocery store. Animals raised with more (and cleaner) space to roam around and that eat a proper, grass-based diet are also healthier for you and less likely to contain contaminants such as E.coli and salmonella.
Happier no doubt, although I think the happiness factor is usually assigned to justify the slaughter for meat – not harvesting their eggs. But I agree, if you're gonna eat a critter, it's better if it had a non-traumatic life prior to slaughter, and hopefully a humane slaughter. I'm not Jewish but I think there's a lot to be said for Kosher from that perspective except of course that they are irrationally fearful of pork, and I happen to like a nice pork roast once in a (rare) while. Mostly I eat vegetables but I usually end up eating meat once a month or so.
If there's myth out there, it's that Kosher beef involves some sort of humane treatment of cows. Kosher killing of cows is quite horrible. These 1000+ pound animals are hanging by one leg long before they are dead. that leg often breaks yet is still called on to support the entire weight of the animal. it's really nasty. Aside from that, food in this country is a volume industry and it's getting less healthy by the day. We probably eat 4x as much meat as might actually be worthwhile to our diets. I'm not against meat – but I can tell you I've had my last fast food burger. I'm not eating anything where I don't know the source.
So true. Plus think about keeping it green by not having the waste of transportation (gas, emissions, etc) polluting the environment.
I grow tired of seeing this myth that "local" food saves energy. Studies have shown this is completely false due to local farms being much less energy efficient. The loss in energy efficiency is so great, that efficient shippment of food over long distances uses less energy than inefficient shipment over short distances. The math is actually quite simple if people would actually do it rather than just assume it saves energy.
So what if a local farm doesn't benefit from the economy of scale that some dirty, disease-riddled mega agribusiness in Iowa does? You recoup a tremendous amount of that energy when you only have to run the eggs, milk, cheese or meat ten miles to the restaurant instead of sending it halfway across the continent for processing and packaging and then back again..... probably via truck, which is about 50 times less efficient than rail. It isn't b_s and you know it, you are just uninformed and have an axe to grind against anything that is environmentally conscious or healthy. You're probably fat and drive a hummer.
Transportation is one of the ways where "eating local" consumes MORE energy, not less. I've posted some links, you can do the research, and I've even given you a head start on how to do the math.
You do make one good point though. Rail is more efficient than trucks, and some food is shipped by rail. This also works in favor of big, non-local farms.
So are you implying that driving 500+ miles and driving 10 miles use the same amounts of gas? I am not sure what type of calculations you are doing but you are terribly off and possibly cannot do elementary grade math. Even a kid in elementary school can tell you that driving a shorter distance saves on energy.
Also the gas spent by customers is constant either way.
Would you please run us through the math that you espouse, in detail, so that we can know that what you are saying is true?
okay, but the money and calories saved by not shipping can be used to make the practices better so that people who are just simply concerned with the economics will have no more excuses
The organic broccoli in Costco is coming from China. It's frozen, but hard to say if it stayed frozen the whole way. It tasted moldy a few times. I hate molds and fungi.
b_s, you are only concerned with energy used during shipping. Harvesting, cleaning and packing all require energy. What about loading the trucks? Refrigerating warehouses? You want a simple formula to prove you have the correct answer but perhaps its not that simple. The energy efficiency of local vs. industrial farming might depend on many factors. It might be that one is not always better than the other.
You're right. I did oversimplify. So now you want to compare a large, efficient operation to a small, inefficient one? OK, let's do that. You first. You really think the farming process itself might be more efficient at a small farm? Right. I don't know the numbers on this issue, but I do have common sense.
Why would a farm on the other side of the country be more energy efficient than the one next door?
I already explained it to you in general terms. Give the math a try. You can compare the energy used to drive 60,000lbs of food by truck (@6mpg) to driving a couple hundred pounds by pickup (maybe 15mpg) to a local market plus the extra gas a consumer has to spend to drive to the local market to pick up a few pounds of food (it's extra energy burned in addition to the normal grocery store trip).
The only way "eating local" can even be comparable is if the local produce is sold at the same grocery store you normally shop at or is litterally on the exact route that you would have driven anyway. It's actually the gas burned driving to and from the local market that really puts it over the top.
The person who actually drives to the local farm makes the energy balance swing in favor of non-local farming by orders of magnitude. Like the person here who said they drive 60mi round-trip to get eggs, etc. Crazy.
That is why I hit the farmers market. It is no longer of a drive, and the food does taste better. Next, you will try to tell me that eating non processed food is bad for me and the environment.
Google something like "local farming consumes more energy. Here are two links about why organic and local are bad:http://www.agecon.ucdavis.edu/extension/update/articles/v13n2_2.pdf
You can probably find more, that's just what came up quickly. Both organic and local have their positive aspects that I hope can be adapted, but overall, these trends are horrible and based largely on myths.
So in your world a restaurant carries 60,000 lbs of meat in an imaginary warehouse they do not have? They would carry around a weeks worth of meat at most, at any one time. They normally carry a limited amount of meat because if you have too much the meat's quality goes down and your warehouse costs go up. It is more cost efficient to have multiple stock replenishment during the week, it also helps keep the stock from running out due to shifts in consumption. Each time, lets say 2 times a week, they have to order supplies from a supplier and only have limited space. Each time they have space for how much was consumed, lets say 2 efficiently packed crates worth.
They must send the order to their central supplier. Their order might be sent directly to them from a longer distance, thus burning more gas than locally. It may also be combined with multiple orders around the area, franchise, and sent in a semi. That semi is quite efficient when going to its first destination, its second, and decreases with every stop as it loses weight. When it is fully loaded it will burn more energy to move any distance and as it decreases its load it will increase efficiency slightly. It however has a max MPG of around 6MPG meaning any decreases in efficiency will have a more significant impact due to low MPG. The central location they drive from is not everywhere and may be quite a distance from the place of delivery. That turnip truck you think they drive (farmers are not hicks like you believe and understand economics) could also carry enough supplies for multiple restaurants, they might even have a trailer. They could also carry enough for part of the city (if not all), reducing their MPG to 12 MPG.
Lets use McDonalds. Some of those supplies would be potatoes and would be shipped from Idaho or south america so that is also a huge amount of distance you have to add into the factory distance. The other stuff would come from one of the few production centers and shipped to a large central warehouse, which would be moved to regional distribution centers, which would be moved to local (state) distribution centers. Last I heard they had a distribution center in Chicago. If they were to ship it to me it would take 60 miles (so 10 Gallons of gas + all of the sulfur and chemicals in diesel) and all of the previous transportation was part of that.
The local farmer would have to drive an absolute maximum of 50 miles to get to me (so 4 gallons or less of gas without all the previous redistribution costs). They could also sell their goods to a local distributor which would package their goods up with others and send it across the state, thus being more efficient than mcdonalds without the pre-shipping costs. Also what prevents local farmers from loading up the goods they are selling to the restaurants, driving to the restaurant and unloading, then picking up farming goods, shopping, and finally going home? Then they are being highly efficient.
Ontop of that the goods that are shipped from Idaho to somewhere, to somewhere, to Chicago are not frozen in time. Their quality is slowly degrading (more so from cattle/meat). So by spending more time to ship it across large distance you are lowering the quality of the food. While a farmer can butcher the cattle and have it in stores within 3 hours, thus having maximum quality and support the local economy.
I have no idea how you think going to a farmers market burns significantly more energy than going to a store, unless you are in walking distance to your grocery store... Also those must be some damn good eggs and nothing is wrong with them buying something they enjoy, even if it is a little obsessive.
darthlawsuit–I take it you're not going to try the math. That's fine. You don't have your description of the process quite right, but I will at least agree that a restaurant using local food is less energy intensive than a consumer. Since you're not going to do the math, I'd encourage you to look for the scientific studies. As I mentioned earlier, I read one study by a group that SUPPORTS local farming that talked about how energy inefficient it is. And that study didn't even take into account the extra energy burned by the consumer. I wish I could remember the organization's name or where I found the article, but alas I can't. I apologize for that.
One more thing to keep in mind is that restaraunteurs who do "local" food often drive to local markets themselves. So they have the same energy intensive transportation method that consumers have.
darthlawsuit–When you look at energy consumed per pound of food moved, yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. Distance is not the only part of the equation. You also have to consider the method of transport. Scroll down a few posts where gave some info on how to get started on the math.
Don't know if it matters to you or not, but I am an Energy Manager. My job is to reduce energy consumption and cost for my particular business (not agriculture). So I do know what I'm talking about.
correction...I guess I should have said "scroll up" instead of "scroll down"
Generally the gas is not "spent by the consumer either way". But in cases where it is (ex: local food sold at the grocery store the consumer goes to), then the energy balance isn't quite as out of whack. Problem is, that's not how it is for most.
@this is b_s:
I contend that the only B.S. here is coming from you.
You keep talking about "doing the math", but the ARTICLE to which you link (which reads more like an editorial opinion) has no reliable math in it. Did YOU read it? The article uses terms like "assume" and "presume" and terms like "pseudo-locavore". These are NOT good math terms. Math, which is dependent on measurements, empirical evidence and reproducible results, is all but absent from this article.
Some of the premises in this article are so backwards as to be laughable. Page 5 (by the way, where are pages 1 through 4?) states, "A doubling of food production in the second half of the 20th century saved the world from mass starvation as its population doubled to six billion." The problem with this sentence is it reverses cause and effect. Try this instead: "A doubling of food production in the second half of the 20th century CAUSED its population to double to six billion."
I think it's more likely that there would not have been mass starvation to worry about if the food resources that created the population boom to begin with hadn't existed.
I could go on, but let me end with this: the author was underwritten by the A.P. Giannini Foundation, which is funded by...whom?
My guess is that you might even be funded by the same entities.
I didn't post any articles that "do the math". And the article where you question the source comes from the freaking University of California. Generally a fairly progressive place. There's no page 1-4 because it's probably an article from some magazine or other publication w/multiple articles.
But if I've done the math wrong, I'd invite you to prove it to me either by showing a reliable source or doing the math yourself. (Of course, you will do neither.)
Here, let me get the math started for you. For simplicity, we'll assume both vehicles use diesel.
A semi moving 60,000lbs 1500mi @ 6mpg: 1500mi / 6mpg / 60klbs = 4.17 gal per 1000lbs.
A local farmer moving 500lbs 50mi @ 18mpg: 50mi / 20mpg / 0.5klbs = 5.00 gal per 1000lbs.
And I was being very generous assuming the farmer actually carries 500lbs. More than likely, he usually carries less. And he goes home with an empty or nearly empty load, while the truck driver just picks up another load. Also, this doesn't count the extra 0.25 gal or so of gas a consumer might burn to drive to the farmers market to get 10lbs of produce. If you count that, transportation for local farming now consumes 30gal per 1000lbs compared to about 5 gal for a big farm.
Then you add in that the big farm is more efficient, and the balance becomes even worse. Local farming likely consumes 5-10x more energy than big farms. But go ahead and keep telling yourselves it saves energy.
this is b_s backed up what he/she said with numbers. All I see is eat-local dogma from everyone who wants to argue with him.
Just a thought here: since 1940 the number of dairy farms has declined from 4,600,000 to approx 53,500 in 2007....i find this to be quite disturbing...not only are we losing the gene poole but also any semblance of self sufficiency.
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