Saturday, July 16, 2011

Food Freedom!

I've been a little distracted from my books lately, and particularly slow with the book reviews. My mind has been busy thinking -- and my fingers typing -- about Food Freedom.  (For where my fellow book bloggers come in, see the end of this post.)

In particular, I have been developing a Food Freedom campaign for my law firm, because many of us in my office are interested in these issues, as are our clients.  We represent a lot of farmers, food producers, restaurateurs, trade associations, and other agricultural or food-related entities.

We also want to reach other potential clients to let them know we share some of their concerns and understand the issues.

So in the last week or so, I have set up a Facebook page for Food Freedom Oregon, got us going on twitter @FoodFreedomOR, and arranged to sponsor the Portland showing of Farmageddon on July 22 and 23.   


Food Freedom is the rallying cry for those committed to free choice in the foods we eat and feed our families.

The general idea is to keep all food choices legal – whether healthy, unhealthy, local, global, fresh, frozen, or french fried.  The goal is to limit government regulation that comes between your fork and your mouth.

Although the general idea is broad, supporters of Food Freedom tend to be particularly interested in certain issues, and these issues tend to focus on smaller producers and local markets.  These issues include:
  • RAW MILK: Each state regulates the sale and consumption of raw milk and raw milk products like cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.
    • In Oregon, it is only legal to purchase raw milk directly from a farm (a farm with three or fewer cows and/or seven or fewer goats).  It is illegal to purchase raw milk from a grocery store, restaurant, farmers’ market, or other retail outlet.
    • Other states, such as California, allow the retail sale of raw milk and raw milk products.
    • It is the FDA’s position that all consumption of raw milk should be prohibited – no person should consume any raw milk or raw milk product, period.
  • FARM-DIRECT MEAT: Many people want to purchase meat directly from the farmers who raised the animals. Many of these are concerned about the treatment of animals raised at “industrial” facilities and the ethics of certain slaughtering methods. Many believe “farm-to-table” or “farm-to-fork” meat has superior flavor and quality.
    • In Oregon, it is illegal to buy meat slaughtered by the farmer and not at a USDA slaughter house. But it is the treatment and feeding of animals at the USDA slaughter house that farm-direct fans want to avoid. 
    • But, in Oregon, it is legal to slaughter your own animal for your own consumption. So consumers and farmers can get around these rules by colluding in the fiction that a consumer buys a percentage of a cow or a pig when it is alive and then, when the farmer slaughters it, the consumer is, in fact, eating his own animal.
  • PASTURED POULTRY: The idea of “pastured poultry” appeals to people who do not like the chicken factories that produce – in pretty disgusting conditions – most of our poultry.  Current regulations make raising pastured poultry difficult and expensive.  One-size-fits-all regulations are geared towards mega-producers to the disadvantage of smaller ag entrepreneurs trying different approaches.

Well, for starters, it is a bit of a distraction, like I said. But I hope to do a few tie-ins.  For instance, I am thinking about the following:
  • I am very interested to know what other book bloggers share some of these interests.  Which is why I am posting this on Weekend Cooking -- I figure this is a target-rich crowd.  If anyone is interested, please leave comments with blog links, twitter handles, Facebook pages, or book recommendations. Thanks!
  • Other ideas? 



    1. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food is what has me tangentially interested in some of these issues. I got really intrigued by the notion that saturated fat is not as bad as we were told, but only if the cows and other animals ate green things.

    2. Good pick! It is going on my list, for sure. Getting real "grass fed" meat is definitely a Food Freedom issue! Which explains the black market cow in my freezer.

    3. This was interesting to read about!

    4. I'm very interested in these issues. I live in the UK and prefer to buy direct from the farm where possible, because I like to know about how the animals were kept and slaughtered. Because there's generally not much information on restuarant menus I'm vegearian when I eat out.

    5. This is an interesting idea. I had not heard about Salatin's book before, but I want to read more about it; it sounds like something that I would enjoy.

    6. Sheila: Thanks! I wondered whether to write about this topic on my book blog, but I decided to explore the connections between the book world and the foodie world.

      neeuqfonafamai: That is the kind of thing I hear a lot around Portland. We joke about not eating meat unless you knew the animal's name, but there is a lot to be said for that kind of thinking. Which explains the black market pig in my freezer.

      Book Girl: I haven't read any of Salatin's books, but he seems to be the guru of pastured poultry and has inspired a lot of new farmers. I am looking forward to it.

    7. I'm really amused by the very concept of a black market pig, and having lived in PDX I completely know the "name of the chicken" joke.

      I can't remember the name precisely, but there's a new book out on tomato farming that might be of interest. NPR has reviewed it in the last week or two. Also, I believe the book Tescopoly deals a little bit with food supply issues in large chain supermarkets but mostly from a UK/Europe perspective.

      Good luck!

    8. These are important issues. I'm so lucky that I can buy meat and poultry directly from the farmer. We can also by raw milk in Pennsylvania, but I don't know if it's in the stores. Would be nice to be able to get real brie in the USA.

    9. In addition to In Defense of Food, I would also highly recommend Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemna. In that book he actually does help slaughter a chicken, and he buya a portion of a cow to try to get behind the scene of McDonald's beef processing (although he fails at that endeavor if I remember correctly.) Fascinating book, and unlike some of these other books, it's a memoir of a sort with a narrative which makes it very easy to read. I listened to the audio (unabridged) which was terrific. This is probably only the second book that has ever actually changed my political views on something. Since I read this (6 years ago), I have only eaten meat once a day. The 2x per day days I can count on one hand, and many days I ate none, and it's pretty much for environmental reasons that he laid out.

      Good luck with your project!

    10. Kate: Thanks for the book leads! And since you lived in PDX, you understand that the "name of the chicken" joke hits close to home!

      Beth: You are lucky to be able to buy direct -- it sounds like you can do it easily, which is super cool.

      PA was in the news recently when the FDA raided an Amish farmer for selling raw milk to his neighbors. His crime was to sell it to neighbors across the Maryland state line. I blogged about it here.

      Carin: Thanks for the recs! By coincidence, I just got the audiobook of The Omnivore's Dilemma from the library yesterday.


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