Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Forbidden Fruit

Just a quick check-in to share this compelling peek into Minnesota's local food politics. Jack Hedin is a small-time farmer who gets penalized for planting watermelons for local markets on land previously reserved for corn. Because of this violation of "corn-base acreage," not only does he forfeit subsidies (which seems reasonable, insofar as not subsidizing local watermelons is reasonable - which is to say, not at all); he is also penalized for the value of the "illicit" crop.

Federal law effectively prohibits new, small-time cultivation of any crops but the "big four" (corn, soybeans, cotton and wheat) through this cruel and absurd legal system. And, as Hedin points out, consumers are also paying the price - both in produce prices levied to pay for his "violation" and in minimized access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

On a large scale, U.S. agricultural policies are shutting down small producers all over the country before they even get a foothold, in order to defend the sovereignty of big fruit-and-vegetable agribusiness in California, Florida and Texas. This is yet another example of federal policy supporting the producers' interests at the expense of consumers.

Note: You might need a New York Times account to view the original article -sign up here. It's free!


Kate said...

I wanted to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading a few of your posts. I came across your site from a Google search for Brie Mac and cheese (which I am going to try tonight). Your beautifully descriptive writing style is a pleasure to read... "On sleeting New York days in February, when the morning’s snow melts into gray lumps and children are walking home looking sullen, when the building creaks strangely and black-eyed shadows shiver and scratch in the walls" and "September's calling card: the damp chill that settles on sofa cushions and bloats doors until they groan in their frames" ... what lovely phrasing. And I'm a NYer also- so I know exactly what you mean about weather. Thank you!
PS- I have read the Forbidden Fruit article Monday too. What a load of crap-- but I work in hunger relief, so of course I think that!

Kate said...

Oh my - thank you!!! There's something about the weather these last few months that has made them especially...tangible. Or maybe I'm just paying more attention.

You know, my sitemeter tells me from where visitors are directed to my site, and the accumulated results are so interesting that I'm thinking of doing a post on it. Everyone searches for the same three things: homemade miso soup, brie mac 'n cheese, and...well, I'm not going to spoil the surprise. ;) Since you're a New Yorker, I'll let you in on a little secret: I devised that mac recipe based on an a wonderful East Village dining experience, which I highly recommend: http://www.smacnyc.com/

Where do you work? Do you have a blog? (I couldn't link to your profile since it isn't public.) Let's be friends!

ThursdayNext said...

Indeed, it is ridiculous and I hope that either Obama or Clinton are true to their words about assisting the small, local farmers here in the United States, which they did address during one of the debates. Thanks for bringing this to light, Kate.

Lazy Susan said...

hey Kate, just set up my Blog- - http://vistuca.blogspot.com/ I'm still getting there with the set up, so be patient. Thanks! Keep writing!

Anonymous said...

im so happy to read all the post,
keep going guys. thanks.

Anonymous said...

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