Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Farming is for Outlaws

With the term “locavore” being the new word of the year, you might think that folks at the US Ag Department could take a hint. But, apparently not as evident in a recent story in The Nation by David E. Gumpert, a columnist with, who writes about health and business, and also tracks food issues at his blog. His piece is a disturbing look inside the regulations that are used to assault local farmers from selling their food direct to consumers. In essence, the regs that are supposed to protect consumers, Gumpert surmises, seem to be more in effect to protect “corporate interests.” Chelsea Green authors Sandor Ellix Katz and Linda Faillace know all too well about the corporate protectionism alive and well in federal ag rules, and the local food movements spawning up in response at the grassroots level. Faillace is still battling with the USDA over the seizure of her family sheep years ago, a story she tells in Mad Sheep (now out in paperback), and Katz gives readers a grassroots view of the underground food movements in The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved. Here’s an excerpt from Gumpert’s article, which is a must read before the holiday season as many of us turn to our neighbors to put the bounty on our tables:
The number of farmers markets over the last five years has increased more than 50 percent, to nearly 4,500 from 2,800, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Since the European idea of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) was adopted by a handful of US farms twenty years ago, enabling consumers to buy shares in the output of local farms, the concept has been adopted by as many as 3,000 small farms across the US. Thousands of consumers are trekking out to dairy farms to purchase suddenly popular unpasteurized milk for its perceived health benefits over the pasteurized stuff, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, a promoter of raw (unpasteurized) milk consumption. (Retail sales of raw milk are prohibited in most states). But as the re-emergence of a farm-to-consumer economy draws increasing amounts of cash out of the mass-production factory system, the new movement is bumping up against suddenly energized regulators who claim they want to “protect” us from pathogens and other dangers. Federal and state agriculture and health authorities say farmers are violating all kinds of regulations to meet fast-growing consumer demand, such as slaughtering their own hogs and cattle instead of using state and federally inspected facilities, and selling unpasteurized dairy products and cider without the proper permits.”

Why You Need to Drink Wet-Hopped Beer Right Now

Wet-hopped beer is the ultimate in seasonal and local brews. It is made from fresh hops picked right off the bine in order to capture the aromatic hop flavor when it is most potent. The tricky part is fresh hops have virtually no shelf life, so brewers must spring into action as soon as the hops […] Read More..

A Simple Way to Grow Fresh Greens Indoors This Winter

Just because the temperatures have started to drop doesn’t mean you have to live without fresh greens until next Spring. With author and gardener Peter Burke’s innovative method of growing soil sprouts indoors, you can grow nutrient-dense greens all year long at a fraction of the cost of buying at market. Burke’s new book, Year-Round Indoor Salad […] Read More..

A Day in the Life of a Homesteader

As Homesteading Month comes to a close, we take a look at what it means to live the homesteading life every day. Read through the question and answer below and be sure to check out any of the previous articles you might have missed:Why Acquiring Land Presents a Challenge for New Homesteaders Homesteading Q&A: Solutions […] Read More..

Go Lean: How To Eliminate Waste and Increase Efficiency on the Farm

Using the words “factory” and “farm” in the same sentence may seem sacrilegious, but today’s young farmers like author Ben Hartman are discovering that the same sound business practices apply whether you produce cars or carrots.In his new book The Lean Farm, Hartman demonstrates how applying lean principles—originally developed by the Japanese automotive industry—to farming practices […] Read More..

Why Acquiring Land Presents a Challenge for New Homesteaders

More and more often, young people are turning away from cities and urban life in order to live off the land and even start farms of their own. But while many have the desire to grow food for themselves and/or others, acquiring land, and the financial burden that comes with it, presents a difficult challenge […] Read More..