A Weekly Update: Demand Spike, Farmer Principles, Stocking Up, Press Quote, Prescient Movies...
Mar 28, 2020 8:31 pm
Welcome to the second installment of my weekly update, sent to you from a regenerative farm in the humble town of Bluffton, GA.
🌾 Things have been a little crazy here on the farm. It's surreal because, as remote as we are, we have been somewhat sheltered from everything going on. It's almost life as usual here, because social distancing is the default. We're seeing things play out from a very different perspective than what I imagine cities are experiencing. As a farm with a D2C business, our order volumes have spiked, and it's all hands on deck to fulfill the growing backlog of orders and get more meat into inventory. At the same time, rural communities have other reasons to be cautious. Thankfully, because of our farming practices, we don't have the same vulnerabilities of other farmworkers, but even our little town of 100 people has put in some social distancing measures. And all farm employees have to get their temperature checked every morning before they can get to work.
📈 With such a heavy increase in demand, you would think it makes sense to increase prices, both to maximize profit and balance supply and demand. But Will Harris, the owner of the farm I work at and principled man that he is, has taken a strong stance to hold the line on pricing and not "squeeze the folks that have supported us."
🥕 I think you'll find that most small farmers are doing the same, trying to serve their communities the best they can. Farming is so fundamental; civilization does not exist without it, and yet we often take it, and the people doing the work, for granted. Farmers have long been unsung heroes in a world that values money, status, and celebrity over the good, honest, and critical work of the humble farmer. To support your local farmers, and stock up your fridges and freezers for continued sheltering in place, here are some resources to find farms near you to order from:
- White Oak Pastures: The farm where I work in Georgia
- Food Resources for San Benito: Meat and produce farmers in central California
- D2C Meat Suppliers: An informal, self-assembled list of small meat producers, suppliers, and aggregators across the country
- Eat Wild: Directory of meat, egg, and dairy farmers in North America
- LocalHarvest: Directory of CSA-type farms
📰 ICYMI: The farm made international news! The Straits Times, a Singaporean news outlet, featured a writeup about White Oak Pastures and regenerative agriculture. And I'm quoted in it! The article is behind a paywall, but here are some excerpts, my mention in bold ;) ...
The 1,295ha property is home to 100,000 or so cows, pigs, sheep, goats and rabbits, along with five kinds of poultry. All are reared on pasture with plenty of space to roam and rotationally grazed so the soil can recover. They are then butchered in slaughterhouses designed by celebrated animal-welfare expert Temple Grandin.
- Side note: if you haven't seen the movie about her, titled Temple Grandin, it's a phenomenal and inspiring story about the major contributions she made in two different fields, against all odds. Very moving; I may have cried a little during the hug scene. You'll see. It's currently on HBONOW included on Prime.
Cell phone reception is spotty on the farm, but if you start to panic, the sight of happy-looking animals and iridescent swathes of grass calms you down – and this curious therapeutic effect is extended if you spend the night in one of the visitor cabins.
- Side note: it truly does have a therapeutic effect, particularly happy cows and sheep, at least for me.
"By centralising and industrialising food production, the US has made food “obscenely cheap, wastefully abundant and boringly consistent”, he observes in his soothing Southern drawl. “But it had unintended consequences that fell on the back of animal welfare, rural America and the degradation of the land, water and air.”
There are signs this movement is gathering steam. More companies in food and related businesses are jumping on the bandwagon and people are flocking to such farms to work and learn. One of them is Mr Edlin Choi, a 31-year-old New York City native. In November last year, he left his job at a technology start-up in San Francisco to join White Oak Pastures’ internship programme. “Living in big cities, I realised I was just as disconnected from my food as everyone touting the plant- based life. I know conventional farming practices are harmful to the environment in many ways and meat gets most of the blame. But, done poorly, even plant agriculture will harm the planet,” he says. “With better farming practices, we can raise plants and animals in a way that benefits soil health and the ecosystem at large. And the more I learn, the more convinced I am that farms like White Oak Pastures are the future.”"
🍿 Parting thought / recommendation: Other than the Temple Grandin biopic linked above, if you're looking for another movie recommendation, I HIGHLY suggest watching Contagion. It might seem morbid to watch it amid the current crisis (still trying to convince my girlfriend to watch it with me), but it's eerie just how closely it mirrors everything that's been going on since the outbreak of COVID-19, from the containment efforts and policies to the misinformation, hysteria. and ways of coping. And then, it's even more shocking when you realize this was released 9 years ago, and based on a prediction of exactly what we're currently going through. Looks like you have to rent it on Prime and other streaming services, or you can do a free Cinemax trial. I own the movie 😅
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Betting the farm,