Sunday, March 23, 2008

Weekend Update

Looks like it will be at least another year before we see any raw milk for sale in Maryland.

State legislators in Annapolis this week gave a thumbs down to unpasteurized milk despite the best lobbying efforts of the Maryland Independent Consumers and Farmers Association. Members of the House of Delegates' Health and Government Operations Committee voted 11-9 against a bill to legalize the sale of raw milk in the state

Supporters of the bill argued that prohibition of raw milk In Maryland merely forces consumers to travel to nearby Pennsylvania, where raw milk sales are legal, and denies Maryland dairy farmers access to the lucrative raw milk market. About two thirds of all states permit some form of raw milk sales at farms, while another eight states allow raw milk to be sold in retail stores.

“In our process of representative government, the officials are elected to enact the will of the people. Sadly, this did not happen this time," Liz Reitzig, president of MICFA said in a statement. "We will continue to work to restore the freedoms of Maryland farmers to engage in direct-to-consumer sales and to give consumers the ability to buy from the producer of their choice.”

This past week was not so much a slow news week for food as more of the same. The wild salmon were still MIA in California and Oregon, where the salmon fishery has been closed for the first time ever. Turning corn and other food crops into fuel for automobiles was a more boneheaded idea than ever. And consumers around the globe were in a state of growing apprehension over the rising costs of all kinds of comestibles.

With gasoline prices now headed toward $4 a gallon here in the U.S. (I know, seems like a bargain to our British friends), more and more people are thinking those drives to the farmers market in the ol' Land Rover might not be such a great idea. There's increasing talk of Victory Gardens and ditching the front lawn in favor of growing food closer to home.

The New York Times devoted an entire design column to ways that architects and designers are incorporating fruit and vegetables into modern living and business arrangements.

If you happen to be in the mood to muck about in the soil and grow your own, this has just come in from Mother Earth News: an on-line seed searching tool. I received an e-mail from the magazine asking me to take a look and possibly write a review.

"The free Finder searches more than 150 garden catalogs – from the big names to small, specialized companies. Our initial emphasis is on sources for vegetables, but we plan to add fruit and nut tree and ornamental catalogs in the near future," the magazine declares.

Type in the name of the seed or plant your looking for, hit the "search" button and Google immediately produces a list of sources. I tried it out a few times, starting with sweet potatoes. I need to put in an order for seedlings, and not everybody sells sweet potato seedlings. This feature eliminates a lot of the extraneous material you'd normally get with a general search, such as bulletins for university extension services, blog posts and recipe recommendations. It takes you right to the seeds.

This is great for harder-to-find varieties, but what we really need is a service that points us to seed sources close to home that have more or less everything we need so we can cut down on shipping seeds and plants across the country. and avoid all those handling charges.

Happy gardening and bon appetit...


Bad Human? said...

Thankfully Colorado farmers have been able to work around the prohibition against selling raw milk. The state government allows them to sell "cow shares" which really means you are buying a monthly subscription to buy raw milk but it is still regulated which is nice. We went out to visit the farm and family where we get our milk from so we knew the conditions the cows live in. The milk is amazing and since it comes with the cream on top we are able to make our own butter as well.


Ed Bruske said...

N, we have seen that kind of cow sharing arrangement in our area as well. Some officials take a dim view of it, but I'm glad to see it's working in Colorado.