On Tuesday, Animal Welfare Approved and the Pew Environment Group presented a public panel discussion about raising pasture-based animals, and reclaiming these sustainable farming systems as the source of our meat and dairy. The star-studded panel included Nicolette Hahn Niman, attorney and author of Righteous Porkchop, Carole Morison, former Purdue chicken farmer turned whistleblower and sustainable farming consultant, David Kirby, investigative journalist and author of Animal Factory and Dr. Patricia Whisnant, vet, rancher and president of the American Grassfed Association. As farmers, Carole Morison and Dr. Whisnant have had personal experiences with the industrial animal agriculture system currently producing most of the meat in our country today, and have chosen another path. Nicolette’s husband Bill Niman founded Niman Ranch, which he has since left as he felt that the standards declined to a point he couldn’t live with, after a management change in 2006. They continue to raise beef on pasture but sell under a private label. Kirby has turned his investigative skills on factory farming – the way we raise most of our meat today – and what he found out has spurred him to let out a battle cry to put an end to these factories that call themselves farms. Read More >
Last weekend I had the pleasure of escaping the snow-ridden Mid Atlantic to travel to Athens, Georgia for the Georgia Organics conference. I was contacted months ago to come speak to them about what it means to “eat for the future” – the title of the program I run and an apt title for my presentation. After a 3-hour drive during Atlanta’s Friday rush hour, I arrived in Athens in time to enjoy the evening expo and reception. I had attended the Future Harvest conference (the Mid Atlantic’s sustainable agriculture association) a few weeks ago, where they reached registration capacity at 200. I was unprepared for the crowd at Georgia Organics. 1,300 people had registered to participate – apparently they experience exponential growth every year!
I had well over 100 people come hear me speak – a humbling experience since I am still very much a novice in this field. I was reminded by kind woman early on that I was in the South and I needed to sloooooow down my speech. Not an easy task for a Midwestern like me. I was able to stay for most of Nicolette Hahn Niman’s talk on her book entitled Righteous Pork Chop before I returned to the airport and alas, back to snowy Baltimore.
Thank you, Georgia Organics, for inviting me, and inspiring me that this renewed interest in how we grow the food we eat is not just a fad. The diversity of the participants, the excellent questions, and the sheer number of people attending bodes well for the future of agriculture (irene). Eating for our future means supporting sustainable methods of farming to create a thriving market place for farmers and provide a greater share of the nutritious food for us all.