By Matthew French – www.virginiafoodfreedom.org
Video link below
On Sunday morning Bernadette Barber was on Fox & Friends Weekend to talk about the Virginia Food Freedom Act (HB 1290) and she took a sweet potato pie with her. She has done a great job representing the idea and spirit of the legislation.
One of the great comments she made was that this bill was not just for farmers.
“This is not just for farmers, this is for everyone in Virginia. People that live in apartments, in cities, in the suburbs; whatever you can make in your kitchen that your neighbors and family and friends would like to purchase, as long as you have that label on there it’s a legal sale. This will revolutionize the food scape in Virginia.”
I believe this is an aspect of the bill that needs to be made more well known. Folks who are living in the innercity and struggling to make ends meet could add to their income by preparing home cooked meals for sale. And who knows, they could end up with their own cooking show on T.V. Don’t laugh, it has happened before.
You can watch the full two and half minute video by clicking below. I hope you will share this video with your friends. We need to pass the Virginia Food Freedom Act and to do that we need as many people to see this as possible.
Question: Are you ready to see this bill signed by the Governor? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Matthew French is a farmer in southwest Virginia. He and his family operate their 200 year old farm where they raise pastured poultry, free-range pigs, grass-fed lamb and a variety of vegetables. You can find more from him at www.thefrenchfamilyfarm.com
By Dwayne McIntyre
For the past few days, I have caught wind of a Washington Post article circulating around the social media circles. Its title, Unearthed: Thanks to science we may see the rebirth of the American Chestnut. Its subheading, “Scientists are breeding a blight resistant variety, and its everything other GMOs aren’t.” I have seen a lot
of excitement from fellow farmers, naturalists and normally anti-GMO advocates expressing their pleasure for such good news, and as the article articulates, there is such a romantic idea of bringing back the great American chestnut.
For those who don’t already know, the American chestnut tree was a prolific timber and food tree up until the early 1900’s and was wiped out almost completely by a blight that came here on the more inferior Chinese chestnut tree we tried to introduce to our country. All the chestnuts you eat today are from those trees from China. The article cites 3-4 billion trees gone overnight, which is an apocalyptic tragedy comparable to that of the Truffula trees, so it’s easy to just guess how devastating this loss was.
Immediately it feels important to point out that the article is talking about GMO chestnut trees, more specifically chestnut genomes genetically modified with genes from wheat. Sounds harmless, right? At least it’s not spliced with toxic pesticides and herbicides.
The immediate curiosity that comes to mind is, are we against GMOs because they are unnatural and potentially dangerous in the long term, or is it just when its spliced with things foreign to our palette and the lack of any real long term research isn’t really as important when “it’s everything other GMOs aren’t? “
Regardless the writer of this article opens up with a great walk down memory lane of what it was like back when America reveled in the bounty of such a wonderful natural blessing of an innate food supply, like the chestnut, available to anyone and everyone. I even have to agree, our fore generations had quite a blessed abundance from these trees. The idea of having again “a readily available supply of high-quality, good-tasting food, growing out there in the woods contributing to a wholesome, healthful diet” makes me want to believe that this new Frankenstein genome will deliver. Can it? Will these scientists, the writer thinks we need to thank, deliver us this lost Promised Land once again?
First off it’s GMO, so the nutritional stats and romance with real actual chestnuts will not be what we’re going to get from the GMO version. I can’t name one GMO variety of anything that is nutritionally equal or superior to its real counterpart. In fact, GMO foods are so synthetically grown (denser plots, sprayed toxins, liquid sewage fertilizer, etc.) they usually don’t carry any nutritional value at all. Sure we might see a lot of unaffordable furniture stores popping up everywhere with a lot of nice product putting ma and pa out of business, but cheap chestnuts from the store, probably in boxes in every aisle, might not be as romantic as pen and paper can delude.
Take corn for instance. Genetically modified with the intent of saving a starving world with an abundance of good healthy food, yet almost immediately became the most subsidized, overabundant, nutritionally empty Franken food out there, in every aisle of the supermarket, in almost every box, driven by a profit model that has put virtually 75%, if not more, of all small farms out of business. But don’t worry, as the article suggests, the chestnut trees will be different. We will have our healthy utopia once again.
Its total naivety to think that designer GMO Chestnuts aren’t going to be exploited for profit, especially after explaining in great detail in the article how exquisite chestnut timber is and how one mature tree produces a half a ton of nuts. That sounds like an exact recipe for exploitation. The timber and food markets will capitalize on its overabundant output levels which will launch demands for the trees way above the Johnny Appleseed levels of frolicking in the forests and repopulating the countryside so all the folks of the land can have their fill of free “healthy” food. So easy we buy the dream, cast all our convictions aside, and pretend this new American wheatnut tree won’t come with a patent.
Honestly, the more I think about this article the more I think the American chestnut is the mascot for the great American Tragedy.
America was the great Promised Land loaded with a bounty of blessings, such as the innate food supply described in this article, and we wiped it out by means of the cheaper more inferior versions from China. I suggest letting the American chestnut rest in peace and reflect upon its death for wisdom on how to change our industrial habits for the better and give rebirth to the great America that once was. But that’s just me.
I suppose with Christmas right around the corner though it’s just the right time to believe in Monsanto Clause and sit around the fireplace roasting great cheer to his name.
GMO’s roasting on an open fire
Blood flow skipping all your toes
Your funeral dirge being sung by a choir
And folks all dressed in hospital clothes
Everyone has a prescription and a pharmacist
Helps to make the food digest
Tiny tots with their bellies full
Will find it hard to want real food
They know that Monsanto’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of trees and chestnuts on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is a guinea pig
To the Franken food giants who are raking it in
So I’m offering this simple phrase
If you want to live to ninety-two
Although it’ll never be told by the industry goons
“Health comes from real food”
Dwayne McIntyre is a small family farmer from Russell County Virginia who raises organic free ranged children with his wife Stacey. Together his family produces grass-fed beef and pastured poultry for sale at the Abingdon Farmers Market. He is also the chairman of the Russell County Republican Party and is a strong advocate for Virginia Food Freedom.
The state of Virginia has brought an Arizona- based “family-owned” Dairy to Augusta County. Shamrock Dairy is a 10,000 cow CAFO operation ( Cow Warehouse) in the desert of Arizona. It is indeed family owned, but how many family dairy farms do you know of that could build a 50 million dollar processing plant? Shamrock’s sham is that it perpetuates the image of what Americans perceive a family dairy might be- maybe a quaint independent operation with green fields, open space, cows contently chewing their cud in dappled sunshiney pastures? Little children dashing about while siblings do farm chores?
No, a 10,000 cow dairy in the desert is neither natural nor sustainable. It is an industrial ( not familial) operation. How many family members run day to day milking? Do they push a button, is it purely robotic? An operation like that also eats alot of taxpayer subsidies. and produces food like substance, that is far inferior to real, raw, unpasteurized, unhomogenized locally purchased milk.
Unbeknownst to many Virginians, they unluckily footed the bill to bring Shamrock Dairy here. Virginia Economic Development Partnership gave both Augusta County and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership $250,000.00 to broker the deal with Shamrock Dairy. Governor McDonnell also gave to Shamrock another $50,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Fund. A bill creating that fund was introduced by both Del. Steve Landes and Senator Bill Stanley and passed in 2012. Its purpose was to lure Big Agricultural processing operations to VA if they would use atleast 30% of “Virginia Grown” product. Shamrock is also eligible to recieve Road Access Funding from the Department of Transportation. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program, will provide funding and will service the company’s training and re-training activities. Shamrock has and will recieve much more than $300,000 from the Virginia taxpayer- who is denied the ability to process and sell their own dairy products.
The shame therein of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, whose purpose is to create jobs- is that they incentivize foreign or alien companies ( those not in VA) to build, with taxpayers money. When they tout “Virginia is open for Business” they only mean big business, because the agricultural food processing field is so entrenched in red tape and fed tape-Virginia couldn’t even feed herself nutritiously if she wanted. The fact is, Virginia does want to feed herself and keep the profits thereof. One only need to see the burgeoning presence of farmers markets, cow share operations, and food buying clubs. The problem and shame of the VEDP is that it should be looking into allowing VA, herself, to create her own independent jobs by examining the costly burdensome regulations that prevent the opportunity. Legislators need to give farmers and families the freedom to process their own foods to sell direct to their neighbors and communities. Small scale production is very safe. And for over 400 years up until less than 40 years ago, its what sustained her.
There are thousands of Virginians who would joyfully and safely run a family dairy and sell direct to their customers, if it were legal. But Virginia state law does not allow for the direct sale of “raw” milk. It must be sold to a licensed processor, such as Shamrock Dairy.
Next time you see “welcome news of agricultural jobs creation”, know that it is a sham, because it is quite possible your tax dollars paid dearly for it, and a shame that legislators deny you the legal framework to create your own job, profiting from your own labor on the farm.