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Monday, November 30, 2009

NY Times Report on Soul Food Farm Confirms That Food, Politics Are Inseparable Here

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2009 at 11:07 AM

click to enlarge Sign from a Cane Rosso benefit in October. - SARAHSUANNECOX/FLICKR
  • sarahsuannecox/Flickr
  • Sign from a Cane Rosso benefit in October.
A brief profile in yesterday's New York Times Magazine shone a warm national light on Soul Food Farms. Tenders of chickens expect a wolf or two to show up at some point along the way, but arson is another matter entirely. When nearly 1,200 chicks perished inside blazing coops back in September, the Vacaville chicken-and-egg farm faced a bleak future. Upstanding members of the Bay Area food community came to the rescue. Blogs like SFoodie kept the public informed, and loyal customers Coi, Chez Panisse, Camino, Bi-Rite Market, and Quince collected upwards of $25,000 via raffles and other fund raisers.

That story traveled the local media circuit a while ago, but in addition to giving deserved press to a wonderful local operation, the Times piece extended the good service in highlighting a key issue popular small farmers and artisanal producers have long faced, especially in the Bay Area, where food and politics are inseparable.

Slow Food skeptics, contrarians, and general cheapskates might scoff at $8 egg cartons. In truth, real food is expensive, and farms like Soul Food -- celebrated as they might be in discrete circles -- aren't rich just because they try to make an honest profit selling to folks with fat bankrolls.

On the other hand, the people who actually have made millions running massive companies -- think Tyson and Perdue -- saturate our food supply with inferior, artificially inexpensive products that indirectly discredit the good stuff. It's a values issue, and Soul Food Farms co-owner Alexis Koefoed put it quite well in this quote from the Times:

This should really matter, because it's going into your mouth and fueling your capacity to get through the day.... Food is the bottom line: we all need to eat every day. Then ultimately aren't farmers the most important resource we have in this country?

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