Those of you who have read my last few mailings know that I’ve had a busy few weeks lately. I compensated this week by not doing much of anything other than catching up with my wife and daughters, and consequently falling behind on my “things that need doing” list. That’s ok, though. It was worth it. Still, there are a few things to report.
First, last weekend the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against both the United States Food & Drug Administration and the United States Department of Health and Human Services that aims to re-establish the consumer’s right to cross state lines to purchase raw milk when it is a legal product where it is purchased. I was named a plaintiff in the suit (as was one other Athens Locally Grown member), and hope that it will eventually allow you to once again purchase raw milk from the USDA Grade A dairies in South Carolina that sold through our market before the FDA shut that down last October. If you’d like to read the full complain, you can find it as a PDF file here. Even if everything happens quickly, it’ll still be several months before there’s a resolution, so I’ll keep you informed. The defense fund is fronting all of the costs for this, thanks to its many members. If you have the money to spare and would like to become a member yourself, they do have details on their website. I also saved all of the milk cartons from the FDA mandated milk dumping at my farm last fall, and am putting together an online fundraiser for the fund where we’ll be auctioning them off, signed, as commemorations of the seizure & dumping. I planned on having that ready to announce tonight, but that was one of the things on my list…
There are also two proposals to legalize raw milk within Georgia in the state house right now. They’re focusing exclusively on the budget crisis right now, so not much has been done on either one of them.
Second, we are putting things in gear for the warm weather. We will be having out popular monthly “Farmer for a Day” work events and farm tours again this year, and have begun planning for those. We’ll be announcing the schedule as soon as it gets hashed out. I was amused to read an article in the New York Times this week that made the rounds about a group of people that shows up at a farm and performs several hours of simple work, getting done in one day what would have taken the farmer weeks to get done. The article called them “crop mobs”, a play on the “flash mob” concept one sees in cities from time to time. To me, it sounded just like our Farmer for the Day events, except those farm mobs didn’t get few lunch and get a nice tour afterwards. I guess I’ll need to invite a writer for the Times along this year.
There are many new products on the “New Products” carousel this week, and as things warm up, we’ll be seeing more and more. The Camembert cheese caught my eye, and is among the first of several new local cheese we’ll be seeing in coming weeks. Increasing the variety of cheeses available through ALG was one of my goals for this year, and I’m very happy to report that at least three new cheesemakers have been certified by the state, and I expect to see products from all three in the near future. I didn’t have anything to do with their efforts, but I’ll be happy to cross that item off my to-do list just the same.
Thanks so much for your support of Athens Locally Grown, all of our growers, local food, and our rights to eat it. You all are part of what makes Athens such a great area in which to live. We’ll see you on Thursday at Ben’s Bikes at the corner of Pope and Broad Streets from 4:30 to 8pm!
The Athens Farmers Market has closed for the winter, but will be opening back up in a couple months. You can watch for news during the offseason on their website. The other area markets are also all closed for the season too. All but Athens Locally Grown, that is.
Please support your local farmers and food producers, where ever you’re able to do so!