By On the Road to FARMLANDIA | September 10, 2011 at 10:10 PM EDT | No Comments
It's been awhile, but I'm now up to 4,350 miles on the road, and I don't know exactly how many in the air, so there's been little time to share the experience (as the experience itself takes up all my time). Since my last blog entry, I've traveled from the floods and mostly misery of western Missouri, across the entire state of Kansas to St. Francis, on the border of Colorado. There I visited rancher, meat processor, and food entrepreneur Mike Callicrate at his ranch in St. Francis where he corn-finishes cattle for his meat company and retail outlet in Colorado Springs. He also has a USDA approved mobile slaughter unit where I was actually able to suit up (USDA required hardhat, hairnet & white coat) and observe the humane kill and slaughter of a beef cow. It's not as gruesome as it sounds. In my opinion, if I'm going to eat meat, I should know how a cow becomes meat. The USDA has tremendous oversight and is there at every slaughter to make certain that the kill is humane and the slaughter is clean, as indeed this was. Mike's guys know what they are doing.
The more I travel and the more farmers and ranchers I met and farms I see, the more I know I am on to something. People are creating alternative food systems that are truly amazing, like Jeff & Jenika Downs of Kinikin Farms in Montrose where they grass fee & finish Devon cattle along with sheep, some pigs and turkeys (which are actually wild turkeys come to roost). They market everything themselves and are making a go of it. Check out their website. There's also the Austin Orchards in Paonia where Glenn & Tina Austin and their son Tim and all the grandchildren work the orchards to produce organic fruits that are simply gorgeous. I'm eating one of their peaches as I write this, hoping the juice doesn't wreck my computer. There's hope on the land. Even though the industrial agricultural complex is flourishing via Monsanto and WalMart and Tyson, it is beginning to sputter in some parts, and I've been able to document both good and bad. Today, I've traveled due south from Colorado Springs, following the Santa Fe Trail along I25 to Raton, New Mexico. Tomorrow 'll continue south toward the Texas Panhandle to my final destination with cotton farmer Eric Herm & his family in Ackerly, Texas, At least, i think it's my final destination. Eric is going to introduce me to some farmers in the area, so who knows? The trip has been full of surprises and the trip back home will no doubt hold some as well. I have already traveled nearly 5,000 miles already and that doesn't count the time in the air crossing the rockies (at 15,000 feet) to Montrose and Paonia and back to Colorado Springs in a plane piloted by Mike Callicrate. Without his help and unbelievable hospitality and guidance I could not have had such great opportunities to meet folks who are growing things right & have created small & successful local and regional food systems. It's an inspiration. At the base of it all the visits I've made, from the very first in upstate NY to now has been the very ground under my feet, that is, the dirt, the living soil from which everything emanates. I'm thinking, maybe the very earth that all of these farmers are working is what this documentary is all about.....
It's late; more later.