I Do Like Green Eggs and Ham

Much of what we’ve addressed on this blog has focused on the epidemiological dangers of industrial farming. But what of the alternatives? Can we farm in another way? Is another world possible?

It’s only since I’ve moved to the Midwest that I’ve learned that not only is that world possible, it’s growing right out from underneath the dried and dead soil laid atop agribusiness’s stronghold. A mob of thousands of new organic farmers have taken up pitchforks and torches against Frankenfood. Farmers’ markets are popping up all over. Food co-ops are blooming in even some of the smallest towns across the Upper Midwest.

Many of my brethren on the coasts–who I’ve now taken to calling ‘the flyovers’–are largely unawares of a new agricultural uprising that could strike at the very heart of the agribusiness model now dominating global production. For reasons we will explore in posts to follow there is no guarantee that the revolt will succeed. Many serious obstacles remain. But by much blood and sweat, acre by acre, store by store, kitchen by kitchen, real food and home cooking are making a comeback.

Why the bother? Why struggle against the Food Empire? The best place to start may be the end: what does a meal of locally grown organic meat and vegetables look and smell like? Putting aside nutrition and politics, putting aside all expectations about what socially conscious food means, putting aside the ridiculous amount of work involved, how does the food taste? Once we can identify a destination–delicacies any and all Americans deserve on a regular basis–all arguments that follow shift to the ways we can get more people there.

I remember my first simple grass-fed burger here. Bodily fluids were mixed: I cried salty tears into the burger’s juices. I was tasting beef for the very first time. All else, many hundreds of patties over nearly four decades, were but a prelude of corn-fed cardboard. Veggies and fruit and cheeses? Similar revelations. There’s nothing so viscerally convincing as an argument for a new agriculture than a damn good meal shared al fresco among the evening fireflies with good friends and a good regional beer.

Below you’ll find photos of meals my wife Alexis prepared this summer using vegetables from Burning River, our CSA farm, and some local organic meats. The captions are hers.

So join us. Bring a dish. You will have some work to do too. Cut veggies, wash some dishes, babysit, or top off the first round. Otherwise, get the fuck out of the kitchen and go blab with some other guest waiting outside in the yard. Let the artist finish preparing tonight’s gift.

Burning River Farm, Community Supported Agriculture.

Burning River Farm, Community Supported Agriculture.

Squash ready for share boxes.

Squash ready for share boxes.

One week's CSA bounty: Kale, salad greens, summer squash and zukes, carrots, cucumbers (yes!), beets, garlic (double yes!), broccoli, onions and fresh thyme.

One week's CSA bounty: Kale, salad greens, summer squash and zukes, carrots, cucumbers (yes!), beets, garlic (double yes!), broccoli, onions and fresh thyme.

Mixed greens with beets and cucumbers, braised cabbage, tiny bit of leftover carrot-cauliflower puree, roast chicken (chicken is from loca farm, not the CSA).

Mixed greens with beets and cucumbers, braised cabbage, tiny bit of leftover carrot-cauliflower puree, roast chicken (chicken is from local farm, not the CSA). Summer squash pasta with light cream butter sauce.

Lamb burger with mint, oregano, bread crumb and lemon, cucumber yogurt dressing, mixed greens and zucchini fritter. All produce from the CSA, lamb from the farmer's market, mint from the backyard.

Lamb burger with mint, oregano, bread crumb and lemon, cucumber yogurt dressing, mixed greens and zucchini fritter. All produce from the CSA, lamb from the farmer's market, mint from the backyard.

Roast chicken with sage, oregano and thyme, cornbread, steamed collard greens with lime (out of lemon!) and butter, and mixed greens with beets, cucumbers and blue cheese (which was made at a local university).

Roast chicken with sage, oregano and thyme, cornbread, steamed collard greens with lime (out of lemon!) and butter, and mixed greens with beets, cucumbers and blue cheese (which was made at a local university).

Steamed rainbow chard with cheese sauce (local raw milk, cheddar, thyme), mixed green salad with beets, cucumbers, tomatoes in a apple cider vinegar, sage and walnut oil dressing, and cornbread!

Steamed rainbow chard with cheese sauce (local raw milk, cheddar, thyme), mixed green salad with beets, cucumbers, tomatoes in a apple cider vinegar, sage and walnut oil dressing, and cornbread!

Summer squash soup, grassfed beef burger, mega fresh corn on the cob.

Summer squash soup, grassfed beef burger, mega fresh corn on the cob.

Mmm, mmm, mmm tomatoes with locally-made fresh mozz, basil from the backyard, flatiron steak (grassfed), corn soup, yummy bread from rustica bakery.

Mmm, mmm, mmm tomatoes with locally-made fresh mozz, basil from the backyard, flatiron steak (grassfed), corn soup, yummy bread from rustica bakery.

Roasted chicken, salad with tomatoes, cukes, feta, oil-cured olives, sauteed greens, and black bean corn, zucchini salad with some sort of grain (can't remember).

Roasted chicken, salad with tomatoes, cukes, feta, oil-cured olives, sauteed greens, and black bean corn, zucchini salad with some sort of grain (can't remember).

This was a crazy meal: Haggis (work with me here), Riders of the Purple Sage Potatoes (purple spuds, fresh sage topped with flash-fried sage leaves), mixed green salad with a bounty of veggies from Burning River: beets, sungold tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, plus Donnay Farm goat cheese. Hellz yeah!

This was a crazy meal: Haggis (work with me here), Riders of the Purple Sage Potatoes (purple spuds, fresh sage topped with flash-fried sage leaves), mixed green salad with a bounty of veggies from Burning River: beets, sungold tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, plus Donnay Farm goat cheese. Hellz yeah!

The white dinner: white Belgian beer, arborio rice with white onions and roasted white eggplants, white beets in oil and vinegar, and baguette with white bean hummus. Take that, Paltrow!

The white dinner: white Belgian beer, arborio rice with white onions and roasted white eggplants, white beets in oil and vinegar, and baguette with white bean hummus. Take that, Paltrow!

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