Favorite Organizations: Slow Food, and Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

Reader Contribution by Jim Christie
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We’ve been back in Texas from Australia now over 1-1/2 years. The first year plus was spent getting through the first stage of settling in – finishing the house, getting the garden going, setting up a modular home for Julie’s Mom and screening in the large porch. We were also joined on the homestead by our oldest grandchild.  She’s going to college here in Texas and now shares our life — at least for awhile.

The blogs I wrote initially chronicled our early learning process and the build out of our barndominium. But now that the “barn” is mostly complete, it didn’t seem there was much more to write about in that area. There may be some significant activities we undertake to add to the homestead (and I’ll blog about those) but I wanted to write about other areas of interest and passion — food and how it gets to our table.

In Australia, we enjoyed meeting and knowing Matthew Evans, writer of a number of books about his experience in going from big city Sydney to small town Tasmania, creating a homestead and various business ventures around those.  Google Gourmet Farmer and his name to get more information on Matthew.  He is in the middle of the Australia local food scene and we learned from him a lot about food and how it gets to our table.  Also, we learned how a plethora of local, state and national rules and procedures seemed to favor “big food” and disadvantage local producers.

As we were moving to Texas, we discovered an organization called Slow Food.

And in particular, we found the local chapter for the San Antonio area. Monthly, we have activities such as visiting a restaurant or producer who epitomizes getting local food to the table. We also have an educational relationship with a local school and the Witte Museum as they have added an exhibit about health, food, nutrition and exercise. For the coming year or so, I’m President of the local chapter and we will endeavor to reach out to more people and are starting a (hopefully) quarterly meeting called “Meet the Producer” where we work with a local producer and a local, friendly restaurant to create a menu that features the producer(s). Our first such event is coming up soon and I will cover it. If you have interest in Slow Food, go to the Slow Food USA website to find a chapter in your local area or, if you are in South Texas, go to Slow Food South Texas website.

The second organization I’ve found useful is based in Texas (and may have its strongest influence in Texas). It’s called the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) and is heavily involved in issues affecting smaller producers and all consumers. FARFA is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and protects a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA promotes common sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems. Next week, I’m attending a citizen activism workshop where we will (hopefully) learn to influence our decision makers toward more common sense policies concerning our food supply. I’ll blog more about FARFA and its activities as time goes on but I would encourage those of you reading this blog to check it out at the Farm and Ranch Freedom website.

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