Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Local Foods Movie Series at the Byron Colby Barn Continues

Last November Mike Sands showed the movie Fresh! and the event was a big success for all who came. Well this event is continuing for at least two additional nights. This Friday, January 15, is the film HOMEGROWN and Feburary 24th is the acclaimed film King Corn and the short sequel Big River.

The Byron Colby Barn is located at 1561 Jones Point Road in Grayslake IL.

All movies are FREE!

On Friday, 7:30 January 15th, we'll show a 52 minute video by Robert McFalls entitled HOMEGROWN. HOMEGROWN follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While "living off the grid", they harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels, and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate human portrait of what it's like to live like "Little House on the Prairie" in the 21st Century. HOMEGROWN is ultimately a family story. It's about what lead them to where they are today, what changed them and what keeps them together. Perhaps by learning of their journey to a sustainable life style, we might be inspired to take our own first steps. To see a trailer go to www.homegrown-film.com/trailer.html

On Wednesday, 7:30 February 24th, we'll show the acclaimed KING CORN followed by their short sequel BIG RIVER. KING CORN is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In KING CORN, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat—and how we farm.BIG RIVER picks up where the 2006 film KING CORN left off - in the banks of the Mississippi River. Where KING CORN was a light-hearted look at our industrial food system through the lens of two wide-eyed Yale graduates (Curt Ellis and his partner-in-crime Ian Cheney) cultivating a single acre of corn in Iowa, BIG RIVER is a harsh reality check, examining the impact industrial farming has on the Mississippi River. For trailers go to www.kingcorn.net and www.bigriverfilm.com

There will be discussion leaders and door prizes at both events.

Please pass on this information to any colleague or you think would be interested or onto your own blog. The screenings are free and open to all!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Holy Cows and Hog Heaven: A Book Review

Over winter break I had time to read quite a few books. One of the books that I was able to finish was Joel Salatin's Holy Cows and Hog Heaven. This book is a buyers guide to farm fresh food that empowers consumers to take matters into their own hands. After reading this book I have a new-found understanding for what local farmers have to do and the hurdles they have to jump through.

The book kicks off with a foreword from the food reform guru himself, Michael Pollan. Michael briefly explains that while doing research for his book Omnivore's Dilemma he came across Polyface Farms. He decided to order some beef from Joel and have it shipped to him in New York. The following conversation is a result of that desire.

"Sure come by the farm any time."

Michael then explained that he lived in Connecticut, so maybe instead he could ship a rib eye or two.

"Sorry but we only sell locally."

Michael then misinterpreted this statement as meaning he wasn't set up for shipping.

"No I don't think you understand. We have a policy here of never shipping food more than fifty miles from the farm. I have a problem with Fed-Exing meat clear across the country..."

This sentiment easily sums up Polyface farms -- local, dedicated, and honest. The book also includes some great stories and anecdotes on the FDA and some of its idiotic policy, Monsanto and its goal to copyright every gene in our food system, and lastly corporate farming.

So in conclusion I recommend this book to anyone who eats. Remember, we can't wait for the government or big corporations to save us. We have to be the change that we seek.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Farmville Update

What Does Farmville Mean for Farmers?


Stop caring about your virtual farm and start caring about real ones.

The sun always shines. Pink cows produce strawberry milk. Soybeans take two days to grow and ripen. Something is not right. It’s too clean. Nothing smells. Coffee bean grows next to squash. Millions of first-time farmers plant new crops every week. And—finally!—people pull out their wallets to support local agriculture. Welcome to Farmville.

Farmville has become a viral internet trend since its launch as a Facebook application this summer. It has now grown to 70 million users, making it the number one application on the social networking site. Players sign up and get fields, infrastructure, and cash. They’re tasked with creating bigger, better, and richer farms. The game is a rehash of the addictive Tamagotchi pet toy of the early 1990s, but instead of feeding a little “animal,” you’re caring for a digital homestead with insatiable livestock and crops that need regular clicking and attention.

The virtual farm provides an odd mashup of social networking with back-to-the-land fantasies. Farmville offers no real sustenance, but its emphasis on cooperation, strategy, and creation represent a culturally significant development in the often violent world of gaming. It’s a simulation with less stimulation, a sort of virtual country calm that transports us somewhere else for a minute or an hour. In doing so, the game taps deep into the American psyche, and the longing for an idyllic agrarian past. “People just want to get back to something simpler,” one tech writer told NPR.

While using new media to express old agrarian values may seem paradoxical, Yi-Fu Tuan points out in his book Topophilia that the romantic appreciation of nature in literature has always arisen from wealth, privilege, and the urban advancement of society, which distances us from a gentle, unselfconscious involvement with the physical world. Farmville is just the latest iteration of the theme.

But Farmville’s farms don’t actually mirror reality. In Farmville, farmers can get high returns. Seeds mature at impossible rates. It’s a place without slaughtering. There’s little of the harsh reality that Americans value food only enough to spend 10 percent of their income on it. If you had any doubts, know that Farmville is complete fantasy.

In 2004, Eleanor Agnew wrote a memoir, Back From the Land, about her homesteading experience. After being lured by the idealism of living in nature and trying to live off the land, she eventually moved back to the city. Life in the country was tough. She spent an exorbitant amount of time making ketchup. Her marriage disintegrated. “Liking the idea was not enough,” she writes. Liking just the idea of farming has little potential to transform the world; Farmville’s online community of artificial soybean farmers won’t improve our food system. To do that we need real farming, and that's not a game. It’s time to support actual small farmers and stop playing around.

Article taken from following website