Monday, March 23, 2009

My Love-Hate Thing with Kansas

I love my city. It happens, though, to be perched half in one state and half in another. It's just the right size of place to allow for some culture and diversity, with really laid back people, and, for me, a fantastic local food scene (read more about all the awards and accolades).

In 20 minutes or less, I can get to an open field. Which is nice for a former farm girl because all the cement closes in on me quick when I visit NY. The surrounding rural areas also make for a world-class supply of local food. Eggs, milk from farms in Missouri. Meat and vegetables from both sides. Even local grain is easy to come by.

Because my local food comes from two states, I worry about agriculture legislation for both. And that's where Kansas just doesn't shine.

Most recently, of course, the "no-rBGH" label made it through the House in Kansas and is off to Senate for vote. This would make Kansas one of the few states in our nation where consumers can't tell how their milk is produced even though the FDA has standards for labels. Daires that still use rBGH amount for only 15% of milk production. Companies like Dannon and Starbucks won't use milk with rBGH. Why, Kansas?

Then, there is this gem I somehow missed (Thanks, Ethicurean!). This is a quote from Senator Pat Roberts. from KANSAS and a Senior Member of the Senate Ag Committee:
“That small family farmer is about 5′2″…and he’s a retired airline pilot and sits on his porch on a glider reading Gentleman’s Quarterly — he used to read the Wall Street Journal but that got pretty drab — and his wife works as stock broker downtown. And he has 40 acres, and he has a pond and he has an orchard and he grows organic apples. Sometimes there is a little more protein in those apples than people bargain for, and he’s very happy to have that.”
WTF? I mean, you've seen how hard small farmers work, right? Roberts is a SENIOR member nation's Senate Ag Committee. So, he's not just Kansas' problem. He's your problem too! I did NOT vote for this guy. Wow. Ethicurean did a lovely slide show on Flickr to show Sen. Roberts what small family farmers really look like. And, I suppose we all now know what Sen. Pat Roberts looks like. And what's with the height thing? Napolean complex, Mr. Roberts?

By the way, as just released today, Roberts is heading up opposition to the agriculture budget cuts (subsidy reform) proposed and proposed reopening the farm bill for revisions. Kit Bond (R-MO), Sam Brownback (R-KS) also signed the letter.

I realize that the whole of the food movement community is all aglow over the White House Garden. As well we should be. But I would not go so far as to believe the battle for better food is won because of a single garden on the White House Lawn, and food activists will have, as Alternet proclaims, nothing more to do than "sit down and eat."

No. Because until we clean the whole House and Senate (and all 50 state legislatures with their own ag committees) of backward ideas like the ones above, we still have work to do.

And, until EVERYONE in America has access to all that fresh food, we have work to do.

And, hell, with all those gardens being planted, we've got a lot of weeding to do, too.

And, we apparently still have to learn how to cook that food again. Real food doesn't come in boxes, it comes with roots and dirt attached.

It's not like you sit there and the food just jumps on the plate. We have a lot of work to do.

Starting with Kansas.


bellananda said...

hear, hear!!

Janet said...

The Kansas Senate hasn't voted on the rBGH bill yet, so contact your state senator. (The Kansas legislature drives me crazy on many fronts, but we mustn't give up.) If you'll forgive a bit of self-promotion, but I have to in view of your link to Semihomemade. Gag. I'm convinced that part of the eating problem is that people don't know how to cook. That's why I started a web site,, that I hope will help people who want to try their hand in the kitchen--with real food. And Roberts? Don't get me started!

Janet Majure said...

Rats. Hit "Enter" too soon. Now my name will link to the web site (I think).

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the little owl said...

I stumbled on your blog by way of your pumpkin puree post (I had a feeling I needed to drain my pumpkin in cheesecloth, Googled it, and your site came up!). I live in New York City, but am originally from Kansas City - naturally when I saw that one of your top blog posts was about a love/hate relationship with Kansas, I had to check it out. Really interesting. I had no idea, and will certainly pass along the information to my family. Thanks for sharing! Cheers!