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The university that had its beginning as “Mass Aggie” has become “the place to be” for students in the rapidly growing field of sustainable agriculture, permaculture and food system studies. In a recent ranking of the “best global agricultural universities,” UMass was placed 10th best in the world and 5th best in the U.S. Long recognized for its cutting edge research, UMass is also the home to the fastest growing undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture in the nation. For more information, see: http://sustfoodfarm.org/sffmajor/
The UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture offers:
BY TODD SANDSTRUM
Located right on 106 in Plympton, sits a small farm stand owned by Pete and Lynn Reading, who purchased the 30 acre property in 2006. Over 90% of the products within the farm stand are all grown on the farm, using both organic and traditional practices. The farm has been recognized by the Department of Agriculture and is certified by Commonwealth Quality and Baystate Organic. From spring through Fall, there is always something available as ‘Pick You Own,’ strawberries, blueberries and finally fall pumpkins.
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Fall is a bittersweet time for me. I do miss sunshine-y beach days (and fresh tomatoes!), but there’s something special about the crisp, cool days of autumn. Everything seems to slow down a bit, and I find myself with a little extra time on my hands. If I’m not in the kitchen, you can usually find me reading. Here’s a few books the fellow conscious consumer can appreciate:
The Ominvore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
I just started reading this book after my brother recommended it to me. So far, it’s really interesting. It takes a look at our modern food system to answer the seemingly simple question, “What’s for dinner?” The book is broken down into three categories: industrialized food, alternative food, and food either hunted, gathered, or grown by those consuming it. Although I haven’t finished it yet, I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of current food systems. (Psst…Americans are literally made of corn).
Born With a Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks, and Hacks Pimp the Public Health by Martha Rosenburg
This book is broken down into two books, essentially. I’ve only read the latter part of the book which focuses on the industrial meat system and factory farming. After reading this book, I spent several months as a vegetarian, and then transitioned to what some might call a flexitarian. Typically I only eat meat once a day, and only if I know the meat was humanely raised and not pumped with antibiotics and hormones. Luckily, it’s easy to find meat you can feel good about all across Southeastern Massachusetts.
Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit by Barry Estabrook
Tomatoland exposes our favorite red fruit in a way that many have never thought of. When we bite into a slice on our sandwich we don’t often think about how it got there. Tomatoes are often grown and harvested in ways that are harmful to the environment and people. Tomato production also relies heavily on slave labor (even in this country).
I’ve been told I take the fun out of eating when I start discussions about our modern industrial food system. However, I think it’s important to be aware of how your dinner got to your plate. Rather than “take the fun out of eating,” educating yourself about what you eat might challenge you to buy more locally. Finding new farms and trying different local dishes is both enjoyable and delicious.
Here’s to conscious consumption,
With the official kill frost now past us, we start to clean up the year and get the fields put to bed for the winter. Root crops are stacked up in the coolers and root cellars for the winter CSA and the few winter markets that will be running in the off season. I find it hard to believe how fast this year has gone past. With a second, dry summer the local farmers found themselves in a learning curve and from what I saw, they have adjusted well. What will next year bring and how do we prepare for it? is the big question.
Over the past year, SEMAP has worked very hard to connect with some amazing people to better the services to our members…People like Chris Rezendes from INEX. Chris and his team are designing technology that will give data right to the farmers about the conditions on their own farm, not a regional average. It will cover things like well monitoring and use Doppler radars the size of a basketball to give data on fields from the other side of town that a farmer may be working. Matthew Tortora, CEO and Founder of Crave Food Services, is another great connection for SEMAP. Matthew has been working on the food service side to get chefs and restaurants to buy local. He is also using technology to make it faster and easier to connect them with farmers. SEMAP is trying to find ways to help its farm members more. Creating network resources offering access to easy, user friendly technology to the farmer members seems like a great start to our goal.
The ‘Farmers Little Red Book’ is also in the works. This pocketsize, resource book will be catered to the SEMAP territory and list resources like farm services, equipment repairs and servicing, marketing support, attorneys, accountants, plus the top seed and soil companies most used in our territories. The purpose of the book is to give our member farmers a fast reference book to keep in the truck or on the tractor. We understand that you could ‘just Google that,’ but then you can find yourself in a sea of websites and end up in upstate New York instead of locally for help. We hope to have this book out for the Spring of 2016 or even available for the Food and Ag Conference. Read more →