With Georgia and Connecticut in the news last week because of legislation aimed at protecting small farmers and food producers from laws that are clearly designed with big agriculture in mind, it seems apropos to touch on the subject of small agriculture in the American food landscape.
It’s well documented that small, diversified farms were once the norm of American agriculture, and in the post World War II drive for industrialization the nation’s agribusiness moved towards the consolidated, mono-culture driven food system in place today. The many acre farms of the Salinas valley, and American corn-belt are testament to this (to name two).
With the rise of so-called “Foodie” culture in the United States, the emphasis on quality, sustainable food raises with every passing minute, and with this the emphasis on small farmers and producers, as well as other institutions within the food industry that support these ideals.
The fall 2010 issue of The Art of Eating profiles California cheese maker Soyoung Scanlan, and quotes her as saying “People are a lot less focusing on taste. Eating local, sustainability—there are so many agendas. I rarely have a conversation about the flavor of a cheese.” This draws a dangerous distinction between local, sustainable, and taste, when in fact the three are all inextricably linked. Scanlan herself making top-notch cheese in extremely limited scope and quantity from sustainably sourced milk, and she should be lauded for this.
The point is this; it was Brillat-Savarin who said “Good living is an act of intelligence, by which we choose things which have an agreeable taste rather than those which do not.” All across the country people are making the intelligent choice of taste, and turning to local, sustainable, sources to do so because this too is an intelligent choice. The action of states protecting small farmers and producers is a boon to local, sustainable, delicious.