I decided to combine my OLS meal with our monthly Slow Food Community Potluck. We are one of seven Slow Food Convivia in Massachusetts. Everyone brings a dish made with as many local ingredients as they can muster along with their own place setting and beverage. Sometimes, if there is a small crowd, we will go around the room and share with everyone the local ingredients we used in our dishes ... Sometimes when it is crowded, like it was last night, there will just a be a few words to remind us of the three simple guiding concepts of the movement: GOOD, CLEAN and FAIR.
I decided to make a pizza using goat cheese from local goats, tomato sauce from tomatoes I had canned last season, spring onions, hot house tomatoes and basil from Morning Glory Farm, and some garlic scapes that I roasted on the grill before putting on the pizza.In acquiring my goat cheese I went through the charade of "receiving a gift" from the farmer. In fact, all the places I buy local cheese here the drill is something like this. You pull up to the farm, walk into the room where there are one or two refrigerators. On at least one fridge will be the sign. "This cheese could kill you." OR "This cheese is NOT for sale." You open the fridge, take the cheese, and make a contribution in the coffee can. In order to be able to sell cheese legally one farmer told me it would take an investment of $65,000 in upgrades and THAT is with USED equipment.
So I got to reflecting on the GOOD CLEAN and FAIR of this situation. The cheese sure is GOOD. It is fresh and tasty. Is it CLEAN? Well here is where the government and I differ on the meaning of CLEAN. This herd of goats is well cared for in a sustainable setting, and the petroleum used to get it to me would have been nil if I had ridden my bike to the farm. Is it STERILE? Well not to government standards. And because of that this farmer has decided to sell off some of his herd, because unless he makes the $65,000 investment, there is no way he can market his cheese.
So is that FAIR? It seems there ought to be a line we can walk in this country that understands that there can be a balance between the rules we make for agribusiness and the rules we make for small, sustainable farms. No, I do not want to get sick from cheese. But is this all or nothing approach the answer?
But enough of this ... Here's to communities gathering together to celebrate GOOD, CLEAN, FAIR food.