Monday, February 6, 2012

LIL' Rich Farm

Farm to School

My school district, Voorheesville Central, has recently launched a very successful Farm to School program The farm to school initiative grew out of the school’s Garden Project which works with the students to maintain a school garden called Blackbird Paradise in the elementary school playground. The program is run by parent volunteers with the help of teachers, administrators and food service staff. The school district’s K – 12 food service manager Tim Mulligan works with the volunteers to source food from local farms to serve in school lunches. The parents and teachers work together to educate the kids about the food they are eating using a fun theme, like Mr. Potato Head, to get kids to eat roasted red potatoes from Schoharie Valley Farms.

Food Waste

Now the school is turning its attention to the other end of the food chain. What to do with the food that doesn’t get eaten and must be thrown away?

It is amazing how much food Americans throw away, especially when you consider how many people in the world are starving. According to the New York Times Americans throw away 30 million tons of food a year. That’s 200 pounds per person (children included) annually. Feeding food scraps to pigs is part of a tradition as old as animal husbandry, and is routine around our house, where chickens devour our fruit and veggie scraps and the goats, sheep and donkey feast on apple drops and unsold pumpkins.

School to Farm

Recently Voorheesville elementary school principal Tom Reardon decided sending cafeteria food scraps to the landfill was not acceptable. He called up Rich Gage, Jr. of Little Rich Farm, in Schoharie and asked him if he would be interested in feeding the elementary school’s cafeteria scraps to his pigs. Little Rich said “Bring it on!”  Now Voorheesville is trying out School to Farm.

Little Rich’s Pigs
Last week Dieter and I accompanied our friend Trish, who is a mover and shaker in the Farm to School world, on a trip to the hilltowns to drop off some food for the pigs at Little Rich Farm, about a 15 minute drive (if you don’t get lost in the fog). We found a barn full of happy and healthy pigs very much looking forward to their bananas and half eaten peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. There was a giant boar (the daddy pig), several sows (the mommy pigs) and two litters of young, half-grown pigs. One of the sows is about to give birth and Little Rich says he will call us when the piglets are born so we can come and take pictures of them. Little Rich says the pigs will eat everything they can get so Voorheesville Elementary is going to go to work, separating their food scraps to feed them.

Vegetarian Concerns
I know there are probably some vegetarian parents out there who are cringing at the thought of their vegetarian children saving their leftovers to feed the pork trade. I myself am a great admirer of vegetarians although I am not one myself. The reality is a lot of kids eat bacon. I even know several vegetarian kids that eat bacon. I guarantee you Little Rich’s pigs are living a lot better than the poor pigs we’ve heard about recently in the news at farms such as Seaboard Foods which is for sale in Wal-Mart and other grocery store chains.

By the way, I am creeped out the NYT Green Blog author Andrew Revkin’s suggestion, (see above link)  promoted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), that we should raise in-vitro meat in laboratories so we don’t have to raise and slaughter animals. Did you know PETA is offering a prize of $1 million to the scientist that can grow chicken-like meat in a laboratory and distribute it to consumers?  Deadline June 30 2012 No kidding.

Of course test tube meat has already been created by Lem and Phil, the scientists at Veridian Dynamics on Better Off Ted in the form of a hunk of red meat affectionately known by the staff as “Blobby.” When Veridian’s poor product tester was forced to try the meat he said it tasted like “despair.”

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