Chicken Doesn’t Come in a Nugget

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I came upon the regional (Piedmont VA) Flavors Magazine which describes itself as “seaonal, local, sustainable, artisanal and unique” in a round about way*. But as fate would have it, have perhaps found in it a resource for the future Floyd Earth Day 2009 web site (under re-development) and possibly–if we have time– as a program topic and future endeavor within our county.

I heard a good bit at the SEJ conference in October about the work being done to create closer links between local produce and meat producers and large-volume consumers like school and university cafeterias.

The most recent issue of Flavor Magazine has the piece “Teach (and Feed) Your Children Well” [pdf] that describes the hurdles and rewards of such an effort. It ends with the following advice, –partial list:

✔ Research Department of Health and Department of Agriculture regulations and be sure you will be able to comply with them. Don’t fear the hairnet or the rubber gloves.

✔ Consider becoming ServSafe certified. The lesson on bacteria and viruses is absolutely fascinating and will scare you into using sanitary practices.

✔ Tailor your program to your region’s available products.

✔ If your school system has a home economics or culinary arts program, try working with the department’s staff. Those students need knife skills, and you need diced vegetables!

✔ Develop a positive relationship with your school district’s food distributors. They are often willing to work with local producers when both supply and demand exist.

* The editor contacted me for permission to use one of my shots of Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm for a future edition of his regular column in the magazine (Rebel With A Cause) and I, of course, agreed!

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About fred

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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