A Small Medium @ Large

The Women of the Watershed met at the Little Farm Store by Cedar Gap the other day. Locally produced food was featured and this article is for those unfortunates who missed out. I, for one, could not wait to sample the gourmet Swiss cheeses produced by Adrian Buff, a twenty-nine-year-old Douglas County dairyman who farms in the Beaver Creek watershed.

The quality and flavor of his product is amazing, and I sampled, and I sampled until all pretense of journalistic objectivity had defenestrated and I was seriously chowing down on his fabulous artisan fare. This cheese is as good as any you can find in Europe.  

That’s because Adrian had taken a rigorous three-year internship in Switzerland to learn his craft, returned with a dream, and is now building a successful business. He seems open to the idea of starting up an apprenticeship program. I think this lead needs to be explored, so anyone with a dairy background who is seriously interested can contact me through the Herald and we’ll start talking cheese.

I’m not alone in this opinion.  The packed and happy room was proof that a lucrative, pull-through economic market exists for all the dairy products of this caliber that the Ozarks could produce. Don’t tell me we’ve got only rocks, fescue, and tourism to work with here.

Other tasty local foods were served as well, including a mess of organic beans grown by Farm Resettlement Congress recruiters Steven and Shanti.  Also noteworthy were the homemade crackers from a First Fifty farm in the Upper Piney River Watershed, one of several participating farms that aims to (ultimately) feed fifty people, starting with neighbors and relatives.  

These crackers are more like chips, actually, and so light and memorable that I must report on how they’re made. Begin with the pulp left over from making almond milk in a food processor. To this base, you add some soaked chia seeds for a binder, and can also throw in some flax seeds for additional crunch and fiber.   

Bits of pumpkin and sunflower seeds go into the mix, and some sweet potato can be added as an extender. After topping off with sea salt and toasted sesame seeds, the resultant paste is pressed onto a baking sheet with a spatula.  Then score the thin sheet into a dozen chips or so.  

Two cups of the almond base will make about three sheets of chips, a mere tease if you ask me.  Once you get the hang of it, you could also add kelp (etc.) for color, minerals and flavor.

The crackers can be baked at lowest oven temp until crunchy, or put in a food dryer, or simply sun dried.  This product can last for several weeks without preservatives, it is said.  Expect to read the Riot Act when they run out.

Also at the gathering were the number of younger adults in their twenties.  In addition FRC’s volunteers there were a few new farm families, some attending with their toddlers.  Much of the talk touched upon watershed networking efforts, and organic farming possibilities.  

How many times have you heard someone say “Most young people will not do the work?”  This is typically followed by “I sure could use some help at my place.”  The operative word “use” only reveals our impoverished thinking. “You can’t depend upon your eyes when your imagination is out of focus,” said Mark Twain.

This applies at every level of Missouri politics.  But the good news is that people are tired of remaining on the sidelines, tired of watching the Ozark economy bleed dry under the world-class mediocrity of our so-called leaders.     

Check out lifetime farmer Darvin Bentlage’s recent letter (Springfield News-Leader July 18):  “Corporate control takes over rural Missouri.”  He writes, “Only five rural representatives voted for his (rep. Doug Beck) amendment to stop foreign corporations from owning and controlling more Missouri agricultural land.”  

“On June 8” he writes, “Gov. Mike Parson held a ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 391, eliminating local control removing the statutory right of counties to protect their citizens through health ordinances and putting power in the hands of state government.”

“The Missouri Farm Bureau, Cattlemen’s Association, Pork Association and Corn Growers Association all celebrated the taking of Missouri’s citizens’ rights which will help create an impenetrable wall of protection for China’s Smithfield Foods and Brazil’s JBS and the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO’s; factory farms) they want to put next to our homes, farms, water and communities.”

He continues: “Representative Warren Love made a statement ‘If you don’t like the rules, move to the city.’”

In reply, this Small Medium says, “May the Astonishingly Affordable Rep. Love enjoy the fruits of his philosophy now, as they will be woefully missed when he finds himself looking up at us from his richly deserved position in the afterlife”.  

And I will be the first in line to help feed his clueless self when the chickens come home to roost.  Until then here’s the deal:  I will publicly debate you, Mr. Love, or Senator Cunningham or Rep. Eslinger who all voted the corporatist party line, on the town square on any given day.

Food freedom is the true measure of freedom itself and the restoration of locally owned meat and dairy processing, food storage, distribution and value-added chains is the key to our future. The FRC’s 20-Year Plan is an inspired template for a self-funded, economic alternative future grounded in biological reality. It exists because the imagination and motivation of elected officials is bankrupting us.   

The Plan offers a detailed, three-phase economic format for direct business partnerships with membership-governed, watershed delimited charitable foundations.  It is like a Marshall Plan for the rapid and citizen-led restoration of rural democracy.  It aims to create land-rush opportunities for young people ready and willing to work for their future.

Meanwhile, and maybe against all odds, I’ll continue to hope and pray that my Ozark friends and neighbors will rise to confound the soul-devouring midgetry of Missouri’s political elites. Let’s begin, first of all, by breaking the trance of grotesque self-deception on our own part.  It means showing up in each other’s lives with a will to survive and thrive by our united efforts.

Do you know what a monkey trap is?  In India, a hunter puts a hole in a hollow gourd and hides a nice ripe banana in it.  A hungry monkey comes along and sticks in his hand and grabs the fruit.  But the hole is not big enough to withdraw his closed fist so he just sits there, unwilling to let go of the prize.  

So while he dreams of his return on investment (ROI), or maybe a franchise deal, it never occurs to him to earn an honest living by the sweat of his own brow.  Then the hunter brains him with a club.  

Such is our situation. We’re simply marking time, waiting for the club to fall. It doesn’t take a psychic to predict how this all ends.  We can’t independently feed our own people, don’t remember how, and the cheese is about to fall off the cracker.  I’m writing directly to Ozark voters, and to give notice to the corrupted lawyers, scribes and Pharisees of our times.    

Politicians! You have betrayed the trust of your job:  Namely, to protect our public health, our property rights, and our open and fair markets through the single-minded defense of our food freedom.  China owns our food and land for one reason: It’s the greed, stupid.      

The 20-Year Plan, on the other hand, offers a refreshing alternative to politics-as-usual. It is based upon community self-organization and stewardship of its own resources for the sake of future generations.  It a template is freely given, COSTS THE TAXPAYER NOTHING, and is meant to be customized by any community to fit its circumstances.

The restoration of self-governance is an idea whose time has come.  We have the financial tools to manage our trillion dollar generational asset transfers by ourselves. FRC volunteers work night and day to awaken the sleeping giant of native optimism. In any case, Senate Bill 391 gives the lie to any notion of democratic self-rule in Missouri.

Food freedom is freedom itself.  Reader, if restoring Constitutional self-government is your burning focus then lets us work to organize some town hall meetings here in Ava.  Get in touch and we’ll explore what we can do together.