Yesterday was a crazy day. I’m very glad that I ran the story on Josh Rockwood and what’s happening at his farm. Aparently, I am not the only one.
There has never been a post on the blog that was passed around by so many people in such a short period of time. No, it didn’t go viral like that blue and gold dress. But in the context of this little food blog, it certainly felt infectious.
I tried to follow the story as it played out all day, and provide the farm a bit of ground support over social media channels. It turns out there are a lot of angry people on Facebook who would like to do farmer Josh harm. The comments on the TV news stations facebook pages are kind of shocking. Mostly it’s amazing that people would write such threatening statements under their real names. Fortunately, there are also a lot of very supportive people out in the community who have Josh’s back.
The day kind of got away from me. But I have kids. And those kids have to eat. So without any food prepared, I took a deep breath, opened the pantry door, and prepared to pull down a box of “emergency dinner”.
Yep, that would be macaroni and cheese. But even this wasn’t without its drama.
Remember how I said I wanted to get more involved with local farms this year? Well, I guess it pays to be careful with your wishes.
A few weeks ago I met Joshua Rockwood for the first time at Bella Napoli in Latham. He’s the owner of West Wind Acres, a small but growing farm on the edge of Schenectady County in the town of West Charlton. Josh didn’t grow up a farmer. He has a background in construction, but he has gotten into farming for all the right reasons.
He wanted to grow healthier food for himself, his family, and his community. And he wanted to do it all in a sustainable way. So all of the animals are raised on pasture and the manure is converted into nutrient-rich soil. He raises chickens, sheep, pigs and cows and all of them are bred to thrive on pasture and endure our harsh winters.
Except this winter was harsher than most. How bad was it? Well, the city of Troy found parts of its main water line frozen several feet underground, and some Lansingburgh residents were without fresh running water for over a week. What does this mean if you have a bunch of pastured animals? Well, as it turns out, the animals are totally fine.
Farmer Josh on the other hand is trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.
Unbelievably, the Yelp job still isn’t in full swing. Still to come is The Weekly Yelp newsletter, the Yelp Review of the Day and our first big Official Yelp Event, but I expect everything to be firing on all cylinders by April. Which, incidentally, is when I’ll be leading readers of the FUSSYlittleBLOG on the next spring tour.
If you can’t wait until April to go on an eating adventure, I’m organizing an unofficial Yelp event this Thursday. So if you Yelp or are even Yelp-curious, you are welcome to join us for tavern pizza, wings and mozzarella sticks with melba sauce at Ralph’s. All the details can be found here.
Now back to this business about the spring tour. Following an old tradition at the FLB, there is always a period of nominations for local businesses to be considered as part of the tour. The Capital Region is a big place with lots of nooks and crannies, and plenty of room for excellent businesses to exist for decades under the radar. I’m hoping by asking people to share their favorites, we can come up with a better list collectively than I can craft on my own.
But first, we need to take a quick look back at where we’ve been.
Yes, we just had a Sellout Funday post last Friday. I swear I don’t know where the time goes. But once again we’re at the end of the week, and while I may not have a whole heapin’ stack of press releases, I still have two that are quite interesting.
One is a big catch for a local business, and the other is an envelope-pushing performance from a place that pushes the envelope on a regular basis. Good things are happening, and next week, we’re going to talk about more exciting events for the spring.
First, you may want to read these.
As of March 5, the brand has 30 days to submit a timetable to its shareholders about the removal of titanium dioxide from their powdered sugar donuts.
Now you might be saying, “But maybe I’m not getting enough titanium dioxide in my diet.” Or you might be one of those agitators who snickers at those who get up in arms about dihydrogen monoxide. It’s true, that chemical compound kills people around the world every single day.
My rant isn’t about hard to pronounce chemicals or mysterious toxins. We’re made of chemicals. Let’s try not focus on the what in this case. I would like to see if we could try and focus in on the why.
The farm to table ethos isn’t entirely bullshit, it’s just that there are a lot of participants in this space whose actions don’t quite achieve their ambitions.
Farmers will tell you off the record that menus that carry their name no longer buy their product. Sure, the farmers were selling pasture-raised chickens when the menu was written, but the restaurant changed suppliers and just kept on using the same menu. These are clearly the worst offenders.
Regrettably, nobody is willing to go on the record and call out chefs and restaurant owners in what is still a small community that still does business based on relationships. It’s frustrating for all involved.
Gordon Sacks is now a farmer. But he doesn’t come from a farming background, he comes from the business world. And while many farmers operate their farms like a business, until meeting Gordon, I had yet to speak with one who is so actively driving the business forward. This approach is pushing the operation into smart and interesting directions. The most interesting may be reimagining pizza delivery as a way to get people to eat his veggies.
Junk food is not a crime. It’s an indulgence.
Not too long ago, I got into a little dust-up on Twitter regarding this theme. And it may be an unexpected cause for someone like me to champion. After all, I was the fellow who took on the role of the Salmon Police a few years back.
Last week I really got to experience the true dichotomy of this when I visited 9 Miles East Farm and the new Sonic in Latham on the very same day. One makes three-day fermented sourdough pizza crusts as a delivery vehicle for their farm’s seasonal, sustainably raised produce. The other is a national burger chain that leverages the nostalgia for the drive-in to push saturated fat, salt, refined grains, and sugar into the arteries of millions.
But here’s the thing. Saturated fat, salt, refined grains, and sugar are totally delicious. And you’ll find that killer combination on the menu at the best restaurants in the world. Granted, the ingredients will be better and portions will be smaller, but the meals are longer and contain many more courses.
Junk food is a treat. The trick, I suppose, is how do you convince the rest of the country.