Friday, February 27, 2015

Organic Bacon

Last year, I found to my delight that Applegate was selling organic bacon. They had organized some organic pig farmers in their state to supply them with the organic pig meat and I was able to once again buy bacon. However, it soon disappeared from the grocery shelves. They had so many people who wanted organic bacon that they could not supply them all. I called and talked to an Applegate representative today and they told me that they could not get enough farmers to grow organic meat for them to provide the bacon. They said the farmers could not compete with the conventional/GMO food grown pigs. 

Here is why: The GMO/conventional pig farmers (mostly GMO) get subsidized with our tax dollars while the organic farms are not being subsidized. It just makes too much of a financial hurdle for these farmers to be able to cross. Applegate simply can't charge the prices that would be necessary to the end user (me and you) that would be necessary to bridge that gap. 

Personally, I would take away all subsidies from all farmers and make an even playing field. Folks say that we need to subsidize these big farmers who supply the GMO corn/soy fed to pigs so that they can compete with food coming in from other countries. However, I say why should you and I pay extra money to make up for the cheap food coming into the country. The other choice would be to tax the cheap food coming into the country and this way the folks bringing that food into the United States pay the fees. We should not have to pay the fees out of our taxes. Right now I pay a tax on GMO/conventional food even though I don't eat any of it. I then pay extra for the organic food I purchase as those farmers are not subsidized. So I pay twice. Hmmm. Seems we should be talking to our federal representatives about this. I know my representative (Peter DeFazio) has been supporting small, sustainable farmers for many years. We need to make sure all of our reps are supporting them and if we are going to pay subsidies, the organic/small farmers should get them also. Better yet, lets get rid of the subsidies.

I have tried to get pig farmers in Oregon and Washington to go organic. I have talked to many of them on the phone about this. Most of them are feeding GMOs and because GMO feed is so cheap due to subsidies, they feel they can not compete if they feed anything else. Some will feed organic, or conventional as much as possible but when I ask if they can promise they never feed GMOs they say, they can not. I went as far as to purchase a pig with a neighbor and learned to dry cure my own meat to make a variety of pig derived, cured goodies a few years ago. However, I would really rather buy a package of organic bacon from a local butcher.

Help me to be able to buy organic bacon. Talk to your representative about removing food subsidies and leveling the playing field. Tell them to tax the cheap imported food if necessary to make it fair to farmers here. If they are not going to remove subsidies, then at least subsidize all farmers including the small, organic farmers who are always left out. Without leveling the playing field, poor folks can't buy organic and folks who are buying it are paying a lot for it while they also pay extra for subsidizing GMO/conventional food.

If you are willing to pay more for organic bacon or other forms of pig meat, tell your local pig growers who are working to be sustainable. When I tell them I will pay more, they say no one else will. Enough of us have to tell them we are willing to pay for healthy food.