Saxapahaw, NC Part Two

Jeff and the chefs in the kitchen cooked up pulled pork, pasture chicken, mashed potatoes, greens and a lot of people filled their plates. 

All the meats and vegetables came from local farms, and most of the people who raised the food were there to eat. The pork from Eliza of Cane Creek - the chickens from Suzanne of Cozi- the garlic from Luther at Quarry Dog Farm. It's refreshing. Every one becomes connected on a personal level-> every one is accountable. Farmers take pride in the food they produce.

At 7:30, once the meal was finished and the plates composted, the documentary began. 

The projector spilled it's color onto the makeshift screen- a bedsheet Heather, Tom, Suzanne and I had helped to set up a few hours before. It looked deceptively secure hanging from a couple of steel girders we'd found backstage.

The promise of 200 people had been filled, and exceeded. People filled all the seats on the main floor, up on the second, and even the third balcony, with some sitting on the steps or even standing. I must admit to sitting in fear on the steps- imagining that the clear packing tape wrapping the bedsheet to the steel would give way and our screen would come tumbling down. Thankfully, it never did.

Johnny Glosson, one of the commodity chicken farmers featured in American Meat, attended with his wife Ann. Johnny raises chickens for Pilgrim's Pride. Their son- Chuck Glosson- was lost in a tragic accident while saving his sons lives. Johnny- now 75- continues to keep the farm in operation out of deep love and loyalty for his son and for the farm. 

Following the screening we had a big panel discussion. Bigger than we've ever had. Everyone introduced themselves- explaining how they got into agriculture, and often giving credit to their families for supporting them through the way. Casey McKissick of NC Choices  moderated the discussion, which featured V. Mac Baldwin who raises grass-fed cattle and commodity chickens, Kim who runs a farrowing operation (where female pigs give birth to baby pigs) as well as the aforementioned Johnny, Jeff, Eliza, and Suzanne. The biggest laughs came from the oldest farmers on stage, when Johnny Glosson talked of how tiring it was to artificially insemenate cows, and when V. Mac talked about how his mom tried to unsuccessfully talk him out of farming at the age of 10. Suzanne talked with great knowledge about the importance of soil health, Eliza and Kim talked of the pride in their work, despite the different ways in which they both raise hogs. Towards the end, Jeff responded to a question by talking about the importance of people to the future of agriculture- a point which deeply resonated in the room. Which brings us back to personal connections. 

One of the strengths of the local food movement is that people make connections. Farmers make connections with chefs, with customers, with grocers. These connections lead to friendships. And understanding. If there's a hailstorm that wipes out all the eggs at Cozi Farm, Jeff will understand, and he'll help Suzanne get through it. Jeff knows his customers and can tell them the story of the storm, and why there aren't eggs this week, and people will understand. Local food is about people. People we know. 

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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 10:26:38 -0400