Surfacing as an issue at the national level is the every-five-year renewal of the Farm Bill when it expires in September of this year. It has the potential to directly affect local food systems in the future. The current Farm Bill provides billions of dollars of subsidies for commodity crops like corn, soybeans, and rice. It provides almost no incentives for local and sustainable agricultural systems. The subsidies keep all foods that rely on these commodity crops falsely cheap. Cheap corn feeds cows and helps keep Quarter Pounders on white-bread buns cheap.
The potential of using corn and soybeans to produce ethanol and biodiesel fuel has made the price go up for these commodities. In the new bill, they may get fewer subsidies. Many people around the country are working hard to influence lawmakers and asking them to redirect substantial amounts of our taxpayer dollars to the support of conservation and local sustainable food systems. These policy changes may ultimately translate into encouragement for people to keep small family farms.
Meanwhile, back at a personal level, find some fresh greens at your local market to use in a salad to accompany this week's recipe. Mussels are relatively inexpensive per serving. By checking seafoodwatch.org you will learn that farmed mussels are a good choice. As mussels are vegetarians and filter feeders, they may actually help cleanse the water in which they are grown.
- 8 ounces whole wheat linguine
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6-inch long squiggles of anchovy paste or six anchovy fillets, chopped
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Cook the linguine per the instructions. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the anchovies, garlic, oregano, and tomato paste. Stir for about a minute. Add the tomatoes with juice and bring to a boil. Stir in the mussels. Cover and simmer until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that don't open. Season to taste. Divide the mussels and sauce over servings of linguine.