A winter storm exactly three weeks ago created extraordinary weekend skiing conditions for us in West Michigan. With temperatures holding between 28 and 30 degrees, I took to the cross-country ski trails at Seidman Park in the sequestered woodlands of Ada, MI.

The park was pristine: all wrapped in snow, a mid-afternoon sun broke through and danced on the waters of Honey Creek. The surroundings were the flint that ignited the imagination, dormant after the holiday season. A series of images suggested themselves to me: of winter camping on the shores of Lake Superior; of returning home to a fire, beef roast, and red wine; of sailing the Great Lakes (the sun had already begun its trek to the summer solstice and was carrying my thoughts with it).

For about an hour, I allowed my skis to glide through the snow, warmed by the physicality of the activity and exhilarated by the fresh winter air. Each season beguiles, but this was an encounter with Lady Winter.

Listen to C.S. Wurzberger’s interview last month with Jeff Duba from Duba & Company. Wurzberger’s weekly podcast, Heritage Breeds, airs weekly on Sticher Radio and Heritage Radio Network which reaches over 1,000,000 listeners monthly in 200 countries.

Editor’s Note: Strangely enough, I’ve always been moved by PBS’s and NPR’s fund-drives. Sentimentalism, I guess. The author of this piece (Josiah Lockart) is a Virginia farmer of rare and heritage breeds, a Slow Meat Committee member, and a personal acquaintance of mine from the first-ever Slow Meat Symposium in Denver (June 2014). This letter is written for those passionate about the cause for better meats and who don’t mind a good ‘ol fund-raising pitch for a leading non-profit of the cause, Slow Food USA.

–Jeff Duba

 

When it comes to meat in this country, the elephant in the room is a pig.

Industrial pig production is the poster child for the larger issues plaguing our food system. The status quo for pigs today is all about confinement. Pigs are confined in unethical ways. Flavors are confined to very few breeds. Wealth is confined to an agricultural economy that extracts income from rural communities.

This all comes at a cost to our land, animals, health and small farmers. It’s time to start talking about it. It’s time to start doing something about it.

And that’s why I urge you to support Slow Food USA today.

Because Slow Food is doing something about it.

As a pig farmer who raises only heritage breeds, I want to see, and be a part of, a world and community that values biodiversity, resilience, and food access.

Slow Food’s new Slow Meat program is creating that world. It’s founded on the belief that eating better meat, and less of it overall, is the foundation of sustainable meat consumption.

But we need your help to continue Slow Meat into 2015.

It’s not easy to raise heritage animals humanely, without added antibiotics or hormones AND to make a living wage. Running a farm this way is difficult and expensive, but networks like Slow Meat have given my family farm the support to thrive with good, clean and fair values at the heart of our business model.

The question is:  how do we move this type of farming from the sidelines to the mainstream? The answer lies not in what we are all doing individually, but what we do as a movement.

Slow Food is not only creating a space to solve tough questions but it’s also dedicated to building a system where farmers like me can raise animals humanely and support themselves while doing it.

You can help create a world where farmers like me can raise meat with animal welfare, environment and fair wages in mind.

I’m a farmer, not a fundraiser. But I truly believe in the work Slow Food is doing and I’m writing today to ask you to give what you can to ensure a better future for meat.

The truth is, you don’t have to be a farmer to make an impact on food and agriculture. Slow Food USA gives everyday people the opportunity to make a big impact in their community.

By donating today, you can ensure that our culture of confinement is no longer the elephant in the room.

Josiah Lockhart

Josiah Lockhart is the Executive Manager at Lockhart Family Farm, a family owned and operated farm in Caroline County, Virginia. [They] focus on raising high quality rare and heritage breed pigs and poultry in a natural woodland environment. [Their] Animals are free-ranged with supplemental non-gmo grain. [They] sell direct to customer and to a number of restaurants in the Richmond and Williamsburg area.