That's the response I got from Cindy Ridenour, proprietor of Meadow Maid Foods, when I asked her to fact-check Reddit's top article of yesterday: Joel Salatin's "Everything I Want to do is Illegal". Despite the lip service paid to entrepreneurship in this country, our American society is in fact hostile toward small, innovative agricultural producers.
The Ridenours raise grass-feed beef in Yoder, Wyoming, 100 miles North of Fort Collins. I discovered them in a freezer at the local Co-op, and now buy a side directly from them every year (received the latest just 3 weeks ago). It's been quite a culinary adventure for us -- a trip back in time to when every slice of tenderloin, strip, and ribeye was a special, holiday treat, and one mostly ate chewier meat. Anymore, I almost prefer a well-braised chuck or round to the more facile steaks. We're also eating burger without queasiness. No "Fast Food Nation" (excellent book, by the way) nightmares here: it's all ground from the single same animal. Apologies again to my vegetarian readers, hopefully some of you will at least appreciate the concept of "nose to tail" eating.
Yuppie epicures and gastronomes like me and my wife want to buy and eat the best beef we can find. The Ridenours want to raise it and sell it to us. Seems like a perfect fit, right? In reality, our society makes it unnecessarily hard to get together. There are more obstacles between the Ridenours and me than there are between me and the giant producers to whom beef is a mere commodity (and an unsafe, unsustainable commodity to boot). Unlike Salatin, who blames government and bureaucracy, I blame three decades of increasing corporatism for the sucky situation we're in. The regulations that hamstring small, independent producers are more or less written by industry lobbyists, passed into law by politicians beholden to industry, and implemented by administrators that rotate between industry and government. Cindy Ridenour, herself, only agrees with me somewhat. In her view, a lot of the obstacles (zoning, local ordnances) could be removed if only we were all better educated about how unfair the playing field is. She's optimistic, which is a good sign.
Want to help make a change? Money talks: support your local farmers and ranchers by buying goods made with pride and respect.