What's Really in Your Food?

January 25, 2021

Hello small farm enthusiasts, friends, family, and patrons!!  It’s such a beautiful rainy day here on the farm.  The ponds and swales are catching all this magical precipitation falling from the heavens and keeping our water tables high.  As January is coming to an end, we are gearing up to celebrating Willow and Henry’s birthdays this weekend with family, friends, and top-notch musicians.  Willow will be 5 on Friday and Henry will be 3 on Thursday.  Time is flying by and the kids are growing up so fast.  We are trying to cherish every waking moment we can with our beautiful children while growing the farm and creating our own personal paradise. 

Last weekend we had a very successful three-day Holistic Agroforestry course here at the farm and we are going to be hosting another course in the fall.  Most likely the last weekend of September so stayed tuned so you can secure your spot for the class when we open the registration on our website.  We covered chainsaw safety, tree felling, bucking, limbing, and saw milling.  We tied it all together by demonstrating various forestry management practices and how to harvest timber on your own and how to turn that timber into a finished product fresh off the sawmill, from building materials to furniture.  Money doesn’t grow on trees, but we can teach you how to turn a tree into money!

We have been sawing and processing a lot of timber lately.  We have accumulated quite the stockpile of wood scraps and sawdust as by-products.  Luckily, we can utilize all of these waste streams on and around the farm either for heat or food production.  We have been using all the pine sawdust for mulch on all the acid loving berry plants, like blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries.  It also got me thinking, “What happens to the sawdust in large conventional sawmills that are scattered around the southeastern United States?”

I know a little about the conventional timber market and the commodities it represents.  I know that charcoal is pressed sawdust used for charcoal grills.  I know that some large mills in the Southeast make pine pellets that are shipped over to Europe and used in wood stoves as a heating source.  I also know that there is a ton more sawdust left over in these systems that is unaccounted for.  I jokingly thought out loud that they probably use sawdust as a filler in the conventional food system and thinking, “no way, the FDA and USDA would never allow that.”

Well I was completely wrong!  I started to act on my curiosity and started digging around the internet and searching what foods contain sawdust.  I just searched “what foods contain sawdust” and I was blown away to learn that many foods contain sawdust as a filler and fiber.  This includes breakfast cereals, veggie burgers, granola bars, whole wheat bread, salad dressings, vegetarian soy-based meats, and dried soup mixes to name a few.  You will never see the word “sawdust” on a food label.  That’s because its disguised and labeled as “Cellulose.”  A word more appealing to a vegan or vegetarian, because when I think of cellulose, I think of some plant material, not sawdust.  Way to go USDA and FDA for tricking the American public once again with misguided food labeling.  I wonder how much the agribusinesses and timber lobbyists paid for that little trick on food labels?  Heaven forbid they ever use sawdust in some large-scale organic composting operations or use it in large production berry farms.  No, instead they find it easier to eliminate sawdust as a waste stream and use it in our food system.  And we are supposed to trust the FDA??  HA! 

2021 Education Opportunities 

Root Cause: Module 1: Roots of Resilience (Mindfulness)Dates: Jan 4, Jan 18, Feb 1, Feb 15

Module 2: You are What You Eat (Nutrition)Dates: Mar 1, Mar 15, Apr 5, Apr 19

Module 3: Taking it to the Next Level (Homesteading)Dates: May 3, May 17, Jun 7, Jun 21

Mushroom Cultivation Workshop: Saturday, Feb 27th 10am-4pm $30/person (in person workshop) Details on Facebook and our website (please register on website) 

Composting As a Natural Heating Solution Workshop: Saturday, Mar 27th 10am-4pm $30/person (in person workshop)Details on Facebook and our website (please register on website)

Brian Bowen

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