You've gotten over your fear of raw milk.
You grow your own mushrooms.
Enter Pastoral Plate, an outfit that brings you closer to the ranchers (and farmers) who raise what we eat. Founded by Jonathan Lewis in California, his manifesto is to bring people together to raise the quality of what goes in our mouths and create a new kind of system in so doing. His private buying collective—one that anyone can join—is more than a meat-focused CSA.
Together, he and his cohort visit farms and talk with the ranchers, becoming more educated omnivores. They discuss how the animals are raised, what they eat, how they live, and how they're treated (cruelty-free is a given) from sunrise to dusk. On a recent farm day, Pastoral Plate members built a chicken coop. Now they're thinking of funding a start-up farm.
Members choose from heritage chickens to lamb, picking up orders from farms in Sonoma or at Lewis' home in San Francisco. Changing the system is a tall order, but it's happening member by member, from people who not only buy direct from farmers but also lend a hand. Got a hammer, anyone?
From Massachusetts, to Washington state, CSAs that focus on local ranchers are sprouting up. Ready to step off the grid?