Did you know that you live in a DESERT?

Spring in the desert is one of the most beautiful experiences on earth.

Flowers in the most unexpected places.

Birds and bugs of crazy varieties.

Life oozes from the crevices of what seems like deep, dry, cold nothingness, and then... it's gone again.

Have you ever seen a desert Spring?

If you haven't, I highly recommend spending a week in the Mojave, or the Arizona/New Mexico Plateau, it's breathtaking!

Up here in Wyoming, we have a lot of Cold-Desert expanses.

It is a different kind of beauty for sure. This time of year doesn't embody the typical "Springtime" at all.

In fact, a lot of us refer to this time of year as Spri-nter... because it is as if Spring keeps trying to come, but Winter just won't let it stick around.

I want to ask you about a different kind of desert today though BJ...

A Food/Nutrition Desert.

I can tell you that Laramie, Wyoming was a Food Desert for at least part of this winter, because the interstates were shut for 2 weeks, and we could not receive shipments of a lot of foods to our grocery stores.

The shelves were eerily empty for a few days.

It was comforting to be able to text my farmer friends and purchase my usual staples, regardless of the road closures.

It also felt pretty good to provide access to nutrient-dense food to my friends and customers despite the wind and snow.

We have Food Deserts all over the U.S. and they aren't dependant on the climate, elevation, or weather patterns.

Actually factors that determine a food desert are more in the realm of:

- Poverty Rate

- Distance from a Supermarket

- Population Demographic

- The Type of Calories Available in Local Stores

What is exceptionally odd about Food Deserts, is that our main piece of legislation written to target Food Deserts, is also helping to create them...

I have talked about The Farm Bill before, but let's revisit it for a second.

Here is a quick introduction video on The Farm Bill.

Through the Farm Bill disaster relief and insurance programs are targeted at large-scale commodity crops like corn, soy, barley, and hay/forage.

If you want to learn more about the reach (and shortcomings) of the Farm Bill, here are a couple of my favorite books that explain it pretty well:

Farm and Other F Words- Sarah K Mock

A Nation of Farmers- Sharon Astyk and Aaron Newton

Against the Grain- Richard Manning

Lentil Underground- Liz Carlisle

The Farm Bill is not targeted at diversified food production systems that produce nutrient dense vegetables, fruits, meats, eggs, and seafood. There are some instances in which Farm Bill disaster assistance programs can be granted for crops like these, but producers can only apply for assistance if their area receives an emergency determination or USDA drought rating of "severe to exceptional drought."

Meanwhile, large-commodity producers (corn, soy, and cereal grains) lean heavily on crop insurance when conditions aren't ideal for planting or harvesting. This allows large-scale production agriculture as a whole to continue in directions that may not be sustainable into the future.

According to the UN, this process contributes to fertile soil losses of around 24 billion tons every year...


Rather than trying other crops or other practices to curb the effects of climate extremes like drought, farmers plant in the same rotation- using heavy amounts of herbicides, diesel, and synthetic fertilizers, knowing that they can ultimately fall back on insurance if their yields are too low to make a profit for the year.

In Wyoming, USDA Crop Insurance is not available for foods like vegetables, and fruits, but it is available for commodity crops like barley (used to make beer), sugar beets (used to make refined sugar), corn (used to make ethanol, and corn-based food additives, like corn syrup), and wheat (used to make pastas, breads, and crackers).

Most of these products are not made in Wyoming because we no longer have the infrastructure to convert these products into edible foods. So, not only are our natural resources being used to produce less-nutrient-dense foods, but the most value-adding/profitable steps are being completed outside of the State and then these products are being sold back to Wyoming in the form of empty calories... This is a major part of the Food Desert Problem that often goes overlooked.

We are surrounded by "food" without the means to efficiently convert it into ready-to-eat-or-cook "food."

Our tax dollars are being used to encourage the production of processed foods that are depleting and contaminating natural resources, and providing a lot of empty calories instead of nutrition...


I don't necessarily think the solution is to transfer dollars from insured crops to non-insured crops because this will probably just perpetuate poor agricultural practices with other crops, but here are some ideas for how we could improve the Farm Bill:

-Redirect funding from insuring unsustainable crops, towards local infrastructure for nutrient-dense, locally-adapted food production in local markets, to make it more feasible for producers to switch to growing nutritious food crops.

-Providing food and nutrition education to folks in need by expanding programs like SNAP.

-Funneling funds for crop insurance into education and encouraging more adaptive farm practices and resource conservation on agricultural lands.

Here is what we can do!

The Farm Bill is being re-written in 2023 (this only happens once every 5 years!).

Your input as an Eater in the U.S. matters RIGHT NOW!

Here are five things you can do to end food/nutrition deserts and designate your tax dollars and efforts towards the types of food production you would like to see instead:

Submit your input on the Farm Bill through the Ag Senate Committee HERE. 

Submit your input on the Farm Bill through the House Committee on Agriculture HERE.

Find your Legislators HERE and write to them about what the future of Agriculture and Eating looks like to you!

Participate in the Grow A Little Extra Program -if you live in WY and get free seeds from your local extension office, so you can grow produce in your garden for your local food pantry!

Create stability in your local food economy by purchasing foods directly from your Farmers and Ranchers!

*BONUS* Let me know what the future of Ag and Eating look like to you, so I can make your voice heard through my work with the Wyoming Food Coalition.

Here is a press release on the 2022 framework proposed to increase stability of local food systems within the next Farm Bill. Please encourage your legislators to support these changes and push for expanded funding on these areas. https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2022/06/01/usda-announces-framework-shoring-food-supply-chain-and-transforming.

Comment on this blog post to tell me your thoughts on The Farm Bill and the Future of Agriculture and Food in America and beyond!

Do you live in a Food Desert?

One thing I have been working on in our community is closing the gap between access to nutrient-dense food and the higher cost of this food.

We donated hundreds of pounds of meat to families in our community and around the country last year- thanks to folks like you.

It means a lot to me to provide access to nutrient dense, real food, even though I could certainly find more "lucrative" ways to spend my time.

Most of all, it is important to me, for my family to understand the true cost of food and the true cost of health.

Some things just can't be measured in dollars, and you can't know this until you experience it-

through taste,


through feel.

I recently found a way to help give folks who just can't bridge that gap all on their own, access to our nutrient-dense products.

It's called SNAP- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and it is the largest part of the Farm Bill.

Even though small farms like Taste of the Wind can't receive disaster-relief funds, subsidies, or crop insurance like big commodity farms, we can provide our products to folks in need by accepting SNAP as a payment method for our products.

So, I signed Taste of the Wind up to be a SNAP retail location.

This will allow folks who can qualify to receive financial assistance with their nutritional needs, access to our products.

Wyoming has one of the lowest SNAP utilization rates in the Nation.

With rising inflation, I am hoping to spread the word about this program as a tool to help folks in need get the nutrient-dense foods they need from local producers and suppliers.

Find out if you are eligible to receive SNAP Benefits HERE.

I'm so excited about this- this could increase the scope of what we are able to do- by a lot!

Do you know someone who could benefit from SNAP, and who would be interested in nutrient dense products like ours?

Send this email to them and let us help get good food into their homes for their families.

Getting good food to good people is what we live for, and I would so appreciate your help reaching more amazing folks who are in need of real food!


-BJ and the Taste of the Wind Crew

Unsubscribe | Update your profile | 17 Dog Iron Lane, , Laramie, WY 82072

Leave a comment