Pizza Planting Underway
After Congress declares pizza a vegetable, BCF begins planting pies
Bishop, CA … After tense negotiations with powerful lobbyists from the pizza industry, Bishop Creek Farms has agreed to begin growing pizza. The small organic farm will be a test site for the burgeoning pizza agricultural market since Congress recently declared pizza to be a vegetable. It will be the first farm in California to grow three varieties of pizza seed developed by agriculture giant Monsanto including pepperoni, cheese, and their flagship “Heirloom Super Vegetable” with five toppings packed with vitamins and minerals.
“We chose Bishop Creek Farms because they are committed to growing produce that is on the cutting edge,” said Ralph Rogers, one of the lobbyists responsible for strong-arming the two farmers into corporate submission. “And we saw how well they did with other Italian vegetables like their famous trombonchino squash. Pizza just seemed like a no-brainer for them.”
Not surprisingly, the pizza seeds are shaped like little round discs. The pizza plants, once they reach maturity, can grow to be 12-feet or more and are indeterminate, a farmer’s term meaning they must be staked. The leaves look much like a tomato plant and nearing harvest time the whole plant gives off a subtle, hearty smell not unlike a Dominoes delivery driver’s laundry.
A Monsanto spokesman, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he was pleased that lawmakers in Congress had enacted the legislation so quickly at their behest. “Here they are with so much (free pizza) on their plates right now and they still had the wisdom and time to see that they could save the family farmer while reaffirming the healthy alternative of every child’s favorite school lunch vegetable. It’s a win-win for this nation and its future.”
BCF farmers intend to plant 20-30 rows of pizza this season. They say the plants should do very well in the Owens Valley despite the cold, winter climate. “I’m not worried about the frost dates,” Bruce Willey, a BCF farmer, said. “Pizza, like kale or spinach, actually tastes better with a few nights of frost. I mean it’s meant to be stored in the freezer, so it should grow excellently.”
Steve Baldwin, Willey’s BCF co-farmer, says he initially had some concerns about the seed being genetically modified. But he says he’s flip-flopped on the issue so many times he’s starting to feel like he’s “running on the GOP presidential ticket.”
“I mean, how else could you produce a vegetable that has crust, sauce, toppings, and is ready to harvest piping hot?” he asked. “Well, you can’t. Nature sometimes just needs a little genetic nudging in the right direction so that we can grow exciting, new vegetables.”
The farmers say the pilot project should prove fruitful, tomato sauce being a fruit after all, though some still debate this fact. They hope that instead of harvesting all their vegetables each week and delivering them in their hand-made wooden boxes, they can simplify the process and deliver one or two pizza pies in a traditional cardboard box that their customers can recycle. They also intend to follow other pizza establishments by offering delivery in less than 30 minutes from harvest to their CSA subscriber’s door or the vegetable is free. Eventually, they say, they would like to initiate a farm-to-school program and invite schoolchildren to the farm to see how their food is grown.
But not everyone is happy with the new vegetable designation. As you remember from previous Independent coverage, protestors marched, then camped on the farm, upset that the season had ended. Over the last few days, the protest has swelled in what is being called the Occupy Bishop Creek Farms (OBCF) movement. Their message, once difficult to discern a few months ago, has now sharpened into focus, with many questioning the farm’s “Real Food, Beyond Organic” philosophy.
“I want my vegetables to be real vegetables, not something voted on by Congress,” said Beth Stanley, who said she was speaking for herself not the movement as a whole. “Most of them don’t believe in science and yet science is unanimous in its findings that pizza is not a vegetable.”
“Our elected officials have spoken,” Willey countered. “Pizza is now a vegetable and we intend to grow it.”
With that, Willey and Baldwin took their Hoss wheel plow out into their plots and began planting pizza. It will take 120 days until maturity and it’s anyone’s guess what this new variety of vegetable will taste like when it’s ready for harvest. But one thing is certain: it will be fresh and it will be local. And the farmers say they are looking into new varieties of vegetables that are awaiting approval from a Congress that is friendly with the processed food industry.
“I see a bright day in the not-so distant future when we can grow all sorts of new vegetables,” Baldwin said, bending to the ground to plant another pizza seed. “Our legislators have made an important step in a new, futuristic direction. All kinds of junk food can be labeled a vegetable and grown as real food. You know, vegetables are healthy for you.”
As this story went to press, there were rumblings that Congress would consider naming another staple of school nutrition from the Monsanto laboratories as a vegetable — corndogs. “Ah, corndog plants waving in the winter wind, their ears thick with goodness,” Willey envisioned. As with pizza plants, he presumes corndog plants would handle freezing really well.
That’s all the news from Bishop Creek Farms, where all the plants are strong, the goats are good looking, and the soil is above average.
The BCF Independent, founded by writer-turned-farmer Bruce Willey, is the only farm newspaper in the Owens Valley. Electronically distributed weekly in season to all customers of the CSA farm, the paper usually has a satirical faux news story to muddy the organic waters, though it’s mostly overlooked due to the paper’s extremely small carbon footprint. This nugget is from the Thanksgiving/Givingthanks issue, #20. For more fresh, locally farmed wit and wisdom in all its organic, minimally processed glory, bugs included, as well as some wonderful un-doctored photos, stop by their digital farm stand, www.bishopcreekfarms.com. Or check out a video of the farmers in action, including BCF’s dancer-in-residence presenting his new dance steps, the Hoss Hoe-down, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qii-tRNsRok, and the Disco Scarecrow, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRFlojuS8zw.