Food Rebel: Mateo Kehler
Co-Founder of Jasper Hill Farm
Greensboro Bend, Vermont
When my brother and I decided that we were going to make a life up here in the north country, we were looking for meaningful work in a place that we love. The meaningful work part is really about the conservation of our working landscape and that means the dairy landscape.
What is the problem with dairy in America today?
Farmers whether theyre growing coffee in Central America, cotton in India, rice in Nepal or Bangladesh, or growing wheat in the Midwest or making milk in Vermont can’t control their price. They can’t control their cost. Food policy in America has been driven to support overproduction as a means of subsidizing processors and keeping food inflation in check which is politically troublesome. The effect of that is really detrimental to the families that are actually living in rural America that are trying to make a living, in agriculture.
What is the solution?
What we’re trying to do is basically create the option of taking a hard left and doing something totally different that’s outside of the commodity system. Tap into a market that’s the faster growing segment in the dairy industry and basically put high value products into this pipeline that’s going to places in the U.S. where there’s a lot of money and basically syphoning a lot of cash back into our community and redistributing it in a progressive and a fair way with the producers that we work with.
What is your earliest food memory?
Ajiaco soup, out of the pot of soup, eating all the calluses from the bottom of a chicken foot, that’s like one of the things that I’d always look forward to eat. You’d have the capers and 3 different kinds of avocado and all different kinds of potatoes and a chicken foot in your soup bowl that might have been it for me.