This morning’s email brought the latest issue of Ladybug Letter from Mariquita Farm. A little exploring on their site led me to this article. I was going to extract the list headlines but it made more sense to just publish the list entirely…
- Locally grown food tastes better. Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from Florida, Chile, Mexico, or Holland is, quite understandably, much older. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.
- Local produce is better for you. A recent study showed that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some “fresh” produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.
- Local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, because they taste good. These old varieties contain genetic material from hundreds or even thousands of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.
- Local food is GMO-free. Although biotechnology companies have been trying to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, they are currently licensing them only to large factory-style farms. Local farmers don’t have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn’t use it even if they could. A June 2001 survey by ABC News showed that 93% of Americans want labels on genetically modified food – most so that they can avoid it. If you are opposed to eating bioengineered food, you can rest assured that locally grown produce was bred the old-fashioned way, as nature intended.
- Local food supports local farm families. With fewer than 1 million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder – commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food – which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.
- Local food builds community. When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive.
- Local food preserves open space. As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows full of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
- Local food keeps your taxes in check. Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.
- Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife. A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry. In addition, the habitat of a farm – the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings – is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.
- Local food is about the future. By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food. Buy local food. Sustain local farms.
©2001 Growing for Market. Permission to print and photocopy is granted.
If you haven’t discovered this site take a run on over and read some of Andy’s articles, It’s worth the time.
Source: 10 Reasons to Buy Local from Growing for Market
I find myself sitting here with my coffee, already through the mornings emails and nothing caught my interest enough to comment on.
I’ve already visited my morning blogroll in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I followed Marie and Harley on their Christmas excursion to the wild Christmas Tree Farm. Checked in with Fred to see if he had recovered and was warmed by his tale of remembrances. I took a side trip following a link from FFF to Ruminations Of A Country Girl, who I have come to know from my visits at Fred’s place. She was reminiscing about growing up and her relatives in the mountains. I’ve been doing some reminiscing myself here lately and maybe I can put together something of interest this weekend. I next wandered down the road to Colleens and stood around with her in the backyard to watch the clouds and listen to the wind and the poetry.
It’s really a great way to start the morning, wandering around to friends places and getting a mountain “fix” to hold me over for another day.
That pretty much kills my morning at home, time to run youngest daughter to school and hit the road for work…Later.
If you’ve never tried the site, check out Kitchen Gardens International…
Wendell Berry on the “industrial eater”
“The industrial eater is, in fact, one who does not know that eating is an agricultural act, who no longer knows or imagines the connections between eating and the land, and who is therefore necessarily passive and uncritical… We still (sometimes) remember that we cannot be free if our minds and voices are controlled by someone else. But we have neglected to understand that we cannot be free if our food and its sources are controlled by someone else. The condition of the passive consumer of food is not a democratic condition. One reason to eat responsibly is to live free.” – Wendell Berry
Source: Kitchen Gardeners International
I have just one word to say — YES!
Democratic leaders declared a temporary moratorium on special-interest provisions known as earmarks as they attempt to cope with a budget crisis left by the outgoing Republican-led 109th Congress.
Congress adjourned early Saturday, having completed work on two of the 11 spending bills for the 2007 fiscal year that began Oct. 1. As a short-term fix, lawmakers extended current funding levels until Feb. 15. But the incoming Democratic chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees announced yesterday that they would extend current levels until the 2008 fiscal year begins next Oct. 1.
They also said they would place a moratorium on all earmarks until lobbying changes are enacted. Those special spending provisions included in the unfinished fiscal 2007 bills will be eligible for consideration next year, the chairmen said, subject to new standards.
Now for the critical follow thru.
Source: Democrats Freeze Earmarks for Now – washingtonpost.com
Fred’s getting some good press these days. They are even offering the book through their on-line store.
(Floyd, Virginia) Some of us long for belonging to the land, for roots in particular and special places where, for reasons usually beyond our knowing, we resonate with the landscape.
For those like Fred First who have lived other places and then been drawn to the Blue Ridge, it is almost always the mystery of mountains that brings them here. Fred describes this as a “magnetic resonance in their bones” that pulls them toward an altitude, latitude and slant of sun that simply feels right for them. For such souls as this “the mountains hold a nutrient that they can not live without.”
For anyone who hasn’t checked out their site before it has some great info…
Source: Floyd County Naturalist/Photographer’s Weblog Published as a Memoir of Place
For Pablo who I know is out of the country. I thought this would help ease the pain of no real rain…
A dream of rain
We’re in the old country house at Winedale for a few days, and last night we had rain. Every time I woke up during the night rain was making music on this tin roof.
I had a dream. I dreamed that it rained for three days and three nights, and the gauge filled and ran over, and the water in our stock tank rose and rose until it ran around the spillway and into the creek, and I could see bass jumping in the tank and ducks flew in, and geese, and deer came to drink, and the land all around was soaked and happy.
At 5:30 I got up and I knew I’d been dreaming but maybe some of it was true so I took a flashlight and went out to the rain gauge to check, and all through the night we’d had four-tenths of an inch.
Source: Leon Hale: A dream of rain
This house intrigues me. I pass it on my way to and from work regularly. It is on a road that once upon a time brought children from the countryside to the local public school. As a matter of fact it that is it’s name. In this part of the country you will come across a lot of small two lane roads (once dirt or gravel) that were named for the local school at the end of the lane.
This house now sits on a piece of prime property located about midway between the outer belt in Houston and a new “master planned” community. In fact just over the creek above this house the road widens and becomes a divided boulevard before passing through the 3500 acre community.
Every time I pass this house I can’t help but wonder how many families have been sheltered, and loved this little piece of the country. When was the last family living here? Why was it abandoned? did every one die off slowly over the years? What ever the stories this house may have to tell, we will never know. But I will look on it each time I pass and offer it a passing nod of thanks for having served it’s purpose for so many years…
If it teaches us nothing else, the problems with illness from fresh produce, will teach us the truth to the old saw about “putting all of your eggs in one basket”.
First it was spinach. Then tomatoes. Now possibly green onions.
Over the past three months, fresh produce has been the culprit in one episode of food-borne illness after another, the latest an E. coli outbreak that appears to be linked to green onions served at Taco Bell restaurants in the Northeast. More than 60 people have been sickened in that outbreak.
As some one said in an article recently, “it’s like we’re all washing our vegetables in the same tub of water”. That tub is located at the central processing plants.
Several factors have contributed to the rise in outbreaks: greater consumption of fresh produce, especially cut fruits and vegetables; wider distribution; improved electronic reporting of outbreaks; and an aging population more susceptible to food-borne illness. Produce presents a special food safety challenge because, unlike meat, which can be rid of bacteria through proper cooking, it is meant to be consumed raw. There is no “kill step,” as food safety experts put it.
From the reporting on the problems involved, our fresh produce is regulated by the same agency that is in charge of the safety of our drugs…Do you feel safer? The FDA’s budget is strapped and their inspection resources are low. So as more and more of the American food supply passes through fewer and fewer processors, we have fewer inspectors with no power to really regulate what they are charged with inspecting. Sounds like the perfect plan for disaster doesn’t it.
If nothing else, this should make everyone a little more interested in just where their food comes from. If you can find a local source of quality grown produce, patronize that grower if for no other reason than to insure diversity in your food supply. If you have a local farmer’s market, get to know the growers. Put a face on the person who supplies your lettuce and tomatoes. Visit their farms and have a look at how your food is being grown. Take responsibility for being your own inspector. That way you will develop a trust in your food supply that you can no longer have the government insure.
Source: Outbreaks Reveal Food Safety Net’s Holes – washingtonpost.com
It was good to see that Marie’ family managed to make it home through the ice and snow of yesterday’s weather in Boone. I hope her fears of frozen water didn’t pan out…
The take away quote from E.J. Dionne’s column today says a lot with a few words
An administration that fought a misguided, poorly planned and ill-considered war in the name of democracy should not be allowed to discredit the democratic idea itself.
Source: E. J. Dionne Jr. – An Ideal In Need Of Rescue – washingtonpost.com
And like Eugene Robinson, I have to wonder if the President actually read the Iraq Study Groups report or is he relying on the “CliffNotes” version?
There’s only one reader who really counts, though, and I doubt he’ll be impressed. The Decider isn’t in the habit of letting mere facts get in the way of blind conviction.
Source: Eugene Robinson – Bush Listened, but Did He Hear? – washingtonpost.com
I’ll try to post more later but I have a wedding to go to. Oldest son and significant other are going before the judge this morn…picture to follow I’m sure.
Late Update: Taking the Vows…
This past weekend we passed another of those little milestones you don’t really think about as you are getting older. My youngest daughter and I started her driving practice so she can get her license. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was doing the same thing with her mother…my how time flies when you are having a life. At 16 she has been pushing for her license for a couple of years now. And with our auto insurance bill, I’ve been pushing back. Looks like I am about to loose the pushing match…
Around my family, for some reason, driving licenses are not a big push for the kids. Except with this one. Youngest son waited until he was 18…Now we never see him.
All in all the experience on Saturday went better than I hoped, and Sunday went even better. Tonight she will be driving with a professional instructor and I do not envy him his job at all. I guess what amazed me the most was I managed not to raise my voice more than once. That time all I said, rather forcefully, was “TAKE YOUR FOOT OF OF THE GAS”. Not bad…we lived.
Oh well, time to move on…Have a photo…
From my last photo run to Bolivar…Post processed through Photomatix Pro
Have a great day.
PS Santa came early…