Monday, February 21, 2011

Something I Learned Today

Bet you didn't know and the New York Times had something in common. Don't worry, they don't have that much in common, but they both have been running stories about local farmers taking local shit kickings in their local region by the locals.

Let's start with the New York Times, shall we? The headline is

Local, Organic Milk: Nice Idea, but Try Making a Profit

Did you get that? If you didn't, the article goes on to say

“Our boat is made of duct tape and we’ve almost sunk a few times, but we’re paddling along,” said Mr. Bell, 33.

MOO Milk’s journey is a cautionary tale: true grit, a laudable philosophy and a hot trend aren’t enough to create a viable business.

“There are folks who support what we do, but there’s not enough of them up here,” said David Bright, a former newspaper reporter and the organization’s treasurer. “So far, I haven’t been able to find 6,000 people who will buy a gallon of our milk each week.”

Now lets just pause for a moment and think about dairies. Yes, dairies produce milk, and in the case of MOO Milk, they provide the most exciting milk imaginable--the very frightening "whole milk" which despite having nourished people all over the globe for thousands of years and despite being the ingredient for serious cheese makers making serious cheese, we are blessed with a government (of the people, by the people for the people) gracious enough to step in and protect us from the dangers of this scary, scary product.

Dairies also produce something else. Can you guess what? Think chocolate milk...have you figured it out yet? YES! Manure! Thousands of metric tons of manure!

Now, imagine you live in an agricultural region with lots of land--land enough for several dairies. Imagine there are vineyards and orchards all around--plants that contribute substantially to the economy of this hypothetical agricultural region.

If it were up to you and you could choose one and only one, would you choose a dairy that makes manure to nourish all the plants (and the occasional bit of milk for those brave enough to drink it) or would you chose...a prison? (Don't get me wrong, prisons are hot right now--especially those fine fine Canadian built ones.)

Speaking of prisons, has also been writing about agriculture, particularly the joys of growing the beloved apple.

It's hard to say which article was more the rib tickler. Here are your choices:

1. Apple Prices

Prices are starting to come in for the 2010 apple crop and growers are appalled. For the third year in a row, prices have hit rock bottom. Growers say it is a crisis that could lead to the end of the Okanagan apple industry and could force growers to abandon their orchards altogether.

or is it

2. Apple Month Comes to a Close

“A year ago at this time, Okanagan orchardists were bleeding red ink because the cost of production outstripped the price of apples. Government was urged to help, but nothing of substance ever materialized.

Now, the situation is even more critical as the cost of growing apples is almost double what farmers pocket (22 cents compared to 12.6 cents a pound).

With little capital readily at hand, it may be difficult for some growers to prepare this year’s crop. Some may just pull out their trees and walk away.

Vote for your favourite in the comments section!!!

Makes me want to demand Okanagan apple pie and home made Okanagan apple cider vinegar every time I visit a restaurant in the Okanagan that builds their marketing identity around their "support of local growers" and "use of locally grown product."

Home made vinegar as value add from a local product that no one wants to buy? Crazy, I know...

Lastly, to make the voyage complete, we return to the New York Times with their coverage of "young" people getting into farming, be they underemployed "spikey haired" Japanese janitors, be they Uncle Sam's Misguided Children back from their peace keeping missions in other lands where the people can't manage to govern themselves to Western standards or Corporate Soldiers tired of slogging through the financial killing fields where the real wars are waged.

Farming. Who knew?


1 comment:

  1. I attended the community forum on the prison last night. What I took away was that the facility will be better appointed than any hotel accomodation in Penticton, but will not be offering pie made with local apples....hmmmm!