Friday, December 30, 2011

Mi Caucus Es Su Caucus

If I were a candidate for president running in Iowa, I would not be talking about ethics, or business savvy, or trustworthiness. No. I wouldn't bring up manufacturing jobs either. They're not coming back the way we imagine. What would I steer the conversation toward? Farming.

Iowa is American agriculture. An entire third of the state is designated a national heritage area in partnership with the National Park Service. It's soil and climate are ideal. I see too little reason why we are not looking for Iowa made products and no reason why we are not clamoring for Iowa grown produce. Except that Iowa, with the exception of a few forward thinking farmers and producers, is caught in the conventional agribusiness mindset and unwilling to unravel itself.

There are millions in this country willing to pay more for better quality, better agricultural standards, better livestock practices, and better labor practices. Most of us cannot buy pork from Flying Pigs, it's just too darn expensive. We need larger producers who are willing to maintain higher standards, use less additives (salt solutions for instance), enact much better labor practices, and charge 25 percent more (or even more) per pound. I can't afford Flying Pigs bacon, but I certainly can afford higher cost pork and do not think that I am alone.

Why can't Iowa be the heart of grass fed beef (and bison) in this country? Millions of acres of feed corn are waiting to be converted to this more sustainable practice. Consider lamb and goat while you are at it.

I think of all the discriminating Italian markets and other quality grocers who are already selling Iowa produced, value-added agricultural products like la Quercia pork. Check out what they have to say about their farmers and pigs.

Iowa, your state will never be a manufacturing hub, a cultural center, or a financial powerhouse, but you could have a piece of all those things if some visionary leadership was taken. Imagine people looking for that IOWA stamp on the side of cured ham, the grass fed beef, or organic produce.

If Iowans can't see it now, they may very well never see it. The Romneys and Gingrichs and Santorums of the world don't care much for these ideas, but they sure know good pork when they taste it.

Good luck Iowa. Caucus for all of us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Old Farms

Rex was surprisingly easy going once we got going on this project of mine. I was determined to clear his yard of a pile of chemicals, known and unknown, that he had placed under a tarp when he moved from his old place. They asked very few questions at the Hennepin county facility, other than asking about coming all the way from New York.

Old farms across our country have little hazardous waste dumps behind the barn or in the ravine. There's no telling what's in them, but old pesticides, transformer oils, heavy metals, motor vehicle fluids, and household cleaners are a good guess.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

First Draft

I am so far not very impressed with blogger's mobile blogging interface. However, this is my first post using the application and I do hope it is a success. I am glad that the software is free, but would gladly pay twenty bucks for something full featured that could save me time. If twenty bucks gets me rich text formatting, landscape format typing, wysiwyg editing, photo placement and video upload, that would be a grand start! Because this first post is an experiment in mobile blogging, I have included a few images that I have no control over once they are added to the blogger application.

The weather has been exceptionally warm at near 40 degrees F. The lack of snow and frozen ground allowed me to walk into the wetlands and take some shots with the phone camera. I might add that walking on a wetland in winter is less tenuous than blogging semi-blind!

There was a brief snow on the day we arrived. Some other shots are of the thin snow in the woods.