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Posts Tagged ‘conservation’

Fruits of Our Labor

Spring is nearly here and I’m encouraging you to think about where you’ll buy fresh fruits and vegetables this year.  With help from the Santa Fe Farmers Market, here are ten reasons to consider your local farmers market or food co-op:

♦ 1 – Local food tastes better.
Most likely it was picked in the last couple of days, which makes it crisp and flavorful. Produce that travels long distances (California, Florida, Chile or Holland) is days older.  Sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality and flavor.

♦ 2 – Local food is more nutritious.
Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients.  Produce that’s flash-frozen just after harvest is often more nutritious than “fresh” produce that’s on the supermarket shelf for a week.  Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.

3 – Local food preserves genetic diversity.
Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables that are able to withstand the rigors of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply.  By contrast, family farms grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colors and great flavor. Many varieties are “heirlooms” passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavor.  Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.

4 – Local food promotes energy conservation.
The average distance our food travels is 1500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.

5 – Local food supports local farmers.
The American family farmer is a vanishing breed – there are less than 1,000,000 people who claim farming as a primary occupation.  Why?  Maybe because it’s hard to make a living:  family farmers get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, helping farmers continue to farm.

♦ 6 – Local food builds community.
By getting to know the farmers who grow your food, you build understanding, trust and a connection to your neighbors & your environment. The weather, the seasons and the science of growing food offer great lessons in nature and agriculture.  Visiting local farms with children and grandchildren brings that education and appreciation to the next generation.

7 – Local food preserves open space.
As you enjoy visits to the country to see lush fields of crops, meadows of wildflowers, picturesque barns and rolling pastures, remember that our treasured agricultural landscape survives only when farms are financially viable. By spending your money on locally grown food, you’re increasing the value of the land to the farmer and making development less likely.

8 – Local food keeps taxes in check.
For every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments spend $1.17 on services, which increases taxes. For every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, governments spend $0.34 cents on services.

9 – Local food supports the environment and benefits wildlife.
Family farmers are good stewards of the land — they respect and value fertile soil and clean water.  And their farms provide the fields, meadows, forests, ponds and buildings that are the habitat for many beloved and important species of wildlife.

10 – Local food is about the future.
Supporting local farms today helps keep those farms in your community, ensuring your children and grandchildren have access to nourishing, flavorful and abundant food.  When you choose to buy locally, and make your choices known, you raise the consciousness of your family, friends and neighbors.

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Moon Over Lake Nockamixon

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Palisades Gallery for my show opening last night – what a great time!  I didn’t get a chance to talk with everyone because it was so well-attended, so if I missed you, please forgive me.   Send me a note and let’s catch up!

Special thanks to those who came from quite a distance – especially the Hofmann boys! – and to my good friend, Moe Telsichs, for the flowers.  

Hope you caught the full lunar eclipse on the way home – it was gorgeous.

Here’s the statement that accompanies the 24 images in my show:

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Between 1982 and 1997, America converted over 25 million acres of rural land — primarily farmland, pastures and ranches — into subdivisions, malls, workplaces, roads, parking lots, et al. That’s about equal to the combined land mass of Maine and New Hampshire.

We’ve been developing 2 million acres of rural land per year for the last 20 years.

If the trend continues, America will develop an additional 85 million acres of countryside by 2050. That’s about equal to the combined land mass of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Virginia.

WHAT DO WE GAIN AND WHAT DO WE LOSE?

We gain infrastructure, homes, roads, shops, schools, parking spaces, hotels, resorts and jobs.

We lose wetlands, woodlands, hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, clean water, the ability to grow our own food, and as recent studies have shown, our mental & physical health, and our sense of well-being.

I want my photographs to help Americans question the worth of our land above & beyond its monetary value.

How much is an open horizon worth to us?

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Bar Bar 

M & M Mars was born in a Tacoma, Washington kitchen in 1911 when candy salesman Frank Mars set his sights on making the best candy bar on the market.  He and wife Ethel made and sold chocolate buttercreams out of their house for nine years.  Locally very successful, they moved their business to a Minneapolis candy factory and by 1930, Mars, Inc. was grossing $800,000 a year selling Milky Way Bars and Snickers Bars.

(Snickers Bars were named after one of the family’s beloved horses and remain the best-selling candy bar of all time.)

Fast-forward: Mars is now ranked America’s sixth-largest privately held company with 40,000 employees and $21 billion in annual sales. (Green M & M, anyone?) Frank and Ethel’s grandson, Forrest E. Mars, Jr. , is a 75-year old retired CEO with a personal fortune of $14 billion (#19 on Forbes’ 2007 Richest Americans list). 

Despite the Mars family’s long-standing reputation for super-secrecy, Forrest made headlines this week as an opponent of an energy company’s plans to tap into a great American wilderness: southeastern Montana’s Tongue River area, which has extensive coal and natural gas reserves.  

Forrest resides in Virginia but owns an 82,000-acre ranch called Diamond Cross near the town of Birney, Montana.  The ranch falls under “split-estate” laws from the (perhaps outdated?) Stock Raising Homestead Act of 1916 when the government gave 60 million acres of western land to ranchers, but reserved the mineral rights for itself.  It then leased the rights to energy companies.  

The government has rights to 10,000 acres at Diamond Cross — and a company called Pinnacle Gas Resources has the lease to drill for natural gas.

“Coal-bed methane development” is the process of extracting natural gas from the ground, and it starts in aquifers.  Huge volumes of water are pumped out and disposed of to get to the natural gas.  Forrest Mars opposes the development because Diamond Cross  is in an arid area and requires its water reserves for crops and livestock. 

Coal-bed methane development has put some ranchers out of business. It has also affected populations of wildlife like mule deer and antelope (where the deer and the antelope play!) and may put the sage grouse on the Endangered Species list.

Last Thursday, despite putting his fortune to work in several lawsuits, Forrest Mars lost his bid to keep Pinnacle at bay.  Pinnacle began drilling 90 minutes after a state judge issued a ruling that Pinnacle had a right to drill there.

Tom Richmond,  an administrator from the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, offered a solution to the situation: he said Pinnacle’s stock is worth about one percent of Mars’ fortune, so Mars should simply buy the publicly traded company.

What do you think about that?

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