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Category: Agriculture

Wilderness is for wandering

Wilderness is for wandering

Several years ago, when I was still a daily news reporter, I covered an event in which three busloads of youngsters from inner-city Philadelphia arrived to visit a potato chip factory. It was the first time most of them had been out of the city. “We saw cows!” several of them reported excitedly.

Rethinking resources

Rethinking resources

In the middle of the 19th Century, oil refineries began pumping out kerosene, refined from crude oil, to light lamps along American streets. Kerosene had a useless byproduct which refiners, including Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller, needed to evacuate.

Giving thanks

Giving thanks

As I write this, I am dreaming of turkey and preparing to enjoy sleeping off visions of Thanksgivings Past flowing through my gobbler-doped cranium. In my youth, Mom would have spent the week baking. The knotty-pine walls of the dining room echoing timed-released aromas of turkey and pies and fresh bread.

Block hackers; Buy local

Block hackers; Buy local

A few years ago, I visited my son and his family in Cincinnati. At the major-chain grocery near his home, I bought some “fresh” apples. At the first bite, I understood why city kids – at least the kids whose parents bought from that store – did not like fresh fruit. I have tried to eat wooden decorative apples that were easier to chew, and with more flavor.

Killing more than weeds

Killing more than weeds

For years, the largest seed company in the world also, in many quarters, has been the most hated. No, I’m not talking about Burpee, which is pretty big, and not at all related to the company that is the subject of this week’s ruminations.

Real cheese (mostly) ain’t yellow

Real cheese (mostly) ain’t yellow

Mystification surrounds the identification of the person who came up with the idea cheese would be prettier yellow, but it wasn’t someone who lived on a farm. In it’s natural state, cheese is white – or bleu, as in bleu cheese, which is laced with mold.

A beautiful time for a drive or a walk

A beautiful time for a drive or a walk

Beside a road off Pa. Route 34, somewhere north of Gettysburg, Don Yost and John Deere team up to pull a chisel plow through a field of corn stubble. Last year was no-till for the field, and the crop was corn. No-till means the ground is left unturned, the roots of the previous crop keep the hillside from flowing to the bottom in heavy rains, and new seed poked into the earth with a tool made for the task.

EPA defines a bee killer

EPA defines a bee killer

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, we find it attached to the rest of the world.”  – Naturalist and preservationist John Muir, 1838-1914 The quote received a bit of supporting illumination from the Environmental Protection Agency this week – a little reminder that this great life-system of which we humans are part is a sophisticated (some might say complicated) bit of cosmic machinery. In a report published Wednesday (Jan. 6, 2016), the EPA said it has figured…

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At last, I’ve found my milk

At last, I’ve found my milk

I like raw milk. I will die one day, I am told, but I think I would not blame the milk. On the other hand, it could be dangerous when carried in the handlebar basket of a teenager’s bicycle. We picked up two gallons of milk every other day from a nearby dairy farm. One day, as I coasted down Norton Hill on the way home, I met a car speeding the other way, enough on my side I was…

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Vacations are about the people

Vacations are about the people

Going on vacation is loads of fun, especially in the people we meet. Like the night in Maine last week when we had dinner at the Salt Bay Café in Damariscotta, Maine. Couples three were we, sitting to our first dinner on the rocky coast of the Pine Tree State. We each ordered our favorite choice of fresh-from-the sea fare. [pullquote]… he would grow a pumpkin – his first “boat” was 754 pounds – and build the boat, but he…

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Feline wizardry makes some enjoyable joe

Feline wizardry makes some enjoyable joe

(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 1/17/2014) The Tuesday Noon Coffee and a Movie Philosophical Society meets here, as does a Wednesday night knitting club. During the day, shoppers stop by for conversation and a cup of joe. “Here” is Merlin’s Coffee, at the far end of a short alley at the Outlet Shoppes, on the outskirts of Gettysburg. Sometimes called by customers “the cat house;” owners Donna and Eric Burns, of Hanover, are deeply invested in rescuing cats, have named…

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Idea: kids pick up lunch on the way to school

Idea: kids pick up lunch on the way to school

(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 10/18/2013) It’s nearly 7 a.m. The sun soon will come into view. Not long ago, I would sat on the back porch to read. Now I am glad the electronic paper on which I write has its own illumination. [pullquote]“Seven out of 10 people will live in a city by 2050,” Meaghan Parker, writer/editor at the Woodrow Wilson Center.[/pullquote] A school bus passes my home, right on time. It will stop in a hundred yards…

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Sorry guys, no trash this week

Sorry guys, no trash this week

(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 8/30/2013) My spouse has been exploring Alaska this month with a high school girlfriend. Grady the Golden and I have had to fend for ourselves. We’re doing alright, thank you, though the company of She Who Must Be Loved would not at all be a bad thing. I had told her, during one of our evening phone calls, that I had lost a little weight while she’s gone. Not enough to make friends start tacking…

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On assigning value to the fruits of our (neighbor’s) labors

On assigning value to the fruits of our (neighbor’s) labors

Few of us really know the work others of us do. That goes for everyone from the farmer to the potato chip maker. Most everyone works pretty hard doing what they do, but few of the rest of us are as willing to pay for their work as we are to charge for ours. I’m not suggesting that everyone be paid the same, regardless of task. But last week a potential buyer loved and wanted a print I’d created –…

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Buy fresh, buy healthy, buy local

Buy fresh, buy healthy, buy local

(First published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/17/2013) I was visiting the other day when someone acknowledged the strawberries tasted good, but suggested washing them with vinegar to ensure that if there was any insecticide on the berries, its “-cide” was rendered harmless. There was a time when washing one’s food meant using water to remove the garden dirt. Vinegar was for making pickles and sauerkraut. Mom took the four of us kids to the Pick Your Own strawberry fields, where…

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If we knew what we’re eating …

If we knew what we’re eating …

(Originally published in Gettysburg Times, March 22, 2013) Have you ever wondered what’s next in the soft drink line? A television commercial the other night had the answer. Pepsi NEXT. With 60 percent less sugar – though less sugar than what, it didn’t say. Pepsi LAST, maybe? I like carbonated water. I rarely drink sodas because a) I’m diabetic and b) I’m not sure what they use to replace sugar is better for me than the sugar it replaces. Your…

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GE labeling bill author says it’s about choice

GE labeling bill author says it’s about choice

Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery & Delaware counties, told a gathering in the state capitol Tuesday morning his bill to require labeling of genetically engineered foods was about allowing consumers to make choices, not a statement about food safety. “People in America demand information,” Leach said. “People don’t like being told, ‘You don’t need to know that; it’s OK.’” (Additional remarks by Leach in video at the end of this piece.)

Bill to require labeling GMO products to be introduced Tuesday morning

Bill to require labeling GMO products to be introduced Tuesday morning

A bill that could require labeling genetically engineered foods sold in Pennsylvania is slated to be introduced in the state senate Tuesday morning. Several farmers, church leaders and consumer group representatives are scheduled to accompany Sen. Daylin Leach (D- Montgomery and Delaware counties) as he announces the bill on the capitol steps. The bill would make Pennsylvania the first state to require GE labeling.

Support a farmer, eat heartily, and stomp to some great music

Support a farmer, eat heartily, and stomp to some great music

Farm Aid 2012 is Saturday, Sept. 22, at Hersheypark Stadium. This is Year 27 of the event begun in 1985 by Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp – Dave Matthews joined the team in 2001 – to raise money for programs that support family farms in their competition with land developers and huge factory farms. I was raised on a farm, of sorts. There was Mom, Dad and four of us youngsters, and a 50-foot by 100-foot patch that…

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The hidden cost of food

The hidden cost of food

Men and women are picking tomatoes to earn 50 cents for each 32-pound bucket, $50  to hand pick more than two tons of tomatoes in a 12-hour day. Of course,  cheaper isn’t always better. The idea leaves thousands of farm hands needing taxpayer support for food stamps and medical care because their wages will not cover the expense. For one more penny a pound, the person who picked it can see a doubling of her wage, but it’s hard convincing…

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