The cyclical nature of blogs is intriguing. A story in the Freakonomics blog that featured UC Agricultural Issues Center director Dan Sumner’s expertise, and reported on in this ANR news blog entry, takes another turn in the media and technology blog of Alternet.org.
Eating Liberally writer Kerry Trueman asks what the New York Times has against local food and green living in a post focused on the Freakonomics blogger Steve Dubner’s site. Is this getting confusing?
In Dubner's blog, Sumner raised an issue with eating locally. In a nutshell, he explained that it's sometimes actually better for the environment to ship long distances than growing crops in inhospitable environments. An example he offers is the impact of growing lettuce in a greenhouse close to a market, instead of importing the vegetable grown outside in, say, Salinas County, Calif.
In Dubner's blog, Sumner raised an issue with eating locally. In a nutshell, he explained that it's sometimes actually better for the environment to ship long distances than growing crops in inhospitable environments.
An example he offers is the impact of growing lettuce in a greenhouse close to a market, instead of importing the vegetable grown outside in, say, Salinas County, Calif.
"Ah yes, the old greenhouse red herring," Trueman mocks in his post. "Locavores don't advocate buying out-of-season lettuce grown in a greenhouse -- the whole point of being a locavore is that you base your diet as much as possible on what's in season in your region. As for inhospitable environments, is there a horticultural zone anywhere in America where you can't grow lettuce in the spring or fall?"
I've always loved the wit and wisdom of insect-inspired poets. God in His wisdom made the fly And...
Ten-lined June beetle
Bee on pomegranate blossom
Spotted cucumber beetle
The firestorms of summer 2008 are still very much on the mind of the media. Recently, follow up stories have been published in California newspapers with analysis, recovery and prevention information.
The Los Angeles Times ran an article that centered on UC Cooperative Extension wood durability advisor Stephen Quarles' work on attic vents. Quarles points to flying embers as a reason even homes with cleared landscape and fire-resident siding, windows and roofs still succumb to wildfire.
Glowing fragments can blow through house vents and start a fire inside attics. Quarles is studying new high-tech vents that would stop embers from entering. The new vents are not yet on the market. Unfortunately, the story didn't mention Quarles' frequent suggestion to homeowners to make plywood vent covers that can be installed quickly when fire approaches.
The Chico Enterprise-Record took on the topic of post-fire erosion. Erosion, the article said, could mean flooding this winter for people who have already experienced a summer disaster. The Enterprise-Record story was based on a forest stewardship workshop in Magalia sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Forestry, UC Cooperative Extension and other agencies.
The Fresno Bee ran story on the variety of pressures on the state's ranchers, including wildfire. For the article, reporter Dennis Pollock spoke to UC Cooperative Extension natural resources advisor for Fresno and Madera counties Neil McDougald. He said rangeland scorched by wildfire will need at least three years to recover. A second consecutive year of low rainfall totals is also taking toll on grass used as cattle feed.
"It means reduced residual matter, and you don't have all the protection for the beginning of next year's crop," McDougald was quoted. "Every year that you use that resource more, it adds to your risk."
When the California State Fair, Sacramento, opens Friday, Aug. 15 for an 18-day run, don't miss...
With 85 days till the November election, cackling continues in the media over Proposition 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. The proposed law would bar veal crates, battery cages, sow gestation crates and any enclosure that prevents animals from turning around, standing up or spreading their wings.
Fresno Bee reporter Dennis Pollock called it a "study in cage fighting" when he reported on what he termed "dueling news releases."
In his column, Pollock wrote, "The headline on a release from the University of California: 'UC study: If passed, initiative likely to drive egg production out of state.' . . . the Humane Society of the United States countered with: 'New UC Davis study claims Prop 2 is good for consumers ...'
According to the Daily News, Tehama County farmer Zach Whitten is in favor of the initiative. Whitten will be unaffected by the law. He uses a system called "range confinement," housing chickens in cages large enough to let them wander around and dust themselves.
The story quotes the UC Agricultural Issues Center study, saying that the Proposition could raise in-state egg costs by 20 percent for the farmer and 25 percent for the consumer, but that grocery store prices will be stable as out-of-state producers send more eggs over the state line.
The Fresno Bee story noted that the Merced County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose the initiative.
An article in the North (San Diego) County Times, which also pulled information from the AIC study, quoted two egg producers:
"We won't be in operation anymore," Ryan Armstrong, vice president of operations for Armstrong Egg Farms in Valley Center, predicted. "We'd have to buy hundreds of acres to supply as many eggs as we do now. At $50,000 an acre, it gets pretty expensive."
The cost of compliance would be "prohibitive," according Kevin Demler, whose Pine Hill Egg Ranch in Ramona is the largest in the county, with 1 million hens.