Take a stand for the American farmer

Another voice


Special to the News

I’m not a confrontational sort of person, so I have to be careful what bumper stickers I display. I do have one that everyone can agree with though; No Farms No Food. I got that one when I joined the American Farmland Trust, an organization that preserves farmland by enabling young farmers to stay on the land.

The Willamette Valley is one of their “hot spots” where irreplaceable farmlands are being lost to sprawl. Here in the Hood River Valley, development is not the threat; rather, the menace is from the economic policies created and maintained for the benefit of multi-nationals and corporate agriculture. Globalization and “free trade” benefit only the shareholders of companies who move their products and their investment freely across borders, without consideration for the local lands or peoples, and with minimal government involvement.

In an article in Iowa Farmer Today, Jan. 11, 2003, Mark Muller, of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade, a rural communities’ advocacy group, wrote, “The money spent trying to expand export markets would much better serve farmers if it was spent on fostering local value-added production.”

Here in the Gorge, several growers are making important changes in their business model and cutting out the middleman by producing and marketing their products directly. I bought Ryan Orchards’ apple juice at Costco; when Rick and Bette Benjamin pass out samples of their dried pears dipped in chocolate, they can’t keep up with the demand; Ron Stewart added state-of-the-art juicing and packaging machines for his organic juice blends and canned fruit; and the Willis family have moved into a larger facility to make their Gorge Delight pear bars.

We, as consumers and purchasers, have a big say in what products will be carried in local stores, what local companies will survive and thrive. We just have to pay attention when we’re shopping. Local grower Camille Hukari suggests consumers ask produce managers where the fruit is from and tell them they want fruit from the United States.

For produce that isn’t grown by U.S. farmers, we can look for labeling that lets us know that those farmers are receiving a fair price for the time and labor they have spent on our behalf.

Conscious consumer-ism means you vote with your pocketbook — for small farmers, for local communities, for self-determination.

Oh yes, there’s another bumper sticker I like, by Capitol Press: “Have You Fed Your Kid Today? Hug a Farmer.”


Callie Jordan, who lives in The Dalles, organized a video and forum on the American farm plight last week at Riverside Community Church in Hood River.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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