Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Say No to Ethanol

Why? Here's the simple truth:

1) It's driving up the cost of a gallon of gas.

2) It reduces fuel economy.

3) While the use of ethanol may reduce CO emissions, burning ethanol also contributes to other emissions that contribute to smog...so it's actually trading one form of harmful emissions for another.

4) The cost of food is going up and that's having a seriously negative effect on the health of a nation that already suffers from the highest rate of child hunger in the industrialized world. That's right. Tens of millions of American citizens are going hungry every year and most of them are under the age of 18.

5) A significant increase in petroleum consumption is occurring due to the increase in farm machinery use (like tractors), the increased manufacturing of pesticides and fertilizers (to help "grow" the ethanol), and ethanol must be shipped by rail, tanker truck or barge due to the potential for contamination by moisture if it is pumped through pipelines.

6) We're further jeopardizing our nation's food security and mortgaging the future of our children to grow gasoline. It would take 212 billion bushels of corn to produce enough fuel to meet current annual US gasoline demand...the entire world only produced 2.1 billion bushels of grain last year. Where the hell is the rest of our food going to come from if all of our arable land is being used to produce plant material for bio fuel???

7) Your tax dollars are being used to subsidize the production of ethanol and subsequently contributing to the overflowing coffers of some the slimiest petrochemical agribusiness giants (like ADM) and at the same time providing them a mandate to continue the rape and ruin of our nation's farmlands, water supply, and natural environment.

My sincerest apologies to the great Willie Nelson for this rant on bio fuel. I know some of the farmers he's supported so proudly and for so long are finally seeing some of the red ink disappear from their books due to the increase in grain prices and the agricultural subsidies, but most folks aren't...and that includes a hell of a lot of folks who aren't benefiting from inappropriate, taxpayer funded subsidies. I also know that Willie has his own bio fuel company going strong back home in Texas. They're not producing ethanol. They're producing bio diesel. I don't much care for that either for many of the same reasons I'm against ethanol spiked gasoline. It's going to take a seriously enormous shift in the way we operate to recognize the benefits of bio diesel over fossil fuel and, being the individual that I am, I just don't see it happening in Willie's lifetime or mine. Anyways, just wanted make it clear that I'm not intentionally stepping on Willie's toes. He's always been my hero. And he still is, it seems.

Don't believe me? Well here are some links to folks that took the time to write about this very subject...complete with footnotes and all of the good stuff that fact checkers like to see:

The conservative folks from The Heritage Foundation published this article by Ben Lieberman, 'The Ethanol Mandate Should Not Be Expanded' .

The more progressive minded Grist published this nice piece from one of my favorite journalists, Tom Philpott, 'A revolt against ethanol?' .

Fuel Ethanol Subsidies: An Economic Perspective
, is a nice read brought to you by BIPAC. The Business Industry Political Action Committee...Board of Directors members include executive officers from Bollinger Shipyards, Weyerhauser, Lockheed-Martin, General Motors, Sun Microsystems, Goodyear, Exxon, JELD-WEN, Verizon...and the list goes on.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sustainable Shopping Class

This just in from one of Clark County's hardest working naturalists and sustainablility proponents, Gary Bock. Sounds like a great class and it's only seven bucks! Nice....

Hi Friends,

I hope you can join me for a class on Sustainable Shopping this Wednesday July 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Firstenburg Community Center. I will be talking about some of the principles from Dr. Ellis Jones' book "The Better World Shopping Guide" and may even have a copy or two to give away. I will take his well researched ideas and combine them with my experiences in the trenches (and strip malls) of Clark County to deliver an entertaining and educational evening. To register for the class call 360-487-7001 ext. 0 and register for class# 49619. The $7 fee covers Firstenburg's expenses and doesn't go to me or any of my pet programs.

I hope to see you there!

Gary Bock

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Laughing Buddha Brewing Co. @ By the Bottle next Saturday!

Another awesome beer tasting coming up Saturday the 26th! Offered by Dave & Arlene Nunez and their beer-saavy crew at By the Bottle. Save your gas dollars and buy more beer by shopping locally. By the Bottle is located in downtown Vancouver. Here's a reprint of their e-mail notice:

Meet the pioneers of Modern Asian style beers, Chris Castillo & Joe Valvo, owners/brewers of Laughing Buddha Brewing Company at By the Bottle's Meet the Brewer Tasting.

Saturday, July 26, 2008
3:00pm to 6:00pm

Laughing Buddha is new in the Seattle area, but no laughing matter. They focus on incorporating Asian ingredients such as ginger and pandan leaves into their highly unique beers and are already creating quite the buzz. If you haven't heard of Laughing Buddha Brewing, you will. At the recent Brewer's Festival in Seattle, it wasn't hard to notice that they had the longest line for most of the day. Come and check out why on the 26th. More details will follow. For now, get it on your calendar!


By the Bottle
104 W. Evergreen Blvd.
Vancouver, WA 98660
Google Map Link

Monday, July 14, 2008

Smithsonian exhibit coming to Clark County Museum

The Smithsonian Institution’s exhibit Key Ingredients: America by Food, covering 500 years of American food culture, will be shown for six weeks beginning Saturday, July 26, in the Clark County Historical Museum, 1511 Main Street.

There is no admission fee on the opening day, which begins at 3 p.m. with the sale of a classic cookbook, according to museum executive director Susan Tissot. On opening day 16th Street just north of the museum will be closed to make way for restaurants and food vendors.

Clark County Historical Museum Website

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pluck You

Alright, so maybe the title of this post should have been you pluck, but either way here's a link to some great folks who will rent you the equipment you need to process your own poultry at home...just don't let your homeowner's association find out. And even better than that, it will only set you back $50 for two days. Such a bargain!


FEATHERMAN plucker, scalder, cones and dunker/shackles for rent.
For chickens, turkeys and other medium to large birds.

Simplifying life for the small poultry farmer and the family farm.

Featherman Poultry Processing Lending Program
Serving the Portland and Salem, OR areas

Tel / 971 327-8509

The Featherman plucker and scalder allow you to process more birds more efficiently. Simply fill the scalder with water the night before, and let it bring the water to the perfect temperature for scalding (or fill it with hot water in the morning). You can dunk your birds by hand, or use the dunker/shackle apparatus. This allows you to submerge four birds at once. We like submerging the birds because you end up with nice, clean chicken feet for your bone broths.

Then move the birds to the plucker, which completely plucks the birds in seconds, sending the feathers down a chute into a bucket. Your birds are now ready to finish.

Both machines are relatively easy to move. It takes two moderately strong people to lift them into the back of your truck or van. Also included are two cones for broilers, one for turkeys, instructions on how to work the machines, and even a booklet on how to butcher chickens. You will also be asked to fill out a lease agreement and leave a $50 deposit, which is refundable if the equipment is returned undamaged and thoroughly cleaned.

For more information on the plucker and scalder, visit http://www.featherman.net. For more information on butchering your own chickens, visit http://www.butcherachicken.blogspot.com/.

We are located in Aurora, OR. Call or email today to reserve your rental! Rental is $50 for two days ($50 refundable deposit)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Penny Saved... Wisely?: Farming on the Forty-fifth Parallel by Jim & Diane Hunter

About thirty years ago up in Bellingham, Jim asked a friend out to a movie. Big brother John was just home for the summer from grad school at U.S.C., and asked to tag along. This annoyed Jim, as the friend was of the female variety. We were going to the late show, and as we emerged from behind St. Lukes Hospital, a beautiful sunset could be seen over Holly Street and Bellingham Bay. A couple of blocks down Holly on the northwest side of the street was a burger joint called the Arctic Circle Drive-In. "Wow, remarked John, "you guys sure are close to the Arctic Circle up here." As he recalls it, Jim is sure that he and Kathleen both rolled our eyes and said to ourselves, "SO.... " Brothers can be so annoying.

Eventually we figured out that scientist John wasn't talking about the drive-in.

Every year around the summer and winter solstices, Jim gets to thinking about latitude. We have lived on the farm longer than anywhere else Jim has lived. Being settled in one location with the same landmarks year after year, has allowed us to understand and appreciate where we set on the globe's surface.

If you drive south on Interstate 5, somewhere around Salem you will see a sign announcing that you are crossing the 45th parallel. It may even point out that it means that you are half way between the North Pole and the Equator. So what Jim is wondering is whether everyone else thinks that this is the coolest latitude around for understanding the seasons. For instance, we always say the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But at our latitude, this is really only true on two days of the year, at the equinoxes. Our property doesn't allow seeing the sun actually appear over the horizon at sunrise and sunset, but Jim's feeble grasp of geometry tells him that at the summer solstice on the 45th parallel the sun should rise in the northeast and set in the northwest. On the winter solstice it should rise in the southeast and set in the southwest. Such symmetry can be had at no other latitude. Is that cool or what?

Also, our latitude is the easiest to figure out when the sun will rise and set (except for at the poles and equator). As we understand it the sun rises and sets at the same time every day at the equator. While at the poles it rises at the spring equinox, circles the horizon for six months and then sets on the fall equinox. So, half way in between, the sun will rise at six A.M. and P.M. on the equinxoxes, 4 A.M. and 8 P.M.(standard time) on the summer solstice, and 8A.M. and 4 P.M. on the winter solstice. So did everyone else have this all worked out, and we're just slow, or what?

So what's all this got to do with farming and saving pennies? Well first, we pay attention to where shade is, because often we want to take advantage of it to keep plants cooler. It's cheaper than investing in shade cloth. It took us a while to figure out that the north side of a building is not a cool place on a summer evening. But this summer solstice, Jim's got to thinking about latitude and photoperiodism, and that's a whole 'nother essay. So stay tuned...

Diane & Jim Hunter, greens@huntersgreens.com
Hunter's Greens CSA, http://huntersgreens.com
Brush Praire, WA. (360) 256-3788

More Good Stuff from Jim & Diane Hunter of Hunter's Greens CSA!

Clark County Agriculture: Drop the Appeal

Do Commissioners Steve Stewart and Mark Boldt care about farming in Clark County? Do they care about the community food security of our urban residents? Well maybe it's time to stop beating around the bush and ask them.

If Boldt and Stewart do care, they will join together, assert their independence and vote to halt the appeal of the Growth Management Board's ruling on farm land in Clark County. This action could save at least a thousand acres of prime farmland from being paved over.

Some may ask, "But what about the poor farmers who can't make a living on their land any more?" Well, we need to care about them too, but selling to developers isn't the only answer to their plight. The County could utilize designated funds, which can be matched with State and Federal dollars to offer these farmers a cash settlement to agree to keep their land in agriculture. Under this plan, called purchase of conservation easements. the farmers could withdraw at least a portion of the development value of their land now. When they decide to retire and sell the farm, they can capture the remainder of the value in sale to another farmer, at a price the farmer could afford.

Will it be as sweet as the deal the developers are promising in their other ear? Probably not, but given the state of housing economy, farmers need to ask whether that deal will come through in time to do them any good.

We need to save farm land in Clark County. Then we need to start building up our local farm and food economy.

The world and our economy are on a crash course for some serious hurt. When the hurt comes, do, we, the people of Clark County want to be able to feed ourselves? Or will we be content to spend more of our declining dollars lining the pockets of a few world traders, buying food of questionable safety, grown by poor people who don't have the right to protest the injustice of their working conditions?

Every crisis offers danger and opportunity. Write Commissioners Boldt and Stewart and tell them which future you would choose for Clark County's food system.

(We plan to submit this to the Vancouver Columbian)

Diane & Jim Hunter, greens@huntersgreens.com
Hunter's Greens CSA, http://huntersgreens.com
Brush Prairie, WA. (360) 256-3788