Tag Archives: Agriculture

British Court Rules on Potato Chips

Pringles Logo
Image via Wikipedia

Today a Britsh court ruled that Pringles are potato chips. I’m curious to know what Proctor & Gamble was trying to present them as.

I once attended an agriculture round table meeting hosted by the University of Minnesota, the professor was trying to promote food irradiation to a group of public school officials. In the lead up to discussing treating food with radiation he did an overview of some landmark cases in the food history. The most noteworthy was a case brought by an unnamed tomato sauce company in the 70’s or 80’s who argued that maggots didn’t constitute filth in food because they were not visible. The unnamed company of course lost but its not much different than Pringles arguing whether or not a potato chip is a potato chip…key ingredient?  I wonder how much the tomato sauce suit cost taxpayers?

Did you hear about the 150 Amish Paste tomatoes I planted? Well now you know the rest of the story.

The FDA’s 3 second rule

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Filed under Cooking, Food, Government, health, Home & Garden, Life

Minnesota Spring

Alexa has been sick. As she makes her slow recovery I’ve taken her on car rides to no where in particular, just to get her out of the house for a short time. I love our drives, I love the rural landscape all around me. I especially love this time of year because after so many months of seeing nothing but blankets of white, the gold and green patchwork farmland that spills to meet the cerulean blue sky takes my breath away.

As I was driving I wanted to describe the view to someone I’ve been exchanging letters with and this is what I wrote:  To Mark in AZ.

Round, tractor tire-sized bales of flaxen hay dot the landscape as periwinkle sheets of rain daub the western horizon.

On swizzle stick legs baby calves lean into the misty April breeze.

One calf is the color of oatmeal and I name him Norman.

He stands still as a Bonnie Mohr painting.

His eyes are black like buttons floating on soft peaks of whipped cream.

With his jaw high he faces spring as the wind smooths his downy fur from his eyes.

A nearby tractor awakens the earth as the Midwest wind twirls her,  sleepy and unexpectant.

Dusty plumes roll and scatter as her dark rich scent whispers her fertility to the wind.

Naked trees watch shivering impotently.

A gust blows and Norman’s mother calls.

On new legs Norman runs.

Blue sky, red barn and the gentle color of Norman; my American landscape.

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Filed under Life, Minnesota, Writing

Our Dirt: A Harvest Story

In the spring my boys and I tilled a quarter of the back yard, erected a small greenhouse and planted our largest  organic heirloom vegetable garden ever. 

I had several objectives in committing myself to this project, first a character in my book is a seed saver and grows rare heirloom vegetables and I wanted first hand experience. Second, as I researched seed saving I supported what these individuals were trying to accomplish…the preservation of diversity among species. Heirloom seeds evolve and reproduce at the end of their growing season whereas patented hybrid seeds do not.  Finally, I believe in living close to earth. What I mean by that is the least amount of processing…as nature provides. No hormones in milk, antibiotic free meats and cage free eggs.

This began with my youngest child who had allergic reactions to additives and preservatives, it also related to lobby work I did and coming to understand the FDA approval process. I appreciate ethics in food production because I value all life, on the flip side…cage free eggs have been shown to contain less cholesterol. As the concentration of agriculture changed the landscape of the traditional American farm from grazing cattle and roaming chickens, the vocabulary of Americans grew to increase the use of words like cholesterol, heart disease, antibiotic resistance, e-coli and salmonella,  byproducts of industrial scale farming.

At an Agricultural Round-Table meeting hosted several years ago by the University of Minnesota the presenting professor noted that at least one-fourth of all cancers come from the foods we eat. While many experts consider this estimate to be low that shred of information struck a cord with me. Uncle Roger died of cancer, Uncle Pinky died of cancer, Auntie Dee died of cancer, Uncle Denny died of cancer…as the list of cancer deaths grew I had to ask myself; if we changed our habits and became more sophisticated consumers who might still be here?

While our maiden voyage as gardeners produced varied results I appreciated my family members understanding first hand the labor involved in growing and harvesting food.

Last week I prepared some of our organic German Butterball potatoes with a roast. To my surprise my daughter winced and said, “oh, gross!”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, they came out of the dirt,” she replied.

“All potatoes come from dirt,” I said.

“I KNOW THAT… but these came from our of OUR dirt!”

Perhaps she thinks a farmers dirt is more sanitary than our dirt…

This year, in the absence of a heated greenhouse, I will begin seedlings earlier under florescent lights indoors to facilitate a longer growing season. I’ll use taller poles for the pole beans and I won’t plant them near the sunflowers, lest they improvise and once again climb the flower stalks. I’ve composted oak leaves which at some point will prevent me from having to haul in soil.  I won’t plant corn, I will plant Amish Snap Peas, organic potatoes, a variety of onions, and more salad greens. This year I will plant Nasturtiums for their edible flowers and I’ll go back to making salad dressings because the freshness is incomparable. Herbs I planted in pots so I could use them year around except I’ll add a broader variety of Basil’s to the mix this year and yes… we will once again grow food in our dirt:)


Filed under Food, Life