LAKE MACBRIDE— Food. The afternoon revolved around food after a once every two weeks trip to the grocery store. Root vegetables, a turnip for $1.09, a parsnip for $0.85, potatoes for $0.40 per pound, carrots from the fridge and a leek for $1.05. It’s chik’n stew tonight. With protein cubes from Morningstar Farms®, and vegetables past their prime, but good for stew. The pot is full of the simmering stew. Hope it tastes good, as there is enough to last ten days and I hate to waste— food.
LAKE MACBRIDE— Last night I made brownies for the first time since I can remember. I saw the box of baking cocoa, the recipe on the package, and knew we had all the ingredients in the house. They came out very well, light and chewy, so I copied the recipe into my red book.
Have been preparing my new blog on a test site, and here is a very tentative snapshot of what it will look like. More to come as it develops.
LAKE MACBRIDE— The snow cover is deceptive, hiding spring, which is here, but not showing for a couple of weeks— an illusion that there is more time before outside work begins. There is a lot to do to organize for planting, and everything else.
The blog books have been shipped from the printer, and I am a week or so away from creating a new look for my blog. I have been sampling the free templates, and the only one I settled on was the same used during the previous iteration of this blog. Will work harder on it.
I have resolved to take down most of my posts here, once the paper copies have arrived. Browse through the older posts if you are so inclined. By April, they will be deleted.
RURAL CEDAR TOWNSHIP— Yesterday was the first of a long series of work days at a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project. I spent three and a half hours making blocks of soil mix to grow seedlings, then planted lettuce seeds in some of them. I had no expectations for the day, but mostly because of dehydration, had to cut it short. (Note to self: next time take a water bottle). I am not physically ready for farm work, but hope to be soon. As this growing season evolves, my physical condition should improve. The reason for being at there was to learn how a greenhouse works in late winter, and about growing lettuce from seedlings. I am also trading labor for a share of produce.
If one would write about local food, some experience on a CSA seems mandatory. It is one thing to talk and write about local food and another to grow it. The latter takes more work than people realize. What was immediately apparent was the labor intensity of sustainable agriculture in its current iteration. Machines could have done all of the work I did more efficiently, but with substantial capital investment. Local, sustainable agriculture starts out behind in the race with large scale operations over efficiency. It is a conscious choice among options for how to spend limited capital, and as long as cheap labor is available, capital investment will be directed to other things on a long list of priorities.
We didn’t talk much, but between periods of work, managed to catch up on news, and what’s going on with family. The only thing to report is that local CSAs continue to struggle to find customers, with some of last year’s customers cutting back to half shares, or not renewing this season. Managing a base of members whose investment is less than $1,000 per year is also labor intensive.
My sense is that there are pockets of strength in the local food movement in Johnson County. It is not really a cohesive system yet. People enjoy going to the farmers market to buy produce, but they often do so with discretionary income. In a tight economy, discretionary income can be reduced or evaporate completely, effecting farmers markets and CSA business alike because they are perceived as an indulgence rather than a way of life. There is inadequate attention paid to the role of home cooks as buyers/promoters of sustainably grown food. That needs a remedy as well, but is also labor intensive, and the planting season is here.
In a county with better than a 2-1 Democratic registration advantage, the enthusiasm of general election years has been supplemented with paid staff. During the 2012 presidential election, the most paid staff ever dominated the local GOTV effort. Campaign work is mostly done by a local party organization in other counties. When the 2012 election was over, the exit of paid staff created a vacuum, which sucked Terry Dahm’s campaign into the vortex, leaving a weak party organization and John Etheredge as our new supervisor.
Dahms was not as exciting a candidate as Janelle Rettig was when she won the January 2010 special election, to which this contest has been compared. Etheredge was less a public lunatic than Lori Cardella was in 2010, and that served to his advantage. Local Republicans were slow coming to modern electoral political campaigning developed during the Howard Dean and John Kerry campaigns of 2004, but they have figured it out, and were able to win last night.
The snowstorm leading into the hours the polls were open didn’t help, but it was a minor problem compared to the lack of a party organization and related voter apathy among Democrats.
A Republican victory has been a long time coming to Johnson County court house races, and one supposes last night’s win is like a burr that will be sanded off in the carpentry shop of the 2014 general election, returning the board of supervisors to all Democratic. Such an outcome is predictable, but remains to be seen. Today’s congratulations go to the Johnson County Republicans for last night’s win.
LAKE MACBRIDE— Walking There is my third iteration of a blogging site, and it is time for the fourth. Please be patient while I use the free services of Word Press to pick a new template, new images and different widgets to re-engineer my on-line presence here and elsewhere.
Fair warning: I plan to take the previous posts private, or remove them completely when I launch the new site. I just ordered the archive paper documents, and once they arrive in a couple of weeks, I’ll be ready to make the changes here.
I hope you will stay with me during this transition.