14 May 2011

Last day with formal meetings at Sacrameto and Davis

The day was packed with meetings at Glide Ranch, followed by being part of lucheon organized to honour Asia and Pcific Islanders community at USDA, visit to Yolo county Cooperative and Extension Service, brief tour of Farmers Market at Davis and a Home Hospitality at Sacramento.

At Glide Ranch, David Runsten exposed us to his magazine 'Buy Fresh, Buy Local: The Eater's Guide to Local Food'through his Community Alliance with Family Farmers. The concerns of the farmers were echoed and reiteratd the futily of defining a small vs large famers. He also agreed that when the call for 'organic' farming was echoed by the family farmers to create a demand it also has been  taken over by the industrial-mechanical farming group and 'certification' is becoming a costly affair for family farms. He also identified that the increase in productivity in the conventional method is also linked with a decline in nutritional content. These are some similar concerns that we face in India. While we were leaving, he said that Glide Ranches houses a number of offices that work on agriculture related issues and the ranch is a rescue centre for old horses and cattle that the owners do not want to take care off.

Luncheon at the USDA's regional office of Sacramento honouring the asian and pacific islanders was a good time  with different kinds of food and came to know about people from different communites. The Hawaiian are a part of the US, but the Japanese and Sikhs have settled down couple of centuries ago and Hmong came perhaps more recently.

Meeting at the Cooperative Extension  of Yolo revealed that they have been interacting with the community to improve healthy eating and hygenic practices. With demonstration they shouwed to us how less than 20 seconds of cleaning can still leave germs in our hands. However, the absence of link with researchers and the extension workers became evident. It seems that in recent years as extension workers retire their posts are not filled. Current research in universities is more about doing big things in large sizes and this seems to ignore the relevance of the extension officer. This is so because research is also increasingly going away from the farmer.

We moved through the farmers market at Davis observing their wares and fresh products of fruits, vegetables, bakery stuff and many other things. It is a weekly affair and has a demand in  this university town.

The California Crop Improvement Association inspects and certifies seed  growers and tells them whether the seed has followed  adequate norms to maintain purity. Technology is being increasingly used to find out the distance between plots of seed growers. But the distance with commerical crop growers is done with physical verification, it is not linked with other crops/seeds grown, and there are no limits for  cotton and corn. Genetically Engineered crops are going to stay and they are going to spread as the limits will increasingly become ineffective. The end to interesting discussions at Sacramento.

Home hospitality saw interactions with interesting people and good food. A Rabbi indicated that he is working for 'Equal  access to produce (to grow), and equal access to produce (what is grown)' at Fresh Producers. An event manger wanted to facilitate these and told how the Governor's house, which is now owned by Doctors of Indian origin, or her own house can be used for raising awareness. An attorney had her son wanting to go to developing countries to know about issues of deprivation. A financier cum enterpreneur wated to set up agro-processing factories that produce healthy food and also create bio-waste as an alternative to fertilizer.

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