Darrell Hansen of Humboldt Creamery gives an assist to one of the creameries newest employees (Photo by Carrie Branovan)

Darrell Hansen of Humboldt Creamery gives an assist to one of the creamery's newest employees (© 2006-2007 Carrie Branovan)

"...it’s important that we
support policies...that
foster and encourage a
local food supply which
will tend to use less
energy, have a softer
environmental footprint,
be safer and healthier,
and demand less from
distant and unstable
parts of the world..."

 

Past Newsletters Archive

Download Spring 2006
Download Summer 2006
Download Summer 2007
Download Summer 2009
Download Summer 2013

 

 

 

 

It All Fits Together - by Clif Clendenen

Clif Clendenen is a Humboldt County Farm Bureau Board MemberSeveral issues have seemed to coalesce for me recently and I’m going to grab a sack needle and attempt to stitch them together.

While involving myself in Fortuna’s General Plan Update process, I’ve seen a dovetail of goals with city planning and agriculture. Progressive planning, like “New Urbanism,” that tries to densify development, even in rural communities, helps the city better utilize infrastructure. Also created is a more walkable community with the associated health and social benefits. In addition, a well designed community has less dependence on energy usage because living, working, and shopping are integrated.

Policies like these fit well, I think, with agricultural needs, because as cities and towns stay compact, there’s less demand for ag lands for town expansion. I’m writing this while visiting family in Corona, CA (Riverside County) and it’s amazing to see how quickly citrus groves can be replaced with shopping centers and subdivisions.

Having our ag lands available has ramifications greater than farmers staying in business and providing some open space. By having a thriving local agricultural sector, other benefits derive. Thomas Friedman, in a recent syndicated column, writes that an Iraq exit strategy needs to be coupled with a serious fuel reduction policy. He says we can much more easily leave unstable parts of the globe if we’ve intelligently used what energy we have and developed meaningful conservation measures.

Just as vulnerable, I think, is our food supply. At Clendenen’s Cider Works last fall, we had for sale “Christopher Ranch Garlic,” packed in Gilroy, CA, but grown in China! Having food grown that far away has issues. Perhaps not China right now, but political instability makes that supply chain vulnerable. Also problematic is the lack of good food safety practices, whether it’s pesticide use and safety or outright adulteration as happened recently with the deliberate contamination of Chinese pet food to boost
nitrogen values.

Time Magazine, in a March 2007 issue with an apple on the cover says,
“Forget organic, buy local.” While I think there’s merit in both systems, the article pointed out that organic food that’s shipped long distance extracts a greater environmental toll than the local supply that’s not necessarily organic, but is grown by a resident steward of the land who is using less inputs and resources in the bigger picture.

To summarize this quilt, I think it’s important that we support policies in land use, energy, and business that foster and encourage a local food supply which will tend to use less energy, have a softer environmental footprint, be safer and healthier, and demand less from distant and unstable parts of the world.