Ten Rivers Food Web

Ah, another good site! Ten Rivers Food Web, in their own words "... provides strategic leadership to build a robust and resilient food system in the Mid-Willamette Valley." They are focused on the Cascade to Coast area of Western Oregon and food security. 

Food security, a term that I only heard for the first time about four years ago, used to be applied mostly to developing and conflict-ridden areas. Now you hear about food security close to home. And it's about time.  Food security encompasses everything from food production, soil health and management, to access to food and the nutritional quality of that food supply. As we transition away from a largely agrarian economy to a service economy or information economy (take your pick) food security must become something we are all interested in (and water rights are intrinsically linked to that). 

Don't get me wrong, farmers in the US still produce enormous amounts of food and we have the ability (land, water, chemicals, seed stock, and money) to feed the world. That said, as food production moves into fewer and fewer hands and more and more farms produce grains for export/feed/fuel etc. we have to keep our own food access in sight. I think a good example of this are urban food deserts. Cities where residents must travel outside of the city to buy more than convenience store items and many folks are unable to obtain healthy, fresh foods within their own neighborhoods. 

Check out Ten Rivers Food Web if you live in Western Oregon and test your food literacy! 


Time on My Hands

This is cool. I'd heard something about this a while back, but I just read an article on "time banking." The concept is so simple. You spend an hour doing something for someone (cleaning, gardening, cooking etc.) and you get an hour in the time bank to spend having someone do something for you (acupuncture, massage, cleaning, gardening etc.).

I'm going to look into this and try to figure out what skills I have that I could trade for. I'm thinking weddings, funerals, photo books, gardening, cooking, cleaning. I guess I can write too maybe or edit? I can definitely organize.

I am so into the concept that our labor for each other (the time we spend helping each other in volunteering, care giving for a family member, watching a friend's kids etc.) are undervalued economically (not personally). While writing my thesis, I came across a bit of literature on volunteering and what was considered volunteering in our statistics on volunteerism. For instance, if you go to an organization and officially volunteer that is counted in our stats as an non-profit organization. If you just go across the street and help your neighbor with yard work or take your mom to her chemo visit and cook her dinner, this is literally not valued in our economy. Literally. It's not counted as having any value in our economy. 

Marilyn Waring wrote a seminal work on this concept of "value" in her 1988 book If Women Counted. She explores the world accounting system at the time, which is still our current accounting system, and found that it was based on a work called How to Fund the War. She made the argument then (which was not an entirely new argument) that we have fundamentally changed the concept of the term value to mean only that which is tied into and contributes directly to the dollar system. In this system, acts or things (such as a park) do not have any intrinsic worth on their own. They only have worth when they are sold, items are mined off of them, or they produce a pay check.

In his TED talk, Edgar Cahn describes the motivation behind time banking as being to give back value to our acts of labor for one another. To transform our system so that these acts of labor that are currently not being valued are finally valued. It's a short talk/video worth watching.

If you are in Portland, here is a link to the PDX Time Bank.


Traditional Farm Transitions to Organic

I've just added a new blog to my blog list. *Clinton Lindsey*, a fourth generation farmer at *A2R Farms* in Corvallis, is keeping a blog to “share our experiences as our family works to transition our 800 acre farm from a conventional chemical-using farm to a sustainable organic farm.”

Clinton is going to be at the InFARMation meeting here in Portland - a meeting to connect local urbanites to our surrounding family farms.

Friends of Family Farmers presents InFARMation on April 12th from
5:30-8:30pm at Holocene (1001 SE Morrision Ave, Portland). Free!