Eco Local Guide

Food: March 2009 Archives

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Looks like the long Winter has finally broken and Spring is here.  One sure sign that Spring has Sprung is the return of the Maple Weekends.  We are fortunate to have the producers of the finest sweetener on the planet right here in our backyard.  Of course, I'm talking about the annual ritual of Maple sap collection to create Maple syrup.  Checkout the article "March Maple Madness" in my previous blog post here at Saratoga.com and read about some of the characters involved in this right of Spring.

By Shannon Hayes

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On Wednesday, March 11th, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing on the proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). On the surface, NAIS is a marvel of technological wizardry whereby we farmers tag every head of livestock in the country and the USDA electronically tracks their whereabouts. In the event of a disease outbreak, they plan to identify within 48 hours which animals are involved, where they are located, and what other animals might have been exposed. After an outpouring of farm and ranch protests, NAIS was made "voluntary at the federal level," but the status is precarious, because funding to states can be contingent upon mandating compliance. For us as consumers, NAIS may sound like a legislative dream, assuring the American food supply is safe. But for us as citizens, NAIS is a nightmare. Policy opponents argue the program cannot deliver on its promises to thwart di sease contagion; it does nothing to contain food-born illness; it threatens the civil liberties of farmers; it infringes on the religious freedoms of many, like the Amish, who object to the system on grounds that it represents "the mark of the beast."


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By MaryBeth McCue

The need to practice personal responsibility to acquire and maintain health may be at an all time high, even while the new Obama administration in Washington is working to "improve" our Health Care model. Chronic illness and disease are on the rise and have been for some time.  People are living longer, but at the expense of living more years not feeling well and lacking vital function -needlessly.   Many have come to believe that "forty or fifty something" means the start of chronic disease, when it does not have to be.  And even more alarming, but now "common", are seeing young people in our culture burdened with chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, depression, ADD and more, which a very short time ago where seen as diseases of the  "aging " population.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine (IM), Mind- Body-Medicine (MBM), Functional Medicine (FM) - most are out of pocket services to help restore health- continue to be utilized more and more each year.  This upward trend is yet another significant "indicator" of the continued deficiency in our western-conventional health care model.   A broken system where many with chronic conditions are told by their physicians:  There is nothing wrong with you"... "There is nothing more you can do",...." You just have to live with it", etc etc etc .

The experts, and the non-experts, like our government - are in agreement that the inclusion of Integrative Medicine as a covered health care service will help our nation heal their health, their economy and unite back into the world more whole and complete and able to serve. This end result will itself continue to feed the healing process. 

March Maple Madness in the Town of Thurman

By Persis Granger

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It all begins on one of those special days in late winter, when snowmelt hammers on the porch roof, the sun seems higher in the sky, the air has an unmistakable smell of spring, and crows caw over the meadow. In Thurman, folks wait all winter for days like that. On days like that, the maple sap is running.

The tiny Warren County town of Thurman boasts a proliferation of maple producers - probably more per square mile than anywhere else around. Most are second- or third-generation sugar makers, carrying on a proud family tradition of maple production, using a combination of learned-at-the knee know-how and an ongoing quest for technology to streamline their operations and make them energy- and labor-efficient. Many recall a grandparent carrying buckets with a yoke to a kettle over an open fire. Some will share memories of two or three generations of their family working together to gather, boil and bottle.


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