Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pest control

The other evening, as Robin was heading back to the studio after supper, I decided that the bottle of wine that I had opened earlier while preparing the meal had hardly been touched and was meant to be shared. So I called up Sunshine, another one of the grad students in ceramics here at USU and begged her to come over and hang out with me so that I wouldn't have to drink it alone. And she complied! 

We had a great evening, drinking wine, chatting and making lemon bars (her famous recipe). And I learned something new that I did not know about her home state of California. They have Border patrol! Obviously at the international check points entering the state from the south, but along the eastern and northern state boundaries as well. They're called border protection stations and are set up primarily as agricultural inspection stations, meant to check incoming vehicles for commodities infested with invasive pests that might pose serious threats to California's agricultural sector. 

Being that Cali is likely the number one exporter of foods, primarily produce, in this country and to Canada, I can see why they would have strict plant quarantine laws and want to keep the invasive pesty stuff out.  

Sunshine's lemon bars were made from California lemons that she picked from her grandma's lemon tree. And they were soooooo good. She brought back a whole bunch of citrus with her from her spring break trip there. 

The inspection stations are only set up to operate one way, incoming. You can take whatever you like out of California, but you have to dump your fruit and plant products before you enter the state. I thought this was interesting and it brought to mind a story I remember about the provincial borders of Alberta and it's rat patrol....Alberta is apparently rat free.  As a kid I remember someone telling me that the province I grew up in had a rat patrol along the borders to keep out this disgusting rodent species. (I always imagined a bunch of uniformed men sitting in lifeguard type stations with BB guns waiting for a rat to run across the imaginary line.) Not sure if this is true or not - the rat patrol, but if anyone knows more, please enlighten me. Also not sure how I got so off topic, too much wine I suppose.

Anyways, getting back to the original topic - California produce. I've been thinking a lot about the food industry these past few months. Thoughts originally spurred on by a book that I've been reading, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The book is about one family's attempt to change the impact of their own family's food consumption by challenging themselves to a year of eating only locally grown or produced food. The book is interesting for anyone that has attempted to grow a garden themselves, but also offers some valuable insight into various aspects of the food production industry and just the enormity of food that is trucked nowadays.  

Their stories and journalistic style investigations have inspired me enough to make a few changes to what our family eats. I figure I'm off to a good start with our weekly milk delivery from a local dairy, the free range eggs that we get from our generous friends here in town and all the bread baking I've been doing. And with this spring weather, the Gardener's Market must be just around the corner and I'll be able to really see what it will be like to try and eat seasonally. Until then, at least I've stopped buying avacados.  


www.anns blog said...

Good on you for making the effort. There is a real purge on here to eat seasonally and locally. Trouble is all our seasonal and local produce comes at a price and families can't afford to support suppliers and end up going to the supermarkets.

kate said...

love the window! Maggie, my Dad and I walked past this afternoon...cute cute!!