White Vegetables in My White Garden

It’s been six years since we moved to Boulder from Lincoln, Nebraska. I had a white garden there, and had begun to miss it.

Because some dirt work needed to be done around a basement window this spring which had been the source of some leaking during heavy rains and the flood last fall, my husband added to the project by removing a rectangle of grass around that window well so that I could again have a white garden. The spot is very harsh here in this climate, receiving only afternoon sun.

For the new garden, I started white zinnias, shasta daisies, and phlox from seed. I also ordered some white blooming prairie plants from High Country Gardens. And, because I expected that in its first year, the garden would be sparse, I thought I’d put white vegetables on the one end. For this, I started some chives, white pumpkins, and white eggplants from seed. Needless to say, the pumpkins took over more than their share of the garden by early August but when I harvested them a couple weeks ago, I was not sorry.

Here, I must put in a plug for the source of my seeds, John Sheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds, because all of the seeds from them which I used to start this garden were true. They were white and they all turned out to be what they were supposed to be. I can’t say that for other seed starting experiences I’ve had in the past and it’s a lot of work to start seedlings and nurture them into garden plants. You don’t want to waste your time with poor seeds and who can you trust?

We’ve only had a light frost here so far, and my white garden is blooming very nicely on this mid-October date. It was well worth the effort. Yesterday, I planted white bulbs into it: crocus, daffodils, and tulips. I can hardly wait for next year and it hasn’t even frosted yet.

Here are a few photos for you.

Bee on a white coneflower.

Blanca eggplant started from seed.

Boer Ford flat pumpkins started from seed. Note black cat in background.

As you can see, we’re more than ready for Halloween at our house!

Which States Derive the Highest Percent of Gross Product from Agriculture? from Food Manufacturing?

A new study out of South Dakota crunches the numbers to tell us which U.S. states are at the top for agriculture production/food manufacturing as percent of gross state product:

1. North Dakota – 12.1 %
2. South Dakota – 11.9 %
3. Iowa 11.4 %
4. Nebraska – 11.3 %
5. Idaho – 9.0 %

The two Dakotas are the very top states for the agriculture production only category (as percent of gross state product):

1. North Dakota – 10.6 %
2. South Dakota – 10.5%

(Note that North Dakota produces over 90 percent of this nation’s canola and flax. It also produces barley, spring wheat, honey, peas, and sunflowers.)

Top states for food manufacturing only (as percent of gross state product):

1. North Carolina – 4.3 %
2. Iowa – 4.2 %
3. Kentucky – 3.7 %
4. Virginia – 3.7 %
5. Nebraska – 3.4 %

Note that the Dakotas rank lower in the food manufacturing sector because of labor costs, transportation costs, a limited workforce, and other factors.



It’s About Time that South Park Does a Spoof on Gluten-Free

I’ve never bought into the gluten-free craze, even though I live in Boulder, which embraced the movement from day one. Now, 99 percent of our grocery stores are devoted to gluten-free products. Well, maybe not quite that much, but it’s certainly in your face when you walk into the grocery store. Items such as shampoo for dogs are labeled gluten-free and customers are sure to choose the gluten-free dog shampoo over the dog shampoo that is not labeled gluten-free. This is sadly true, and I supposedly live in one of the smartest towns in the nation. Argh.

A few years ago, at my local Kroger’s grocer, I was picking out a flour to make bread. A very young couple was shopping for gluten-free flour-like products near me. So, mystified, I asked them why they’d gone gluten-free. They explained to me very enthusiastically that gluten coats your food in your bowels so you cannot obtain the nutrients in your food and now that they’d gone gluten-free they felt SO MUCH BETTER. (They looked really healthy to me.) I left the store with my bag of flour unconvinced.

In this episode, South Park rather impressively presents the USDA and our Secretary of Agriculture. I’m not sure why they make Vilsack look so good. He’s more handsome and thinner than in real life, and they have him wearing a white lab coat as if he’s a scientist, and not the tie wearing lawyer-politician which he really is.

The crude-humor (warning – DO NOT watch if you are sensitive to crudeness) based in Colorado clever and funny South Park has finally done an episode on gluten-free ebola. Everything they do is centered around bad taste.

Iowa’s Role in Feeding China. Feature from the DesMoines Register.

The DesMoines Register will begin its feature story on Sunday about Iowa’s role in feeding China now and in the future. They have a nice 2.5 minute video promoting the story that I enjoyed watching. I hope you do, too.

Link to map and statistics. Page includes links to each day of series.

Link to promotional video.

Link to Sunday article including video.

Link to “key players”.

FAO: Global Food Price Index is Down Again.

A very reassuring new Food Outlook Report has just been released by the FAO.

If we were to go back over the past five years and review all of the sensationalist headlines proclaiming that food production in the world is headed downwards and far-more-than-that drama predicting assured gloom and doom, we would see that many fear-mongers got it very wrong.

The world on average has surpluses of food right now. Weather was quite good all around for the globe’s wheat crop so that 2014 will set a new high record. Strong prices pushed a rebound in corn production to make up for the recent large policy-induced demand for corn coming from the U.S. The Midwestern United States didn’t experience a multi-year drought as many predicted in 2012. And climate change is not as of yet affecting our global food supply in a significantly negative way.

The graphs below show us the remarkably positive state of the world for food and agricultural production.

Global food prices have fallen significantly over the past three years.

The decline in September marks the longest period of continuous falls in the value of the FAO’s Food Price Index since the late 1990s.

Only the meat commodity is up in the past two years. Sugar, dairy, cereals, and vegetable oils are all down. Today’s high meat prices are a result of the high feed prices from a couple year’s back, so that comes as no surprise.

Wheat: Based on latest forecasts for stocks and utilization, the world wheat stock-to-use ratio increases from 25.2 percent in 2013/14 to 26.9 percent in 2014/15, while the ratio of major wheat exporters’ closing stocks to their total disappearance rises from 14.1 percent to 15.6 percent, reflecting this season’s ample supply situation.

Coarse Grain: The anticipated increase in world inventories will result in the stock-to-use-ratio reaching 20.2 percent, a value not seen since 2001/02, and well above the historical low of 13.8 percent registered in 2012/13.

Rice: Based on the current estimates, the drop in world carryover stocks would reduce the world rice stock-to-use ratio from 36.2 percent in 2014 to 34.8 percent in 2015.

Cereals: The overall positive outlook, if realized, will result in the cereal stocks-to-use ratio increasing to 25.2 percent in 2014/15 from 23.5 percent in 2013/14, and the highest since 2001/02.