Monday Roundup: The Way It Used to Taste

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People are finding new ways to make a living in rural communities every day.

Our example today comes from the Charleston (West Virginia) Gazette, which has found a resurgence in small hog farms. The story focuses on Luke Bair, who grew up in Monroe County, West Virginia, but moved to Washington, D.C. He and his wife have moved back to West Virginia where they are raising heritage pork on 100 acres.  

“We moved back here determined to find a way to exist here because this is where I grew up and a place we both love,” Bair said. “The pork quality of the heritage breeds is coming back in favor and we jumped on that.” Their meat tastes “the way that pork used to taste.”

They are fighting against an economic system that has almost made the independent hog producer extinct. The newspaper reports:

Commercial pork has virtually eliminated the small family pork production, Bair said. Although family farms made up 85 percent of hog and pig operations, they accounted for only 43 percent of the inventory and 44 percent of the sales, according to the 2007 Census of Agriculture. In contrast, corporations made up only 6 percent of the number of U.S. hog and pig operations, but accounted for 33 percent of the inventory and sales, it stated.

Luke and his wife have off farm jobs to keep the hog operation going. 

• The price of a first class stamp rose to 45 cents Sunday. Meanwhile, negotiations between the Postal Service and two labor unions (including the union representing carriers) broke down. 

• Missouri River Valley farmers are still fighting to see that their land is protected from future floods. Or, at least, that their land is considered in future calculations. Here’s a good discussion. 

•CROPP, the nation’s largest cooperative for organic farmers, had $5 million in revenue in 1995. Now it’s closer to $719 million.

Good article here about how the Organic Valley brand uses “guerrilla marketing” to build its business. 

• Rep. Gabrielle Giffords is resigning her Arizona congressional seat. Her 8th Congressional District is 87 percent urban, far above the national average of 80 percent. 

• A study in India finds that with every 10 percent increase in Internet subscribers, the country’s gross domestic product will rise one percent. 

• Connected Texas says that only 48 percent of rural Texans have a broadband connection. 

It makes a difference. Connected Texas finds that “Texas businesses without broadband earn approximately $150,000 less in annual revenues than businesses with broadband.”

• Heather Courtney’s film about a group of rural Michigan kids who join the National Guard after high school has won a Spirit Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Courtney’s movie Where Soldiers Come From follows both the young men who join the military and their friends and family in a town on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Courtney showed part of her film at the 2011 National Rural Assembly. 

The prize was worth $25,000. A review and clip from the movie are here

• The world’s rich countries throw away of 220 million metric tons of food every year — an amount equal to the entire food production of sub-Saharan Africa, according to a United Nations official. 

One third of the food produced in the world is either lost or wasted, even as 925 million people went hungry in 2010. We produce enough food to feed everyone if we didn’t waste or throw so much away. 

“We see our brothers and sisters in Africa suffering from hunger, at the same time we see people in developed countries having too much food and suffering from diseases such as obesity,” Indonesia’s Agriculture Minister Suswono Asyraf said.

 

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