Monday, January 11, 2010

Deep freeze

Much of the country is in the middle of a deep freeze. In years past, I've often headed south. Winters were spent traveling the gulf states from Florida to Texas. This year . . . why bother?

Sure there's a difference between the sub zero temperatures here in NH compared to the slightly below freezing temperatures of mid Florida. Frankly, it's not enough of a difference. If it's too cold to get a tan, why drive 1600 miles for nothing? I mean, I can bundle up here at home. What's it matter if I have to put on four layers or only two?

There's plenty of debate about the whole global warming thing -now renamed the not so ridiculously sounding "climate change."

No matter where one comes down on the debate, there are those who'll snap at you like rabid dogs? Is that any way to do science?

I really think we should do science -not that politically motivated crap that shows up in hacked e-mails. No, real science. Oh hey, and why we are looking at things in a scientific way, what's up with all the weird climate conditions on the other planets in the solar system? Looks to me like something really really big is happening. Nobody is talking about it.

Doesn't mean we don't have to deal with it.

People can debate climate change all they want. In the mean time, there may not be any strawberry crop coming out of Florida. Looks like citrus is taking a beating. One of my daughters just got back from a road trip. One of her stops was at a friend's organic tangerine farm. Sitting on my table is a nice bowl of really tasty tangerines. I savor them as they may become darn pricey or rare in the near future.

Citrus is one of those things I'd miss up here in the Great North Woods. I do not take it for granted. It wasn't that long ago when an orange was a rare Christmas treat. They don't grow around here. Oranges are so foreign to this environment that an orange peel dropped in the northern woods takes 15 years to decompose. Nothing here evolved to break it down.

There's a very long chain of things that have to happen right to bring citrus to my table. For a while there it looked like transportation costs were going to make southern foods affordable. That could still happen. This deep freeze could greatly reduce the number and increase the price. Heck, it could be something as weird as civil disturbances preventing the free flow of goods.

Should that happen we'd be reduced to old staples of the past. What did people eat around here a couple hundred years ago? Squash. Corn. Root vegetables. Apples. Lot's of dried or canned things. It's tough to grow much in the thin acid soil around here. That's why when western lands opened for settlement, the population of NH plummeted.

Now let's assume this cold snap isn't a flunk. How are we going to feed the country? Darn if I know. Maybe a better question is how will we feed our own families? Can we grow our own food? Maybe we need things like greenhouses to beat the wild temperature fluctuations? Pick hardy crops? Starve?
All I know for sure is that won't solve our agriculture problems by moving south.


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