It's 5:30 a.m. and I'm at the Ontario, California airport waiting to board and head home. One of my speaker gifts from yesterday's Grow Riverside conference was a little baggie of organic fertilizer made from poultry manure at an egg farm.
TSA kicked out my bag and of course this little baggie of fertilizer required a swab, a supervisor, and finally, they told me they had to sample it. I'm not sure if they were going to put milk on it and eat it with corn flakes. As I stood there under scrutiny for a tiny baggie of sample organic fertilizer, I couldn't help but realize how out of the mainstream farmers are. I told the TSA guy "you people are ridiculous" and let him confiscate it. They'll throw it away. The chickens that made the poop; the farmer that went through mountains of compliance to get the fertilizer business legal; the people who handled the material, packed it--every animal and every person in this process is denigrated as that little aggie gets tossed in the trash, which will go to the landfill, joining other biodegradable planetary healing materials at a useless dead end. And we worry about Trump's phone calls? Really?
Statistics are interesting. And stories. I'll share a couple from yesterday's conference and conversations. First, the fact that right now the U.S. has 40 million extra egg laying hens in the country. Egg prices have collapsed--50 cents a dozen. All the egg farmers are losing money hand over fist. They overbuilt as a result of a shortage a couple of years ago. The thought of getting 50 cents a dozen can't even compute in my head. At Polyface, our GMO-free feed cost is $1 a dozen and our labor (legal and well cared for) is $1 a dozen. The idea that a poultry farm can exist even for a day at 50 cents a dozen shows the economic divide between commodity and craft.
Story. The lady who drove me out to last night's banquet has a farm in an area designated "mixed species." Fifty years ago all these farms in the area had cattle, sheep, and crops. It took me awhile to understand that "mixed species" did not mean a Polyface model with cows, sheep, chickens, turkeys, or what we commonly call "multiple species." No indeed, mixed species means you cannot have any domestic livestock--it means "wild species."
So here is a farm that cannot get fire insurance, with biomass building up and nothing to eat it, and planners and regulators won't let them have a cow to eat it. Furthermore, they cannot cut an oak tree or even prune the branches. So here they are sitting on supposed farmland worth $150,000 an acre, prohibited from livestock, unable to find fire insurance, prohibited from running a chain saw, watching their biomass get old and die and build and turn brown and dry . . .
During my talk, I zeroed in on the carbon economy and eliminating fire by turning biomass into compost, substituting the money spent on chemical fertilizer for biomass harvest. It seems so reasonable, but no reason exists here. So think about all this the next time California burns. Don't feel sorry. It's what they deserve, even though many people understand the problem and would like to fix it. So burn, baby burn, and I'll lose no sleep over your stupidity.
Planners estimate that California's population will double by 2050. Climatologists predict that the number of very hot days will go from 30 per year to 90 per year.
Are we insane?