RD June 2015 Letters


Who’s got the fat bean?
RD: In the May 2015 issue the Marrowfat bean is mentioned on pages 42 and 43 (photo). I am wondering if you know of anyone who can supply the seed for this bean. We have been talking with folks who say this is the best for baking and would like to be able to supply them with it and also try it ourselves.
Darlene Sutherland
Dover, N.B.

(Darlene,  Bruce Partidge who wrote “Beans are everywhere. .  .” found the Marrowfat bean at Hope Seeds in Granville Ferry, N.S., last year but not this. In reply to your question he writes, “I discovered that the Marrowfat bean is sold by the Victory seed Co. In Molalla, Oregon, 503-829-3126, and by the Vermont Bean Seed Co. in Randolph, Wisconsin, 1-800-349-1071. Hope Seeds could well have them again next year.”  DvL

Wonderful story
RD: I liked the article in the May 2015 issue of RD entitled “The fox,” by Cindy MacDonald of Riverview, N.B.  It contrasts the very callous attitude of the truck driver that hit the little fox and threw it into the back of his truck, with the deep emotion of the farmer and his young son when they noticed its lifeless body lying there. 
    A sad, but wonderfully told story. 
Veralyn Rogers Bonnar
Gavelton, N. S.

Wild lives
RD: Congratulations to Cindy MacDonald on an excellent piece of writing in her sad short story, “The fox,” in the May issue. I am sure many of your readers were deeply touched. In rural living we find our lives are constantly interacting with the lives of wildlife and often they create problems. Our neighbors, who live close to the mountains, have had to deal with herds of elk which loved to eat their hay bales. Also the bears are very ingenious in finding ways to break into containers of stored grain. Foxes, of course, do their best to make a meal of any chicken that isn’t protected by chicken wire. It is understandable that a fox becoming a roadkill doesn’t always seem as sad as it was for the family in the story.
    We had a mother fox visit us almost daily for 10 years and she became a treasured part of our lives. She never allowed any of her annual litter to come to our house; if they tried to follow her she took them back to the den. She preferred to feed them on natural food such as the gophers she would catch for them rather than the tidbits we offered her. We never learned what happened to her but we guessed she would have been at least 12 years old, a ripe old age for a fox. She produced three young ones even in her last year. This was some years ago but we still miss her. Often we catch glimpses of those who likely are her descendants.
    In this part of southern Alberta it is not uncommon to see wildlife. Yesterday we were lucky to see both a mother Grizzly bear with two cubs and later a moose crossing the road in front of us. Colliding with a deer on the highway happens so often that our insurance company kindly ups the premium only after the third claim to cover the resulting vehicle damage. I wonder if drivers in Newfoundland, after hitting one of those all too numerous moose, have such understanding insurance agents?
Julie Winkler
Twin Butte, Alta.

Does one size fit all?
    The following is excerpted from a letter that can be found in its entirety by following the “Does one size fit all?” link at www.RuralLife.ca.

RD: The two articles regarding meat inspection, as well as the “nutrition facts” raised in “Household notes,”  (Jan.-Feb. RD) clearly illustrate that for government officials and large agri-business one-size-fits-all is the rule. 
    The first group in the “all” is civil servants charged with devising, implementing, and enforcing regulations required to protect us. 
    The simple act of reviewing a set of regulations, guidelines, and acts is enough to set civil servants’ hearts beating and consultants’ bank accounts expanding. . . .
    The second member of the “all” group is large industrial food processors. Many of these companies are now multinational and generate billions of dollars enabling them to lobby governments around the world. For what? . . .
    The third member of the “all” group is banks, the credit arm of government and industry that stands to profit handsomely from people trying to meet strict design and operating protocols. . . .
    The person who wants to operate a small licensed processing facility in rural Canada must convince this group that the investment will reap them large profits. . . .
    The fourth group, large agri-business and their associations – marketing boards, etc. – favors strict national, uniform regulations to help protect consumer safety. These farms produce the raw materials that feed large processing operations. It helps reduce their costs, increase profits, and ensure a level playing field. Unfortunately, the only way to get on the playing field is with a truckload of money. . . .
    This introduces another (and last) member to the group of “all.” Nutritionists, dieticians, and other assorted experts who happily extoll the virtues of the industrial food system. There is no distinction in their eyes between a loaf of homemade whole grain bread and enriched fluff produced thousands of miles away (perhaps baked in-store). . . .
    One-size-fits-all has worked for so long and will continue to work because it lubricates the wheels of big industry and big government. We in rural Canada simply do not matter to government or industry. Economists of the world do not want people growing their own food and getting it processed locally. They firmly believe that economic growth depends on us getting regular jobs (part-time with no benefits is best) and consuming things produced elsewhere. . . .
    How do we change things when we are not included in the “all” group? . . . . We have to convince people to stop buying adulterated foodstuffs from far away. As much as we like to think that the tide has turned and people are truly concerned about local food and rural economic development, the reality is quite different. The majority of people might care about these issues but do absolutely nothing to help change the situation.
    It is a large undertaking and one worth pursuing. There are many groups out there attempting to effect change, and have been doing so for many years. I suggest we help them in any manner we can.
Doug Brown
Granville Ferry, N.S.

RD: I’d like to plant asparagus in a raised bed. Have any RD readers grown it that way?  How deep does the bed need to be? What soil mix do you use? 
    Any special hints or tips to make it as easy as possible? Do you wrap the bed for winter, or is covering it enough?
Anne Gray
Cherry Hill, N.S.