Larriland Farm is a place where you can pick your own fruits and vegetables. It’s in Woodbine, Maryland, well into the countryside, so it’s a nice getaway from the city.
They use integrated pest management techniques to grow their crops, which means insecticides are only used as a last resort. This makes their fruits and vegies healthier than the stuff you generally find on supermarket shelves.
We went there to pick strawberries. That’s our MINI parked near the strawberry field.
If you’d rather not go out into the fields but would still like the benefit of farm-fresh produce, they do have ready-picked bushels available for you to buy. And they have a few goats for your kids to play with, too.
No self-respecting farm would do without a red barn, right?
We visited Mount Vernon, George Washington’s own estate near Washington, DC, this past summer. If you don’t live in the DC area, you don’t necessarily get to appreciate one of the grand gestures done to honor George Washington’s memory, namely that of building a parkway (named after him) that starts right at the gates of his estate and becomes a major thoroughfare that winds its way parallel to the Potomac River, through Alexandria, past the Ronald Reagan National Airport, through DC, and upwards, past the CIA Headquarters, right to I-495. Getting to his home becomes a pleasurable drive on a scenic parkway for the DC area driver, particularly those who are traveling South from DC and Maryland.
The location for Washington’s farm, and particularly his mansion, couldn’t have been chosen better. Even today, the view is spectacular, and one can only imagine what the surrounding area looked like during his time, unspoiled by modern “advances” and urban planning. An aquatint from Francis Jukes, done in 1800, gives us an idea, though I have a hunch he embellished things a bit.
Ligia and I visited Mount Vernon on two occasions, and took plenty of photographs each time. I picked the best ones from both sets and published them at my online photo catalog. There are 70 photos in the Mount Vernon set there, and all of them are available in HD (1920×1200 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio). I selected a representative sample of those photographs for you to see right here. The gallery is shown below.
I hope you enjoyed the photos, and that you will find time to go visit Mount Vernon if you’re ever in the DC area. I for one am heartened to see that we are still paying respect to one of our nation’s founders and our first president, even in these very unpatriotic times, when we are getting involved in wars that our founders would have nothing to do with, and when fear-mongering has taken the place of freedom, and liberty, and justice for all.
One bit of advice: if you’re planning to visit the estate multiple times, get the yearly pass. It pays for itself in just two trips. We’re glad we got it. Our third visit, if we should go again, will be free.
If you have not yet heard of a documentary called “The Future of Food” (2004), or haven’t yet watched it, please take the time to do so. It is vital that you know what’s going into the food that you eat, and it’s vital that you know it now, before it’s too late.
What’s been happening over the past 20 years here in the States is that our food supply has been slowly taken over by biotech companies who are interested only in their bottom line. They have used tactics akin to racketeering practices in order to get farmers to use their seeds and only their seeds. They have placed their executives in key government positions, in order to ensure that their policies go through. They have done and are doing everything in their power to get us to eat their genetically modified foods, without regard for safety, common sense, decency or ethics. I’m not saying this by myself. The documentary itself will prove it to you.
All that is bad enough, but what’s really appalling is that they are patenting genes. They have patented plant genes, and now they want to patent animal genes and even human genes. They are trying to get the market in their tight snare, so they can squeeze profits out of everywhere and ensure they control our food supply completely. They have even patented one of the genes involved in breast cancer, then sued researchers who had been doing working on it, to force them to pay exorbitant licensing fees. Needless to say, research on that gene has been significantly curtailed, directly due to their malefic influence. That’s the sort of “work” they engage in.
When I call them racketeers, I have a great frame of reference in mind. It’s a short crime drama made in 1936, entitled “The Public Pays“, which won an Oscar. It depicted a protection racket that preyed on the local milk distribution in one American city, and the people’s successful fight against them. The biotech goons may not beat up people and physically destroy their milk trucks and containers, but they have legal “procedures” which wield the same sort of power and yield the same horrible results. This time, they’re working hand in hand with specially-placed government officials who make sure the biotech rules get enforced and the little guys get screwed royally — not to mention that the consumers, and the marketplace in general, are manipulated to no end as well.
Don’t believe me? Watch the documentary. And if you can find “The Public Pays”, watch that as well and compare the two to see the striking similarities. What’s more, if someone can assure me that “The Public Pays” is now in the public domain, I’ll gladly post it online, either at Google Video or somewhere else.
As you get to the end of the “Future of Food” documentary, you’ll get heartened by the organic farming efforts, which are great, but keep in mind that Whole Foods now sells mostly non-organic fruits and vegetables, and also imports supposedly organic foods from China, whose food supply is so laden with pesticides it’s not even funny. Yet Whole Foods still dares to hold the same high prices on their stuff, which means they’ve cut costs and are pocketing the difference. Lesson learned: don’t shop at Whole Foods. Go to Trader Joe’s or MOM’s, if you have them in your neighborhoods.
Seek REAL organic foods, and make sure to vote with your wallets. Where you buy your food, and what sort of food you buy, determines our food supply’s future. Write to your congressmen and demand that the proposed law (introduced by Dennis Kucinich) to label genetic foods as such be finally approved.
My wife just chimed in with some great advice. It turns that while we wait for foods to be properly labeled as GM or not, there’s an easy way to tell already. Fruits and vegetables all have little stickers on them, with numeric codes (4 or 5-digit numbers). It seems that if those numbers start with 4, they’re conventionally-grown, but not genetically modified. If they start with 8, they’re GM — stay away from them! And if they start with 9, they’re organically grown and are safe to eat. Not sure if this is officially true, but she says that’s usually been the case, at least for the organic foods that she buys.
I am pleased to announce that the shit days of spring are approaching their malodorous end. If you happen to live in non-temperate climates, you may not be accustomed with this rite-of-passage period that takes place every year where I live.
The shit days of spring are that time of the year when pig farmers get to spread the joy of their filthy farm by-products throughout the land, at insanely high prices, under the pretense of fertilizing our grounds. It must put a smile on their faces to know that they’re putting the city slickers through the same shitty time they have year-round, even if it is only for a couple of weeks every year. The regret of not being able to make us smell the offal of their filthy beasts all day, every day, is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that their bank accounts are getting fatter, just like their pigs, with every shovel-full of the nasty stuff they throw our way.
Others are in on the fun as well. Landscaping companies throughout the land rejoice every March. This is their own Christmas time, when they get to sell us pig shit at crazy prices. Just how crazy? Friends of ours who own a house told us they were charged $200 per tree for the privilege of having pig shit dumped around the trunk a couple of springs ago. I can only assume the price has gone up since. That’s right, ladies and gents… The going rate is about $200 for two bags of pig shit mixed with wood chips in the DC area. Ain’t that grand?
So it is with a doubly-chagrined expression that I take walks through our community each spring. For one thing, it smells like shit, and not just like cow shit or horse shit, which would at least smell somewhat decent, but like pig shit, arguably the filthiest, smelliest shit on earth. And for another thing, I can’t believe how much us suckers are paying for the damned pig shit. For shit’s sake, shouldn’t it cost less?
At least the shit days of spring are drawing to a close. Trees and flowers are beginning to blossom, and recent rains have flushed away the nasty stuff. I welcome sweet April, and think of Chaucer as I open my windows and can still get a whiff of March’s filthy stank:
“Whan that April with his showres soote
The droughte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veine in swich licour,
Of which vertu engendred is the flowr;”
Indeed. Although Chaucer must not have realized that “swich licour” is really just rain water and pig shit. Who knows, perhaps during his time they used cow dung, which would be the civilized thing to do. At any rate, Republican politicians must get a chuckle out of the whole thing too. Who knew that entire armies of Karl Roves blossom out of the turds every spring?
From Gizmag: “April 21, 2006 — Another wondrous enabling technology has been announced – a microreactor, about half the size of a credit card that produces biodiesel by combining alcohol and vegetable oil directly, greatly speeding and simplifying production compared to traditional methods. By stacking many of these microreactors in parallel, a device the size of a small suitcase could produce hundreds of thousands of gallons per year of biodiesel — enough to power several farms. The device could significantly reduce farmer dependence on mass-produced petroleum. ‘This is all about producing energy in such a way that it liberates people,’ said inventor and OSU Professor Goran Jovanovic. ‘Most people think large-scale, central production of energy is cheaper, because we’ve been raised with that paradigm. But distributed energy production means you can use local resources – farmers can produce all the energy they need from what they grow on their own farms.’ Jovanovic is seeking to partner in order to commercialize the technology…” Here is the link.