Agriculture

How the British Columbia Government Failed the Okanagan

Just an observation. First some background. Thirty years ago the orchards of British Columbia were torn out and replaced with ultra modern high-density orchards on the European model, with the promise that so much money would be made that in ten years they could be torn out again and replanted with fancy new varieties. Thirty years later, that looks like this:

P1290004 There are more Macintosh Apples on the ground here in the BX District above Swan Lake than were picked and shipped to stores. Probably twice as many on the ground, actually.

P1290002 It was the government that made this lie. These apples used to be picked up and juiced. Now they burn in the sun and rot. Now the observation:

p1290006

This is not agriculture. It is not horticulture. It is not culture at all. It is rot.

4 replies »

  1. Why on earth aren’t people making use of this fruit? Is it too expensive to juice them, or make applesauce for sale? Or is there some bureaucratic ruling which forbids such activity? A sad waste…but at least the bears and birds must be happy.

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    • The bears are fenced out, so they don’t get it. The robins will get drunk on these apples in the spring, in that 2 week long party before the females arrive and force the guys to sober up. Really. So it is with robins. They know how to party!

      It is sad that the bulk of the fruit produced is discarded like this, because it is not aesthetically perfect, while the apples in the store, the perfect ones, are so expensive that no one buys apples and ten percent of the population hits the food banks trying to get fed.

      It is too expensive to juice them under the current economic models. To allow people to pick them up is an insurance issue. The processing company, set up by the farmers to deal with such fruit, is now a multinational corporation, one of the earliest victims of neo-con ideology.

      What you are looking at in these images is the failure of an economic model and the failure of a society to provide for its people, under the spell of technical, social and political ideologies. One can spin it whatever way one likes, but the picture does not lie: the way we are carrying on is shameful.

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  2. Shameful, disgraceful…and any other similar term one cares to use. When will we — well, those purportedly in charge — learn a very simple way to market less than perfect fruit. Have two bins, one for the picture-perfect, one for the not-quite-perfect. Different prices, of course. I think quite a few folk would pick the less perfect, especially for pies and sauce. Or involve a group to regularly collect fruit and donate it to the food banks, where I’m pretty sure it would be welcome.

    Letting people in to take the windfalls shouldn’t be an insurance problem. Just put up very visible signs, in however many languages may be neccessary, to say that taking the fruit is at the picker’s own risk, although I can’t think there’d be much involved. About the multinational taking over the farmers’ company, what can we do but growl and then weep. No way to run a country.

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    • Hi,

      everything that you mentioned used to be done, Gloria. As for the gleaners, that’s not really a solution. For one, they ask the farmer to deliver the fruit (and the expense of picking it up and delivering it is quite high, and the reason the fruit is not juiced in the first place). For another, they are unpopular with farmers, so you won’t see a lot of that. As for the insurance, farmers are gun-shy on that one. One can be sued even if a trespasser disobeys a sign. As for the food bank, that’s not a solution. That’s an adjustment to make room for inadequate food and economic policy. Those apples are grown on subsidized water, and the profit in them is the difference between the water prices people like myself pay and industrial prices. As for the juice prices, they are determined by concentrated juice prices, on product brought in by the shipload from Brazil and so on, and by industrial prices set by Washington.. That stuff is actually toxic, but who knows that? As for the juice factory, it was forced out of its market on anti-combine legislation, which saw a government subsidized “juice” plant installed in Alberta. As for the less than perfect apples, trees grown on a saner system produce both kinds, and that sustained the industry for a long time. In short, the political ball was dropped a dozen times on this one, for ideological reasons (only a couple of which I have mentioned.) Should I be doing a post on this, in more detail, do you think?

      As for the Okanagan, there are hardly any Okanagan people left. The place is a suburb of the prairies now, and old-timers, in the new culture (for it has replaced the old one) have been here only ten years. So it is as Canada wrenches itself into a global state. Meanwhile, people go hungry. And the food is there. Pitiful.

      Oh, some trivia for you: much commercial fruit juice is no longer pressed. The concentrate stuff is laced with toxic pesticides, illegal here, and the other stuff is dissolved by enzymes until it is a slurry, then the enzymes are killed off, and then the pulp is allowed to settle, then the juice is skimmed off the top. Yummy.

      best,

      Harold

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