Tag Archives: Julia Whitmore

Guest Post by Julia Whitmore

I am so excited to have Julia Whitmore here today. Many of you may remember Julia from last October when we took a blogging class together with Kristen Lamb.

Julia started out as a writer and says she somehow just ended up in law school.

Somehow? How does one just end up in Law school Julia? 🙂

Then afterwards, she married and devoted her time towards motherhood.

Sounds familiar, right?

Yet, it wasn’t until the youngest child headed off to college that Julia decided it was time for her to return to writing fiction. And then somehow she found herself published in the Oregon Quarterly magazine.

Somehow? Whatever you say girl.

Julia lives with her husband in beautiful Eugene, Oregon, where other than writing, she grows apples, pears, blueberries and lots of flowers. It is Julia’s passion for nature and the environment that inspired her to write this post today.

Now before you read on, I must tell you that I had planned on writing about a similar subject, that was until I read this post on Julia’s blog the other day. And wow, was I ever impressed. So impressed that I wanted to share it here with you.

Why? Because it is a very important subject that involves the livelihood of those involved and the future of our wellbeing.

August McLaughlin has touched on this subject, but this post comes from a different side of the issue: The farmer and the worldwide community that consumes their food.

So without further ado, here’s Julia!

Thank you Karen.

Gas vs. Grass: Canola War in the Willamette Valley


In one corner, canola growers.

How lovely and benign-looking. A canola field.

In the other corner, seed producers, opponents of genetically modified crops and fresh vegetable farmers.

In Oregon it’s a long-standing feud.

“Reservoir Dogs” Mexican Standoff

For the last decade or so, Oregon’s Department of Agriculture weighed in by prohibiting canola from being grown without special permission on 3.7 million acres in the Willamette Valley.

Why? Canola likes it here a little too much. It’s a good rotation crop that doesn’t need to be watered, which means it grows like, well, a weed. It takes off quickly, and happily cross pollinates with other members of the brassica family, including grasses, radish, turnip, mustard, rutabaga, cabbage. This is fine for farmers who need to give fields a rest with an alternate crop, or are looking for a quick buck with an off-season crop. It’s not so good for the $32 million a year specialty seed business, which depends on 100% pure and untainted seeds.

Unlike most agricultural states which focus on a crop or two en masse, say corn or soy, Oregon farms produce over 200 crops, many grown for seed, which is internationally famous for high quality and purity. If you’re a fan of saving seed species diversity, this valley is heaven.

Canola is a problem for organic farmers. About 90% of the canola grown in the U.S. is genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides. Canola’s prolific cross-pollination means that unintended crops end up with GM genes, and organic farmers lose their licenses if their produce is crossed with a GM crop. The USDA doesn’t make a distinction between GM and non-GM canola, so Oregon’s Department of Agriculture doesn’t either, and offers no relief.

GM canola’s tendency to spread beyond its fields also causes problems if farmers re-plant tainted seeds, even if they do it unknowingly. See Monsanto v. Schmeiser. Why? Because once a company creates a genetically modified plant, all its offspring are the private property of said company, forever and ever. It sounds a little like me taking credit for my son’s senior college project, but whatever. Farmers have been sued. Courts have ruled in company-creators’ favor.

From the incomparable Willamette Valley Cartoonist J Compere

If all that isn’t enough, canola attracts cabbage maggots, is susceptible to stem cankers and black mold rot and other insidious plant illnesses, which then spread to other crops.

This issue, like all issues, is complicated. There are different kinds of canola, which is actually a variety of rapeseed, used throughout history for lamp oil, but until recent incarnations, too bitter for food. Recently developed strains are now usable for animal and human food, produced from the seeds. The name in fact comes from the abbreviation Can. O. L-A (Canadian Oil Low-Acid).

Anyway, on with the story. Canola’s well-documented problems were taken note of by Oregon’s Department of Agriculture, and a relatively small slice of the state was set aside as canola-free. All is well, right?

Enter biofuels. Rapeseed oil, it turns out, works pretty well as a biofuel, and so the pressure to open up more acreage to GM canola heated up. Permits for test plots in Rickreall and Baker were issued, with 3-mile protection zones set up around them, and all went well, according to the canola growers. Then the Department of Agriculture tried to pull a fast one.

On Friday, Aug. 3, just before 5 p.m. the department sent out a news release announcing that they were going to “refine” (i.e. shrink) the no-canola zone. Temporarily. (Making it temporary allowed the department to sidestep public notice or comments.) Planting to begin immediately.


Oregon, however, is not a state of slackers. Within days, seed growers, farmers and environmentalists filed suit against the temporary ruling. Over 10,000 people signed a petition asking the department to hold its horses. 23,000 people world wide signed the petition, which gives you an idea of how much people care about this, everywhere.

Given the immediacy of the question, the Oregon Court of Appeals granted a stay to the temporary rule (i.e., in favor of the no-canola plaintiffs),

which will be in effect until …

… the newly drafted permanent rule, which makes the temporary “refinement” of the no-canola zone immutable, takes effect. Follow all that? Translation: canola will be allowed into the protected zone unless in the coming month public pressure convinces the Department of Agriculture otherwise.

As with so many of the things we care about these days, the jury is out. Will canola be grown in Oregon’s protected agricultural zone? Does the need for fuel outweigh the need for untainted seeds and crops? Can canola be grown safely in areas where cross-breeding crops are grown? To be continued …

Whoa is right Julia! Thank you so much for bring this to our attention.

No, thank you Karen. And thanks to everyone who came by to read my post today. As you can see, I feel very passionate about this subject, but I feel it’s important for all of us to be aware of this. It doesn’t just affect us locally, but this is somethng that affects the whole world.

I’ll say it does. Thanks again Julia. And please keep us informed as this situation plays out.

To read more great posts by Julia Whitmore, please click here.

So what do you think? Granted, it was a pretty heavy subject today. But how does this affect you? Were you aware of this problem? Are you concerned about how GM foods may affect you and the health of your family? Do you think that GM foods should be labeled? What steps do you and your family take to eat healthy?

Thank you everyone for dropping by and for all your wonderful comments!


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Million Dollar Smash-Up!

Well really it was more like a four million dollar smash up and could be considered the most expensive car crash ever! Some of you may have already heard about it. It happened last month on a highway in Japan when a driver lost control of his car on a wet road while changing lanes and had hit a barrier before spinning back across the road.

The cars involved a total of eight Ferraris that included two Ferrari F430s (one was the race-ready Scuderia worth more than $400,000), two Ferrari 360 Modenas (each worth almost $200,000), two Ferrari F355s (each worth about $150,000), a Lamborghini Diablo (one of the most expensive supercars of the 1990s and still likely worth a handsome $200,000) and three Mercedes Benz.

Why I nearly broke down and cried. If you’re like me and feel the need for speed and love fast cars like I do, this was truly a heartbreaker.

But what I really had wanted to share with you today was a…

Million Dollar Mash-Up!
Blog posts worth a million praises that we could never put a dollar amount to!
Have you ever thought what it would be like to live without water?
Julia Whitmore has written a beautiful post entitled “Thirsty” about the fragility of life living with or without water. Go take a peek. I think you’ll find that this post will definitely quench your thirst.

On a Historical note, Debra Eve wrote an interesting post entitled “Edith Wharton: Beyond Downton Abbey”. Downton Abbey on PBS has become one of the hottest series on Television. It has an outstanding cast of talented actors and Julian Fellowes’ superb screenwriting captures conflict in every scene along with a stunning array of award winning costumes. That said, Debra helps us to see why Edith Wharton was really the true master of writing about this period.

Now let’s get technical for a moment, shall we?

Jenny Hansen is a well known name in the blogging world with good reason. She not only shares her knowledge about “Risky Baby Business”, but can literally knock you off your feet with laughter. As a Techie, she now has a series of posts on Triberr, a new network designed to help save time with all things Social Media. Save time you say? With Social Media? Where do I sign up? Don’t hyperventilate! You can sign up right here.

Well, well, well, who do we have next?

Does the name Bob Mayer ring a bell? Of course he does. Especially if you are a loyal subscriber to my post since I’ve been reporting on his class that I am taking.
What, you’re not a subscriber? Are you missing out!
Go now and sign up at the top right corner of this page. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you…
(Tapping foot… Hmm, hmm, hmm…Whistles…Looks around the ceiling.)
Okay, are you done? Good. Thank you very much. You won’t be sorry! 🙂

Bob wrote a blog last weekend, on January 22nd to be exact, that dealt with a certain subject that most writers forget to put into the equation of this writing business. MONEY. That’s right. MONEY. Apparently most writers aren’t comfortable discussing this subject, but if you know Bob, he’s out to change this. Pronto! So check out his post, “Reflection on the Best Seller’s List vs. The Long Tail”. This will give you a goal to shoot for!

Since I just received my new Kindle a couple of weeks ago, this sweet tweet caught my eye immediately. (Don’t tell me Twitter doesn’t work.) In this post April Plummer wrote about how “The EReader Has Changed My Life and I Like It!” Take a look at this one as April explains how she was a die hard paper book reader and held out as long as she could until her husband introduced her to the iPad and now this girl is hooked!

Now last but not least, Amber West wrote a very touching post on her Friday Inspiration blog. I know, I know, it was last Friday—five whole days ago and there have been a gazillion blogs posted since then, but listen up. In this post Amber refers to herself as Oprah, only poorer. But what dear Amber did for someone who she didn’t know because of this horrible economy, is simply amazing. She has got THE biggest heart and we can all learn from her example. Please make the time and go read, “Social Media for the Good!” if you haven’t already. It is a wonderful story with a happy ending!

Okay, I think that about wraps this Million Dollar Mash-Up!

Please be sure to visit these fine people and leave a brief comment to share a little blog love across our talented blogosphere! 🙂

So what do you think? Have you had the opportunity to read any of these wonderful posts? Have you been able to keep up with reading your blogs? If not, why not give Triberr a try? And if you are already on Triberr, please tell me how you like it? How does it work for you and does it save you any time?

Thank you for your many fine thoughts and comments everyone!


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