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InFARMation on Canola and Food

Drink some local beer, meet local food people and talk controversial canola this weekend at Cozmic as part of a regular InFARMation (farm + information = InFARMation) series the first Sunday of the month from now through April 7, 2013. The series is part of an effort to bring eaters together with farmers to make the food web stronger and create real change in the local food system, according to Friends of Family Farmers, which has been hosting monthly InFARMation get-togethers in Portland. The topic changes each month, organizers say, but “always focuses on the larger picture of the connection between food and farms” in the state.

 The series launched in November with a discussion of work being done in Benton County to ban GM (genetically modified) foods through a county ordinance, according to Eugene InFARMation organizer Genie Harden. On Sunday Dec. 2 from 4 to 6 pm the topic will be canola in the Willamette Valley and how small farms, foreign markets and consumers will be affected by canola planting. Speakers at the event will include Leah Rodgers, field director for Friends of Family Farmers, and Lynne Fessenden, executive director of the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition will be introduced.

Canola arose as an issue earlier this year when the Oregon Department of Agriculture attempted to expand the area in the Willamette Valley where the crop, also known as rapeseed, could be grown. Canola opponents say not only does the weed-like plant risk the livelihoods of Oregon’s vegetable seed growers, but it is so easily dispersed that conventional (nonorganic) canola is often contaminated by GM crops. Friends of Family Farmers successfully challenged a temporary rule that would have allowed the crop to be planted this fall and is still fighting a proposed permanent rule.

Upcoming InFARMation sessions include a Jan. 6 focus on livestock and a discussion of feed options and concerns for folks in the Willamette Valley. State Rep. Phil Barnhart will be talking about how he’s working to help keep GM alfalfa out of Oregon. On Feb. 3 grange historian Gus Frederick will give a slide presentation on the history of the Grange movement and its agricultural politics historically and today and there will be a discussion of a possible shift toward progressive politics, Harden says. 

For more information go to http://wkly.ws/1e6