Weather affects every aspect of the economy

Written by Chris Orr

c. 2004 Chris S. Orr CCM

Weather affects every aspect of our lives. It impacts our pocketbooks, our menus, our schedules and even our health.

We are aware of how cold weather drives uprepparttar price of natural gas and propane (just look at your heating bills from this year!) and how our insurance costs are adjusted forrepparttar 110100 amount of storm damage we sustain. Changes inrepparttar 110101 weather, either real or predicted, will affectrepparttar 110102 price of everything we buy, from peas to plywood. Sometimesrepparttar 110103 effect will be in our favor, sometimes it won't. How much did you pay for vegetables last winter? Why are limes -- small and hard as they are -- so expensive right now? Isrepparttar 110104 quality of lettuce comparable to its price?

Contract prices onrepparttar 110105 Chicago Board of Trade are very weather sensitive. Weather has such a huge impact onrepparttar 110106 commodities market that traders and analysts pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars a month for commentaries on long-range weather forecasts. These commentaries makerepparttar 110107 rounds among traders and analysts two or three times a week. Based on these commentaries,repparttar 110108 price of grain, cattle, beans, and all sorts of agriculture products is driven up or down.

Traders look forrepparttar 110109 elusive normal weather. Ifrepparttar 110110 summer rainfall forecast forrepparttar 110111 C Corn Belt of Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois is for above normal rainfall, futures may rise in anticipation ofrepparttar 110112 crop getting too much moisture, stunting its growth. The same principle applies ifrepparttar 110113 forecast is for too little rainfall. Ifrepparttar 110114 forecast calls for near normal rainfall, invariablyrepparttar 110115 price of corn will fall in anticipation of a very good crop and too many bushels of corn onrepparttar 110116 market inrepparttar 110117 fall and winter. In other words, ifrepparttar 110118 trading price is high, you'll pay more atrepparttar 110119 grocery store; if it is low because of "normal" weather, you pay less.

Are you planning to do a little construction later this summer? Buy plywood beforerepparttar 110120 first tropical storm forms overrepparttar 110121 Atlantic Ocean. The price of plywood soars as tropical storms and hurricanes approachrepparttar 110122 coast ofrepparttar 110123 United States. People inrepparttar 110124 path of these storms buy up plywood to "batten downrepparttar 110125 hatches," creating local shortages. Those shortages are filled by drawing on supplies fromrepparttar 110126 rest ofrepparttar 110127 country, limiting stocks and driving up prices.

Accurate weather forecasts help some businesses compete. The retailer Sears, Roebuck and Co. had its own meteorologists for many years so they could sell items based onrepparttar 110128 weather. Fans and air conditioners were in stock before a heat wave hit. Umbrellas went on sale when it rained. Subway's corporate headquarters tracks individual store sales againstrepparttar 110129 weather. It uses a history of weather and store sales along withrepparttar 110130 forecast to predict store volume. Their stores in southern California even give discounts on rainy days.

Ancient Organic Revival

Written by Boyd Martin

We excitedly received a few packaged products from Essential Living Foods, anxious to try them out on our American palates. These were powdered forms of what is referred to asrepparttar "Lost Crops ofrepparttar 110099 Incas"--a purple corn extract, Aji Amarillo Powder, and Camu Camu. We especially enjoyedrepparttar 110100 spicy hot Aji Amarillo powder. With its lightly sour, warming taste, it has been fabulous on brown rice, and eggs. The Camu Camu is also slightly sour, but also slightly sweet, and seems to give bring out an entirely new taste dimension to whatever we put it on, from leafy greens to cantaloupe.

Reflecting on this, I became acutely aware of how limited my taste experience has been, and how certain tastes I grew up with representrepparttar 110101 smallest fraction ofrepparttar 110102 outrageously vast diversity I've missed out on in my life. I saw my diet as a puny product of modern American monoculture, where vast fields of a select micro-world of hybridized foods are mass produced by huge mega-corporate growers for allrepparttar 110103 wrong reasons: shelf life, color, consistency, and packagability. This is truly a sad state of affairs in a modern global world--corporate giants carving out their niches and then exploiting them torepparttar 110104 max for maximum profitability. It made me wince.

I gained an entirely new level of respect for Christopher Daugherty, founder and purveyor of Essential Living Foods. Far beyondrepparttar 110105 idea of commandeering new food crops for marketing to a modern palate aching for more diversity, Daugherty has incorporatedrepparttar 110106 concepts of organic farming, permaculture and conscious consumerism into his mission, not only to provide great new tastes and nutritional options, but to enhancerepparttar 110107 lives of thousands of indigenous native farmers, elevating their farming practices, and re-establishing a profitable agro-culture that recruits new members away from urban areas and back torepparttar 110108 land. After all, it wasrepparttar 110109 huge agricultural conglomerates who squeezed out small farmers inrepparttar 110110 first place, who were then forced to seek new careers inrepparttar 110111 city. This not only happened in America, but acrossrepparttar 110112 globe. Agronomy theories and practices taught in universities funded by agricultural corporations were turning out a new breed of farmer now armed with unnatural technologies within a paradigm of Nature asrepparttar 110113 Enemy. Yes, it's not natural to plant 1,000 solid acres of corn. Nature tends to attack such a battle plan for profits.

The lost crops... Ironically, Daugherty's mentor was trained in those universities inrepparttar 110114 late 50's and early 60's along with several would be farmers from South America. As they headed back to their respective villages to apply their new found technological theories for profitable farming, Daugherty's mentor decided to become an airline pilot. Yet, he stayed in touch with his fellow agronomists and invested in their operations. He further developed a passion forrepparttar 110115 work of Hugh Popenoe andrepparttar 110116 National Research Council, who published a book in 1989, Lost Crops ofrepparttar 110117 Incas: Little-Known Plants ofrepparttar 110118 Andes With Promise for Worldwide Cultivation. This passion and vision was passed on to his alumni, and to a young Daugherty, who became a certified organic farmer in Florida. "I met him, and we just stayed very close friends," says Daugherty. "His family was into farming in South Florida and he used to teach me a lot about plant names and species, and plant culture--justrepparttar 110119 fundamentals about how important our ecosystems are; not getting too overwhelmed with savingrepparttar 110120 earth, but just doing what you can locally to provide a global response."

Far from adhering to 60's-style agronomy--which would tend to re-locate these Lost Crops to a California monoculture test farm for hybridization--Daugherty was offeredrepparttar 110121 opportunity by his mentor to overseerepparttar 110122 application of organic farming methods to these crops, and doing it in their indigenous setting. After all, that's whererepparttar 110123 crops came from, so why not simply grow them there? Plus, his mentor's Peruvian alumni had already provided a foothold for organic farming in Peru. "He offered me a deal a couple of years ago to sellrepparttar 110124 product for these individuals. It wasrepparttar 110125 first year that they became certified organic. So I, luckily, sold everything there, and have created a very tightly-bound organization--responsibility and response--and trying to do a lot of problem solving."

Social impact... Inspired byrepparttar 110126 great potential for positive social impact on a near-third world area, Daugherty and his team plowed intorepparttar 110127 multitude of logistical problems. It became clear it was truly possible to not only bring these organic crops to market, but providerepparttar 110128 indigenous people with a profitable new career opportunity. These people's ancestors thrived on these crops hundreds and thousands of years ago without chemical technology--there was a connection withrepparttar 110129 land in these people that could only potentizerepparttar 110130 results. It was an opportunity to literally get back to their roots. "We deal withrepparttar 110131 impact we are having both onrepparttar 110132 economy andrepparttar 110133 social aspects, andrepparttar 110134 impact we're having on society as we are growing these products, and what we can divert and intervene into our processes, so that we can really have a solid project," Daugherty says.

"These foods are ones we are slowly working on to develop to see what ones have commercial value," says Daugherty. "A lot of them are new flavors. For those that can't be consumed directly, we look intorepparttar 110135 energetic qualities, alsorepparttar 110136 nutritional value of them. We're just trying to create a story and folklore aroundrepparttar 110137 traditional uses, andrepparttar 110138 Incan staple value--where inrepparttar 110139 map ofrepparttar 110140 Incas did they actually consume this crop, and how much of it they were growing, and why they grew it, and if there were any fasting or dieting regimes on it."

Daugherty stressedrepparttar 110141 importance of taking time to sustainably bring these crops to a worldwide market. "We're just being very careful how we openrepparttar 110142 door and let people know about them, because it just seems to create havoc every time we bring a new product out. Everybody's looking for it trying to get it. But what's happening is that they are also de-valuingrepparttar 110143 quality by over-producing, and people trying to compete with a lesser value product. All in all, we're just taking it one step at a time until we feel we've succeeded with each product, and then move on torepparttar 110144 next."

Daugherty's mentor was enchanted withrepparttar 110145 Peruvian culture. "He had a true passion for allrepparttar 110146 Quechua products and Quechua crops, and Aymara. Those arerepparttar 110147 two main native languages where we're working. Most ofrepparttar 110148 people on our farms speak those languages. He became clearly passionate about what it was that they had to offer and their work ethic--the true heart of these people."

Making it all work... Although Daugherty has run up against a maņana-maņana initial response withrepparttar 110149 locals, once they commit to working, they throw themselves into it. "We have a little more structured system where our head people inrepparttar 110150 business are all German-based and have agronomy backgrounds. So we have a very intent pushing system. It's very clear we're focused onrepparttar 110151 heart with a very clear business strategy," says Daugherty.

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