Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Getting with the school lunch improvement trend

Here's the latest about Sonoma Valley Unified School District

It's good to know we are with the trends - having a chef committed to fresh and local working on improving school lunch. But the fact remain that that produce truck comes from Salinas. Regional, perhaps, but not really local.  And the writer seems to skirt around how much success the chef has had getting produce from the school gardens - which are at every school in SVUSD - into the kitchens.  I wonder if more parents who can afford the full price would have their kids eat from the school cafeteria, if the quality of the meals could improve even more.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A resource for study

I just realized that I have never posted a link to a short study course on food from the Diocese of North Carolina.  "What We Eat and Why It Matters" is five sermon length videos featuring Ellen Davis, Professor of Practical Theology and Old Testament at Duke.  They are stimulating to watch, and of a good length to be effective at sparking dialogue.  
There's a facilitator's guide, too.

Another appalling food system story

Turns out donated turkeys and Black Friday are connected in another way:  the Walmart store that conducted a food drive for its own employees.
The Walton family may be the real welfare kings and queens.

Take the time to celebrate abundance

I've been struck by the increasing frenzy over giving thanks for what we have, then rushing out to buy more. We barely have time to reflect on abundance; and then there's the fact that many people have no idea Whom they are thanking.

Readers in the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California will have seen this reflection by Daniel Green, but I'm posting the link here for those who haven't:

And when we thank God for our laden tables and many blessings, let's thank God for all those people who helped the food get to our tables, especially agricultural and food system workers whose work is not fairly compensated.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I'm back

Over the last few weeks I went through a real period of discouragement, and resisted writing a negative entry - or several - here.  The cause of my anguish was the barrage of news items reflecting the selfishness or ignorance or ignorant selfishness of so many on so many fronts of those who are hungry, experiencing food insecurity, don't have money or don't have access to enough good food.  When I heard about a school district denying lunch to children from low income families who weren't up to date on their share of the lunch price (a week behind in paying 30 cents a day, for example) I wept all over the car radio.  When I realized the senior program at farmer markets was being eliminated - an extra dollar or two - I got just a little angry, for I have benefited from that program.  I bought a six pack of plants once with my bonus for being old, and multiplied the impact.  When I heard the news readers - on public and commercial radio - cite the statistic that the average family of four on SNAP would lose $36 in monthly benefits - and could hear the tinge in the voices that said that was no big deal - I began to make a list of what $36 would buy based on the prices at Oliver's and G&G that week.   I didn't publish my list here, of course - too depressing - sugar was on sale, so one could get more than 70 lbs of sugar for that amount, but only enough local organic salad to last the family for a week.

Nothing seemed to offset my gripes about food injustice -
- not all the gleaning fun and adventures
- not starting my first EdX course on the science of cooking
- not even the ABCD workshop in Humboldt County which went well
- not even the Sox winning the series - which has nothing to do with the subject of this blog but much to do with everything else!

But for some reason I can't sort out, the funk has lifted, even though my summer garden completed its death spiral this last week and the dark seems to rush toward me every evening.  I just took some membrillo out of the oven, today's major project - now it just has to set up for a few days.  And I had some of the sweetest winter squash I grew myself for dinner, and am admiring as I type my winter supply at the cool end of the living room.  

Monday, September 16, 2013


I've just been looking back over what I have written about gleaning, because I am preparing my midpoint grant report (thank you again, Episcopal Community Services - but what a month for someone involved with ministries of gardening, gleaning and preserving to have to write a report!) and am gearing up to mentor my first senior project (SVUSD) in gleaning.

It seems like an annual occurrence and a perennial problem - getting down to writing about food at the most food intense time of the year!

Two gleaning days this week, and the challenge of placing apples in a year when things are early and plentiful.  I've been feeling I must make something every evening with produce - what I call my squirrel complex - and I lost every weekend evening to one event or another - or just tiredness from two many different schmooze opportunities in one week, beginning with the Heirloom Festival.   Oh well - I've seen lots of friends and colleagues in the last week - and do have my supply of applesauce in the pantry, and 30 jars of  jam and chutney in the hall closet for the holiday fair at Trinity.

Tonight I made pesto for the freezer.  I read a recipe that subbed pecans for the worth-their-weight pine nuts, so tried that. Not quite sure what I think.  But I wasn't quite sure about sunflower seeds or cashews either.  Nothing has quite the combo of sweet and resinous that pignolis do.

At the garden, so far the thieving vandals are ahead of the gophers in reducing the numbers of my winter squash crop. Tomatoes are at their peak now.  Every time I do something with three or four pounds, I bring home as many two days later.  Mountain Magic, with it's ping pong to golf ball sized fruit, is most productive and has been a hit with everyone I gave a plant to on Rogation Sunday.   The romano pole beans have waned, but the late crop of french horticultural beans are racing the waning days to produce - and looking good.

I keep telling myself it's good to be tired because you are surrounded by produce.   And that's about as profound a reflection as I can manage...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Get thee to a farmers' market

because this is National Farmers' Market week.

Frankly I'm never quite sure what these designated days and weeks mean, and have thought from time to time about making a list of the ones I find most absurd.  But surely farmers' markets are anything but absurd, unless it is absurdly bountiful in this month of gardens and farms over run with good things.

Yesterday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 8,144 farmers markets are now listed in USDA's National Farmers Market Directoryup from about 5,000 in 2008.  Actually, they are up about 10% just in the last year.  Search for a market near you here:  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Rethinking "charity" and "philanthropy"

At the weekend I was pleased to see this provocative op ed piece by Peter Buffett, "The Charitable Industrial Complex."
It's been rattling around my brain, and colliding with the Gospel for this coming Sunday, Jesus' parable about the guy who couldn't resist building bigger barns.
There are so many stories that come to mind that I don't know where to begin.
What is the gap between the person who has no charitable impulse at all, who has probably ripped others off to amass his wealth and can only think about preserving it, and the one who has charitable impulses, but can only frame them in terms that a person of his social and economic class understands, and who ignores the power differential between the one with wealth, and the one(s) they decide to help?
I suppose the difference is that it is possible to challenge the one with some impulse to share - though I offer this as an hypothesis, not having found it to be true.  Colonialism among philanthropists is rampant, and so few foundations are generous toward those who seek genuine, systemic change.

I wish I thought guilt was a motivator for "giving back".  I think the two great motivators are a) to keep a revolt from happening or b) to help "them" be more like "us" (rather then helping them be more the people God is calling them to be in their context).

Both "charity" and "philanthropy" have at their root words meaning love.  And it seems to me that both carry a denotation of the very humanism that Buffett calls for.  Can we redeem these words? And can we have a conversation about the Christian understanding of love - that love does not use power, coerce, or lord it over others.  Oh dear, I could wax Pauline...

I love the two skills Buffett highlights:  listening and imagination. If we can truly listen to one another, and listen beneath the listening, perhaps we can imagine ways to rebuild systems so there's less need to meet needs, more room to build relationships that enhance the quality of all our lives.

I sure wish I were preaching on Sunday...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

National Indigestion

I had to check out this map when a link to it appeared on Facebook.  What a disappointment.  Wouldn't this be a more interesting picture if something harvested in the state were shown?  How could dessert at the French Laundry in the Napa Valley actually represent all of California, when so many wonderful fruits and nuts are grown here, never mind the salad and the rice.  And bottled sauce for New Mexico? What about Hatch green chiles?  Maple syrup and salmon I accept, but Washington does a lot more than salmon - berries, cherries, apples.

If you'd like a larger scale and links to more background

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nice graphics

Here are some of the best representations of what's in season I have seen.


They need a little tweaking for climate and weather but the circular design seems a lot easier to read than the usual bar chart - and there is more variety on these.  If I had a kitchen or cooking school to decorate I would definitely choose the prints from "Chasing Delicious". The nutrition by color pie chart is fun, too.

As for the tweaking - most plums have passed their prime here, but we have been gleaning figs for several weeks.   Pears are just beginning, and gravenstein apples are rolling in.  Most everything is a few weeks early this year, due to our warm dry spring.   Unfortunately I did not push to get things into my garden early, so I still have no ripe tomatoes here in the night-and-morning-fog part of the county.  Lots of grey mornings and cool evenings since the protracted heat of late June and early July.  But the hedgerow blackberries are plumper than I expected, thanks to the midsummer (John the Baptist) rain storm.

A small grant from Episcopal Community Services in our diocese is funding some more equipment for Sonoma Valley Gleaning, good to meet our increasing opportunities to glean.  Word of mouth in the community is a wonderful thing.   When my car is not filled with fruit, it is filled with boxes collected from Trader Joe's (wine boxes for firm pomes), Imwalle's, Raley's, even dumpster diving (shallow boxes for the fragile fruit like figs).  And a good detective could always tell the last thing I gleaned from the lingering smells in my little red wagon (Subaru).

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Spring Reading

though you might want to add them to your list for summer.

The Upcycle by William McDonough and Michael Braungart was an inspiring read, taking up where their Cradle to Cradle left off.   It's not explicitly about the food system, but frankly I found its messages about  resilience and abundance applicable to many systems.   The two big take home ideas for me were

  • Values are much more important than metrics.  We must begin any initiative by articulating what we value, not setting numerical goals.   For example, accessibility to fresh, healthful food for all, rather than 50% fewer outlets for sugary snacks and beverages in the neighborhood.   Then we can track progress toward that which we value.   Seems like there are ways this would be applicable in congregations, too.   
  • Regulation indicates the need for redesign.   One of the things I think about a lot is that new regulations often cause new problems. With concern for health, NYC led the way in banning trans fats. But now the hunger for fats that are solid at room temperature has multiplied the number of palm oil plantations with the resultant destruction of tropical habitat and biodiversity.   In churches, the emphasis on "clergy boundaries" has caused a further distancing of ministry professionals from their communities, increasing the potential for abuses of power that the rules were meant to counter.   When we are tempted to create a new rule or regulation, we need to first step back and consider redesigning or reforming the system that calls for it.   
There are lots of inspiring examples in the book of values based planning and creative redesign.

An older book which I finally read is Patricia Klindienst's The Earth Knows My Name:  Food, Culture, and Sustainability in the Gardens of Ethnic Americans. The title pretty much says it.  Here are a collection of stories about farms, urban farms, backyards and community gardens where traditions are carried forward, as cultures are remembered and evolve by peoples indigenous and immigrant.  It's a charming book that reminds us of some of the reasons why we garden.   I found myself thinking about the horticultural beans I am going to plant when I harvest my garlic in a week or two - the beans were one of my grandfather's favorites, something he grew every year.   Then there are my frustration with a rhubarb failure, and all the little lessons in frugality I learned from my dad, particularly about selecting plant starts to set out. I'm guessing that anyone reading this book will find themselves reconnected to their own food and gardening traditions.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Radio Daze

It seems like there has been lots on the radio these past few weeks about food - and much of it worth listening to.

Michael Pollan has a new book on cooking, and appears to be on tour with it.  His interview on Science Friday was pretty interesting.   I did have some concerns, though, about who might be listening to or reading about his experiments with fermentation, and what they might come up with.   If you know me, you know I could never be one of the sanitation police, but people who do experiments with bacteria without understanding the science could be in for some trouble.  

And, Mark Bittman has a new book, too, and is making the rounds. This sounds like the third in a series on the same theme. Bittman's Food Matters laid out the program of part-time veganism, then the cookbook of more revised recipes followed, and now the program in detail, perhaps, with an elaborated description of being vegan before 6 p.m.   I'm a Mark Bittman fan, but I began to lose interest when someone keeps rewriting the same material.  I also have a question about vegan breakfasts and meaty dinners.  Perhaps this is the easiest rule to follow for those who have a social life.  But if I could eat fish and cheese and eggs and butter at only one meal, I'd want to be Swedish and have them for breakfast.
Bittman was interviewed on the San Francisco radio call-in show, Forum.  
I'm not going to buy the book - just for the tofu jerky recipe?  no -  but I still enjoy Bittman's reasonableness.

On the local scene, Andrea Davis of Quarter Acre Farm has a new radio show, Sustainable Growing, on SunFM Radio in Sonoma. Andrea is a hard-working, creative and articulate small scale organic farmer.   If you don't live in Sonoma, or aren't free to listen on Fridays at 2 p.m., you can listen via podcasts posted on the web site.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Here's a timely article to read on the subject, just out in National Geographic:

It sure would be easier to just sprinkle a little concentrated nitrogen compound on my garden than hauling big  bags of compost and building piles to make my own.   After shopping for and getting a couple of bags into my community garden plot today I didn't have energy for much else.  And I need to clean up one bin and spread another of the homegrown stuff.

But the dark sides of synthetic fertilizer are many:  algal blooms, soil depletion, greenhouse gases, explosions.

I've really just looked at the pictures so far, but I hope to read this article soon - after I finish the spring hauling of organic garden amendments.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meaty subjects

I'm really not anti-meat; I just don't eat it.  I think those who enjoy meat should have small quantities of meat from animals pastured on land that won't support nutritious food crops.

But it's amazing to me how defensive big meat eaters are.  I wish I hadn't looked at the comments on this Science Friday story:
I figured my gut flora had changed from years (pushing two decades I think, though I haven't really kept track) of not eating meat, but I did not realize that discouraging those bacteria lowered a risk factor for heart disease.  It's not just the fat and cholesterol in meat, but the bacteria that help us digest it, which lead to coronary risk.

Last Friday's SciFri was a bonanza for foodies, as it also included coverage of the book Gulp. Adventures on the Alimentary Canal,  by Mary Roach.   I caught most of it at the beginning of my trip to Eureka via suburban Laytonville. 

Meanwhile, today's news brings another scary (or scarier) report on antibiotics in meat animals.  It's worse than you thought.  Heavens, it's worse than I thought!  The prophylactic use of the drugs in animals in confined feeding operations is escalating resistance in E. coli, salmonella and Campylobacter and these disease resistant strains are increasingly found in your meat supply.  53% of samples from supermarket raw chicken contained resistant E. coli, for example.  
The short article on NPR's "The Salt" blog is here:

Food System Alliance update

There are days when all the meetings seem worth it.  Not always, but sometimes.  We've been going through some staff changes with the Sonoma County Food System Alliance, as well as adding some new members.  Because of these, today at our regular monthly meeting we took the time to introduce ourselves, and it was wonderful to hear again all the experiences that have brought people to this commitment, in this place and this time.

I'd only seen our facilitator, Katy Mamen, in action once before, and that a few years ago.  So I watched to see what I could learn.  I'm going to steal her framework for our self-introductions. What is your passion, your path, and your position?  Easy to remember, and provocative of interesting stuff without being gimmicky.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised at how many people had to start with their position and organizational identification.

We are finally ready in our FSA to get out there with Food Action Plan.  http://aginnovations.org/articles/view/sonoma_county_board_of_supervisors_adopts_sonoma_county_healthy_and_su/
We'll begin getting the organizations we represent to endorse it, and planning four fora on the four pillars of the plan, starting in July and running into early next year.  I will be working with a very small group on the Social Equity pillar, targeted for November.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Diet Climate Connection

I'm listening to this show from Human Media right now.   It's being broadcast on my local public radio station.  There's not a lot of information here new to me, but some interesting stories, and a real range of voices.  Nicely done.


Right now I am too tired from a long multi-scene day to give it the attention it deserves.   Fortunately I can listen later.  I also think the booklet on the site is a pretty good introduction to the ethics of eating in a way that is environmentally sound, with handy hints for individuals and families that are new to these issues.

One question that sticks with me from early in segment one:  why do people think that eating meat or not is simply a personal choice?   It's not a personal choice to eat the amounts of meat many Americans do.  It's a choice with global implications.   How can I/we help people to awake to these insights?

I suppose I carry the virus I would like to eradicate, though. While I came home and ate dal and brown rice, my favorite food at today's Sonoma Chamber of Commerce food expo and forum was the Vella cheese!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Drunken Botanist

Well, I don't drink much anymore, and I'm really having to pace my gardening and botanizing given my beleaguered joints, but I really want to read The Drunken Botanist:

I recently read Amy Stewart's The Earth Moved as part of my education about soil formation, and it was so well-written it could hold the interest of even the worm squeamish and the dirt phobic.

Now a chance to bring together two life long interests in reading her most recent oeuvre.   Perhaps a pleasure of ageing is that if you can't do it, you have more time and energy to read about it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Environmentally wise isn't necessarily healthful

...not when multiple tablespoons of fat are in a food with no redeeming nutritional value.

Everyone knows the story by now.   When trans fats (hydrogenated oils as in margarine) were removed from prepared foods, manufacturers turned to the vegetable fats which are solid at room temperature naturally.   Palm oil use sky-rocketed, and rainforests were destroyed at alarming rates to make way for oil palm plantations.   Orangutans were endangered with habitat loss, and green house gases increased.

Now, at the behest of a stock holder, the New York State pension fund,  Dunkin' Donuts has pledged to do something about this.  Imagine, sustainably produced fats in your jelly doughnut!  Along with the white flour, white sugar, and God-only-knows what else.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Did You Know it's IYQ?

I just tumbled to the fact that it's the International Year of Quinoa.

Because of it's nutritional value and adaptability to harsh climates (cold, sere, high altitudes), and because it is a traditional smallholder crop, quinoa is being promoted as a contributor to solving global hunger.  The indigenous people of the Andes are to be thanked for developing and maintaining so many strains of quinoa over the last 7000 years, and now for sharing their traditions with the world's peoples.

Quinoa is not, as some people refer to it, a grain, though it has similar uses.  It is a member of the family Amaranthaceae, genus Chenopodium.   A related common edible weed (lamb's quarters or pigweed) grows around here, and a few other relatives are grown in gardens as hot weather spinach substitutes.

If my culinary Spanish were only a little better, I'd be trying a few items from this traditional Andean cookbook:
Just beautiful!

Which leads me to say, I now know what inspired the incredibly bright colors of chullos (Andean earflap hats).  It's the colors of their local quinoa and potatoes!

And finally, why Mr. Google, do you not have "quinoa" in your spell checker?
I know I saw a recipe for it in your employee dining room cookbook.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

An important project

The Sonoma Valley Grange is a partner in the Gleaning Project, and a host of the Brown Baggers' Wednesday hot lunch.  They really need a new kitchen.   And deserve one, too, as a community anchor.  
There's something wrong with the fact that poverty in the Springs had to increase for the Grange to be eligible to get a grant to provide this important community facility.  But I'm glad the project is going ahead, and that the word is out.

keeping up with the links

Specifically this time, Christian Ecology Link, a British organization.   Their LOAF campaign resources have been updated.

I like the idea of a LOAF bake-off some coffee hour - loaves of various sorts made following at least one of the Local, Organic, Animal friendly, Fair-traded principles, and labeled accordingly.   I wonder if anyone at my parish could get behind organizing this, just for the fun and educational value of it, and so that those of us concerned with the sustainability of our food system are recognized as having fun with food, not just being cranky about how un-green others are?


Getting even fishier

And if you think that pun is bad, there are even more in this article on fraud in seafood sales:

Some learnings from this piece:
*  It's not just low end joints, like fast food places, which practice seafood fraud; sushi restaurants are among the worst offenders.
*  Mislabeling may affect health (allergies, mercury levels), environmental health (obviously), and the pocketbook (when cheaper species are substituted for and labeled as more expensive ones).
*  What's sold as snapper might be anyone of 33 different species of fish, though there is also abundant mislabeling of tuna and cod.

Legislation is needed to coordinate and render effective efforts to increase traceability (the magic word in food safety these days).

In the meantime, here's some good consumer advice from the last paragraph of the article: "[Beth Lowell of the ocean conservation group Oceana] recommends that consumers empower themselves by purchasing whole fish, which are easier to identify, and not trusting prices that seem too good to be true. She also encourages asking questions of fish vendors, such as what kind of fish it is, whether it was wild-caught or farm-raised and where, when and how the fish was caught. Even raising the question will alert the sales staff that consumers are interested in where their food comes from - and that they won’t settle for anything fishy."

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

O Cod, what's a person to do?

Three strands have come together here, causing my need to say something, though I am not sure just what.

Late last month I read an article in the NY Times about even more restrictions on cod fishing in the Gulf of Maine and on Georges Bank.  The inexpensive fish of my youth (in Massachusetts) is on the verge of extinction.   Even the fishers who resist the new lower catch limits admit that they aren't coming close to catching the current limits. You can read that whole story here.

Then a couple of days ago I saw a still ad on the corner of a web page for Carl's Jr Atlantic cod sandwich.   I don't eat at Carl's Jr. - well, I don't eat fast food, but even if I did the political history of this outlet's owner would keep me away.   But I wasn't surprised that they were promoting something from a threatened fishery.
I should have stopped there, but today I pursued more information, and turned up the ad campaign for this item - the basic simulated sex approach which this purveyor of fast food is famous for.  You can Google it yourself if you want you to see a model 5 lbs away from emaciation except for her breasts having sex with a sandwich.   I'm sure I am the only person who has looked at the sandwich, but the grilled cod is golden yellow - and frankly, all the cod I've ever cooked was white.  Hmmm.  Who even knows if this is cod?  And if it's Atlantic cod, why was the photo shoot done in Hawaii?  I suppose aging New England fisherman don't sell food to teenagers.
Another interesting twist - the print ad copy promotes the sandwich as a low calorie (the fish is grilled) treat for Lent.   Okay - why not kick off Lent with sex and fast food?

This morning NPR featured a story on the Marine Stewardship Council - and the unreliability of their ratings of seafood as from sustainable fisheries.  
I do wonder about this from time to time.  So I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch and looked up Atlantic cod.  It turns out that most of the Atlantic cod sold in the U.S. actually comes from the waters off Iceland and the Arctic Ocean off northern Norway and Russia.   Line caught cod from there is given the green "best choice" rating.  
But how do you know where the fish is from when you buy your sexy sandwich at Carl's Jr.?  Is the minimum wage clerk there going to tell you?  Does even a supervisor or somebody a few more rings up the corporate ladder know?   And how does a fast food joint, where price is everything, afford sustainably harvested fish when I rarely do?

And then, to top it all off, Seafood Watch cites the MSC as its authority.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

food and the written word

Will books survive because of cookbooks?   Possibly, if this New York Times article is any indication:

I laughed out loud at some of the annotations reported here - Elizabeth David is so humorous in her outspokenness in her own books, apparently more so in her marginalia -  and I wanted to run and dredge out my old books, and my mother's and grandmother's recipes and commune with them.  

I often think about getting everything in digital form, but there is too much history in the jottings and food smears and stuck together pages.   So relieved I am not alone in this.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Coming Attractions

The Community Garden Network of Sonoma County
is having an event this Saturday, February 2, at Spring Hills Church on Fulton Road in Santa Rosa.

This is not quite the first event for this group, but kind of - an exploratory event to simply gather people was held last year.  Now things are getting organized.   Gleaning groups from around the county are going to have a table to promote our work.

And a big save the date for Sunday afternoon, March 17, for the public launch of the Interfaith Sustainable Food Collaborative, gathering congregations to network with one another and representatives of our local farms and CSAs.  Details will be posted here http://www.interfaithfood.org/  and on this blog as they are firmed up.
Currently the Collaborative is working in Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Does faith matter in issue advocacy?

I just read this NPR story on climate change and faith:

Other than the fact that the author uses "clergy" as a single noun (why do I expect more from NPR?), rather than a collective one, it's a pretty good piece, and makes some interesting points.

I wonder if the same caveats apply to sustainable food system advocacy by the faith community?
- that where people stand on the issues is influenced much more by political party than religion
- that we need to frame our message in terms of specific justice outcomes.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What didn't happen with the Farm Bill

Part of the cliff-avoidance legislative package left much of our agriculture sector still standing on the edge.

The 2008 Farm Bill was renewed until September.   Doesn't sound bad until you realize that no change is a reactionary move.  The kinds of programs we'd hoped to see more of - in support of small farms, conservation, generational transition among farmers, etc. aren't going to happen any time soon.   Subsidies of conventional crops, some of which are now seen as not much needed even by the farmers, will continue.
Here's a short story from this morning on NPR

Why did this happen?  Because even though the Sentate passed a new and more progressive farm bill in early summer, and the House Agriculture community moved it along, House leadership failed to bring it   to the floor.  So are all those rural folks going to continue to vote Republican?   Why?

Many ag advocacy organizations worked for a modified extension.  We here of the Interfaith Sustainable Agriculture Collaborative signed on.  But it just didn't have the traction needed.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition called the extension of the 2008 bill "awful" - which I think is more disparaging than using profanity would have been.

A quick internet search revealed that both sustainable and conventional agriculture leadership are complaining.  Conventional dairy farmers got caught in the price fixing bind.   Consumers may celebrate that milk prices do not rise, but it's inevitable that they will eventually as more dairymen and women go out of business.

A few useful programs in the 2008 bill had been unfunded since the fall - but they were refunded by this extension.  Some of them are even programs that help reduce negative environmental impacts of farming.  And SNAP is fully funded again for now, though the fiscal reactionaries are breathing fire in its direction.