Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Grow a Row


The article in the Dec. 2008-Feb. 2009 Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener on the work Lloyd Ferris is doing to provide fresh garden produce to local food pantries and soup kitchens is very inspiring. In these stressful economic times, it is critical that all gardeners and growers do what we can to get fruits and vegetables to those in need. In that spirit, I would like to update the article on the role that the University of Maine Cooperative Extension plays in fighting hunger in Maine. Since 2000, UMaine Cooperative Extension has participated in the Plant A Row for the Hungry program (PAR). This program encourages gardeners to plant an extra row of vegetables and donate the harvest to local charities. Through the Master Gardener Volunteers program, more than 623,697 pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables have been donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries as part of the PAR effort. Every county runs the program differently – some grow the food, others glean fields at the end of the season, while others make arrangements for weekly pick-ups of excess vegetables from local farm stands. No matter what method is used, the results are the same: a greater opportunity for people in need to access locally grown fruit and vegetables.

Thanks for reporting on these efforts; it helps to keep us motivated.

Barbara Murphy
University of Maine Cooperative Extension
South Paris

Country of Origin Labeling

To the Editor:

My wife buys most of her groceries at Wal*Mart because she pays less and I don’t like it. I’m a suspicious old man and I would like to know where my food comes from. Used to be you could read on the can that B&M beans were baked and put in the can in Portland, Maine. Now you read on most any can in your cupboard that it was packaged for a company in Arkansas without a hint of whose grubby little hands filled and sealed it. Yes, you and I know that the standards which govern the inspection of food processed here in the U.S. have dropped intentionally and drastically over the past eight or so years. We understand that profits are lost when food packaging lines are halted to remove substandard items. We read that food inspectors are penalized for inspecting. Can that be why we are hearing all these stories about so many poison things that come from China? Point out the flaws in Chinese products and you won’t have time to think about the problems we have with the quality of the food that is being produced here at home. Along the same line, if you start a war in some other part of the world, the press will find neither time nor space to report on your domestic shortcomings. Oh, I started out to ask you: Can you tell me why it is no longer necessary to print the country of origin on the cans of food sold on store shelves today?

The humble Farmer
St. George, Maine

Ed. note: For information on Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), see the News section of this paper. Processed and mixed ingredient foods are exempt from COOL, as are fish sold in fish markets and meat sold at butcher shops. For a guide to COOL, see And … B&M is now owned by B&G Foods of Parsippany, New Jersey. B&G told The MOF&G that B&M baked beans are sourced in the United States and are baked and canned in Maine.
MOF&G Cover Spring 2009
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