Terra in Print: Fall 2009

Fall 2009 cover

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The Business of Organics

With a short growing season and an elevation of more than 4,000 feet, the Klamath Basin has always pushed farmers to get a crop. But some in the flood plains of the Lower Klamath and Tule lake wildlife refuges have another advantage: Water floods their fields in the winter and creates favorable conditions for organic production the following summer.

In the fastest growing segment of the agricultural economy, Klamath County has more certified organic acres (31,000, or more than 25 percent of Oregon’s total) than any other county in the state, growing wheat, barley, hay, potatoes and other crops. Brian Charlton of Oregon State University’s Klamath Basin Research and Extension Center says rich flood-plain soils boost production, and the climate helps reduce pests. Farmers take advantage to grow one of the basin’s newest products, organic Klamath Pearl Potatoes, whose sweetness and light texture draw rave reviews from chefs in high-end restaurants. Also being eyed by the Klamath Basin’s organic producers is a new specialty potato known as Purple Pelisse, a variety high in antioxidants and developed through OSU leadership.

Since the mid-1970s, Oregon has been at the forefront of the organic agriculture movement. Oregon Tilth created the nation’s first organic standards, which were adopted by California and Washington state and became a model for the USDA’s national program. In the past decade, the number of certified organic farms in the country has grown by two-thirds. Although the USDA’s 2007 Census of Agriculture ranked Oregon 28th for value of all agricultural products sold, the state is in the top 10 for the number of organic farms and is now home to Amy’s Kitchen, the country’s largest producer of frozen organic foods.

Organic farms still account for less than 1 percent of the state’s agricultural acres, but OSU researchers are nurturing them by establishing predictable methods that meet standards and solve the everyday problems common to all food producers. Their efforts include one of the world’s largest certified organic blueberry trials. Studies are under way with hazelnuts, pears, cherries, potatoes (Oregon’s most valuable vegetable), forage and other crops. Dairy scientists from OSU, Cornell and the University of Wisconsin-Madison are comparing management and milk production on conventional and organic dairy farms.

Oregon’s organic sector brought in more than $88 million in 2007, according to the USDA. Recent news stories note that for the first time in a decade, the recession is taking a bite out of organic food sales. Nevertheless, as our cover story notes, organic farming has gone from being the commitment of a few to a mainstream business strategy.

— Nick Houtman

From Margin to Mainstream

Fall 2009, Features, Winter 2009

“The organic movement has evolved from a fringe element associated with a lost generation to a core business strategy of the world’s largest corporations.” –Reuters News Service, September 2008 When California-based Amy’s Kitchen opened a plant in Southern Oregon in 2006, the Oregon Department of Agriculture called it “a large feather in Oregon’s organic cap.” […]


No More Dentures

Departments, Fall 2009

As soon as the story was out last winter, Chrissa Kioussi’s phone started to ring. People offered to send her their teeth or to volunteer in her study of tooth development.


“Freakishly Excited To Learn”

Departments, Fall 2009

Something about César Chávez grabbed Gabriel’s imagination and wouldn’t let go.


Radical Defense

Departments, Fall 2009, Footprints, Healthy People

Without antioxidants, you may be more prone to cancer and neurological or cardiovascular problems.


Cells for Solar

Departments, Fall 2009

The diatom — an ancient form of single-celled algae — may hold the key to a new generation of cheap, clean solar technology.


The Littlest Among Us

Fall 2009, Features

Clutching a book about Clifford the Big Red Dog, 4-year-old Allexis clambers onto a sofa in the Library Corner. Her mom, Tiffani Bowen, jots the child’s name on a sign-in sheet at the Child Development Laboratory in OSU’s Hallie Ford Center and then sits down beside her. Bowen’s sheltering arm, sun-bronzed and tattooed with a […]


Leading Man

Fall 2009, Features, Healthy Economy

Moreland Hall faces the picturesque Memorial Union in the heart of a historic college campus straight out of central casting. Rounding a corner on the way to film professor Jon Lewis’ modest office, you’d encounter a poster that makes it clear he thinks in Technicolor and speaks in terms just as vivid: “REAL SEX: The […]


Guarding the Data Bank

Guarding the Data Bank

Fall 2009, Features

In the age of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, the notion of personal privacy seems as quaint as the typewriter. Millions of us lay out our lives on the Web in neon, sharing details that used to stay in the familiar light of friends and family. Online retailers monitor our shopping preferences down to the size, […]


“The Professor”

Fall 2009

Nancy King’s law career has led her from the boardroom to the factory to the classroom. Because she taught seminars on dispute resolution and workplace discrimination, she earned the nickname “The Professor” at the Portland law firm of Bullard Smith Jernstedt and Wilson. “I was always teaching somebody,” she says. She once gave a sexual […]


Green Solutions

Fall 2009

Farming that fosters ecological balance and biological diversity is the goal of OSU’sOrganic Agriculture Program in the Department of Horticulture. The program’s 29 researchers are investigating sustainable solutions for everything from weeds and soil-borne diseases to beetle infestations and livestock waste management. Here is a sampling of studies under way. Anita Azarenko The head of […]


Delving into Wellness

Departments, Fall 2009, Healthy People, Vitality

Children’s physical well-being is critical to their academic and emotional growth.  Yet for an alarming number of preschoolers, too much sitting and too much snacking have led to premature weight problems. OSU researchers are working on ways to intervene. Joanne Sorte, director of the OSU Child Development Center, and her colleague Inge Daeschel, a nutrition […]


A Living Laboratory video

Fall 2009, Healthy People, Vitality

As the song says, “Teach your children well.” In OSU’s Head Start and pre-kindergarten program at the Child Development Laboratory, children learn through Health in Action. watch video


A Bracero’s Story

A Bracero’s Story

Departments, Fall 2009, Inquiry, Student Research, Winter 2010

It started with Salvador, the patriarch. In 1959, he left his wife and children near Guadalajara, Mexico, to work the fields of California.


Jon Lewis’ Five Favorite Indie Films

Fall 2009, Healthy Economy, Inquiry

1. Stranger than Paradise — directed by Jim Jarmusch. Composed entirely of awkward long-takes … a low-key, black-and-white film that captured everything that was cool about off-Hollywood movies, circa 1984. 2. Repo Man — directed by Alex Cox. Also 1984. Punk aesthetics, extraterrestrials in urban LA, something about a plate of shrimp … and it […]