Bashing farm-to-fork in our local newspaper

BriarPatch donates chickens to feed the homeless (Photo: Tony Finnerty)
BriarPatch donates chickens to feed the homeless (Photo: Tony Finnerty)

The Union continues to show it has a lock on the curmudgeon and ignorant demographic with a mind-boggling column by George Boardman, its paid weekly columnist, in this morning’s newspaper. A parody website now calls this guy “Bored Georgeman” – no wonder.

This time The Union columnist manages to ridicule the newspaper’s readers in Nevada City, along with the local farmers, farms and businesses who produce or sell local and organic food (including the BriarPatch and Michael Funk’s United Natural Foods) — all in one swipe.

“The vast majority of feed given to dairy cows in the U.S. is made from GMO corn, soybeans and alfalfa, and 80 percent of packaged foods contain GMOs,” Boardman writes.

“It’s unlikely any of this concerned our neighbors who gathered recently on Commercial Street in Nevada City to indulge themselves at the second annual Farm to Table Banquet, a celebration of the local effort to produce organic food and a benefit for the Commercial Street Music Fund and music for the First Friday Art Walk. This year’s meal, which featured a flat-iron steak (grass-fed, of course), was priced at $75 a plate, plus an 18 percent gratuity and a $5.86 fee on top of that — over $94 to dine on an asphalt surface infused with grease and oil. Alcohol was extra.

“The prices reflect in part the willingness of people to pay the premium required to be a righteous eater, a premium that moves down the food chain. Being holier than thou commands a premium of 20 percent to more than 100 percent, according to price surveys done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other organizations.”

Here are the facts: Besides being a fundraiser (at a price comparable to other local fundraisers), the banquet supported our local farms, farmers and small businesses: Nevada County Free Range Beef, Riverhill, Blue Bird, First Rain, Dinner Bell, Soil Sisters, Super Tuber and Mountain Bounty, among others. The participating restaurants included Matteo’s Public, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Co., Nevada City Winery, Treats Ice Cream and The Fix. (The Fix is owned by the family of our local Olympic hero, Evan Strong).

The banquet was a sellout for the second straight year. It was a great community accomplishment; others would struggle to match it.

Boardman concludes: “So when the time comes, forego that hand-crafted peach, gorgonzola, bacon pizza and donate the cost to a food bank. You’ll find the act nourishes your soul.”

In fact, the same people participating in the banquet do just that!

BriarPatch regularly has donated organic chicken — 1,000 pounds of it at once — to the Food Bank of Nevada County to help feed the hungry.

So does United Natural Foods Inc., founded by local resident Michael Funk of Nevada City. The details are here and here. The BriarPatch also gave a grant.

The Food Bank is one of few food banks that offer organic and sustainably grown products.

But wait, there’s more. Nevada Union High is now offering fresh food from local farms in the school cafeteria. “We are working closely with local farms to secure produce that is grown locally and regionally; this means students can expect colorful summer vegetables when they begin the school year, crisp apples as they enter autumn and savory root vegetables as they turn the corner into winter,” the school writes.

More details are here.

All told more locals, including the homeless, are eating organic products, much of it produced by locals. What’s wrong with that?

The community-wide complaint about Boardman is that he never does his homework, shooting from the hip with strident views.

Picking extreme views does not create balance

The Union continues to open itself to endless back-and-forth sniping in our community with ignorant columns like this, but it doesn’t end there:

Here’s an example from this morning of what we can expect from The Union’s new editorial board: Tea party supporter Nancy Garcia rebutting progressive Nancy Eubanks’ column: “Whose freedom is being tread on”?

As reader Greg Zaller wrote here on the weekend:

“I posted this comment on The Union comment site:

“(Publisher) Jim (Hemig), it appears that your premise is that by picking the most extreme views it will create balance, to which I don’t agree. Extremeness is not a point of view. If you seek balance then you will need to find people who experience the different conditions people face in this county, instead of its newsworthy activists.

“It would be most interesting if you developed a second editorial board, as I described, and let the two write side by side editorials. I doubt that my suggested board representing actual segments of this community would agree closely with your ‘balanced’ board.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

34 thoughts on “Bashing farm-to-fork in our local newspaper”

  1. I’m cross posting more blog items on Facebook. Here are some comments:

    Sue Williams Clark I would love a point- counterpoint column!
    And why does Boardman think he had all the answers?
    54 mins · Like

    Victoria LaFont Sad.
    29 mins · Unlike · 1

    Tony Loro Face it, right wing old white guys don’t use the Internet they buy newspapers. By catering to their fantasies you sell newspapers.
    14 mins · Like · 1

    Kirk Caraway Newspapers like The Union are reflecting their aging, curmudgeonly readership, which will further speed their demise.

  2. I read Bored Georgeman’s over the top column and it made me wonder if he would be so grouchy if the tea party had started this wonderful program.

    I think Nancy Garcia’s letter was an effort to start a cat fight with Nancy Eubanks who wrote a well thought out letter.

  3. A message for George Boardman;

    Pre WWII virtually all agriculture was “organic”. This equates to something like 99% plus of the history of agriculture has been natural/ organic.

    Conventional agriculture is relatively new and in the 50 years where it became the majority of agriculture we have seen the increase in obesity, diabetes, cancers, water pollution, air pollution, depletion of healthy soil due to the fact that conventional only fertilizes the plant and ignores the soil, over use of antibiotics, inhumane industrial animal harvesting, and the list goes on.

    I find it funny that you a so called “conservative” are pooh poohing the idea of self determination and strong local economy. This seems to be an extension of the fascist/ corporatist view of blind loyalty to BIG business/ industry.

    1. Fish,
      Arguing in favor of large transnational corporations who gobble up federal, state, and local subsides who then use those subsides along with their size and political influence to stomp out the local small time farmer/ rancher around the world is an extension of the fascist/ corporatist state.

    1. Beautiful pictures of beautiful people joining together for a beautiful objective. What’s so wrong with that?

  4. I wonder where Boardman dines? Does he stay home eating cat food from a tin on his lawn under a tree, donating the money he saved to charity? If so, Kudos Boardman!

  5. I think it’s time for a food contest. I’m sort of a foodie, eat fresh, stay away from most packaged foods, that kind of thing. Oh, I also do the cooking at our house. How about asking a few local chefs to create a great meal to serve at one of our local picnic areas ( a small donation/fee could be requested by folks consuming the meal) where 1/2 of the chefs use local meat/poultry, fruit & vegetables, grains, etc. and the other 1/2 of the chefs use canned, packaged and industrial produced products? Let the people decide what they prefer. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce and The Union newspaper could sponsor the event?

  6. In my opinion, Boardman’s attacks on the farm to table dinner in Nevada City really had nothing to do with agriculture, it was an attack on the culture of Nevada City and, safe to say, just another local cranky old white guy Republican who likes to ridicule anything involving Reinette.
    He is another Western Nevada County Rush Limbaugh wannabe, in print form.

  7. Here’s some more feedback for The Union publisher Jim Hemig and management to ponder. His columnist has become a laughingstock — this is just the latest example. Of course, Boardman thinks he’s a hero. LOL.

    Donne Westmoreland Sad on so many levels.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1

    Permaculture Swaraj I wonder if Boardman also looks down on people who choose Mercedes over Ford or Guess over Wrangler? Somehow I doubt it.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1

    Lee Kennedy stupid
    4 hours ago · Like

    Laura Beavers The earth doesn’t need us but we need her. If we modify to the point where we kill ourselves off so be it. We didn’t listen to mother nature.
    4 hours ago · Like · 1

    Reinette Senum Poor Boardman has no clue that we CAN”T EXIST WITH THE HONEY BEE. WHy does The Union give him a column? Some intelligence and research on his part should be required.
    4 hours ago · Like · 6

    Fox Firemaker Ignorance is often given a soap box with commercial investors.
    That’s how knco and Fox News survives.
    4 hours ago · Edited · Like

    Permaculture Swaraj I assume he also self-identifies as a “conservative”. As such, he definitely does not understand even the basics of private property rights. His attitude that its OK to pollute anothers organic field with GMO genetics. Try again Boardman, how would you like us all to come and piss on your front lawn?
    3 hours ago · Like · 2

    Fox Firemaker It’s not like urinating on his lawn, it similar to polluting the groundwater on the other side of his fence, then his livestock getting sick because of it.
    3 hours ago · Like · 1

    Lee Kennedy The very old are wed to old concepts. I have seen this man admonish his wife online to take her medication so she does not have another breakdown, and talk about her last breakdown online. No, he is not part of what will heal our county or our nation.
    3 hours ago · Like · 1

    Permaculture Swaraj It was just an illustration of the principle of private property rights, Fox. Yeah, the ramifications of GMO and groundwater pollution are much more grave of course. He definitely wouldn’t appreciate a crowd of people pissing on his lawn.
    3 hours ago · Like · 1

    Pedro Monanto maybe this is why his family’s restaurant at the stonehouse failed…….
    3 hours ago · Edited · Like · 2

    Fiona Fae Gardner He is as dumbed down as the rest of the masses..
    3 hours ago · Like · 1

    Yvonne Scarlett I like the idea of a crowd pissing on his lawn, I am in! lol
    3 hours ago · Like

    Owen Metreyeon Well, he does live in LOP…..Wonder if he’d eat a fish out of that chemically treated cess pool we call a lake
    3 hours ago · Like

    William Melendy Another reason the Union just sucks.
    2 hours ago · Like · 1

    Suzanne Warren Ignorant.
    2 hours ago · Like

    Heidi LeVell Wow. He’s really drawing the line in the sand. We don’t need more separation pushing us apart.
    2 hours ago · Like

    Daniela Hauptmann don’t insult Neanderthals LOL
    2 hours ago · Like · 1

    SarahLily St. Michaels This man and the Union can you say S T U P I D! I hope to never meet this man….
    about an hour ago · Like

    SarahLily St. Michaels Reinette you need to write a column in response to all the stupid shit coming from the Union but like Fox News they would never allow that as the TRUTH might be told!
    about an hour ago · Like

    Bonnie Westerlund Water is critical at this point and grass-fed anything still requires water with beef requiring 2500 gallons per pound.
    about an hour ago · Like

    Cheri Snook Ignorance is running ramped I’m glad to be home where people fight for life and not sit in a bar and drink there life away and give shit about anything in this world but their next drink…… Glad to be home with people with like minds….with heart and concern!
    about an hour ago · Like

    Bob Gubber jeezussssss H.
    about an hour ago · Like

    Heather Driscoll If u really wanna feed the hungry then community gardens that donate fresh fruits n veggies is the way to go! Eatin processed food is crap wether your homeless or rich! Food banks r great, but thats pretty much all they offer! And GMO’s make people sick!!!

  8. These comments are just like Cohousing. The people make infinitely better neighborhoods than any coorperation could ever hope to. These comments are infinitely better than the numb scull professional columnist.

  9. My FB response to Jim Hemig’s defense of George Boardman that he has the right to state his opinion ( and of course he does…. BUT)This doesn’t fly with me, Jim, and this is why… “Boardman needs to educate himself before writing a column and attacking something of great benefit. Perhaps Boardman should actually scratch a little deeper and look into the hidden costs of unhealthy food. If he is so concerned about the price of organic food and the need for foodies to help those down on their luck, he should point out how Big Ag is completely subsidized. WE the taxpayers are subsiding cheap, unhealthy food… then we’re hit again with the hidden costs of health care due to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc. If Big Ag wasn’t subsidized it would be four times more expensive than organic. And how many other fundraisers has George bashed? Funny, out of all the hundreds and hundreds of fundraisers that we have in this county, Boardman goes after this one. He has chosen to use a beautiful event to unnecessarily prove a point. Shouldn’t we all be sparing and sharing a dime whether we eat organic or not? Too bad he didn’t enquire ahead of time because I could have informed him that at the dinner table we had homeless, and the poor sitting with us, and their dinners paid for. I could also have informed him that we also fed about 20 hungry mouths of those on the street with what we had left over. Or that some of those ‘foodies’ actually worked with the county to get EBT moneys for our local farmers market so that the poor CAN afford organic. But, no, he chose to pick on the Farm to Table to make his point instead…. and completely unnecessarily. I don’ t have a problem with Boardman expressing his opinion, but to bash such a beautiful event to make his point is just completely uncalled for. Why not ask people to forgo their Starbucks latte, or a nice expensive meal at one of our non-orgnanic restaurants, or skip the family vacation, or, hey, how about dropping a Union subscription to put the money towards the hungry? Talk about a double standard. No, instead, Boardman uses the Farm to Table as his example. COMPLETELY unnecessary.”

  10. Reinette,
    You’re right.
    Publisher Jim Hemig is wrong on multiple counts. He needs to quit being so defensive about criticism of The Union. This is becoming a problem for him.
    This is not a “first Amendment issue.” It is journalism issue.
    The column was ignorant, misstated facts and was hateful:
    1. It said people who gathered the banquet were somehow elitist and uneducated about GMOs (“righteous eaters” and “holier than thou.”)
    2. It focused on the the tip and fees from the organizers, somehow suggesting there was an “overcharge.”
    3. It criticized the location (More than $94 to dine an “asphalt surface infused with grease and oil.” In fact, the street was beautifully decorated with a lot of local effort.
    (As for the cost, a reporter for The Union invited to come to the Banquet sat next to our son, and he ate the meal FOR FREE!).
    4. It suggested that the people who advocate food health somehow didn’t think of donating to hungry people. In fact, they did. BriarPatch, Funk’s UNI, etc.

    We all have the right to “free speech,” and we all have the right to criticize it. But deeper point is whether the column is polarizing because it is ignorant and hateful. It was.

    Boardman’s column should be dropped, as I’ve written over and over.

  11. In addition, this dialogue was carried out on social media, not behind a “paywall” at The Union. The internet is changing how we communicate!

  12. Here is the question-
    Is The Union trying to hold onto their aging subscribers or trying bring in new ones? I believe it is the former because of the pinch social media is putting on news print. By choosing this route The Union will be finished by 2025. I know our age bracket 45-50 are moving more and more into the digital age and using print less and less. Those under 40 are almost exclusively internet/ digital with news, books, and music. This is why the battle for net neutrality is so important.

    I think there is a real danger in making news a free for all on social media. Without proper training, oversight, and rules the news media is a dangerous tool if it is accepted as the truth.

    1. Fish just can’t help himself.
      “One final comment re ‘the jeffy’ and I’ll honor your request”

      We should start a kickstarter campaign to get fish some counseling.

      1. Sure enough the Rebane commenters can’t get enough of this blog — or me. Judging from his remarks, we couldn’t raise enough $$$ to help Greg the “independent software engineer at my place.” Not enough attention as a child (or an adult). Yikes!

  13. Fish,
    Wrong again, I am pointing out that The Union is making poor long term decisions by not trying to adapt to the changing demographics and technology. If they actually did a better job at reporting the news instead of trying to create the news maybe more people would be willing to stick with news print and eventually purchase their online news subscriptions. Try to reach out to the younger generations instead of ignore or alienate them. The route they are taking will assure becoming obsolete within a dozen years or so. What advertising will invest in a dwindling readership and population who’s consumerism/ shopping has been dramatically reduced.

    1. Ben,
      Are you talking to a “fish” again? That guy would crawl back under his rock if you stopped engaging him. He’s too much of a coward to sign his name, and Rebane won’t moderate his blog. “Fish” obviously doesn’t have much going on his life. Without this blog, his dialogue would be cut by 7/8. Just count the number of times he mentions this blog vs. the times he doesn’t. LOL.

      1. I know, I have a hard time letting comments go when if the person or Fish would just take 2 seconds to think about it before commenting the point would become obvious. Asking the hard right to think longer than 2 seconds seems to be asking for to much I guess.

  14. What I find truly amazing is that there can be such a degree of discussion here about Boardmans article and still not one comment on The Union website where he published it.

    1. LOL! Jeff, you’re in the spot light over at the hot breath blow hard blog!

      http://sierradragonsbreathe.blogspot.com/

      “Pelline is at it again, political hypocrisy galore! ”

      And notice the post below the one about you.

      “America? I almost don’t recognize it.”
      “Are we all tired of the negativity? Where does the negativity come from? Why are we allowing the negative people so much airtime?” (Wow, seriously Todd?)

      Todd wonders where all the negativity comes from. Well Todd, just look at the “Other Interesting Sites” links you have. The one that includes Ann Coulter and Rush. Rush has got to be the king of negativity, going back to the beginning of the Clinton years and still going today. And now we have a country with local Rush wannabes types all over the place, including here, like Boardman.

  15. If it weren’t for this blog, Todd Juvinall, George Rebane, Russ Steele (the voice of the “good old boys”) and their commenters would not have much to write about. Commenters don’t sign their name either. My voting record stands on its own merit: A “decline to state” voter since 18 who has voted for “D”s and “R”s over the years. I am not endorsing anyone in the GV Council race, including Jim Firth, but the hard right is scared to death of him — in this case, republishing his press release. His campaign platform is pro-business, pro-growth, pro-“shop local” and pro-tolerance. He is a local consumer too.

    1. Rebane promises his readers that this blog is “cheap entertainment,” but five out of the last five comments are directed toward it. They’re hooked! LOL.

      1. I wonder how much of that so-called cheap entertainment is over some peoples’ heads.

  16. The Union’s George Boardman digs a deeper hole in this morning’s column.
    1. First, the Supes passed an Outdoor Events Ordinance, not an “anti-noise ordinance.” I wonder if George read it:

    Click to access 23.pdf

    2. George should have just apologized for last week’s column on farm-to-fork and organic, rather than try to defend it — again. Publisher Jim Hemig made the same mistake in defending the column on Facebook. Just say “We’re sorry.”

    “Hubris and incompetence” often reigns supreme around here, though it shouldn’t. In The Union’s case, it’s “The Oracles of Burger Basin.”

  17. George Boardman sought to poorly repackage and justify his diatribe against the Farm to Table Banquet today in his weekly OpEd in The Union, so I decided to make a comment there, but afterwards it occurred to me that no one will see it there as no one commented on the original article nor had anyone commented on this one, but it created quite a stir elsewhere. So I am also posting it here, below:

    I was hoping this was finally to be an OpEd by George Boardman that wouldn’t be challenged for its ignorance, until I got to his unfounded “opinions” on GMO’s. Does he really think it is possible or sustainable to feed nine billion people with oil intensive, farmland destroying, GMO enabled, industrial agriculture? Just for example, what about the growing crisis of small farmers in India and elsewhere committing suicide because they can’t compete? How long can oil supported agriculture go on in third world economies? George’s focus on the allergen concerns of GMO’s, questioned by limited industry funded short range studies, is simply a distraction from GMO’s already known real and future dangers.

    The independent and reputable, as opposed to industry supported, Union of Concerned Scientists position is:

    [GMO] applications in agriculture so far have fallen short of expectations, and in some cases have caused serious problems. Rather than supporting a more sustainable agriculture and food system with broad societal benefits, the technology has been employed in ways that reinforce problematic industrial approaches to agriculture. Policy decisions about the use of GE have too often been driven by biotech industry PR campaigns, rather than by what science tells us about the most cost-effective ways to produce abundant food and preserve the health of our farmland. http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/genetic-engineering/

    Too bad George didn’t attended the Farm to Table Banquet, as he should have if he was to spout off about it. He might have written a much more informed article as the banquet was far more than just supporting local agriculture; it was a chance for people to get together and share ideas, and he might have found that enlightening.

    This columnist’s “opinion” is a discredit to The Union.

  18. I guess this is what happens when you get old and cranky:
    “I couldn’t “see” the WSJ article, but I did attend last summer’s Fork to Face extravaganza in Nevada City. Being a former cook, I understand how difficult it is to present a great dinner to such a large crowd, but I hope those folks learn from the mistakes they made. The chicken was burned on the outside and raw on the inside. Hardly worth $100 a plate. Other than that, it was still a fun experience. Posted by: rl crabb | 18 April 2016 at 10:05 AM” (from Rebene’s blog)

    For the record we thoroughly enjoyed the food and festivities!

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