What foods can be grown and raised in Centre County, Pennsylvania?
By Katherine Watt
Below is the first part of my effort to read and summarize the key points in Eric Allen Sheffer's 2001 master's thesis looking at the Centre County population and land base capacity for nutritional self-sufficiency.
Sheffer's main assumptions included a target diet providing 2,800 calories per person per day (1,022,000 calories per person per year), for a population of 136,000 (as of the 2000 census).
He used the 1996 USDA Food Guide Pyramid to set up targets for protein, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-2, Vitamin B-6, Folate, Vitamin B-1, Niacin, Vitamin B-12, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Phosphorus, Iron.
This first piece of the puzzle simply lists the foods Sheffer concluded can feasibly be produced and stored in the Centre County climate: plant and animal-based foods that can be eaten fresh, grown outdoors uncovered, grown outdoors in cold frames, dried or pressed for long-term storage and/or stored during the winter in root cellars.
Wheat, barley, rye, millet, bulgur, couscous, oats, corn (grits and cornmeal)
Tomatoes, peas, green beans, lima beans, corn, eggplant, peppers (sweet and hot), asparagus, and mushrooms;
Carrots, potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, turnips, radishes, Daikon radish, rutabagas, celeriac, burdock root and chicory root;
Cucumber, summer (yellow) squash, zucchini, acorn squash, butternut squash, Hubbard squash and pumpkins;
Broccoli, cauliflower, celery, cabbage (multiple varieties), brussels sprouts, kohlrabi and rhubarb;
Lettuces, spinach, kale, chard, radicchio, beet greens, turnip greens, alfalfa sprouts, arugula, chicory greens, mustard greens, collard greens, watercress, dandelion greens, mache, mizuna, garden cress, parsley and sorrel;
Onion, garlic, shallot, fennel bulb and leeks.
Artichoke, tomatillos, okra, endive, escarole, horseradish and Jerusalem artichoke.
Apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe/musk melon, cherries (sour and sweet), cranberries, currants, gooseberries, grapes, honeydew melon, mulberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon.
For classification purposes in Sheffer's study, "whole fruits" included things like apples, apricots, peaches, pears, plums, usually consumed whole, and "chopped fruits" included things consumed by the cup or bowl, such as like melons and berries.
Cow milk, goat milk, hard cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese and yogurt.
Plant-proteins: dried beans, nuts and seeds
Black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, red beans, lentils, white beans, yellow beans, soybeans, split peas;
Hazelnuts, peanuts, walnuts, sunflower seeds.
Animal proteins: meat, poultry, eggs and fish
Beef, chicken, duck, pheasant, deer, lamb, pork, rabbit, squirrel, trout, chicken eggs, duck eggs
Fats and oils
Butter, lard, peanut oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil.
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I'm trying again to set up an income stream from my writing work, inspired by Matt Taibbi's recent move to SubStack.
SubStack integrates website publishing like Wordpress, email distribution of published material like MailChimp, and a payment platform like PayPal or Patreon for readers to financially support independent, non-corporate journalism in Centre County.
Thoughts from the Edge of Appalachia
April 26, 2020 contribution to a family email thread involving my siblings and cousins.
Building on [my brother] Gill's comments about the CO2 emissions drop, I'll share some of the positives we're seeing in Central PA and some of my own, limited as it is, optimism. Which ebbs and flows by the hour but happens to be a little up at the moment. I just got back from a pleasant, rainy walk with [my husband] Josh in Spring Creek Canyon, which included an informational plaque about the Village of Rock founded in 1793 or so, peaking in 1830, and including several mills using water power from the creek.
Locally, I've been involved in several local food campaigns and small business launches over the last few years, and a purchaser of locally produced food from Centre County poultry farmers, lamb and beef farmers, fruit and vegetable growers, and locavore restaurants and pubs.
Many of those businesses - including Way Fruit Farm, Nature's Pantry, ReFarm Cafe at Windswept Farm, Elk Creek Cafe, and Boalsburg Farmers Market vendors like Over-the-Moon Farm, have adapted quickly to add or expand online ordering and curbside, contact-free pickup, and are doing very well. Some have increased their sales volume by ten-fold over the last couple of months, as local people are becoming more aware of the vulnerability of global supply chains, and therefore interested in helping strengthen local supply chains.
I find this super-encouraging, and hope that the behavioral change continues even when the social distancing restrictions ease somewhat. Local greenhouses and nurseries like Tait Farm are also seeing higher sales of seedlings, and on our walks around different neighborhoods, we're seeing many backyard gardens being installed or expanded. And hearing and seeing many more birds and bugs.
I've been sewing facemasks to pass the time and try to contribute, and am now hooked up with a Pennsylvania list-serve that's self-organized to collect orders from Pennsylvania medical facilities, juvenile homes and others, and match them with Pennsylvania sewers.
I'd been publishing a small independent newspaper for the past several years, and had just put it on a break in mid-January out of an extreme case of frustration with the local government appeasement of continued Fed-enabled, profiteering, capital-malinvesting, asset-inflating overdevelopment of student housing in State College and the surrounding townships.
It's been difficult trying to figure out a way back into that investigative reporting project, with the political and economic landscape so changed.
Our Borough Council now meets online and the public can watch and request permission to be added into the speaking queue. The last meeting included info from the Finance Director about the financial hit to public coffers, estimated through the end of May. All parking revenue has stopped. Water and sewer fund revenue is down, because the Penn State students are mostly not here. The newer high-rises and townhouses and older detached rental homes are mostly vacant.
Looking ahead, especially if college enrollment drops by the 15-20% some are estimating, we will have an extraordinary oversupply of housing and also retail space.
We could end up being a destination for urbanites fleeing New York City, Philadelphia and other dense coastal cities. But will need to find occupations and food for those immigrants, if the trend goes that way.
I've been working on a newspaper issue summarizing the findings of a 2001 master's thesis about what foods can be grown in Centre County, how much arable land is available, and whether there's enough land for the population to feed itself, assuming people can adjust their diets and food storage habits, enough skilled farm labor can be found, and a good local distribution network can be re-established.
Doing that prompted me to give some thought to eating millet for breakfast. And, as we plan and start our garden for this year, I printed out the list of Centre County-growable foods as a reference.
For awhile, playing with my printing press, I've thought about what to try typesetting with 10-point font, and discarded several ideas because it will take me months to do the typesetting, by which time a report about a Borough Council action, say, would be ridiculously out of date.
But the list of Centre County foods will be useful for a long time, so I'm reaching out to letterpress suppliers to buy the last few things I need to start typesetting.
I've also been messing around with designs for a local currency, similar to the BerkShares used in Western Massachusetts, as a hedge against dollar devaluation/ hyperinflation.
I'm trying to remember to do what's in my control locally, encourage others to do the same, and let go of hopes that the-powers-that-be will become less corrupt and incompetent, and better at supporting citizens' planning and implementing the many different aspects of resilient localism.