The Big Squeeze (Part 2 on Limoneira and Farm Investments)

food chain

This is the second part of a series on lemon orchards,  farmland, fertilizers, food equities, and maybe even organic farming.  No telling where this is going to head.  Part One can be found here.  ************************ The farmer works the soil.  The agriculturalist works the farmer. ~ Eugene F. Ware As it is often said in farming circles, the money is not in growing it, but selling it. It might even be said that even bigger money is in buying it, preserving it, and then selling it.  By "preserving", we mean taking a small portion of the corn or wheat, and then processing, molding, whipping, modifying, emulsifying, and generally turning the original feedstock into a food-ish substance.    Goldfish crackers and Cheetos are … [Read more...]

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Limoneira

"Girl Holding Lemons" - William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1899  (the literal-minded William-Adolphe adopted a quite straightforward approach to painting titles)

  Sometimes nothing will do but a little spritz of lemon:  on fried catfish, in a summer salad, or whiskey sours. What's iced tea without a slice or two of lemony goodness? Or a nice meal without a cordial of Limoncello, for that matter. Most everyone likes lemons, compared to say, vegetables.   In summertime, you can't hardly give away the zucchini you grew in the backyard.  Lemonade is good, lima beans bad.  And about the only way Mom can get Junior to finish that limp squash casserole is to forget about it and fix herself a(nother) vodka gimlet (*). “I believe when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade...and try to find someone whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.”  ― Ron … [Read more...]

Investing in Farmland

Corn Production in Colorado

The world is fast running out of food, water and natural resources. We're all gonna die. Eventually, sure.  But not just yet. In the meantime, there's no reason we can't make a buck or two, or at least not lose a buck or two. I've long had on my radar screen an Argentinean agricultural company, Cresud S.A.C.I.F. y A. (CRESY: Nasdaq).  I wrote about them on this blog last year, saying that I was still on the fence about investing in farmland, albeit indirectly. Even though the stock pays a not-too-shabby 2% yearly dividend, I thought I could wait and see if there were better places to invest.  And as it turned out, there was. Just a little more digging (pun!) brought up Adecoagro SA, a farmland operator in Argentina and … [Read more...]

Monday Morning Fish Wrap: The Mediocre Wages of Academia

No doubt there are propaganda posters from the old Soviet Union and Mao's Red China with the same heroic poses and inspiring message

We start off the Fish Wrap with a  look at what many on the right consider to be an ivory tower of university professors and academics dictating policy from behind unassailable walls of tenure.  Not so fast: The Closing of American Academia The plight of adjunct professors highlights the end of higher education as a means to prosperity In most professions, salaries below the poverty line would be cause for alarm. In academia, they are treated as a source of gratitude. Volunteerism is par for the course - literally. Teaching is touted as a "calling", with compensation an afterthought. One American research university offers its PhD students a salary of $1000 per semester for the "opportunity" to design and teach a course for … [Read more...]

Thinking of Speculating in CORN? Think again…


Sure is hot this summer. Temps have ranged from 110 t 117 in Tulsa this past week, depending on thermometer thermometer you trust. The drought is hitting its stride in its second year. Farm ponds are drying or have dried up completely, hay pastures are crisping up to a nice golden brown, and beef is selling for as little as two bucks a pound hanging weight, as ranchers are giving up on feeding expensive hay to their cattle.   Or expensive corn, for that matter. Corn prices, on the other hand, are spiking fast enough to give Chicago pit traders nosebleeds -- or woodies, depending if they're on the long side of the trade. The brutal heat and lack of rain are have a terrific impact on corn yields all across the fruited plains.  … [Read more...]

Pepper Plants and Permaculture Design Principles


I noticed something pretty neat in my garden the other day. The first frost has come and gone. The basil, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, tomatillos and beans have all been killed off by the cold temperatures. That's OK, they're all warm-weather summer plants, and this just one more sign that the seasons are turning and we shift into new activities for the year. So, all are dead, leaves blackened and shriveled, waiting to be cut down and made ready for the compost pile. Except one little “hot apache” pepper plant. This little guy volunteered, meaning the seed was carried by winds or rain into the little crevice between the paving stones and border stones. Seemed like one day, hello!, he was just there. The photo of the … [Read more...]

Blog Action Day 2011 – FOOD

The topic for this year's Blog Action Day is Food. More than two thousand blogs around the world have signed to raise awareness on the topic of food: favorites, scarcity, recipes, hunger, and vegetarianism. In their own words: Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all. For 2011, our Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day, so our topic of discussion for this year will be food. Take the first step now and sign-up your blog to Blog Action Day and then look at our suggested topics for some food flavoured inspiration to discuss. Our Goal First … [Read more...]

A Couple Of Headlines and A Stock Consideration

CF Industries

It seems I'm posting frequently on the subject of food and investing for the long term. Well, this is a short post along those very lines. Here are  a couple of headlines worth considering. From China's Corn Demand MindBlowing Dow Jones Newswires 08/17/2011 @ 7:40am China's struggle to meet the growing demands of its middle class is fueling a sudden surge in demand for corn, sending vast ripples across the U.S. farm belt and potentially upending the grain's trade flows around the world. China's need for corn -- which forms the basis of sweeteners, starch and alcohol as well as feed for livestock -- was on stark display in July when the nation ordered 21 million bushels of U.S. corn in one hit, more than … [Read more...]