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November / December 2005

November / December 2005
  • Acrylamide Controversy When Congress got rid of the controversial Delaney Clause by passing the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, most Americans got rid of a problem. But California has a Delaney-like law, and Californians continue to suffer Delaney-like problems.
  • Family Business
  • Macy Farms Not far from where the epic western "Bend of the River" was filmed in 1952 lies a semi-arid region in central Oregon where a sizeable portion of the state's seed potatoes are grown.
  • Planting Seeds In 1997, Don Sklarczyk embarked on an adventure that would forever change the way he did business: He switched to hydroponically growing minitubers for seed potatoes.
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California Sues Makers of Potato Chips, Fries

When Congress got rid of the controversial Delaney Clause by passing the Food Quality Protection Act in 1996, most Americans got rid of a problem. But California has a Delaney-like law, and Californians continue to suffer Delaney-like problems. The latest occurred in August, when California Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed suit against nine manufacturers of potato chips and french fries. He is seeking a court order that will require them to warn consumers that their chips and fries contain acrylamide, a chemical “known by the state to cause cancer.” “In taking this action, I am not telling people to stop eating potato chips or french fries,” Lockyer said in an Aug. 26 press release announcing the action. “I know from personal experience that, while these snacks may not be a necessary part of a healthy diet, they sure taste good. But I, and all consumers, should have…  » Read more

Family Business

This issue marks my one-year anniversary as editor of Spudman. In the last year, I’ve not only learned a lot about the potato industry, but I’ve learned a lot about myself. Taking on another magazine has taught me just how far I can push myself and how much I actually can do – and what I can’t. It has shown me that perhaps the most important skills a magazine editor can have are social skills. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the role a family can play in a farming operation. When you grow up on a farm and you’re on the inside of that farm’s family circle, it’s hard to appreciate what others see when they look in. Farm families are the closest, most well-balanced families I’ve ever been around. They know how to work hard – and they know how…  » Read more

Seed Spud Growers Hanging on in Central Oregon

Not far from where the epic western “Bend of the River” was filmed in 1952 lies a semi-arid region in central Oregon where a sizeable portion of the state’s seed potatoes are grown. Anyone who’s spent any time in those parts can point you to Macy Farms near Culver, about 30 miles north of Bend. The Macy brothers, Ed and Richard, along with Ed’s oldest son, Michael, are graduates of the School of Agriculture at Oregon State University. They share ownership and management of the operation. The Macys farm about 1,500 acres of irrigated, rather shallow volcanic soil, most of it owned by the family. Except for about 60 acres of peppermint grown for its fragrant, potent oil, the farm is devoted to growing seed: potato, vegetable, grass, wheat and hybrid sunflower. In the 1960s and ’70s, central Oregon was a major producer of commercial potatoes in the state,…  » Read more

Michigan Family Grows Minitubers Without Soil

In 1997, Don Sklarczyk embarked on an adventure that would forever change the way he did business: He switched to hydroponically growing minitubers for seed potatoes. Sklarczyk Seed Farm, Johannesburg, Mich., now has about 30,000 square feet of greenhouse space dedicated to growing minitubers. “When we were starting hydroponics with potatoes, we were one of the few using this method, so you couldn’t go to a textbook,” said Ben Sklarczyk, Don’s son. “You tried it and it either worked or it didn’t.” Along the way, Don said they’ve learned many lessons. Among them: without soil, there isn’t a barrier to protect the potatoes, and there’s very little room for error. If anything is wrong with the water, the potatoes immediately suffer. “Going into hydroponics, we have eliminated the buffer to manipulate the growing environment,” Don said. “It also eliminates the cushion for error in regards to a 100 percent…  » Read more
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