Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Blog #1: Week One in Toulouse, France

Howdy! This trip was sponsored by yours truly and 6 other members. I wonder if the French government would have sponsored us if we were coming from France rather then to it... Anyways, the first week in France took place in Toulouse. Starting on Sunday, we investigated a nice farmers market. Something I've never actually seen before. Sure I've gone to a few open markets in the United States but nothing like what I experienced in the streets of France. The market had chicken, fruits, and vegetable. The freshest money could buy. Local, imported, they had it all.

Toulouse as a city was eye-catching. The building were well cultured and the roads were just like the movies. Everything was within walking distance and the living spaces were usually located on top of the shops creating multi-story building everywhere.

The picture autocropped out the bottom half of the picture and I don't know how to fix it becaue All the instructions and controls are in French... But enjoy!

Next we visited a French agriculture building which informed us of the French regulations in the United States. Since I actually don't own a farm, some of the regulations were new to me. The crops around the northern region were wheat,canola,sunflower,and wine, and corn and cattle in the south. . While corn is a huge product in the United States, it is only used for feed here in France. And each product has a history here in France. The cheese and wine can only be produced in the areas it was originally being created much like a permanent patent in the United States. The government is also supporting small local farmers to get started by giving them funds to start their own plantations. Aside from the positives, there are some negatives here in France. The farmers have to ask for a certain amount of water like asking for a grant in the United States but i'll get to that later.

Like I was saying before researchers in the United States must "ask" the United States for funding. But here in France, the government has put billions into agriculture. The tour with Dr. Matthieu and his research facility was truly amazing. The technology they had was top of the line, each sector had a full staff. They had a staff just for using the DNA equipment. The United States' researchers must ask for their funding through grants which tell the government what they want, how they'll get it, the process, and how that information will help them solve the problem, etc. This gives the French a huge advantage in this field because the time it takes the United States to write a grant, the French can skip and continue with their "free" equipment.

The final leg of our journey was a visit to a local farmer's 3 acre plot and a magnificent garden. In France, the produce is more local and a higher percentage is organic. Is organic really that much better? I guess it's up to personal opinion... Moving on. The garden was my favorite place so far. The division of the garden into continents and showing plants grown in each place was brilliant! In the United States there may be gardens but none I've seen as magnificent and diverse as this.

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