Wednesday, June 1, 2016

France 2016

Dr. Levy kicked off our tour of Toulouse by taking us to the local markets; the first being an outdoor market comprised of private vendors, selling everything from fresh fish and meat, too a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. The size of the outdoor market is astounding once one considers it’s portability. Vendors setup their individual displays early in the morning, sell all day long, then tear everything down again; clearing the sidewalk for evening events. To the best of my knowledge this happens 6 days a week. 

The following Monday we spent the day walking around the Capitole building; one of the most impressive buildings I’ve had the pleasure to see as of yet. The art work alone is enough to set the imagination free, and the history is unlike anything else available to us back in Texas. Since touring the facility, the Capitole building has become a major landmark for me. In my free time here in Toulouse, everything I do either starts or stops at the Capitole.

Tuesday we had a wonderful visit with some executives from the Chambre D’Agriculture, representing the county of Haute-Garonne. We learned of the many challenges they face with respect to French agricultural production. Unfortunately, it seems as though traditions and sentimentality greatly affect production efficiency. For example, they find it necessary to export young beef to Italy to be fattened up prior to being returned to France for harvest; all the while, they continuously export high quality feed grain to other countries. Again, the justification for this is “tradition.”  

On Wednesday we had the opportunity to visit The Institute for Horticultural Research; the very place our fearless leader Dr. Levy studied. It is an amazing facility! The genetics labs are especially intriguing but my favorite part of the tour has to be the automated grow houses; which I believe represent the future of agricultural research and production. As economies grow further and further away from agricultural production, moving more toward industrial manufacturing or services; it will become necessary to automate as much of the production processes as possible. Even here in France farmers and policy writers can agree that the agricultural labor force is dwindling. Robots and automation seem to be the only answer at this point.
Today we got to see our first real French farm. Seemingly simple, yet complex in operation; Vente a La Ferme’s day-to-day operation produces a high quality product available to locals. In fact, one of the owner/operators stated the farm was for his neighbors; taking pride in the fact that he and his crew work the land to feed the local people. His farm is open for anyone to come in a purchase what they need at a competitive price.

Stay tuned for week 2!

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