WHEN Abraham Lincoln formed the US Department of Agriculture in 1862 he referred to it as the "People's Department" because it served the common interest of so many Americans. America's concerns about food and the economy were addressed and investments in cutting-edge research guaranteed the nation's food security.More than 200 years later, we are in the midst of a historic financial crisis and part of the solution lies with the "People's Department." It's time for our newest federal leaders to recognize the unmatched ability of family farmers to strengthen local economies. We can all learn from the ingenuity and innovation that family farmers demonstrate time and time again in the face of challenge.
When we started writing this column more than a decade ago, the most common question we received then was the same one we receive now, the one from the DeBrunners: When is a bottle ready to drink -- specifically, this bottle I've been saving for a special occasion? Just this month, Lee Hanson of San Francisco wrote: "We have been given many bottles of nice wine over the years which we have mistakenly held onto for too long, waiting for the perfect occasion. We are now trying to drink them down, with mixed results."This is exactly why we invented Open That Bottle Night, a celebration of wine, friends and memories during which all of us finally pull the cork on that bottle and enjoy the aromas, tastes, tears and laughter that always spill forth. Open That Bottle Night, which takes place on the last Saturday of every February -- around the time we all need a break -- will be celebrated on Feb. 28 this year and it's a big one: It's OTBN 10.
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