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News for May 11, 2010

Nashville Flood Points to Need for Household Emergency Preparedness

The floods in Nashville last week impacted hundreds of families and businesses. The waters have still not completely receded from some neighborhoods, while others continue digging out, laying destroyed possessions at the curb for removal. We were lucky: We had a small roof leak in one room. We were also blessed to be able to host some travelers who were unable to return home to Atlanta for a couple days.

But the rains got me thinking. When we lived in California, we kept gym bags full of supplies ready to go in case of emergency. We also kept canned food under each of the beds. We knew from experience that a major earthquake could leave us without power, water and public services for days, or that we might need to evacuate to an emergency shelter on short notice. I stocked up on things like Spam, dried milk, and canned veggies because the emergency services brochures recommended them.

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Raw Milk Enthusiasts Sour On Proposed Delivery Ban

HARDWICK, Mass. — How much do you expect to pay for a gallon of milk these days? $2.50?

Well, if it came from the cows here on Robinson Farm, a gallon is going to cost you $7. But for a small but growing number of people in Massachusetts, it’s worth it.

People like Dara Lambert of Upton. She’s what you might call a raw milk enthusiast. “I believe pasteurization pretty much kills a lot of the nutrients: the probiotics, the antibiotics,” she says. “I drank raw milk while I was breast feeding, I would drink it if I was pregnant.”

Lambert has just pulled up at Robinson Farm, where she has come to pick up some fresh, raw milk. Several dozen gallons actually, more than you’d think even the most hardcore raw milk drinker might need.

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The FDA vs Raw Milk and the Constitution

Raw milk battle reveals FDA abandonment of basic human right to choose your food

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), an organization whose mission includes “defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods”, recently filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The suit alleges that such a restriction is a direct violation of the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the suit led to a surprisingly cold response from the FDA about its views on food freedom (and freedoms in general).

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State rethinks ban on raw milk buying clubs

BOSTON — Just when it seemed raw milk buying clubs were on the chopping block, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources yanked the proposed regulation change that would have specifically banned them.

What lies ahead for the cooperative buying and distribution model is anyone's guess.

Raw milk refers to milk that's not pasteurized, making the product — depending on who you ask — either an untapped source of healthy living or unsafe to drink. Rising popularity and the fact that raw milk in Massachusetts can only be sold on the farms where it's produced have led to the rise of buyers clubs. These are groups that enable people to save gas and driving time through bulk pickups and off-site distribution.

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Raw deal? Farmers decry plan to restrict sale of unpasteurized milk

William Coutu is a dairy farmer who doesn't like milk unless it's coffee-flavored or sweetened with chocolate. But lately it's the state's plan to tighten raw milk regulations that is leaving a sour taste in his mouth.

"This whole thing doesn't even make sense," Coutu, of Paskamansett Farms in Dartmouth, said of a proposed change in the state's standards and sanitation requirements for Grade A raw milk.

The rule would bar out-of-town "buying clubs" from purchasing raw milk at dairy farms and then distributing it to others at home.

The measure is part of more than 300 proposed amendments, most of them formatting tweaks or changes to align the state's milk regulations with the national ones, according to Scott J. Soares, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

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Raw deal on dairy

If consumers want to drink unpasteurized milk knowing the risks, they can. The state's plan to tighten raw milk regulations revolves not around the safety of the product — a hot topic these days as its popularity grows — but around the capricious idea that state government should stop groups of people from banding together to transport milk the often significant distance from rural farms to their not-so-rural neighborhoods.

Scott J. Soares, commissioner of the Department of Agricultural Resources, contends somewhat oddly that "buying clubs," as they are known, should be considered businesses and therefore represent illegal distribution of unpasteurized milk, which in Massachusetts can only be sold from the farms that produce it.

Buying groups tend to be fairly informal affairs in which the organizer receives only gas money above the price of the milk. They do not hold inventory.

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Cow in Boston Common for raw milk enthusiasts

BOSTON (FOX 25 / myfoxboston.com) - A group of raw milk enthusiasts and dairy farmers, along with a cow, participated in a “Raw Milk Drink In” in Boston Common today to protest a proposed law restricting the right to their dairy products.

The group protested until 2:00 p.m. in response to an effort by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) to restrict the delivery of raw milk to thousands of consumers throughout Massachusetts.

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Cowabunga on the Common

Boston Common was grazed by the presence of a Jersey cow yesterday as dairy farmers and raw-milk enthusiasts protested a Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources proposal to restrict delivery of the beverage statewide.

The proposal, however, was withdrawn by the MDAR on Friday, said commissioner Scott Soares, who added, “It was nonetheless helpful for us to hear the comments . . .”

While children found udder delight in milking 4-year-old Suzanne, advocates held a drink-in outside the State House before moo-ving over to a public MDAR hearing and offering testimony on how it does a body good.

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Raw Milk Enthusiasts Sour On Proposed Delivery Ban

HARDWICK, Mass. — How much do you expect to pay for a gallon of milk these days? $2.50?

Well, if it came from the cows here on Robinson Farm, a gallon is going to cost you $7. But for a small but growing number of people in Massachusetts, it’s worth it.

People like Dara Lambert of Upton. She’s what you might call a raw milk enthusiast. “I believe pasteurization pretty much kills a lot of the nutrients: the probiotics, the antibiotics,” she says. “I drank raw milk while I was breast feeding, I would drink it if I was pregnant.”

Lambert has just pulled up at Robinson Farm, where she has come to pick up some fresh, raw milk. Several dozen gallons actually, more than you’d think even the most hardcore raw milk drinker might need.

READ MORE ]

Milking it for all it's worth

Raw-milk champions plan to stage a "milk-in" on Boston Common today to protest state plans to tighten regulations around raw milk, the Standard-Times reports.

The state wants to bar out-of-town "buying clubs" from purchasing raw milk at dairy farms and then distributing it to others at home, the Standard-Times notes.

READ MORE ]

Raw-milk advocates rally for access to their drink

Milk was on tap at Boston Common yesterday morning, but it wasn’t any supermarket or corner-store brand. This milk was raw, from a dairy cow transported to the park in a trailer.

As the cow grazed, raw-milk enthusiasts were busy collecting milk in a pitcher. It was poured into clear plastic cups as part of a Raw Milk Drink In organized by members of the Massachusetts Raw Milk Network to protest the state’s proposal to limit the activities of raw-milk buying clubs.

The clubs, which have gained in popularity in recent years, have caught the attention of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, which sent cease-and-desist letters to four of the clubs earlier this year.

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The Economics of Organic Farming

Growing local organic food may be the best path toward economic recovery.  It may also be key to building stronger and healthier communities.

"Our [struggling] economy is making a compelling case that we shift toward more local food," said Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis.  "The current system fails on all counts and it's very efficient at taking wealth out of our communities." 

Meter spoke at the annual conference of the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) held recently in La Crosse, Wisc.

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USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone Mobile

Get in the Zone – the Discovery Zone!
We are coming to a location near you!

  • Upcoming Events
Your Virtual Visit
Experience some of the Discovery Zone activities online. Start by taking a virtual tour.

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Chicken, turkey may sicken 55K fewer under new USDA rules

As many as 39,000 fewer Americans could get campylobacter and 26,000 fewer could get salmonella poisoning from chicken and turkey under new food safety rules announced Monday by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The bacteria, which can be life-threatening, are two of the most common causes of food-borne illness.

"These standards will have probably the greatest public impact for consumers' health since anything USDA has adopted in the last 15 years," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C.

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Chill over milk

Their passion is raw milk, but Raymond and Pamela Robinson along with two dozen other certified raw milk producers see a move by the state to put a stranglehold on “raw milk buying clubs” as a raw deal.

The bottom line for the Robinsons is that more than half their income from daily production of 20 to 25 gallons of unpasteurized milk comes from agents who buy milk at the farm to deliver to those who can’t or don’t want to make the trip themselves to the Jackson Road organic farm.

“More than 50 percent of our customers either share a ride to the farm or pay someone to pick up the milk for them,” Mrs. Robinson said.

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Raw milk battle reveals FDA abandonment of basic human right to choose your food

(NaturalNews) The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF), an organization whose mission includes "defending the rights and broadening the freedoms of family farms and protecting consumer access to raw milk and nutrient dense foods", recently filed a lawsuit against the FDA for its ban on interstate sales of raw milk. The suit alleges that such a restriction is a direct violation of the United States Constitution. Nevertheless, the suit led to a surprisingly cold response from the FDA about its views on food freedom (and freedoms in general).

In a dismissal notice issued to the Iowa District Court where the suit was filed, the FDA officially made public its views on health and food freedom. These views will shock you, but they reveal the true evil intent of the FDA and why it is truly a rogue federal agency.

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Crying Over Spilled Milk: MA Ag Bureaucrat in Desperate Maneuvers

Even by Massachusetts political standards, which are quite low, the late-Friday maneuver by Massachusetts' agriculture commissioner was a curious one.

Scott Soares, the Massachusetts commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, is learning the hard way that people don't like arrogant bureaucrats messing with their food, especially their raw milk. Over the last week, he has been hearing from lots of consumers who aren't pleased about his ongoing efforts to interrupt the flow of raw milk by harassing buying clubs that fetch it for small groups of people from farms in the center of the state.

READ MORE ]

For more children, dinner is coming from Uncle Sam

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — While the other preschoolers were warming up to the vegetable pesto lasagna, 3-year-old Avery Bennett dived in with no hesitation.

"Can I have some more lasagna?" Bennett said from her booster seat. "I love it."

She moved on to her seconds, and the other kids at the evening care program in Brattleboro were also chomping down the dish made of spinach, peppers, carrots, tomato, fresh basil and cheese.

More low-income school kids could soon have access to free nutritious dinners like the lasagna that Avery loved. A U.S. Department of Agriculture program in Vermont, 12 other states and the District of Columbia provides reimbursements for the suppers, served at after-school programs for at-risk kids in communities where at least 50 percent of households fall below the poverty level.

"What it allows us to do is provide those kids with an extra nutritious meal before they go home because some kids go home to nothing," said Susan Eckes, director of child nutrition programs for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada in McCarran, Nev.

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Mothers of the 'Real Food' Blogosphere

Motherhood -- "the toughest job in the world if you're doing it right," says Oprah -- isn't getting easier, but it is diversifying. Somewhere between Fascinating Womanhood and The Feminine Mystique is a flourishing species of moms who blog and tweet about topics like food and parenting and create products for other parents in home businesses that highlight, not obscure, their motherliness.

Among those carving out a niche in this new style of entrepreneurial motherhood are the Real Food Media Network bloggers, who write about the full-fat, nutrient-dense, freshly prepared and unprocessed eatables they call "real food." Kelly Moeggenborg, Ann Marie Michaels, Jenny McGruther and their fellow mom bloggers dish out traditional culinary and nutritional wisdom electronically -- and actually make money at it.

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Food Safety and Inspection Service: Who is Elisabeth Hagen?

Despite his declaration that the government needed to address the nation’s “troubling trend” with outbreaks of food poisoning, President Barack Obama took almost a year to appoint Elisabeth Hagen as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Although Obama made the announcement on January 25, her confirmation hearing with the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry has yet to take place. If confirmed for the job, Hagen will be responsible for running an agency with 7,300 inspectors that’s supposed to ensure the safety of meat, poultry, and egg products consumed by Americans.

Hagen was not Obama’s first choice for the job. Nor was she his second. In February 2009, the administration approached Mike Doyle, a nationally known microbiologist who directs the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia. Doyle was interested in the position of undersecretary of agriculture for food safety, but not at the expense of giving up his financial investment in a patented microbial wash for meat that he had developed. White House officials wanted the divestiture to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

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Cleveland adopts local food incentives

Today’s Cleveland-Cuyahoga Food Policy Coalition meeting shed light on Cleveland’s new policy to attract and create local, sustainable business. New legislation allows the city to offer a 5% discount to local food businesses bidding for city contracts.

Since most bids are decided by 5% or less, a discount for being a certified Local Sustainable Business—a process that will be determined by the Cleveland Office of Sustainability—will offer a ‘huge’ advantage, said one staffer at the city. 

“This is the springboard for Mayor Jackson’s self-help economy,” said Jermaine Brooks of Cleveland’s Office of Equal Opportunity, which will monitor the bids and contracts along with its Minority and Female-owned bid incentive programs. “We will be known by purchasing locally.”

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