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News for July 12, 2010

In Colorado, Making a Strong Case for a National Dairy Association

One of the things Ontario Judge Paul Kowarsky marveled at when he ruled in favor of raw dairy farmer Michael Schmidt and his herdshare arrangement last January was that there was "no evidence of any illness" in the 16 years the farmer and government authorities battled over availability of raw milk. Moreover, tests by the regulatory authorities never found any evidence of pathogens.

The other side of that observation by the judge is that, when a case involving raw milk comes up for court consideration, there damn well better not be evidence of illnesses lurking in the background (not that it guarantees a win, by any means). Or, to put it another way, just a few bad apples--farmers whose milk causes illnesses--can make things very difficult for the vast majority of dairy farmers who are being meticulous in ensuring their milk is produced according to the highest possible safety standards.

READ MORE (The Complete Patient) ]

How do you define local?

You've been reading the articles and listening to the localvore conversations.

Now, perhaps, you're ready to eat local (which defines the word localvore). That's great, but I want you to think about how you define local.

READ MORE (Press Republican) ]

Organic farmers rely on relationships

For Kat Becker and Tony Schultz, both 30, selling the food they grow on their family farm is not only a business -- it's a way of life. The two deeply believe in the value of organic food, from a health, nutrition and environmental perspective.

The couple met at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Schultz was studying education and Becker was a graduate student studying sociology. Both were supporters of local and organic food movements. After they married, they moved back to Schultz's family farm, where they began their own community-supported agriculture, or CSA, farm called Stoney Acres in which people subscribe to weekly food shipments directly from them.

READ MORE (Wassau Daily Herald) ]

Obesity: Making fresh produce a summer ritual

With childhood obesity on the rise and no end to the mass-marketing of processed foods, parents have a great opportunity this summer to take measures into their own hands. Boston has become a national model for fighting fat with fresh farm produce.

There are now two dozen farmers markets throughout Suffolk County, delivering fresh, Massachusetts-grown produce nearly 30 times a week. (Visit www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/farmers_markets.htm for more information.) Contrary to the national despair about “food deserts’’ in low-income neighborhoods, there are farmers markets in Chelsea, Roxbury, Mattapan, East Boston, Mission Hill, South Boston, and five locations in Dorchester. Most locations in Boston accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The on-line sustainability guide SustainLane ranks Boston third in the nation for local food and agriculture.

READ MORE (Boston Globe) ]

Feinstein's call for BPA ban bill riles lobbies

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's insistence that a sweeping food safety bill include a ban on bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to line food cans, threatens a top White House priority.

The California Democrat contends that any legislation aimed at protecting food safety should include limits on the compound, known as BPA.

READ MORE (San Francisco Chronicle) ]

William G. Winter: In defense of consuming raw milk

I am a healthy and happy customer of Minnesota's farm-fresh, organic and clean raw milk. As such, I've been mystified by the knee-jerk hostility expressed by the news media. Allegations are suddenly "facts." Incomplete and inconclusive investigations are now "indictments." The Star Tribune editorial "Recklessly ignoring raw milk's danger" (June 28) came off as a critical scientific statement excoriating us as Internet idiots.

Apparently we easily bamboozled fools need the government to "protect" us. But yet there was no scientific backbone to the article. Science begins with a literature review, but there was no evidence of that.

READ MORE (Star Tribune) ]

US opposes honest labeling of GMO foods

The official U.S. position on genetically-modified organisms, also known as GMs or GMOs, is that there is no difference between them and natural organisms. Crafted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the position set forth to the Codex Alimentarius Committee on the issue goes even further to suggest that no country should be able to require mandatory GMO labeling on food items, even though science shows that GMOs act differently in the body than do natural organisms and are a threat to health.

A group of over 80 food processors, farmers and consumer organizations has sent an official letter to Michael Taylor, deputy commission at the FDA, and Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture at the USDA, protesting the official U.S. position, citing the fact that it creates "significant problems" for all U.S. food producers that wish to label their products as being GMO-free.

READ MORE (Natural News) ]

Agriculture colleges sell cow herds to cut costs

The fields and long red barns at the University of Vermont will soon house fewer cows as low milk prices, high costs and budget cuts have forced the university to sell its herd.

Other universities are doing the same, or looking for other ways to cut costs, as high feed, fuel and labor prices make it difficult to keep animals during tight economic times. The sales are taking place despite growing enrollment in agriculture programs. The herds are mainly used for faculty research.

READ MORE (AP) ]

The war on raw milk

As a rule of thumb, I don't drink anything that comes out of a cow. But for the last several thousand years, a large percentage of the human population has consumed cow's milk -- a substance that admittedly contains quite an impressive collection of nutrients. The problem today is that those nutrients are artificially modified through pasteurization (cooking) and homogenization (breaking down fat molecules) to create a ready-made, highly processed cow's milk beverage with a long shelf life that can be sold to consumers as "milk."

In the history of food, pasteurized, homogenized cow's milk is a relatively new thing. For most of recent history, milk has been consumed as a fresh, raw beverage, just hours out of the cow. Each day's milk was usually harvested that very morning from the local cow, and most farms had at least one milk cow. (For many families, it was what kept them alive through the harsh winters...)

READ MORE (Natural News) ]

Milky debate turns murky

Alvin Schlangen’s farm seems an unlikely place to launch a revolution.

In a sunny pasture next to a brown-and-white barn, chickens peck the ground and cluster around the fence to inspect visitors. A neat farmhouse is surrounded by carefully mowed grass.

READ MORE (SCTimes) ]

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