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News for April 13, 2010

The Untold Story of Milk, The History, Politics and Science of Nature's Perfect Food: Raw Milk from Pasture-Fed Cows, by Ron Schmid 

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School nutrition and gardening classes aim to grow healthy eating habits

Chicago Public Schools officials have announced new, healthier school lunch menus, but a big question remains.

Will kids eat them?

As British chef Jamie Oliver (whose ABC TV show, "Food Revolution," documents his attempt to improve school food in West Virginia) recently learned, getting kids to embrace healthy fare after years of junk food takes work.

But nutrition advocates believe there is a key to unlocking their jaws and minds to better food: education.

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Food for Thought: Organic Grub Worth Buying?

(April 13) -- Sales of organic foods in the United States are increasing by double digits annually. The government says that in 2009, cash boxes at grocery stores, farmers markets and roadside stands collected as much as $28 billion from the sale of presumed pesticide- and drug-free fruits, vegetables and meat.

But as the growth of the organic market soars, so do the questions about what consumers are actually getting for their money.

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USDA Awards Grants to Develop Obesity Prevention Programs

WASHINGTON, April 13, 2010 - USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced steps to develop and evaluate America's obesity prevention programs. The goal is to identify the behavioral factors that influence obesity, in order to help prevent it.

"The health of our nation depends on the health of our families and it's imperative that we address the obesity crisis impacting our country," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "I'm optimistic that these research grants will help develop effective obesity prevention strategies and the tools that we need for measuring our progress in the battle against obesity."

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The Raw Milk Debate: Don't Have a Cow

A week or so ago I drank a cold, refreshing glass of a liquid the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says is "inherently dangerous" and "should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any purpose."

We're not talking about kerosene, or even the hard cider I brew in the basement, but milk. More precisely, raw milk.

I obtained my raw milk in return for a few dozen seeds I'd saved from last summer's ultra-hot Scotch bonnet pepper crop. (Talk about something that should come with a FDA warning.) I gave them to a neighbor who tends a small herd of Jersey cows, and she filled a clean quart Ball jar for me from the cooling tank in her milking barn.

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UK - Chicken Out! Campaign Activists Wins - Only Free Range Eggs Served at 2012 London Olympics

Chicken Out! is pleased to report that all the eggs served by Olympics catering will be sourced from free-range hens. Compassion will continue to call on LOCOG to set clear targets on the percentage of RSPCA Freedom Food chicken and pig meat that will be served during the games.

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Organic Pastures Animal Welfare Approved

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), a certification label for family farmers raising animals outdoors with high-welfare standards, added Organic Pastures Dairy Company of Fresno, CA into the AWA program. Organic Pastures Dairy Company has 500 dairy cows and specializes in bringing raw milk and raw milk products to California consumers.

Organic Pastures is the largest retail-approved raw and organic dairy in the United States; California allows sales of raw milk in retail outlets. According to Mark McAfee, whose family has operated Organic Pastures for four generations, "Raw milk is natural milk and it's tastier, healthier for digestion, boosts immunity and nutritious. Organic Pastures was the first raw milk dairy in California with certified organic pastureland-you can't be more natural and essential than that. And what many consumers don't realize is that raw milk sold in California must meet and exceed the bacteria standards of pasteurized milk without being pasteurized."

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Heidelberg Township dairy farmer wins top award from Berks County Conservation District

A Heidelberg Township dairy farmer was named Berks County's Outstanding Conservation Farmer on Monday night by the county conservation district.

Forrest Stricker of Spring Creek Farms, which is a certified organic farm, manages a herd of 160 Jersey, Holstein and Ayshire cows. The farm sells certified organic raw milk and converts manure into compost that's reused as fertilizer.

Joseph A. Crea, conservation district manager, presented the award at a banquet attended by 170 people at the Pike Township Sportsman's Association.

The conservation district joined with the federal Farm Service Agency in recognizing outstanding contributions to conservation.

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Food Safety in the US: We're on Red Alert

The United States once had one of the safest food systems in the world, but now, 70 million Americans are sickened, 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food-borne illness every year. It is a sad fact: since 9/11, far more Americans have been killed, injured or hurt because of our lack of a coordinated food safety system than by terrorist acts that challenge our Homeland Security system.

The culprits in this assault on American wellbeing aren't shadowy terrorist figures, but rather, they are what most consumers would identify as wholesome -- not harmful -- foods. Peanuts, lettuce, pistachios, spinach, hamburgers sold to Boy Scout camps, peppers, tomatoes, and pepper-coated sausages are among the foods that have sickened and killed Americans in just the last few years. Our children are most at risk from these food threats, with half of all food-borne illness striking children under 15 years old.

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Danou says raw milk risk 'localized and small'

The sponsor of a bill to allow raw milk sales says it will allow freedom of choice and create a framework to regulate an activity people are already engaged in. But a Milwaukee pediatrician says it's not worth the risk to public health.

Dr. Barbara Kolp-Jurss, representing the Wisconsin Medical Society on Sunday's “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” said it may be OK for healthy adults to assume the risks of drinking raw milk. But she said weaker immune systems in children and the elderly mean they could get seriously ill from drinking raw milk, should it be contaminated with harmful bacteria.

Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, who sponsored the raw milk bill, noted that his research has shown that no one has died from drinking raw milk for 25 years. California, Connecticut and Maine allow retail sales, while the bill would only provide for direct purchases from farmers, Danou said.

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New laws could hurt Western North Carolina food producers

ASHEVILLE — New federal food safety laws could drive some small producers in Western North Carolina out of business with added costs and inspections, those in the industry say.

The Senate this week could vote on the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill that would require more U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspections of farms and processing facilities and stringent record keeping from producers. The agency also would have more power to order recalls.

Local producers and sellers said the law is written for big food companies and supposes the food supply will be more global in coming decades and not more local.

WNC is home to a growing food market, ranging from small kitchens making jams and jellies for sale at places like the French Broad Food Co-op in Asheville to an effort in Haywood County aimed at getting grocery stores to sell local produce.

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Organic farm changes improve training

It’s a part of campus that most students never will visit, but for Walker Hancock, the Student Organic Farm is her version of the MSU experience — an experience that will see a few positive changes this year.

Hancock is one of many students, volunteers and community members involved in the Student Organic Farm who soon will be learning and working with a new mobile greenhouse as well as experiencing changes in the Organic Farmer Training Program.

The Student Organic Farm is a student-initiated project that began as a small organic garden in 1999, said Denae Friedheim, assistant instructor and recruitment coordinator for the Organic Farmer Training Program.

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UN agency explores potential benefits of organic agriculture in Eastern Europe

12 April 2010 – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today it is partnering with an organic farming organization to examine the potential economic, employment and environmental benefits of greater investment in sustainable agriculture in the Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia region.

The study by UNEP, in partnership with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), will build on the findings of a 2007 report by UNEP and the European Environment Agency which concluded that the region’s low use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides and its availability of workers presented good prospects for the growth and export of organic food products to Western Europe.

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Cooper Tea Offers Organic Iced Tea for Fountains

LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- 7-Eleven stores across the country are the first retail outlets to offer USDA-certified organic iced tea on their fountain beverage machines. The organic iced tea was developed by international tea master Barry W. Cooper and the Cooper Tea Co.

Nearly 70% of Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc.'s U.S. stores are carrying the product, Cooper Tea said.

Cooper created B. W. Cooper's Iced Brew Tea in 2003 as an all-natural tea concentrate, made from real tea, with no artificial colors or added flavors. 7-Eleven has offered it as an option on the Big Gulp fountain machine since that time. But earlier this year, the tea blend was converted to organic tea and received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic certification.

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Can Organic Veggies Transform Education?

Jamie Oliver’s war on obesity in America hasn’t been very popular, but there’s evidence that his methods did work in the U.K. “The proportion of 11-year-olds in Greenwich, south London, who did well in English and science rose after Oliver swept ‘turkey twizzlers’ and chicken dinosaurs off canteen menus in favour of creamy coconut fish and Mexican bean wraps…” reports The Guardian. “Authorized absences” also fell by 15%. Unfortunately, the poorest children didn’t seem to benefit from the program. (HT: Chris Blattman)

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Agriculture Department seeds the way for 'people's gardens'

Most days, Ed Murtagh spends hours behind his desk in Suite 1028 of the south building at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, trying to figure out how to conserve energy, reduce waste and make other environmental improvements.

But starting this month, Murtagh will regularly get up from his desk, walk outside and literally make the department greener.

Murtagh is among 80 volunteers at the USDA who are lending their sweat and muscle to an organic garden created by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack along the Mall, on the grounds of the agency's headquarters at 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW.

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Only 10 Days Left for Legislature to Take up Raw Milk Debate

With the current legislative session about to wrap up in a week and a half, supporters of a bill that would legalize the sales of unpasteurized milk to consumers in Wisconsin are getting even more vocal about their stance. During a public gathering on the issue in Madison over the weekend, farmers and consumers who enjoy drinking raw milk said there are benefits that they want their lawmakers to know about before deciding how to vote on the issue.

There were about 300 people at the forum. Some of the participants pointed out that producers would get nearly 10 times the money for their product if they sold it directly to consumers. Others pointed out that unpasteurized milk is more nutritious because it contains enzymes and bacteria that boost the immune system. However, most supporters contend that the government shouldn't have a say in what farmers do with their product because a lot of other commodities are sold in its 'raw form' to consumers.

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