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News for February 22, 2010

U.S. Weighs How to Track Diseased Livestock

The meat industry is up in arms over a federal decision to abandon a $120 million livestock-tracking system designed to limit the economic and human-health impact of animal-disease outbreaks.

Meatpackers worry that a narrower program proposed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack could exacerbate worries abroad about U.S. meat exports, while state officials are concerned the federal government is creating a new regulatory burden for which states have scant resources.

"It will be a headache," said Tony Frazier, state veterinarian of Alabama.

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Organic On A Budget

(CBS)  While going green can be good for your health it is not always easy on the wallet. Since the recession hit, more than half of consumers have changed which organics they buy, if any. Kelli Grant, Senior Consumer Reporter for SmartMoney.com, gives us five tips on how to go green and save money. 

First, prioritize your organics. Pick and choose to save cash. Some produce requires less pesticides to grow, therefore there is little or no residue after washing. The Environmental Working Group lists asparagus, avocados, broccoli, onions and kiwi as less affected. Peels on tropical fruits such as bananas further reduce your exposure. 

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Green Mountain College Introduces New Intensive Sustainable Agriculture Major

Potential students listen up. How I wish there had been majors such as this when I was in college. Green Mountain College, a small liberal arts college in Vermont, has introduced an intensive Sustainable Agriculture Major. The school was already known for its focus on sustainability. As Blythe wrote, the campus's Farm & Food Project lets students participate in the growing process, from gardening organically to driving oxen. But now students can center their entire course of study around sustainable agriculture.

Green Mountain College has introduced a Sustainable Agriculture Major starting in the fall 2010 semester. The classroom, if you'd like to call it that, will consist of a 22-acre working sustainable farm with a classroom and offices situated inside the farm's solar harvest center. Studies will hit on a range of topics including "food systems presented through the lenses of history, anthropology, the natural sciences, philosophy, business, economics, and art."

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Farmer-consumer group challenges FDA authority to ban interstate raw-milk sales

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is taking on the Big Enchilada in the raw milk war: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s prohibition on interstate shipment of raw milk.

The FTCLDF filed suit over the weekend in U.S. District court against FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg, and the secretary of the FDA’s parent agency, Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, challenging the constitutionality of the agency’s prohibition, enacted in 1987. It filed the suit on behalf of consumers and a farmer from six different states; the consumers all travel from states where raw milk sales are illegal to buy it in states where it’s allowed for sale and the farmer sells to out-of-state consumers.

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Raw milk debate spills into capitols, courts

DES MOINES, Iowa — Debate about the health attributes and risks of raw milk is spilling into statehouses and courtrooms across the country as proponents of unpasteurized dairy products push to make them easier for consumers to buy.

Supporters of the raw milk cause say pasteurization, the process of heating milk to destroy bacteria and extend shelf life, destroys important nutrients and enzymes.

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'Comploo' Design Heated Entirely by Organic Waste

Architects from the Japanese design firm Bakoko have developed a circular structure, called the Comploo, that could be the perfect sustainable compliment to Japanese Tea Gardens during chilly winters--heated by a unique composting system built in the walls. Designers say that the heat captured from the organic waste breaking-down could heat the space to temperatures nearly 120º F, all while producing compost for the garden. 

The key to the design is in the special decomposing compartments that line the walls. When food or garden waste is put inside, the heat generated by the microbial processes is circulated throughout the room. A glass ceiling acts like a greenhouse to capture heat from the sun as well.

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Maine dairy farmers put new organic milk on market

PORTLAND, Maine — Maine dairy farmers hope their new organic milk, called MOOMilk, becomes as popular among natural-food buffs as Maine lobster is among seafood lovers.

Ten dairy farmers formed Maine's Own Organic Milk Co., MOOMilk for short, last year after their contracts weren't renewed by large milk distributor H.P. Hood LLC. A year later, the first half-gallon cartons of MOOMilk have reached dairy cases in scores of supermarkets and natural-food stores in Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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Plano dairy reaps benefits of raw milk movement

Like most any mom with young children, Iliana Cantavella is used to making a run for a gallon of milk.

But she goes to the tiny store at Lavon Farms, the last dairy left in Collin County. There, for $8 a gallon, she buys milk that comes straight from the registered Guernsey and Jersey cows grazing in the fields around.

No pasteurization. No homogenization. And no approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

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