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News for May 24, 2010

'FRESH' comes to Congress

On Friday the National Independent Consumers and Farmers association (led by secretary Liz Reitzig), sponsored a special screening of "FRESH, the Movie" to Legislators and Aides on Capital Hill in Washington DC.

An important food safety bill is in front of the Senate right now. Bill S.510 could potentially affect the local food system and threaten small farms from standard operating procedures. Fresh is a documentary that asks the viewer to consider everything that goes into the foods we consume - from farm to table. The film educated the legislators on the benefits of the local and sustainable food system which potentially could be put at risk by the S510 bill. Fresh producer Ana Sophia Joanes and celebrity farmer Joel Salatin (Food Inc, Fresh, Omnivores Dilemma) were in attendance and introduced the movie. They also educated the attendees on the topmost importance of preserving our precious sustainable agriculture system. This was very important work done by the Fresh team, which has seemed to have really moved to the forefront of the organic and sustainable food movement.

READ MORE (Washington Times) ]

Dungeness farm one of the few remaining milk producers on Peninsula

Sitting on the front steps of the farm store, Juniper Sackett and her daughter Ivy, 11, raved about their fresh milk.

"I was a staunch 'raw milk is gross' person," until a year ago, Sackett said.

READ MORE (Peninsula News) ]

'Drop Out Economy' Fueling Local Food Entrepreneurship

Time Magazine occasionally offers useful insights. Their Important Trends series has one on The Dropout Economy that which deserves attention. It's about a future that spans coming armies of unemployed MBA's and ever increasing numbers of high school drop outs. "As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won't exist, we're on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live." The author throws some nuttiness in for good measure but clearly shows us the oncoming reality.

As industrial agriculture sputters under the strain of the spiraling costs of water, gasoline and fertilizer, networks of farmers using sophisticated techniques that combine cutting-edge green technologies with ancient Mayan know-how build an alternative food-distribution system.

READ MORE (Treehugger) ]

New food-safety rules threaten small, organic farms

Tom Willey is so concerned about food safety he is willing to bet the farm on it.


READ MORE (Mercury News) ]

Why Go Organic?

Did you ever wonder why so many people are turning to organic food and products? It is a conscious health decision they are making to improve their life. Many of the food and products on store shelves contain pesticides, phthalates, lead, and many more chemicals that can be harmful. Products like vinyl shower curtains, stain resistant carpet, and cosmetic products such as shampoo, lotion, and perfumes contain phthalates. Studies have shown that children have a higher than average amount of phthalates due to the habit of putting things in their mouth. Many of their toys, tethers for example, are made with highly phthalate-softened vinyl.

"In the Center for Dieses Control and Prevention (CDC) study of phthalates, the breakdown product of diethyl phthalate (DEP) was detected in the highest level in the tested population. DEP is used in a number of scented products such as soaps, lotions and perfumes."

READ MORE (MY Breaking News) ]

Organic solids in soil may speed up bacterial breathing

The "mineral-breathing" bacteria found in many oxygen-free environments may be "carbon-breathing" as well.

Oxygen-free, or anaerobic, environments contain microbes sometimes described as "mineral-breathing" because they use iron oxides and other minerals in the same way we use oxygen. According to a study published online May 23 in the journal Nature Geoscience, this bacterial respiration may be accelerated by solid organic compounds in the soil.

READ MORE (University of Wisconsin) ]

Working to change the food system

On a sunny weekday morning, with a half-dozen Buffalo police cars, lights flashing, answering a call just a few blocks away, Jesse Meeder walked around his West Side greenhouse, talking anxiously about his first-ever harvest.

The young urban farmer, seemingly oblivious to the cops down the street, pointed proudly to his watercress, parsley and basil - and the 2,000 tilapia swimming around inside.

READ MORE (Buffalo News) ]

Chicken Farmers Decry "Indentured Servitude," Industry Monopolization, In Hearing

Alabama chicken farmer Garry Staples told federal officials Friday that there's no open market in the poultry industry.

The 57-year-old farmer from Steele raises birds for Pilgrim's Pride, one of the nation's biggest poultry companies. But like other farmers who raise most of the chickens Americans eat, he doesn't own the birds he raises, nor does he determine what food they eat or medicine they get. Pilgrim's Pride controls that.

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

French Farmers Turn Champs-Elysees Into Huge Farm

One of Paris's main thoroughfares, the Champs-Elysees, has been covered in earth and turned into a huge green space in an event staged by young French farmers.

They want to highlight their financial problems, caused by falling prices for agricultural produce.


A taste test of greener milks

Putting aside for a moment the dietary arguments against drinking cow's milk -- we're not calves, it's liquid meat, it's snot-producing, so hard to digest, etc. -- conventional milk deserves vilification for many reasons. Conventional dairy's ethically repulsive and planet-reaming process involves more or less torturing cows to lactate year-round; pumping their ailing, grain-fed bodies with hormones and antibiotics right up until they become hamburger; butchering their anemic offspring for scallopine and pet food; and, last but not least, polluting our own water supplies with both their excrement and agricultural runoff. Oh, wait. That wasn't last. I forgot to mention that conventional milk is trucked hither and yon. But don't take my word for any of this; here's yet more information on the malevolent liquid that complements a slice of chocolate cake so nicely.

One way that milk lovers can sidestep these issues, at least in part, is to buy more sustainable forms of milk: certified (or in-spirit) organic and/or local. But if taste is the guide, as is so often is the case, is one of these morally better milks more delicious than the other? Or are they all just white, taste-neutral beverages?

READ MORE (Grist) ]

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