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News for September 30, 2010

The Five Musketeers of Maine Plan a New Path Around Obstinate Busy-Body Regulators

There's an uprising brewing in Maine over food rights. Like in other parts of the country, it started with regulator interference in a traditional part of small-farm life.

Heather Retberg, who with her husband runs a small farm in the coastal communmity of Penobscott, had built up a nice little business selling chickens to neighbors. She slaughtered the chickens at a neighbor's regulator-approved facility for producers of less than 1,000 chickens annually.

READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]

Michael Schmidt on the Chilliwack Fraser Health Unit raw milk “drink in”

In an exclusive telephone interview with the Bovine Tuesday night, Michael Schmidt gave his version of the events around the raw milk demonstration / news conference outside the Fraser Health offices in Chilliwack B.C.

Michael said that although no email had been sent out to local members of Home on the Range cowshare regarding the event, many of them did show up to show their support. However they were outnumbered by the many newspaper reporters and TV crews covering the event. Media in attendance included CTV, CBC, Vancouver Sun and Chilliwack Times.

READ MORE (The Bovine) ]

Senate to take up food safety bill after elections

The Senate will consider a food safety bill after the November elections that would give the Food and Drug Administration more power to prevent foodborne illness.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., laid the groundwork late Wednesday for a vote to end debate on the bill when Congress returns after the Nov. 2 elections. The procedural maneuver requires 60 votes and is a way to circumvent one senator's objections. Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has blocked the legislation, saying it adds to the deficit.


Foodie Elitism

Because high-quality local food often carries a higher price tag than food generated by the industrial system, the charge of elitism coming from industrial foodists is often vitriolic, and embarrassed foodies agonize over the label. For all their positive energy surrounding food, I’ve found latent guilt among this group—guilt for paying more for local food when others are starving, guilt for caring about taste when others would happily eat anything. Instead of cowering in self-guilt, let’s confront the issue of prices head on.

First, it’s better food. It tastes better. It handles better. And it’s safer: Anyone buying chemicalized, drug-infused food is engaging in risky behavior.

READ MORE (Flavor) ]

Many "All Natural" Foods Are Actually Heavily Processed

As far as food manufacturers go, ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry's is actually pretty progressive. The company combats climate change through various campaigns, supports family farmers, and sources the paper for its containers from sustainably managed forests. Plus, Phish Food is hands down the most delicious ice cream ever. But the company's ice cream is not made from "all-natural" ingredients, and both Ben and Jerry finally stopped claiming that it is.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) recently asked Ben & Jerry's to remove the "all natural" stamp from its ice cream containers, claiming that ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, alkalized cocoa, and hydrogenated oil are far from natural. These ingredients are, in fact, quite heavily processed. Ben & Jerry's heeded CSPI's demands and agreed to remove the "all natural" label from its ice cream containers.


When School Lunch Funding Expires, Will Kids Go Hungry?

For the past several months, the House and Senate have gone back and forth with their various school lunch reform bills that would reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act, legislation that funds federal free and reduced-cost lunches. Now here we are on the eve before the day the Child Nutrition Act expires, and there's still no resolution to this dining dilemma.

The Child Nutrition Act expires September 30th, which means that funding for school lunch would disappear. Don't worry, though, lawmakers would be in for a world of hurt if they let kids go hungry. What will likely happen is that they'll pass some sort of continuance that will keep the dough flowing (well, OK, more like trickling) for school lunch programs. But what's less clear is whether school lunch will get its much-needed makeover.


Organic farming appears to have weathered recession in Minn.

Organic farmers in Minnesota seem to be sticking with it, even as the recession narrowed the price gap between organic and nonorganic crops.

The number of organic farms in Minnesota has increased from under 400 in 2000 to about 650 in 2010, according to a recent report by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.


Move to Quash Raw Dairy Increases Public Scrutiny

On Monday, September 27th, the 13,000+ members of the Weston A. Price Foundation received an Action Alert about a major dairy brand taking aim at the raw milk market.

Organic Valley controls the market for organic milk, and their recent move against raw dairymen in their organization is sure to have major repercussions, for their image, for consumer choice and for the survival of many of these farms.

READ MORE (Hartke) ]

Organic Farming Can Feed the World

Organic farming's critics will have you believe that the practice is no more advanced a process than hooking one's miserable mule up to a puny scratch plow and keeping pests away with luck and prayers. On the other side of the fence are those whose enchantment with all things organic leaves you suspecting they believe this kind of farming to be a kind of animated Disney movie, where plants erupt from the soil singing with joy at the touch of the farmer's green thumb.

The way organic farming is done today is as far from both of these realities as they are from each other. Just because organic used to be the only kind of farming there was doesn't mean it froze in time when the branch of agriculture we now call "conventional" went its separate way. (Would it not, by the way, be more appropriate to call this petroleum-reliant method of farming "petrolic" instead of "conventional"?)


Organic Eggs Don't Always Come From Happy Chickens

When most folks think "organic eggs," they likely conjure up images of plump chickens strutting around in the sunshine, pecking at fresh grass, insects, and worms. In reality, not all organic chickens — and organic eggs, for that matter — are created equal.

The Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit, recently completed a two-year investigation of certified organic egg operations in America. Researchers visited 15 percent of the country's certified organic egg farms, checking in on operations ranging from small, family-owned farms to industrial-scale hen houses. Researchers presented their findings in a new report titled "Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Producers from Authentic Organic Agriculture." Some of the supposedly "organic" operations researchers visited are truly horrifying.





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