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News for March 31, 2010

Raw milk debate

MADISON - A Wisconsin Assembly committee has approved a bill that would allow farmers to legally sell raw, unpasteurized milk.  The approval clears the way for a vote in the full Assembly.

Supporters say raw milk is healthier, more pure and tastes better than pasteurized milk.  Opponents believe bacteria can contaminate the milk and make people sick.

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Third-grade students ask for healthier school meals

Some drew pictures of burgers and apples. Others drew hearts.

However, most of the third-grade students at Lee Elementary School focused on the heart of the matter in their letters to lawmakers: They want healthier, fresher food that is cooked rather than prepackaged, frozen, thawed and reheated.

“I am concerned about the food because it is not fresh and it is not healthy for us,” one student wrote in a letter dated Jan. 29.

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The importance of eating fresh

Ironically, even as I am thinking about food and nutrition and wholesome health, I am snacking on "organic butter-flavored popcorn." According to the ingredient list, that salty richness I taste doesn't come from any type of dairy at all, but rather from "butter flavor."

Interestingly, the specific ingredients in the butter flavor aren't indicated on the package. I wonder: If the concept of "organic" is intuitively defined as growing something purely, as Mother Nature intended, then just how is butter flavor grown? Surely not from seed. Perhaps in a petri dish? Still, it tastes so good.

The fact is that food - the growing, preparing and partaking of it - is an emotional act. Famous food writer M.F.K. Fisher wrote that we have three basic needs: food, security and love.

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The Cons and Pros of Food Processing

Here is an interesting finding from a recent market study. 1500 consumers across all demographics in the US were surveyed by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) and Artemis Strategy Group. The news:

43% of consumers have a negative attitude towards processed foods.


But what exactly is processed food?

And is a processed food bad for you by default?

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Organic Valley CEO: Organic Sales Growing Again

Sales for La Farge-based Organic Valley, and the organic food industry in general, are picking up this year after the cooperative saw its first sales decline in 2009, CEO George Siemon said Saturday.

“So people are pretty optimistic that we’re starting to pick up our steam again,” Siemon said in an interview before Organic Valley’s annual meeting at the La Crosse Center.

Organic Valley in January cited the recession when announcing that 2009 sales had dropped 1.3 percent from 2008, to $520 million. It was the first annual sales decline since the organic farmer cooperative was created in 1988. The co-op has more than 1,600 organic farmers in 33 states and four Canadian provinces.

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