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News for May 30, 2010

FDA Says You Have No Right to Real Food Unless They Give You Permission First

The FDA has finally made its food-rights policy crystal clear. Here's the agency's position, made evident in their response to a lawsuit filed by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund:

They believe you have no absolute right to any raw unprocessed food, unless the FDA says it's okay.

READ MORE (Mercola) ]

Buying Clubs Sour Massachusetts Raw Milk

When the Boston Globe prints an editorial "State shouldn't be cowed by raw-milk aficionados" (22 May, 2010) it is evident that public interest in raw milk is on the rise and raw milk regulations have soured.

Over the past several decades, the numbers of dairy farms in Massachusetts have tumbled from over a thousand to just over a hundred. Today the interest in "real milk" or raw milk has been a lifeline for nearly a third of the remaining farms. Also, the local food movement with emphasis on organic grass-fed animals has stimulated the sales of raw milk. Raw milk at the farm fetches $6 to $9 per gallon. Scott Soares, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) said "raw milk sales are up 170 percent over the past four years."

READ MORE (Lancaster Farming) ]

The USDA National Farmers Market Directory: A Whole New Take on Bean Counting

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer - and farmers markets across the country are gearing up for high season. According to the USDA National Farmers Market Directory, the number of farmers markets has exploded -- from 1,755 in 1994, to more than 5,200 last year. That's a whopping 300 percent increase since the directory was first published 15 years ago. Every year since, the USDA has been conducting what amounts to an annual farmers market "census" -- asking market managers for information and giving policy wonks and consumers alike a window into the burgeoning farmers market movement.

As Rayne Pegg, the Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service -- or AMS -- the USDA agency that maintains the directory, recently explained in an open letter to market managers, it's "a snapshot of what is happening at farmers markets, and where, and demonstrates how the industry is growing and expanding... It includes the markets locations, size, operations schedules and other valuable information."

READ MORE (Care2) ]

Good Health Starts at Sustainable Farms

Although most people have an idea that a KFC's new Double Down bunless sandwich may be a less healthy choice than a chicken salad, we rarely question the chain of events that was necessary to get those bites into our mouths. Where and how exactly was that "food" made? Where was the lettuce grown? How did the carrots come out of the ground? Who drove or flew them to your city and who chopped them? Even more confusing are the questions regarding processed foods like sandwich buns or salad dressing. How were those ingredients baked, put together, preserved, etc.?

The answers to many of these questions lay in what has become somewhat of a foreign place to many Americans -- a place they may never visit, but only see in pictures or that kids read about in books: a farm.

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

Organic Consumers Oppose Kagan for Going to Bat for Monsanto

US Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, is the most recent in a long line of pro-biotech Obama appointees, including USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, National Institute of Food and Agriculture director Roger Beachy, FDA senior food safety adviser Michael Taylor, USTR Agricultural Negotiator Islam Siddiqui, and USAID director Rajiv Shah.

As Solicitor General, Kagan submitted a friend of the court brief to the Supreme Court in favor of Monsanto's appeal in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms.

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

Local food push ripe for debate

You probably didn't think, as you pushed the dirt in around your new tomato plants or browsed a local farmers market, that you might be engaging in a political act.

More likely you were just thinking about a good, juicy tomato.

READ MORE (Omaha World Herald) ]

Heidi Hodges Column: Raw milk remains hot topic

Here's an indisputable fact: Wisconsin is synonymous with dairy.

What is in dispute, however, is whether raw milk should be part of the state's dairy industry.

READ MORE (Green Bay Press Gazette) ]

Striking a Balance: Food Safety Regulations for Small-Scale Sustainable Agriculture

Following reports of E.Coli contamination, which led to the hospitalizations of about 200 people in the U.S. and Canada in 2006, spinach has gotten a bad rap. Three years later, growers of leafy greens, particularly in California, are still feeling the effects of the incident. New food safety standards in California aim to ensure the safety of produce coming from large scale organic farms by putting into place stringent sanitary and monitory regulations. But could the sterilization of organic food production potentially destroy the overall healthiness and organic-ness of food?

After reports of E.Coli were traced back to spinach, the prized, vitamin packed vegetable was erased from menus overnight. Spinach became a dirty, un-safe green, unfit for sale or consumption. Even now that it's regained the trust of the consumer, and appears on sandwiches and in salads everywhere again, growers are struggling to make up for the more than $100 million lost in sales during the outbreak. As a part of the effort to rebuild consumer confidence and eliminate the risk of another money-losing outbreak, big growers are agreeing to comply with new proposed regulations. These regulations include, among other things, leaving otherwise farm-able land fallow and bare to act as a buffer between crops and the "exterior" environment, putting up fences to keep out wildlife (investigators suppose that the 2006 E. coli outbreak may have been the result of wild boars that had been wandering through the spinach fields.) The new field standards also include harvesting precautions like thoroughly rinsing produce with chlorinated water.

READ MORE (Justmeans) ]

Five Things You Can Do to Break up Big Food and Build Local Food Economies

Big agribusiness has taken over your dinner table. This corporate domination has harmed farmers, who are stuck buying inputs and selling product to a tiny number of corporations. Monopoly power over our food has also limited the number of consumer choices to a few brands of unhealthy processed foods, and many neighborhoods are left without any fresh produce at all. This corporate food chain is being exported worldwide by these same companies. What we need instead is a just and sustainable food system that makes sure farmers make a decent living and everyone can afford good food.

This is an historic opportunity for all of us -- farmers, consumers, environmentalists, community activists, advocates fighting global poverty and hunger, and you -- to get involved, make our voices heard and demand that the rampant corporate control of our food, farms and family dinners be stopped.

READ MORE (Food Freedom) ]

The Hard Sell on Salt

With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation's health, the food giant Cargill kicked off a campaign last November to spread its own message.

"Salt is a pretty amazing compound," Alton Brown, a Food Network star, gushes in a Cargill video called Salt 101. "So make sure you have plenty of salt in your kitchen at all times."

READ MORE (New York Times) ]

Bike Ride Connects People to Their Food

CNN's Chris Hrubesh and William Armsby go along on a 100 mile bike ride that connects people to local farmers.

READ MORE (CNN) ]

'An Edible History of Humanity': How What We Eat Has Changed the World

Throughout history, food has played many roles in changing the world: It has been a weapon of war, an offering for peace, a force of development and imperialism and an organizer of societies. In many cases, food and its production have had some of the most profound effects on humanity and indeed on the earth itself. Food has affected social status, social roles, empires and the outcome of wars. The roles that food has played in shaping society and the planet itself are captured in a new book by Tom Standage, titled An Edible History of Humanity.

READ MORE (AlterNet) ]

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