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News for June 3, 2010

State agencies crack down on raw milk sales

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection -- DATCP -- is cracking down on raw milk operations.

Agency inspectors searched a Sauk County farm outside of Loganville Wednesday.


Raw milk: Health food or hazard?

Conradine Sanborn of St. Paul refers to supermarket milk as "dead milk."

She avoids it, preferring raw milk from a farm in Gibbon, Minn. She also regularly buys ice cream, meat and eggs from the Gibbon farmer, Michael Hartmann.

READ MORE (Star Tribune) ]

Local hero: Steve Hook, raw milkman

"Go fishing. That's exactly what you'll want to do after seeing The Lost World of Mr Hardy," wrote Ken Russell last year, heaping praise on the director Andy Heathcote's evocative documentary about the angling shop Hardy's of Alnwick and London. If that seemed an unlikely subject for a film, then Heathcote and his partner Heike Bachelier have surpassed themselves with their latest project: The Moo Man.

"Two years ago, Heike phoned to ask if she could bring Andy to the farm that supplied their raw milk as his surprise birthday present," says Steve Hook, who runs Longleys Farm, a 180-acre dairy farm in East Sussex, with his father. "They loved what we were doing, and a week later told us they'd like to make a film about us."

READ MORE (Times) ]

Organic Agriculture: A Solution to Global Warming?

In 2008, the Rodale Institute - an organization dedicated to the promotion of organic agriculture - published a widely noted report entitled "Regenerative Organic Farming: A Solution to Global Warming." The takeaway was that organic agriculture, due to its reliance on biological rather than chemical methods, could substantially reduce carbon emissions generated by the agricultural sector. Rodale predicted that if the world's 3.5 billion acres of arable land were placed under organic production, 40 percent of global carbon emissions would be immediately sequestered.

It was an impressive projection and, as far as I can tell, an accurate one. Organic farming's use of cover crops and composted manure is a remarkably effective way to sequester carbon dioxide. The Rodale report continues to garner widespread attention. As recently as a month ago, Peter Melchett, Policy Director of the U.K.'s Soil Association, championed the assertion that organic agriculture reduces global warming. He spoke as if the claim was conventional wisdom - which, in a way, it is.

READ MORE (NY Times) ]

Organic Growth: A Food Business Success Story

We've all been unsuspecting subjects in a vast scientific experiment, and the results are beginning to come in. They are not good.

Addressing attendees at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's annual Cooking for Solutions symposium last month, Gary Hirshberg, the head of the organic yogurt maker Stonyfield Farm, said that until the mid-1930s, humanity ate a strictly organic diet. Recent studies linking attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and increasing cancer rates to agricultural fertilizers and pesticides are proof that modern food-production methods have been "an evolutionary misstep," he said. "It is a very profound change that has taken place in a short period of time." But there is a silver lining, according to Hirshberg. "When we're pained enough, then we change. This pain threshold is going to get us going in the right direction."

READ MORE (The Atlantic) ]

Understanding Local Food Economics

Data tilled up by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that 80 percent of the retail value of food (around $800 billion every year) goes into the fancy sport coats of agricultural middlemen--food processors, brokers, buyers--while farmers bank only 20 percent.

The Treasure Valley Food Coalition is fed up with those stats. A program of Sustainable Community Connections of Idaho, the TVFC is defined as "a network of community members working together to create a sustainable local food system."

READ MORE (Boise Weekly) ]

Safe Food, From Soil to Plate

E. coli-laden romaine lettuce recently sickened dozens of Americans in five states, as a food-related listeria outbreak killed at least two Texans.

These were just the latest in a string of similar incidents. An endless deluge of foodborne illness outbreaks demands the reevaluation of our food system.

READ MORE (Common Dreams) ]

this is the holy land

"I'm always a little surprised when I hear people say that they are getting on a plane and heading off to the Holy Land," Winona LaDuke said. "Because the Holy Land is here. This is it right here in America. We are standing right now on Holy Land. My people have known that forever, and it's time everyone came to understand it."

Winona was the keynote speaker at the 5th annual Chief Standing Bear Breakfast, served up in the Heartland, May 21, Lincoln, Nebraska. As she uttered the last syllable of her pronouncement about holy land, the Earth responded, as it often will in a moment of truth. The ground began to tremble. The subtle shudder continued for 20 seconds or more. It was definite. I felt it. Others felt it, too.

READ MORE (the irresistible fleet of bicycles) ]

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