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News for August 6, 2010

Farmers markets growing like weeds around country

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that there are now 6,132 farmers markets in the country, up 16 percent from last year and a stunning 214 percent increase since 2000.

The press release contained some even more interesting numbers. While mild-weathered, agriculturally diverse California had by far the most farmers markets (580), New York was not far behind (461), and Nos. 3 and 4 were somewhat surprising: Illinois (286) and Michigan (271). And the rest of the Midwest is working on catching up: the top states for percentage growth in the number of markets from 2009 to 2010 were Missouri (77 percent), Minnesota (61), and Idaho and Michigan (both 60 percent).

READ MORE (Grist) ]

Boomers Take Up the Plow and Open Small Farms

A former Dallas attorney sells sprouts under the cover of a white tarp and a fraying straw hat. A former graphic designer plops candy striped beets on a Mexican tablecloth dotted with purple and gold figures, while a U.S. Customs agent gives a customer advice on cooking eggplant.

It's just another weekend at the farmers' market in Harlingen, Texas. Here, in the Rio Grande Valley, baby boomer generation professionals have traded in their desk jobs for a different kind of retirement.

READ MORE (AlterNet) ]

GM crop escapes into the American wild

A genetically modified (GM) crop has been found thriving in the wild for the first time in the United States. Transgenic canola is growing freely in parts of North Dakota, researchers told the Ecological Society of America conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, today.

The scientists behind the discovery say this highlights a lack of proper monitoring and control of GM crops in the United States.

READ MORE (Nature News) ]

USDA Announces Additional Animal Disease Traceability Public Meetings

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will be holding three additional public meetings on the animal disease traceability framework approach. The meetings will take place this August in Madison, Wis., Atlanta, Ga., and Pasco, Wash. These are the final public meetings being planned to obtain feedback on the framework and development of proposed rule on traceability.

On Feb. 5, 2010, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will develop a new, flexible, yet coordinated framework for animal disease traceability in the United States. Under this new direction, states and tribal nations must establish the ability to trace, back to their state of origin, animals moving interstate. The new framework will embrace the strengths and expertise of states, tribal nations and producers, and empower them to find and use the traceability approaches that work best for them. The secretary has pledged to develop this new approach as transparently and collaboratively as possible.


Saturated Fat Consumption Still isn't Associated with Cardiovascular Disease

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just published the results of a major Japanese study on saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease (1). Investigators measured dietary habits, then followed 58,453 men and women for 14.1 years. They found that people who ate the most saturated fat had the same heart attack risk as those who ate the least*. Furthermore, people who ate the most saturated fat had a lower risk of stroke than those who ate the least. It's notable that stroke is a larger public health threat in Japan than heart attacks.

This is broadly consistent with the rest of the observational studies examining saturated fat intake and stroke risk. A recent review paper by Dr. Ronald Krauss's group summed up what is obvious to any unbiased person who is familiar with the literature, that saturated fat consumption doesn't associate with heart attack risk (2). In a series of editorials, some of his colleagues attempted to discredit and intimidate him after its publication (3, 4). No meta-analysis is perfect, but their criticisms were largely unfounded (5, 6).

READ MORE (Whole Health Source) ]

Food safety inspectors forces a 7-year-old to close down her lemonade stand

The Food and Drug Administration apparently has only enough food investigators to check out about 2 percent of the questionable seafood coming into West Coast ports from the Far East and India.

There are nowhere near enough USDA inspectors to ensure that the pigs, poultry and cattle being shoved through slaughter houses are as disease free as the feds and Congress want .

READ MORE (Food Watchdog) ]

Growing food helps connect urban and rural neighbours

Early Sunday morning, nine people pack into a grey van near Bathurst St. and St. Clair Ave. and head north to where the houses stop and the farmland begins.

Their destination is the McVean Farm, a 20-hectare slab of land in Brampton that’s cultivated by more than a dozen people.

READ MORE (The Star) ]

A Dozen Eggs for $8? Michael Pollan Explains the Math of Buying Local to WSJ

Michael Pollan, author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma” and other popular books, has become a figurehead for the local-food movement, which advocates buying in-season produce from nearby farms.

Proponents say such food is healthier and that the way it is grown and shipped is better for the environment. But it often is more expensive. Mr. Pollan says the real problem is that subsidies keep the prices of some, largely mass-produced foods artificially low.


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