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News for October 6, 2010

Bill to allow sale of raw milk moves forward

A bill that would allow for the sale of raw milk in Wyoming passed an important legislative hurdle Tuesday.

The Joint Agriculture Committee voted to sponsor legislation that would legalize the sale of raw milk through so-called “herd-share agreements.” Such agreements allow consumers to purchase a share of a cow or goat, paying a rancher for a portion of its care in exchange for milk produced by the animal.

READ MORE (Billings Gazette) ]

Chewing On Food Safety: A National Conversation is Needed

If beets could talk, and in my life they do, most of what is happening in Washington right now regarding food safety sounds certifiably nuts. I hear that we now have about 2% of the population controlling most of our money. One of the easiest ways to control the rest of us is to control our food supply. From the looks of it, large multinational interests, big corporations and legislators who have never been inside a health food store, to their local farmers' market, or grown a beet themselves, are giving the rest of us indigestion.

Food safety laws that were being discussed on the hill during September -- S.510 and S.3767 -- may be on a break for the moment. The issues remain and will be taken up when the senate reconvenes. We need a national conversation about food that is making us sick, and to ask each other: Why? Most of us do not know how to eat. This plays into the hands of those who would dictate food policy. We need a moment of awakening. We need to regain our beat with nature. We need to have some relationship with healthy soil and growing things.

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

Feast or famine for dairy farmers

On the high ground of Tiashoke Farm, two bulldozers churned and compacted a mountain of green, glistening corn silage being laid in to feed 500 milking Holsteins and crossbreeds through the long winter.

This is corn-cutting season. A giant silage chopping machine mowed down wide swaths of cornfields into its mechanical maw from sunup to sundown. Acre after acre yielded to its massive blades and its long, arm-like chute spewed postage stamp-sized chips of ground-up corn, stalks and all, as a dump truck rumbled alongside and kicked up a cloud of dust.

READ MORE (Times Union) ]

The Secret to Getting Kids to Eat Their Veggies

Snap into a baby carrot, brother! As Change.org recently wrote, a group of carrot farmers have taken to heart the old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and launched a $25 million ad campaign to promote baby carrots to teenagers and kids. Over the past few weeks, we've started to see just how this marketing campaign will play out.

The campaign doesn't try to get kids to eat carrots because the veggies are full of vitamins and good for the eyes (the tried-and-true method of trying to push healthy foods on consumers). The goal of this campaign is to re-brand baby carrots as an extreme, edgy "junk food" choice that rivals snack foods like Cheetos and cookies.

READ MORE (Change.org) ]

Dare to Keep Meat Off Drugs

America's farm animals have a drug problem that makes Lindsay Lohan look like Sister Mary Catherine. We're talking a serious, A&E Intervention-worthy kind of addiction here. And like so many drug problems, this one isn't just impacting the users themselves — it's putting a lot of stress on the nation's consumers.

Producers regularly pump their poultry and livestock full of antibiotics and antimicrobials through animals' feed. The majority of these drugs aren't used to treat sick animals, but rather to promote growth and prevent diseases caused by living in filthy factory farms. When animals reside in cramped quarters and are regularly exposed to icky things like manure, maggots, and rodents, disease tends to spread. While animal producers could combat the risk of illness by cleaning up their operations and letting livestock and poultry out to pasture, they take the easy way out, consistently feeding critters low doses of drugs.

READ MORE (Change.org) ]

When Well-Meaning Labels Confuse Consumers

A recent study by Which?, a London-based consumer advocacy group, discovered that the U.K.'s ethical consumers often find themselves hindered by food labels meant to help them make informed decisions about their purchases. It's an interesting paradox—as Americans struggle for more informative labels, Brits claim to be "overwhelmed" by the barrage of different stickers identifying food miles, trading practices, and carbon costs.

While most (82 percent) of those surveyed identified the FairTrade label, only six percent recognized the Marine Stewardship Council's Sustainable Seafood label. A paltry three percent understood what a LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) label stood for. These labels — which are supposed to attract consumers to earth-friendly products — are sort of pointless if people don't actually know what they mean.

READ MORE (Change.org) ]

The Unappetizing Realities of Factory-Farmed Meat

I grew up on a farm. In addition to corn and soy, my family used to raise chickens and pigs and cows — a few dozen chickens, a dozen pigs, maybe, and a handful of cows — but that was years ago. The price of meat has been so low for so long, for both the consumer and the farmers who sell it, that it’s no longer really possible to make a profit when you have that few animals. That’s why, these days, something on the order of 98% of our meat in America comes from factory farms that raise thousands upon thousands of animals at a time. To satisfy our ever-increasing demand for cheap meat, the places where animals are raised for slaughter have changed so radically that it’s not even really fair to call them farms. They resemble the place I grew up not at all.

The opening paragraph from a Time article called “Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food” sets the scene well.

READ MORE (Mental Floss) ]

The A1/A2 Debate Bubbles Up--How High a Priority?

It's been nearly a year since I sat in on a small discussion at the Weston A. Price annual conference in Chicago, and heard a number of raw milk experts discuss the ins and outs of A1/A2 milk. The issue had become a hot topic, stimulated by publication of a book out of New Zealand, "The Devil in the Milk", which argued that A2 milk, which lacks a genetically-determined protein fragment, improves drinkers' health, while A1 milk, which has the protein, might well detract from health.

One farmer involved in the discussion said he had shifted his small herd so it consists entirely of A2 cows. Another farmer said the evidence on A1/A2 wasn't convincing enough for him to shift his entire herd. And a veterinarian and a few others with background said essentially that the jury is still out. That's pretty much what I wrote in a post more than a year ago.

READ MORE (Complete Patient) ]

In Kenya, Farmers Grow Their Own Way

We had just been visiting farmers cultivating land in the lush, steep hills north of the town of Thika in central Kenya. Samuel Nderitu, our guide and host, had one more project he wanted us to see: the Tumaini Women’s Group. They were meeting to found their community's first seed bank.

We were now in an area that has suffered from six years of drought and has a high concentration of people living with HIV/AIDS, both compounding the area’s struggles with hunger.

READ MORE (Common Dreams) ]

 

 

 

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