The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

Organic Farms Become a Winner in Putin’s Feud With the West

November 25th, 2014

The New York Times
by Neil MacFarquhar

Market in Krasnador
Source: Geir Halvorsen

MOSCOW — Boris Akimov’s cellphone, which quacks like a duck, started to sound like a whole flock soon after President Vladimir V. Putin imposed sweeping food sanctions barring many Western imports last August.

Major Russian grocery chains, desperate to find new suppliers, tracked down Mr. Akimov, the founder of Russia’s fledgling farm-to-table movement, to ask urgent supply questions. How many chickens and eggs could he provide, they wanted to know, and could he deliver 100 tons of cheese, say, immediately.

Mr. Akimov, 36, who has a heavy beard and an infectious grin, had to turn them away — his 100 farmers produce nowhere near the amounts requested. LavkaLavka, the organic farm cooperative he and a friend set up about five years ago, sells between six and 12 tons of artisanal cheese annually, for example. Read Full Article »

Toward Non-Toxic ‘Taters

November 25th, 2014

[You can sign the petition Tell McDonald’s: No more toxic taters! here]

PAN North America
by Margaret Reeves

Source: Susy Morris

When you think of potatoes, you might think of McDonald’s french fries. But what do we know about how those potatoes are grown? Are hazardous pesticides applied? And what might that mean to the health and wellbeing of communities in potato-growing regions?

The fact is, more than 1,750,000 pounds of pesticides were applied to U.S. potatoes in 2012. Topping the list of pesticides of concern, particularly in the potato-growing regions of Minnesota, is the highly hazardous fungicide chlorothalonil (a probable carcinogen). But this is just one of dozens of health-harming chemicals routinely applied in conventional potato production.

Fortunately, alternatives to chemical-intensive potato production have been developed, primarily by organic producers. So we know that pesticide-free solutions work. Moving McDonald’s — the world’s biggest potato buyer — toward demanding potatoes grown with these safer solutions is the precisely the mission of the Minnesota-based Toxic Taters campaign. Read Full Article »

McDonald’s Rejects Simplot’s Genetically Modified Potato

November 24th, 2014

The Idaho agribusiness continues to get blowback over the Innate line of spuds.

Idaho Statesman
by Zach Kyle

Source: Bowen Chin

The J.R. Simplot Co.’s freshly approved genetically modified potato is not being welcomed by one of the company’s oldest business partners.

McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food company and a longtime buyer of Simplot potatoes for french fries, says it doesn’t plan to buy Simplot’s latest genetically modified organism, the Innate potato.

“McDonald’s USA does not source GMO potatoes, nor do we have current plans to change our sourcing practices,” the company said in a statement.

The Innate line of potatoes received federal approval Nov. 7 to go to market. The potatoes have fewer sugars than conventional potatoes and less asparagine, which has the potential to become a carcinogen – acrylamide – when fried. The modified potato contains only potato genes, not genes from other organisms. Hence its name, “Innate.”

Simplot spokesman Doug Cole didn’t address the company’s plans to sell to the fast-food industry or the dehydrated potato industry, which both have urged growers against planting GMO potatoes. Read Full Article »

New Report Criticizes Yogurt Industry

November 19th, 2014

Major Brands Accused of Turning Health Food into Junk Food

yogurt-report-cover final with borderA new report, Culture Wars: How the Food Giants Turned Yogurt, a Health Food, into Junk Food,issued by The Cornucopia Institute, accuses Dannon, Yoplait, Chobani and other major marketers of misleading parents, who are looking for healthier foods for their families, into purchasing yogurts loaded with sugar and containing a myriad of questionably safe artificial sweeteners, colors and emulsifiers.

The group alleges that agribusiness, in their marketing approach, has capitalized on yogurt’s historic, well-deserved healthful reputation while simultaneously adulterating the product, sometimes illegally, to gain competitive advantage and popular appeal.

In addition to The Cornucopia Institute’s comprehensive report on the yogurt industry, they also released a related buyer’s guide rating 114 brands and separating the truly healthy options from those that would be found on any dietitian’s shortlist of foods to avoid.

“What is most egregious about our findings,” said Mark A. Kastel, Codirector of The Cornucopia Institute, “is the marketing employed by many of the largest agribusinesses selling junk food masquerading as health food, mostly aimed at moms, who are hoping to provide their children an alternative, a more nutritious snack. In some cases, they might as well be serving their children soda pop or a candy bar with a glass of milk on the side.”

Cornucopia, a Wisconsin-based food and farm policy research group, found that the flavored varieties (strawberry, for example) of certain brands contain no actual fruit, and include total sugars that rival those in candy bars.

Alternatively, rather than with sugar, some yogurt is sweetened artificially with such substances as aspartame (also marketed as NutraSweet®).

According to Dr. Qing Yang, a professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology at Yale University, “A rise in the percent of the population who are obese coincides with the increase in the widespread use of non-caloric artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose.” The use of aspartame is controversial and has been linked to brain tumors and neurological diseases in laboratory animals. Read Full Article »

EPA Accepting Comments on Pollinator Health Until November 24, 2014

November 19th, 2014

Beyond Pesticides

Co-Chairs of Pollinator Health Task Force:
USDA’s Tom Vilsack and EPA’s Lisa Jackson
Image Source: USDA

At the close of Pollinator Week 2014 President Obama called on government agencies to create a plan to “promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators.” However, at the end of last month the Task Force announced it would miss its self-imposed December 20th deadline on its action plan, delaying needed steps towards improving pollinator health.

EPA will be accepting written comments at this link until November 24, 2014.

Talking Points for Comments:

EPA and USDA have a duty to protect our nation’s pollinators, and the Presidential memorandum has directed federal agencies to take action. Given average loss rates near 30% over the past 8 years, there is an urgent need to move quickly on finding long-term sustainable solutions for pollinator protection. A growing body of scientific evidence reveals connections between pollinator declines and pesticide exposure, making it evident to the public and government agencies that action must be taken to rein in these harmful chemicals. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000
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