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.
July 22nd, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: It is no coincidence that the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any other country in the world. Organic food – unsubsidized by the U.S. government – is more expensive up front, but you get what you pay for.
How the Government Supports Your Junk Food Habit
The New York Times
by Anahad O’Connor
At a time when almost three-quarters of the country is overweight or obese, it comes as no surprise that junk foods are the largest source of calories in the American diet. Topping the list are grain-based desserts like cookies, doughnuts and granola bars. (Yes, granola bars are dessert.)
That’s according to data from the federal government, which says that breads, sugary drinks, pizza, pasta dishes and “dairy desserts” like ice cream are also among Americans’ top 10 sources of calories. Read Full Article »
July 22nd, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: One more example of unintended consequences of the widespread use of pesticides as they disperse across the environment and impact non-target species.
Common Pesticide Exposure Alters Behavior of Fish and Amphibians
Exposure to common pesticides at levels often found in the environment can have subtle but significant impacts on the behavioral health of fish, amphibians and other aquatic invertebrates. According to researchers at Northern Arizona University, who analyzed data from nearly 40 experiments to reach their conclusion, fish and amphibians swam 35% slower and were 72% less active after pesticide exposure.
The study, published in Science of the Total Environment, found that the overall effect on aquatic wildlife varied based on the chemical class the animals encountered. While pyrethroids, carbamates, and organophosphates resulted in a significant decrease in swim speed, triazines and phosphonoglycines showed no overall effect. Pyrethroids, carbamates, organophosphates, organochlorines, and organotins decreased activity, while phosphonoglycines had no overall effect, and triazines actually increased activity. “I didn’t think that we would see [an effect] across such a wide range of pesticides so consistently, but we did,” said study co-author, Catherine Propper, PhD to KNAU, “and that leads to some concerns about environmental exposure for organisms.” Read Full Article »
July 21st, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: Since 2007 the USDA mandate for pasteurized raw almonds has meant that California-grown raw almonds are no longer truly raw. They must be treated with a toxic fumigant classified as a possible carcinogen (propylene oxide) or heated with steam. Newly introduced radio frequency technology may be a game-changer for growers and consumers.
Organic raw almond producer first to use new pasteurization process
Sustainable Food News
California’s 2016 almond crop forecast to yield 2 bil’ lbs.
The Almond Board of California (ABC) has approved a non-roasting bulk pasteurization process for raw almonds at Sran Family Orchards, a producer of organic and conventional almonds in Kerman, Calif.
The ABC’s Technical Expert Review Panel (TERP) has certified RF Biocidics’ APEX 85 chemical-free, pasteurization system that uses radio frequency technology to significantly reduce the level of harmful pathogens in raw almonds. Read Full Article »
July 21st, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: The growing consumer hunger for organics has made organics a $43 billion a year business. As shortages appear, more farmers look to transition to organics. While they wrestle with changing agricultural practices, corporations are scrambling to find supplies – sometimes in the U.S. and increasingly from abroad.
Paying Farmers to Go Organic, Even Before the Crops Come In
The New York Times
by Stephanie Strom
DENAIR, Calif. — The last time Wendell Naraghi tried to make money from organic nuts, in the 1980s, he failed miserably.
“Basically, we stopped because no one paid me,” said Mr. Naraghi, whose father started the family’s large nut orchards here in the Central Valley in the 1940s. “There just was no market premium for organic.”
Today, the problem is turned upside down: Companies can’t get enough organic ingredients to satisfy consumer desire for organic and nongenetically modified foods. The demand for those crops outstrips the supply, leaving farmers like Mr. Naraghi racing to convert their land to organic production, an arduous and expensive process. Read Full Article »
July 20th, 2016
Cornucopia’s Take: Small amounts of healthy soil can help revive barren land. What processes cause the increase in nematodes, bacteria, and fungi remain unclear. The study reaffirms the importance of soil in organic production.
Soil ‘booster shots’ could turn barren lands green
by Elizabeth Pennisi
Want to make your barren yard lush again? Just add a bit of soil from your local meadow. A new study reveals that the addition of foreign soil—and more importantly, the organisms it contains—can shape which plants will grow in the future. Such “inoculations” could even help bring back fallow farmlands and turn deserts green.
“This is a really cool and remarkable study,” says Harsh Bais, a root biologist at the University of Delaware, Newark, who was not involved in the work. “Dirt matters.” Read Full Article »