Media/News Archive

USDA to Start Program to Support Local and Organic Farming

Monday, September 29th, 2014

The New York Times
by Stephanie Strom

Credit: Natalie Maynor

The United States Department of Agriculture plans to announce Monday that it will spend $52 million to support local and regional food systems like farmers’ markets and food hubs and to spur research on organic farming.

The local food movement has been one of the fastest growing segments of the business, as consumers seek to know more about where, how and by whom their food is grown.

But local farmers still struggle to market their food. Distribution systems are intended to accommodate the needs of large-scale commercial farms and growers. Grocery stores and restaurants largely rely on big distribution centers and are only beginning to figure out how to incorporate small batches of produce into their overall merchandise mixes.

Farmers’ markets are proliferating around the country, increasing 76 percent to 8,268 since 2008, according to the Agriculture Department, but they have trouble marketing themselves. And few consumers are aware of a website the department created to help them find a farmers market in their area.

“These types of local food systems are the cornerstones of our plans to revitalize the rural economy,” Tom Vilsack, the agriculture secretary, said in a telephone interview. “If you can connect local produce with markets that are local, money gets rolled around in the local community more directly compared to commercial agriculture where products get shipped in large quantities somewhere else, helping the economy there.”

The $52 million will be the first outlay to local and organic enterprises of the farm bill signed into law by President Obama in February, which tripled the amount of money aimed at that sector to $291 million. The organic business, which has long complained that the Agriculture Department does not support it financially, will get $125 million over the next five years for research and $50 million for conservation programs.

“It’s a really nice bump for us because we’ve been getting chump change for research,” said Mark Kastel, co-founder of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic research and advocacy group. Read Full Article »

Experts Agree: Organic Farming Is Revolutionary

Monday, September 29th, 2014

It’s time to get back to the roots of farming to save the planet.

Rodale News
by Julia Westbrook

Credit: Dorothea Lang via Wikimedia Commons

Organic” is just another word for “expensive.” It’s a joke bandied about in supermarkets, illustrating that people are widely unaware of the connection between the contents of their carts and its impact on the health of our bodies and the planet.

“I would say that [organic farming is] a 100-percent solution to the health problem, to the unemployment problem, the poverty problem, the biodiversity problem, and the water problem,” says Vandana Shiva, PhD, founder of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Natural Resource Policy. She was one of several speakers to discuss regenerative organic agriculture at an expert panel event hosted by the Rodale Institute, the Carbon Underground, and Organic Consumers Association.

But the benefits go way beyond these comparably “small” issues because organic farming is also the solution to our carbon problem. According to the Rodale Institute, the answer to the looming climate catastrophe is right under our feet: soil. The researchers found that, through regenerative organic agriculture, the soil will be able to sequester carbon in a way that not just limits, but also reverses, the threatening levels of atmospheric CO2. Read Full Article »

Food Affected by Fukushima Disaster Harms Animals, Even at Low-Levels of Radiation

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Stone Hearth News

Zizeeria maha
Credit: Dr. Raju Kasambe

Butterflies eating food collected from cities around the Fukushima nuclear meltdown site showed higher rates of death and disease, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Researchers fed groups of pale blue grass butterflies (Zizeeria maha) leaves from six different areas at varying distance from the disaster site, and then investigated the effects on the next generation. Feeding offspring the same contaminated leaves as their parents magnified the effects of the radiation. But offspring fed uncontaminated leaves were mostly like normal butterflies, and the authors say this shows that decontaminating the food source can save the next generation.

The 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant released substantial amounts of radiation into the surrounding area. Humans were evacuated, and no significant health effects have been reported, but the scientists from the University of the Rukyus, Okinawa, Japan, are studying the impact on the area’s wildlife. Read Full Article »

A Beekeeper’s 6 Tips for Picking Honey

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Teen beekeeper Orren Fox knows that the key to delicious food is quality ingredients.

Rodale News
by Ramin Ganeshram

Honey comb02“.
Licensed under GFDL 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons

Adapted from FutureChefs

For some young cooks, preparing food is as much about a social message as it is about the flavors and composition of the dishes themselves. Add to that list Orren Fox of Massachusetts, who first became interested in the plight of farm animals before he was 10 years old.

“Bees are critical to one-third of everything we eat with their pollination,” he says. “The honey is absolute gold. It requires so much work to collect a single teaspoon of honey.”

Not all honey is what it seems. Often the commercially available honey sold in most supermarkets is “ultrapurified,” a process that removes much of the pollen deposits that honey aficionados consider desirable. Read Full Article »

Seed Privatization Motivates U.S. Seed Savers

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

US Food Sovereignty Alliance

foodsovereigntycrisisThe US Food Sovereignty Alliance’s unveils A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seeds Practices across the US in time for World Food Day and the presentation of the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prizes.

The report is based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States. It documents who saves seeds, as well as why, where and which ones. Responses reveal that many growers save and share seeds to produce healthy food, preserve their cultural heritage, and to defy efforts by transnational agribusinesses to privately patent and monopolize control of seeds.

The report is especially pertinent during 2014, the International Year of Family Farming, as designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Based on the surveys and the Call to Action of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, the report provides individual, community, national and international action recommendations aimed at defending seeds from privatization and preservingthem for the common good. Read Full Article »