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.

Dirt First

May 2nd, 2016

Orion Magazine
by Kristin Ohlson

Source: USDA

Rick Haney, gangly and garrulous, paces in front of a congregation of government conservationists, working the room for laughs before he gets to the hard data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture soil scientist points to an aerial photograph of research plots outside his facility in Temple , Texas. “Our drones took this shot,” he says, then shakes his head. “Kidding. We don’t have any drones.”

Forty sets of shoulders jerk in amusement. Paranoia about the federal government is acute in Texas, and Haney’s audience—field educators from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), part of a corps of around six thousand that works directly with farmers nationwide—hail from around the state. They’re used to suspicious scowls from farmers, who are as skeptical of the feds as they are of the outsiders who dwell on the downsides of agriculture. For the most part, the people in this room are both: feds and outsiders.

But what if those downsides—unsustainable farming practices—are also bad for a farmer’s bottom line? It’s the question Haney loves to raise during training sessions like this one, which the NRCS (today’s iteration of the Dust Bowl–era Soil Conservation Service) convenes around the country as part of a soil health campaign launched in 2012. Haney is a star at these events because he brings the imprimatur of science to something many innovative farmers have already discovered: despite what the million-dollar marketing campaigns of agrichemical companies say, farmers can use less fertilizer without reducing yields, saving both money and landscapes. Read Full Article »

Keeping Bees Safe: It’s A Ruff Job, But This Doggy Detective Gets It Done

April 29th, 2016

The Salt – NPR
by Jodi Helmer

Source: USDA

The newest apiary inspector at the Maryland Department of Agriculture has four legs, golden fur and a powerful sniffer.

Mack, a 2-year-old yellow Lab, joined the team last fall to help his mom, chief apiary inspector Cybil Preston, inspect beehives for American foulbrood — AFB — a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects honeybee brood and, eventually, kills the colony.

“Maryland has a thriving beekeeping industry, and most of our beekeepers have thousands of hives that travel from state to state for pollination,” explains Preston. “It’s our job to make sure that infected hives don’t cross state lines.”

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has had a “bee dog” on staff since 1982 and is believed to be the only state agency in the nation using a dog to detect AFB. Read Full Article »

7 of the Best Farm Camps for Kids

April 29th, 2016

Modern Farmer
by Jennifer Kelly Geddes

Source: Elliott McCrory

Nothing against archery, canoeing, or lanyard crafts, but agrarian experiences are where it’s at right now. And these summer camps afford children ages 4 to 16 the opportunity to milk Holsteins and harvest carrots. The seven options below, which range from half-day sessions to week-long sleepaway adventures, represent the best of the farm set.

Riverton, Utah

Day campers care for rabbits and goats, grow vegetables from seed, even take tractor tours of the 10-acre fifth-generation Petersen Family Farm. Bonus: Attendees can return in fall to harvest pumpkins they planted in summer. (Ages 5–12; from $200 a week. petersenfarm.com)

Webberville, Michigan

Northfork Farm & Outback’s sleepaway sessions school the junior horsey set in riding, grooming, stall-mucking, and calf-roping. Off-saddle camp fun: a re-created Old West town and Native American village, plus two swimming holes. (Ages 8–15; from $700 a week. northforkoutback.com) Read Full Article »

Groups Sue to Force FDA to Act on Chemical in Food Packaging

April 28th, 2016

Center for Food Safety

Perchlorate is highly flammable and
used in rocket fuel
Source: Steve Jurvetson

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Center for Food Safety, on behalf of themselves and four other public health and environmental organizations, sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today to force it to act on a petition to ban perchlorate in food packaging. The groups filed the petition in December 2014.  The agency missed a June 2015 deadline to respond to the petition.

Co-petitioners include Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Environmental Working Group.

Perchlorate impairs hormone production critical to brain development and poses a health threat, particularly to fetuses, infants and children. FDA has approved it for certain specific uses, including as an anti-static agent in plastic packaging for dry foods such as beans, rice and flour. Read Full Article »

Talking Organic Standards with Mark Kastel

April 28th, 2016

Living Maxwell – Facebook

MarkLivingMaxwellMax Goldberg of LivingMaxwell.com interviewed Cornucopia Codirector Mark Kastel in Washington, D.C. during this week’s National Organic Standards Board meetings. Mark shared his thoughts on developments there.

To watch this interview you will need to “like” the livingmaxwell Facebook page.

Click on the image to watch.

 

 

Read Full Article »

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