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.

Unsafe at any Dose? Diagnosing Chemical Safety Failures, from DDT to BPA

May 25th, 2016

[Cornucopia has re-posted this article for its sole merit, which does not imply endorsement of the author’s opinions expressed elsewhere.]

Independent Science News
by Jonathan Latham, PhD

Source: Nerissa’s Ring

Piecemeal, and at long last, chemical manufacturers have begun removing the endocrine-disrupting plastic bisphenol-A (BPA) from products they sell. Sunoco no longer sells BPA for products that might be used by children under three. France has a national ban on BPA food packaging. The EU has banned BPA from baby bottles. These bans and associated product withdrawals are the result of epic scientific research and some intensive environmental campaigning. But in truth these restrictions are not victories for human health. Nor are they even losses for the chemical industry.

For one thing, the chemical industry now profits from selling premium-priced BPA-free products. These are usually made with the chemical substitute BPS, which current research suggests is even more of a health hazard than BPA. But since BPS is far less studied, it will likely take many years to build a sufficient case for a new ban.

But the true scandal of BPA is that such sagas have been repeated many times. Read Full Article »

An All-Volunteer Squad Of Farmers Is Turning Florida Lawns Into Food

May 24th, 2016

NPR – The Salt
by Catherine Welch

Source: USDA

In Florida, homeowners have a propensity for landscaping. They take great pride in the green carpet of grass in front of their homes. But one Florida man is working on a project that’s turning his neighbors’ lawns into working farms.

Chris Castro has an obsession — turning the perfectly manicured lawns in his Orlando neighborhood into mini-farms.

“The amount of interest in Orlando is incredibly surprising,” Castro says.

Surprising because he’s asking Floridians to hand over a good chunk of their precious yards to volunteers who plant gardens full of produce. His program is called Fleet Farming, and it’s starting off small, with 10 of these yard farms. Most of them sit smack in the middle of the front yard. Read Full Article »

New Evidence About the Dangers of Monsanto’s Roundup

May 24th, 2016

The Intercept
by Sharon Lerner

Source: Mike Mozart

John Sanders worked in the orange and grapefruit groves in Redlands, California, for more than 30 years. First as a ranch hand, then as a farm worker, he was responsible for keeping the weeds around the citrus trees in check. Roundup, the Monsanto weed killer, was his weapon of choice, and he sprayed it on the plants from a hand-held atomizer year-round.

Frank Tanner, who owned a landscaping business, is also a Californian and former Roundup user. Tanner relied on the herbicide starting in 1974, and between 2000 and 2006 sprayed between 50 and 70 gallons of it a year, sometimes from a backpack, other times from a 200-gallon drum that he rolled on a cart next to him.

The two men have other things in common, too: After being regularly exposed to Roundup, both developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer that starts in the lymph cells. And, as of April, both are plaintiffs in a suit filed against Monsanto that marks a turning point in the pitched battle over the most widely used agricultural chemical in history. Read Full Article »

Is Quinoa California Farmers’ New Kale?

May 23rd, 2016

Los Angeles Times
by Geoffrey Mohan

Source: LID, by Jonas Ingold

Bryce Lundberg is elated, which is saying a lot for a California farmer these days.

“Hop on in,” he says, wading into eight acres of ragged stalks, their seed tassels turning russet in the desert sun.

Lundberg, 54, soon is chest-high in quinoa, a crop that is thriving in an unexpected place: on a patch of mediocre soil that lies below sea level in the scorching-hot Imperial Valley, more than 4,500 miles removed and some 10,000 feet down in elevation from its native range in South America’s Andes Mountains.

If the harvest proves profitable here, California could dominate yet another niche crop, as the grain-like seed graduates from health-craze fad to a popular ingredient in energy bars, cereals and even drinks. Acreage dedicated to quinoa may reach into the thousands in the next two years in California, a state that already is a hub for quinoa imported from South America. That’s about where kale was in 2007 before it took off. Read Full Article »

How Americans Gardened 260 Years Ago

May 23rd, 2016

Rodale’s Organic Life
by Therese Ciesinski

Source: Sarah Elliott

Colonial Williamsburg shows us that when it comes to technique, not much has changed.

The wooden yoke around my neck doesn’t hurt at first. I winch up two brimming wooden buckets from the well and attach them to the yoke. Now carrying 40 extra pounds of water weight, my shoulders visit my knees as I lurch away from the well and stagger across the garden to pour the water into the cistern, where it must warm to air temperature before it is scooped out again to water the vegetables.

I’m in the Colonial Garden and Nursery at Colonial Williamsburg, the 84-year-old living history museum in Virginia. It’s sunny and quite warm; T-shirt weather. Because rain’s been scarce, I have volunteered to water the vegetable garden, in the way a housewife of the “middling class” would.

Never has a drop in the bucket seemed so futile: If it were 1750, it would take 49 more trips just to keep this garden alive another day. With men off doing the hard labor, this Sisyphean task fell to women or children. Or, for those who could afford them, slaves. In truth, most people gardened at the mercy of the weather. Read Full Article »

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