Well, it’s official. Last Thursday, Speaker of the House John Boehner confirmed that the House will not vote on the 2012 Farm Bill during this brief Congressional working session and thus we’ll zip right past that pesky September 30 expiration date on the former bill. (I’ll explain what this means momentarily.) It’s possible that during Congress’ upcoming lame duck session in November, a one-year extension of the current bill will be voted on, and then we’ll get to do this all over again next year!
I really did not want to be a cliché from Portlandia. But, sometimes, marital harmony gets in the way of stereotype avoidance.
For the past two and a half years, we’ve been owners of Harry, Ron and Hermione, the Hogwarts hens. (We joked that if we ever got a rooster, we’d name him Voldemort). The three lovely ladies, a Rhode Island Red, a silver laced Wyandotte, and a barred Plymouth, have resided in a run in our postage stamp backyard, swilling organic feed and whatever leftovers we remembered to give them. In return, they dutifully laid two to three eggs per day even in our dreary winters, and provided wonderful fertilizer for our compost pile.
Earlier this summer, Harry (the Rhode Island Red) and Hermione (the beautiful but fussy Wyandotte) stopped laying. That left Ron soldiering on. Unfortunately, one egg per day was not enough to feed my growing boys’ scrambled egg habit: a half dozen for lunch, between the two, is not unheard of. “What’s the point of having chickens if we’re paying for eggs,’ I mumbled to myself while pondering whether organic eggs were worth the extra $2/dozen over the cage free vegetarian-fed ones.
Out the rubble of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a vision for a grand public market on the waterfront was born. A dedicated group of food lovers and city planners formed the San Francisco Public Market Collaborative to realize this vision, and on September 12, 1992, they organized the one-time Ferry Plaza Harvest Market across the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building.
Very big news exploding across the media yesterday. Eating genetically engineered (GE) corn has been strongly linked to serious health effects—including mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage. A team of European scientists today released the first ever long-term animal feeding study of the health effects of eating GE foods in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology.
Never one to pass up an opportunity to spread a little doom and gloom, I felt compelled to emerge from blog-writing hibernation to bring you the latest bummer food news. Today, Consumer Reports released “Arsenic in Your Food,” a report describing its recent investigation of arsenic levels in rice. The results are unsettling. According to the report, analysis of 65 rice and rice products (including infant cereals, hot cereals, ready-to-eat cereals, rice cakes, rice crackers, rice pasta, rice flour and rice drinks) revealed that samples of almost every product contained measurable levels of total arsenic, including organic and inorganic forms.
Recently, with Obama re-election posters blanketing the audience at the Democratic National Convention and Republicans mocking Obama’s campaign slogan, the word of the moment was Forward. But when it comes to food safety, this Administration is stuck in reverse. The 56-page 2012 Democratic Party Platform included no mention of food safety or the President’s monumental signing of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Residents of South Carolina’s Lowcountry know that the area’s vibrant culture and scenic beauty constitute something special, something that represents more than the group of counties contained within its geographic perimeter.
Jamee Haley, executive director of Lowcountry Local First (LLF), recognizes that the unique character of the state’s southernmost region depends as much on the health of the economy as it does on the creative pursuits and hard work of the people who live there. Whether in the world of agriculture or business, she works to inspire those who share her appreciation for and dedication to their local communities to make a simple decision: “Choose the Lowcountry.”
“I’m the only middle man I like,” farmer Bill Warner says of his preference for a direct marketing business model that’s become known as “retail agriculture.” The 53-year-old Warner and his wife Judy Hageman co-own Snug Haven Farm. Located in Wisconsin’s Dane County, they supply an acre’s worth of spinach, tomatoes, flowers and herbs to farmers’ markets, restaurants and a buyer’s club. More than half is sold to outlets in the nearby state capital of Madison. Most of the balance is delivered to customers three hours away in Chicago.
Warner sees growing demand for small farm products in grocery stores and institutional markets like schools, universities and hospitals. These high-volume wholesale channels require farmers to aggregate products for somebody else to deliver via semi-trailer truck. Snug Haven has an additional 25 acres of cropland that could be used to supply nearby wholesale markets. This year, this parcel produced hay sold to area farmers. Next year, Warner intends to raise rolled oats for human consumption and rent some ground to an organic dairy farmer.
It happens like clockwork; every few months, a rant against local and/or organic food appears in one of the papers of record. The author is nearly always an educated man who uses the words “elite” and “elitist” at least 175 times while defending today’s corporate food system and implying directly or indirectly that changes to the status quo—which often inherently begin with those who can afford to make them—should be seen as suspect at best, and downright damaging at worst.