Don’t let Big Meat eat our bumper crop

The last few years have not been good for the factory farm industry. High prices for corn and other crops (in part driven by the growth of ethanol) made feed costs incredibly high, while at the same time, environmental and animal welfare advocates have been winning ballot and marketplace battles to shift more meat production out of intensive confinement and industrial systems. Hog and cattle producers have been hit by disease, drought and weather related disasters, resulting in losses in both sectors. Continue Reading

Trade vs. local economies: Procurement on the table

Communities across the United States and Europe are working to transform local economic systems so that they are more sustainable and equitable. Many states and communities are utilizing public procurement programs to support those efforts, especially bidding preferences for healthy, locally grown foods, energy or transportation programs that create local jobs and fair markets. Especially in the aftermath of the Great Recession, Buy American programs have helped ensure that taxpayer-funded programs create local jobs and serve social goals. Farm to School programs that incentivize purchases from local farmers have grown in all 50 U.S. states and many European countries. Innovative efforts are also underway to expand this approach to other institutions such as hospitals, universities and early childcare programs like Head Start. Continue Reading

East Side Enterprise Center houses huge walk-in cooler

Access to a huge walk-in cooler is not what I had in mind when I heard about the resources the East Side Enterprise Center (ESEC) is offering to entrepreneurs and businesses, but it turns out that the cooler and warehouse space are just what some local entrepreneurs need. In fact, when John Flory from Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) saw the 4,000 square feet of warehouse and garage space with 2 loading docks and 5 overhead garage doors, he knew he had found the perfect site for the East Side Local Food Incubator.

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Harnessing sun, dew and grass

I was walking out to the chicken coop in the early morning, a pail of seeds and cracked corn swinging on my left and my right hand raised to shade my eyes. The sun, just a few degrees above the trees, hit the dew-drenched grass and sent spears of bright light into the air. It was like a white fireworks: busy, slightly chaotic, riotous. Continue Reading

Don’t offer farmers and citizens to multinationals, stop TTIP and CETA

From France, which gave us the Rights of Man, we hear the call for the Rights of Citizens from French farmers who yesterday staged a sit-in at Cargill’s headquarters in Paris protesting proposed new free trade agreements. The second largest farmers’ union in France, Confédération Paysanne, unfurled a banner that read, “Holland, Juncker, Obama: Don’t offer farmers and citizens to multinationals, Stop TTIP and CETA.” They occupied the Cargill trading floor all day, until they received an appointment with the Secretary of State for French Foreign Trade, Mr. Matthias Fekl. Continue Reading

Babe’s new diet: Nanomaterials in animal feed

How much would you pay for a pork chop that was two percent leaner? Would you eat such a pork chop if nanoscale minerals were mixed into the hog feed to achieve that two percent reduction? Such questions are before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it considers what to advise the animal feed and mineral supplement industry about their efforts to incorporate atomic- to molecular-sized materials into feed. Continue Reading

Farming into the future: Hmong American Farm

“Farmers often work twelve-hour days,” Yao Yang explained. Having water available near the field is a big deal. That’s often not the case on rented fields, but it’s an important part of the Hmong American Farm. So are the simple washing sheds where they can prepare produce for market, and the cooler where produce can be stored until it’s picked up for delivery. Continue Reading