Fresh Picks: Top 5 Stories Worth Reading
Deborah Kane lands federal farm-to-school post
Sustainable Business Oregon
Deborah Kane, former Ecotrust vice president and founder of the group’s FoodHub initiative, was named today head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm to School initiative. Kane, who oversaw the food and farms program at Ecotrust, left the nonproft in December after a year that had her visiting the White House as a “Champion of Change.”
Sheriffs Who Won’t Be “Milk Police” Gather in Vegas
Food Safety News
County sheriffs and federal officials bickering over land, guns and water policies are as old as the West, but the Constitutional Sheriffs Convention, underway for the past three days in Las Vegas, has something new on the menu — food safety regulation. “I made the decision that the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office was not going to be the milk police,” Sheriff John D’Agostini told his Board of Supervisors in California ahead of the convention.
Are “DIY Slaughter Hobbyists” Destroying Your City?
A few weeks ago, my friend was handed a flier at a farmers market in Oakland, California. It’s from a local group called Neighbors Opposed to Backyard Slaughter that wants the City of Oakland to forbid people to raise livestock on their property. Around here, urban farming is a pretty hot issue; a nonprofit called City Slicker Farms has been promoting DIY food production for several years, and author and farmer Novella Carpenter brought the practice into the limelight with her 2009 book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer.
USDA awards $40 million grants to boost local farm/food projects
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday awarded $40.2 million in grants to farmers, ranchers and farmer-controlled rural business ventures aimed at spurring locally produced food supplies and renewable energy ventures. USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said 298 recipients in 44 states and Puerto Rico will receive business development assistance through the Value-Added Producer Grant program.
Colo. lawmakers consider trans-fat ban in schools
The Associated Press
The nation’s leanest state is taking its sweet time as it considers a proposal aimed at getting junk food out of schools. A Colorado House committee was expected to discuss a bill that represents the nation’s toughest regulations meant to keep trans fat away from students, but lawmakers Thursday delayed the hearing without explanation.
News From the Region
Bill would alter Idaho’s commercial feed law
A bill introduced in the Idaho Legislature seeks to make Idaho’s commercial feed law less cumbersome and intrusive. It would repeal a part of Idaho code that requires commercial feed manufacturers or distributors to file quarterly tonnage reports and inspection fees that equal 20 cents per ton of all the product they report.
Honey bees under threat from emerging fly parasite
Western Farm Press
Honey bees can become the unwitting hosts of a fly parasite that causes them to abandon their hives and die after a bout of disoriented, “zombie-like” behavior, San Francisco State University researchers have found. The phenomenon, first observed on the SF State campus, may help scientists learn more about colony collapse disorder.
USHCC Applauds Expansion of USDA Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers Claims Process
Millions of Hispanics work on the American farms and ranches that feed the world. The future of farming will require more Hispanics with a strong entrepreneurial spirit to start agricultural businesses to meet the rising global demand for food products. Because of the importance of this high growth industry, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will continue to ensure that Hispanic farmers and ranchers have full access to the federal resources that will help them prosper in the food economy.
Dairies under threat: Despite ‘buy local’ trend, herd shares fight for survival
San Mateo Daily Journal
While local produce growers are flourishing in California, small dairy operations are being threatened. Doniga Markegard is a family farmer and strong advocate for local food sources in San Mateo County. She has a program similar to a CSA but instead of produce, she sells shares in her grass-fed cattle and cows. In exchange, herd share participants get meat or raw milk from the animals.
The #1 most sustainable restaurant in the US? It’s right here in Portland
A local sushi hot spot has been ranked the #1 most sustainable restaurant in the United States. Bamboo Sushi has only been around in Southeast Portland for a little over three years but is already making its mark, and in more ways than one. So how do the folks who run Bamboo Sushi keep the restaurant sustainable? We talked to General Manager Brandon Hill to find out what they’re doing that stands out.
Restaurant sector gaining strength
While consumers are still closely watching their spending, U.S. restaurants will see sales increase modestly this year, according to the National Restaurant Association’s annual forecast. Restaurant sales are pegged at $632 billion in 2012, more than $20 billion greater than 2011, according to the forecast from the Washington, D.C.-based association.
New York, California lead in winter farmers’ markets
Independent Voter Network
Although California has slipped from the top spot of providing the most cold-weather farmers’ markets, USDA statistics reveal that the Golden State maintains its leading role in the local food movement by having the second highest number of winter markets for direct farm-to-consumer sales.
City Farm uses waste as an opportunity to grow
The Sacramento Press
The growing season is over. In the California capital, dead autumn leaves lay heavy on the damp, manicured lawns of Sacramento City College as students learn that through death, something else will eat. City Farm, Sacramento City College’s organic urban farm, concluded its first semester cultivating students into stewards of the land outside of Lillard Hall on Dec. 2 with an experiential learning experience—naturally recycling organic waste to create healthy, valuable, nutrient-rich compost for the next growing season.
Montana Food Bank Saves Thousands in 2011 by Composting Food Waste
San Francisco Chronicle
The Great Falls Community Food Bank recycles food waste to produce a rich organic compost to help with the revitalization of local soil. Since starting their food waste recycling program in 2010, the Great Falls Community Food Bank now recycles 24 tons of food waste annually by composting. By recycling the food waste, the Food Bank is able to save roughly $2-3,000 per year in solid waste disposal costs. In the past 6 months, Food Share, a Helena, Mt. food bank has also begun composting their food waste.
Ending hunger: Plate & Pitchfork plows profits into the community
Plate & Pitchfork, if you are unfamiliar, is an Oregon innovation that started a decade ago with the goal of connecting Oregonians to the food grown in their backyard. In addition to teaching about root vegetables and giving people a connection to farmers and eating local, the organization is good at marrying some of our entertainment dollars with helping the hungry. Polmar says P&P strives to make sure people know hunger is an issue, and it introduces patrons to agencies offering assistance so they can donate food, time or money.
LA schools struggle to make healthy meals popular
San Jose Mercury News
Students at Roosevelt High School have declared a food fight to win back peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Fed up with new, healthy cafeteria cuisine that features dishes like ancho chili chicken with yakosoba edamame and tortellini with butternut squash, they’re petitioning the school district to return old favorites like PB&J and calzones to the lunch lineup.
New 21 Acres School Offers Sustainability and Stewardship Courses
The 21 Acres School in Woodinville has announced its new series of core courses beginning in February, with enrollment available in two inaugural courses: Backyard Farming and Intro to Food Processing. The new 21 Acres courses are part of the school’s mission to offer continuing education classes that focus on principles of sustainable agriculture.
Funds raised to save smaller farms
Like many small farmers around the country, Jeff and Annie Main of Good Humus Farm will soon have to think about retirement. The Mains face a tough question – and one common to the small-farm owner: What will happen to their farm since their sons and daughters are pursuing other careers?
Food stamp bills seek to restrict junk food
Los Angeles Times
A few months ago, Florida state senator Ronda Storms started noticing that some fellow shoppers were using federal food stamp money to purchase a lot of unhealthful junk. And it galled her — at a time when Florida was cutting Medicaid reimbursement rates, public school funding and jobs — that people were indulging in sugary, fatty, highly-processed treats on the public dime.
First lady to promote healthy food in California
Northgate Gonzalez Markets may be the biggest Southern California supermarket chain you’ve never heard of. That’s set to change after first lady Michelle Obama visits the site of the grocer’s future store in Inglewood on Wednesday to showcase efforts being made to draw grocers to low-income neighborhoods.
Raw milk, alcoholic beverages likely at Portland farmers markets
City Councilors John Anton and Cheryl Leeman are sponsoring an amendment to the city’s rules that would allow licensed market vendors to add fermented beverages, raw milk and raw milk products, such as cheese, to their wares. “This is something that was initiated by citizen requests,” Anton said.
News From the Nation
The Hub: A Promising Experiment in Food Processing for Small Farms
Mad River Food Hub is the brainchild of Robin Morris. Opened in late 2011, the hub is the only government-inspected processing, storage, and distribution facility for both meat and produce in the Northeast, according to Morris. Even though the facility is a couple of months away from completion and is awaiting final certification from the United States Department of Agriculture (it is certified by Vermont), Richardson is among 10 area farmers who are already using the 4,000-square-foot $250,000 facility.
In the Company of Meat
Jacob Finsen is the facility manager of the Mad River Food Hub, describes himself as an avowed pig man. He mentions this while breaking down a hog from Von Trapp Farmstead for well-marbled cuts that he and the Hub’s founder, Robin Morris, will share with potential clients. The five other pigs delivered earlier this week will go to another of Finsen’s projects, the Vermont Meat Company.
Local Food Project Targets Food Marketing for Rural Farmers
Kansas City infoZine
Local food isn’t just a thing for those who live near a large city, and University of Missouri Extension is trying to figure out how to make local foods work in rural areas. Through the Local Food Linkages Project, researchers at MU and the University of Nebraska are collaborating to find ways for local farmers build markets for their products in rural America.
Less Meat and Potatoes in School Meals Rankle Industry Groups
An Obama administration effort to add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to U.S. school meals may limit educators’ ability to deliver a balanced diet to 32 million children, meat- and potato-industry groups said. The first major overhaul of the school meal standards in 15 years, came at the expense of some agriculture interests, by limiting potatoes at breakfast and dropping a requirement that meat be served at the morning meal.
Arizona on path to become algae farming leader
Western Farm Press
Anticipating a day when Arizona becomes a leader in producing algae for biofuel, a Tucson lawmaker is pushing to have algae farms and related facilities defined — and taxed — like any corn field or packing plant. Rep. Matt Heinz, a Democrat, has introduced two bills the he said will allow for the growth of algaculture, or algae farming.