Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2012 by Megan

News from the Hub – Week of March 12, 2012

Fresh Picks – Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

New Study Explores Innovation and Opportunities for Diverse Local Food Distributors
Today, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan released a new report on the distribution practices of eight producer networks and their partners distributing locally or regionally-grown food to retail and foodservice customers. The report shows how these networks tap into the growing commercial demand for local and regional food products while creating additional economic opportunities and expanding healthy food access.

Locally Produced Food Gets Boost Through Food Hubs
The USDA is helping small farmers connect with people who want to buy locally produced food by fostering “food hubs.” By aggregrating local produce from many small farmers, food hubs can sell to large buyers that want locally and regionally grown food, such as schools and hospitals. These hubs remove some of the most onerous, time draining chores for farmers, who typically reach consumers by driving long distances to farmers markets and restaurants.

Bad Food: Illnesses from Imported Food Are on the Rise, CDC Says
Altogether about 16% of the food eaten in the U.S. comes from other countries — and given some of the many holes in the food safety net for imports, that should be a little concerning. In a new report published on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that foodborne disease outbreaks caused by imported food appeared to rise in 2009 and 2010.

Brooklyn food pantries go grow-your-own
New York Daily News
A Bedford-Stuyvesant food pantry built an indoor farm where clients grow fresh produce year-round — and provide vegetables for hundreds of families a week. Brooklyn is in the grip of an urban farming craze. Grow-your-own is going strong, from rooftop gardens to massive plantings at public high schools.

Food Craft Institute to open in Jack London Square
San Francisco Chronicle
Local producers will share some of their skills and experience as instructors at the new Food Craft Institute, a school for artisan food companies opening in Oakland’s Jack London Square in April. A nonprofit affiliated with Oakland’s Eat Real Festival, the annual street food festival, the institute will offer its first “master course” in jam, followed by courses in pickling, charcuterie, and coffee roasting and coffee bar management.

News from the Region

Studies of geoduck farms show limited effects on habitat
Kitsap Sun
Commercial geoduck farms in Puget Sound are not dramatically altering intertidal habitat for other species, particularly after protective plastic pipes and nets are removed, according to preliminary reports from the latest scientific studies. The findings are considered important as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Washington Department of Ecology move forward with new regulations for siting and managing commercial geoduck beds.

Oregon agricultural and business leaders trying to lure food processing plants from California
Oregon farm and business representatives are in Anaheim, Calif., this week, trying to convince California food processors to move north. The message: Oregon’s diverse crops, lower utility rates and reasonable workers’ compensation costs make the state a good place to do business.

Workshop focuses on Marketing Idaho’s Harvest
Growing opportunities for agritourism and local food production, with a focus on farmers markets, is the goal of Marketing Idaho’s Harvest, a workshop March 23-24 at the University of Idaho Student Union Building in Moscow. The workshop offers an opportunity to network with regional growers, gain marketing skills and hear new ideas and regulatory updates.

Filner Announces Plans to Create a “Food Hub” For San Diego Region
East County Magazine
“What if we can have food and water sustainability here? “ Congressman Bob Filner, also a candidate for Mayor, asked. Filner reiterated his plan to make San Diego a national model of sustainability for energy, water and food, the unveiled a new vision:  “What if we had a food hub in San Diego?”

Food industry asks EPA to protect Bristol Bay seafood source
Juneau Empire
The agency representing 75 percent of U.S. retail food store sales has sided with the Environmental Protection Agency in its ongoing assessment of Bristol Bay waters. Erik Lieberman, regulatory counsel for the Food Marketing Institute wrote a letter to EPA’s Region 10 administrator encouraging the agency to complete its 404(c) report, scheduled to be released in April.

News from the Nation

Clean your plate, save the world?
Hard data is still being collected, but experts at the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit in Chicago this week said an estimated 30 percent to 50 percent of the food produced in the world goes uneaten. The average American throws away 33 pounds of food each month — about $40 worth — according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, which plans to publish a report on food waste in April.

Some schools plan to drop ‘pink slime’ from lunch menus; ‘a horrible product,’ official says
Washington Post
Under a change announced Thursday by the US Department of Agriculture, districts that get food through the government’s school lunch program will be allowed to say no to ground beef containing an ammonia-treated filler derisively called “pink slime” and choose filler-free meat instead.

Arkansas farmers want in on school lunches
The Arkansas News
Despite an explosion of interest in “locally grown” produce, most Arkansas school children aren’t getting their lunchtime carrots from local farmers. “We are not able to tap the school market,” said fifth-generation farmer Jody Hardin of Grady, who testified today before the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee at a hearing focusing on the increased demand for locally grown food.

NYC employers offer new flavor of corporate perk: local farm grown veggies delivered to the office
New York Daily News
Health insurance. 401(k). Organic vegtables? Talk about getting some green at work: A growing number of New York City employers are turning their headquarters into virtual farmers’ markets, allowing employees to have farm grown produce delivered straight to their offices. This latest twist on corporate perks is called a workplace CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – and it’s starting to sprout across the city.

Which Comes First – the Winery or the Farm?
Palate Press
How many of us haven’t, at some point, fantasized about leaving it all to go run a winery? This dream always seems to entail lunch shared with friends and family, a light dish accompanied by a bottle of one’s own red wine, eaten al fresco and overlooking breathtaking views of one’s own vineyards. A labor of love? Yes.  An idyllic life? Maybe.

Restaurants Find Big Profits in Small Plates
Americans are grazing on the go, and that’s been good news for restaurants, according to market researcher Technomic. “Recent consumer research indicates that snacking is becoming a larger part of consumers’ daily lives,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice president at Technomic.

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