Posts Tagged ‘food safety

News from the Hub – Week of June 18, 2012

Friday, June 22nd, 2012 by

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NYC Announces Local Food Procurement Guidelines
Last Thursday, New York City announced what could be far-reaching guidelines on city food sourcing. The administration has created a plan to promote spending on sustainable local and regional food, with a focus on food procurement from New York State suppliers, to encourage consumption of fresh, seasonal food and to bolster local economies.

Politicians, health advocates seek transparency, restrictions in food stamp program
Chicago Tribune
Lawmakers in several states, including Illinois, have unsuccessfully pushed bills to make soda, chips and candy ineligible for purchase with food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Others have suggested that the program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, could be modified as part of the current farm bill negotiations in Congress.

Food industry is focus of science magazine series
Los Angeles Times
Multinational food corporations have a growing influence on the health of people around the world, including obesity, and their actions need greater scrutiny, according to an editorial Tuesday in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. The editorial kicks off the journal’s three-week series looking at what it calls “Big Food.” The first articles, and the editorial, criticize not just the food companies but also officials charged with protecting public health.

In “Green Wheat” drive, Wal-Mart may transform farming
Wal-Mart Stores has long used its commercial might to forge a global supply chain with ruthless efficiency. It now has a new target: U.S. wheat fields. As part of efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and burnish its image as an environmentally responsible company, the huge retailer is sending senior employees into the fields for the first time ever, looking for ways to help farmers reduce their use of carbon-intensive fertilizer or improve logistics.

GMOs should be safety tested before they hit the market says AMA
Chicago Tribune

The American Medical Association called for mandatory pre-market safety testing of genetically engineered foods as part of a revised policy voted on at the AMA’s meeting in Chicago Tuesday. Currently biotech companies are simply encouraged to engage in a voluntary safety consultation with the Food and Drug Administration before releasing a product onto the market. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of April 30, 2012

Friday, May 4th, 2012 by

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A Silicon Valley-Style Incubator For Local Food
What better place to churn out savvy food startups than in Silicon Valley, the place that spawns startups on a daily basis? Local Food Lab, a food incubator that came out of Columbia Business School’s Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center (itself an incubator for student startups), wants to make it happen. “We want to tie in technology, design, and the lean startup model,” explains Krysia Zajonc, Local Food Lab’s cofounder.

Commercial food waste to be banned
Boston Globe
State environmental officials are preparing to ban hospitals, universities, hotels, large restaurants, and other big businesses and institutions in Massachusetts from discarding food waste in the trash beginning in 2014, a measure that in coming years they hope to extend to homes as well.

Study: Food insecurity is high where food is grown
Lincoln Journal Star
Food insecurity for children is more of a problem in rural areas of Nebraska than in more populated places, according to a “Poverty on the Great Plains” analysis released Friday by the Nebraska Center for Rural Affairs. Almost one in five children living in rural Nebraska counties fit the food-insecure profile in research results drawn from the 2010 Census and from 2009 Feeding America data.

Study: Organic crops sales worth $244M to farmers
The Seattle Times
The value of certified organic crops to the state’s farmers rose 16 percent in 2010, to a total of $244.6 million, according to a study by the Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture released on Wednesday. The study also found that the amount of certified organic crop acreage and the number of certified organic farms in Washington state decreased.

On the Highest Floors, Food Comes to the Workers
New York Times
New York, the most vertical of cities, has become a tad blasé about its skyscrapers, high-rise malls and multistory restaurant collections. At last, though, it has a fresh take on the perpendicular: the vertical food-truck court. Every weekday in recent months, fancy-food trucks have been rumbling into the gigantic freight elevator of the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street in West Chelsea.


News from the Hub – Week of April 23, 2012

Friday, April 27th, 2012 by

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Biofuels Hub in Portland, Oregon
A new biofuels hub in Portland, Oregon is bringing together three companies with a verticallly integrated facility featuring manufacturing, a distribution terminal, and a cooking oil recycling facility. Whole Energy Fuels Corporation, based in Bellingham, Washington is setting up a distribution terminal there, Oregon Oils, a cooking oil recycling operation, and Beaver Biodiesel is  moving its manufacturing from Albany, Oregon to Portland.

Controversial Alaska bill would provide rural veterinary care
Although some veterinarians routinely visit hard-to-reach rural areas of in Alaska, parts of the state haven’t had veterinary care in years. A recent bill would provide for licensed veterinarians from outside of the state to practice in these areas on a short-term basis. Some worry that without state oversight, volunteer care givers could get away with providing sub-standard care.

A Place for Old Chickens, Outside the Pot
Because most chickens lay the majority of eggs early in life, and can live about 10 years, the quest for a place where chickens can live out their sunset years has brought a boom to at least two farm animal sanctuaries and led Pete Porath, a self-described chicken slinger, to expand the portion of his business that finds new homes for unwanted birds.

A Restaurant for the 99 Percent – Of Chefs (blog)
Although they all had a background working in Michelin-starred restaurants, what Erik Oberholtzer, Matt Lyman and David Dressler really craved was “farmer’s market food at a price we could afford,” says Oberholtzer. It took two years of fundraising and conceptualizing, but in 2006, Tender Greens was born with the goal to support locally sourced food and small farmers.

How Making Food Safe Can Harm Wildlife And Water
NPR (blog)
We’d probably like to think that clean, safe food goes hand in hand with pristine nature, with lots of wildlife and clean water. But in the part of California that grows a lot of the country’s lettuce and spinach, these two goals have come into conflict. Environmental advocates say a single-minded focus on food safety has forced growers of salad greens to strip vegetation from around their fields, harming wildlife and polluting streams and rivers.


News from the Hub – Week of April 16, 2012

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by

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Seafood in LA frequently mislabeled, group says
Los Angeles Times
Tests on seafood sold at Los Angeles sushi bars, other restaurants, and grocery stores have revealed that more than half is not labeled correctly, a nonprofit organization is reporting. Red snapper, Dover sole, white tuna and other fish were often different species, the group Oceana found in DNA tests of seafood from 74 retail outlets in Los Angeles. In all, 55% of 119 fish samples from across L.A. were misidentified, Oceana said.

Water issues, struggling dairies cloud California agriculture
Western Farm Press
California agriculture is the most diversified in the world with roughly 400 different commercial crops. However, there are two elements that intrinsically tie together just about every segment of the state’s No. 1 industry. The obvious is water. The other is not so apparent — the dairy industry.

Food Deserts and Obesity Role Challenged
Science Daily
It has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama, that poor urban neighborhoods are food deserts, bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables. But two new studies have found something unexpected. Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too.

Government Takeover Of Farm Subsidy Would Save Billions, Economist Says
National Public Radio
Arithmetic can be quite enlightening sometimes. One of the country’s top agricultural economists just fiddled with the government’s balance sheet on crop insurance, and arrived at a shocking conclusion: We’d spend billions of dollars less than we do now if we just gave away a simplified version of the insurance for free.

If the food’s in plastic, what’s in the food?
Washington Post
In a study published last year in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers put five San Francisco families on a three-day diet of food that hadn’t been in contact with plastic. When they compared urine samples before and after the diet, the scientists were stunned to see what a difference a few days could make.


News from the Hub – Week of April 9, 2012

Friday, April 13th, 2012 by

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In an old Chicago meat plant, greens and fish grow
The old stockyards are long gone, replaced by an industrial park and a mindset that, from now on, Chicago will try to move past the images in Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle”. Now, you will find a jungle of a very different kind here. It’s on the third floor of an old meat-packing plant, a humid hothouse, of sorts, filled with rows of greens and sprouts, even exotic white strawberries. Nearby, in large blue barrels, lurk tilapia, fish native to tropical regions.

Louisville hosts Slow Food summit
Louisville Courier-Journal
Local foodies have long embraced the revival of interest in locally grown and produced foods. Now, the Louisville area will be recognized for those efforts when Slow Food USA holds its biennial National Congress starting Friday at The Brown hotel. About 150 Slow Food representatives from the 225 local chapters in the United States will be at the congress.

Detroit’s food revolution helps revitalize city in decline
Windsor Star
The success of Slows Bar-B-Q and other local food businesses is a rallying point for a cadre of entrepreneurs fighting to shake off Detroit’s reputation as a culinary wasteland and give people a reason to return. Progress on the food front is more than an interesting sidebar to Detroit’s high-profile attempt to reverse decades of decline.

Foie gras isn’t forever
Los Angeles Times
In 2004, California enacted a law that gave the foie gras industry until July 2012 to find an alternative to force-feeding ducks. That deadline is fast approaching. When drafting the bill, California’s only foie gras producer was contacted — Guillermo Gonzalez with Sonoma Foie Gras — to give the industry time to find an alternative to force-feeding. In turn, Gonzalez urged Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature on the bill.

Food Stamps Helped Reduce Poverty Rate, Study Finds
New York Times
A new study by the Agriculture Department has found that food stamps reduced the poverty rate substantially during the recent recession. The food stamp program, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, reduced the poverty rate by nearly 8 percent in 2009, the most recent year included in the study, a significant impact for a social program whose effects often go unnoticed by policy makers.


News from the Hub – Week of March 26, 2012

Saturday, March 31st, 2012 by

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Oregon food bank combats rising meat prices by turning to local lentil farmers for protein
The Republic
The food bank in Eugene says it’s facing a shortage of protein brought on by rising Asian demand for meat and domestic animal production squeezed by high feed costs. The solution? Local lentils. Food For Lane County has contracted with five farmers to enlarge the stock of high-protein lentils and barley soup mix it developed this year.

Food business training is hot commodity
New York Daily News
A variety of training programs are bubbling up in Queens to help the culinary entrepreneurs start up food businesses. The Queens Chamber of Commerce is offering a free Restaurant Boot Camp in Spanish on Monday in Astoria to help aspiring entrepreneurs navigate often confusing city regulations, secure funding and avoid costly fines.

Maryland hopes to win sales with sustainable crab
The Seattle Times
Competition is tough when it comes to the packaged blue crab meat many associate with the Chesapeake Bay but which often comes from the Gulf of Mexico, Venezuela and the Far East. That’s one reason Maryland fisheries officials hope to set their catch apart by touting the state’s sustainable fishing methods.

Alaska state Rep. Tammie Wilson sponsors bill to do away with most safe food regulations
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
A bill introduced by North Pole Republican Rep. Tammie Wilson would do away with much of the state’s safety regulations for food sold directly to consumers in an attempt to grow Alaska’s local food industry and farmers markets. Wilson’s bill would require sellers to provide a card that alerts the consumer that “This product has not been inspected by any governmental agency and may be harmful to your health.”

Black farmers file claims in USDA settlement
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The 1999 settlement of the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit provided about $1 billion to 15,000 farmers who say the agency unfairly turned them down for loans because of their race between 1981 and 1996. A second settlement approved by a court in October 2011 is giving another chance to black farmers with discrimination claims from that era who were left out of the first Pigford settlement.


News from the Hub – Week of March 12, 2012

Friday, March 16th, 2012 by

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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 Hub – Week of February 13, 2012

Friday, February 17th, 2012 by

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Central Valley reps bill would upend water rights
San Francisco Chronicle
Representatives from the Central Valley pushed legislation through a House committee Thursday that would upend the state’s system of water rights, deploying the federal government to extract water from Northern California farms, fisheries and cities to send to farmers in the valley. The action by the House Natural Resources Committee came the same day that the House voted to require the federal government to usurp California’s governance of its coastline by requiring offshore leasing for oil and gas drilling.

Chicago restaurants move toward hyper-local food production
Medill Reports: Chicago
More and more restaurants in Chicago are producing their own ingredients – up on the roof.  These restaurants are converting standard urban rooftops to green gardens to help reduce their environmental impact and support local food production. Tomatoes and basil for a caprese salad?  Just a quick walk up the stairs to the roof.

Farmers Ending Hunger receives Walmart grant
Statesman Journal
Farmers Ending Hunger has received a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to support its Farm to Food Box program. The funds will supplement the organization’s efforts to collect and transport almost 2 million pounds of crops and meats from farms to processors then to the Oregon Food Bank Network. Farmers Ending Hunger works with farmers and ranchers, who donate a portion of their harvest, to provide access to high-quality food.

USA, EU get on same page for organic farms
USA Today
For the first time, organic foods certified in the United States will be able to be sold in Europe and vice versa under a historic agreement to be signed today. The pact makes the world’s two largest organic markets, $26.7 billion in the United States and $26 billion in the European Union, functionally equivalent. It will save organic farmers from having to deal with two different, and sometimes contradictory, sets of rules.

Trader Joe’s Signs Fair Food Agreement On Tomatoes With Immokalee Workers
Huffington Post
Trader Joe’s relented this week and signed a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants employed in low-wage jobs in Florida. The agreement requires the grocery store to pay a penny more per pound of tomatoes and to ensure better working conditions for tomato workers. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of February 6, 2012

Friday, February 10th, 2012 by

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Trans Fats Are Leaving The Food Supply And The Body, Study Finds
NPR (blog)
Remember trans fats? And the big campaigns to get them out of burgers, fries and all kinds of baked goods? Well, those campaigns seem to have worked. A study out this week has found that the amount of trans-fatty acids in some Americans decreased significantly — 58 percent among white adults between 2000 and 2009.

We Can Fund That! USDA Grants Help the Local Food Movement Grow
In case you think pickling is just another excuse to put Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein in goofy wigs, think again. Along with products like jam, flour, and beef jerky, pickles count as “value-added” foods, and they’re at the core of what it will take for the local food movement to mature beyond an easily parodied trend.

Eyeing greener acres, new farmers reap growing US aid
Fueled by an economic downturn that has curtailed the upward mobility of many corporate jobs, general dissatisfaction with suburban stresses and growing discontent with what they see as the ills of industrialized agriculture, thousands of families across the United States have left suburban cul de sacs and headed to the countryside – forging a new demographic of family farmer. The U.S. government is not only monitoring the trend, it is encouraging it.

Smartphone app offers access to soil information
Western Farm Press
A new smartphone app is available as a free download for both iPhone and Android users to access soil survey information. The app, SoilWeb, combines online soil survey information with the GPS capabilities of smartphones. The SoilWeb app is a portable version of the UC Davis California Soil Resource Lab’s Web-based interface to digital soil survey data from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Portland officials fret about food carts with liquor licenses under new statewide guidelines
Should food carts be able to sell alcohol? The issue has new urgency now that the Oregon Department of Justice has said stationary carts should be treated like restaurants. A Southeast Portland cart pod, Cartlandia, is first in line for a liquor license, setting off waves of concern among Portland officials. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of January 30, 2012

Friday, February 3rd, 2012 by

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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?
Mother Jones
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. (more…)