Posts Tagged ‘USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan

News from the Hub – Week of March 12, 2012

Friday, March 16th, 2012 by

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 Hub – Week of March 5, 2012

Friday, March 9th, 2012 by

Fresh Picks – Top 5 Stories Worth Reading

Treated beef dubbed ‘pink slime’ to show up in school lunches
The Seattle Times
When McDonald’s and other fast-food chains said last month that “pink slime” was no longer being used in their burgers, some believed the product, beef trimmings partially treated with ammonium hydroxide, had disappeared from the nation’s food supply once and for all. But a new report in the Daily tablet newspaper suggests the slime will appear in school lunches this spring, 7 million pounds of it.

Don’t blame food deserts for obesity
Washington Post (blog)
Roland Sturm, an economist at RAND Corporation, analyzed the food environments of 13,000 adolescents in California, looking at how many fast-food restaurants and supermarkets were within a 1.5-mile radius of their homes and schools. He then looked at how much fast food, fresh fruits and other foods the kids consumed. And his study found no correlation between what food sources kids lived near, what the kids ate and how much they weighed.

More foods going to pouch packaging
Chicago Tribune
Packaged food makers are thinking outside the bottle and can. More to the point, they’re increasingly partial to pouches. Kitchen staples from Campbell Soup Co. and H.J. Heinz Co. will be joining other consumer products in pouches this year. The trend is being driven by savings on packaging and shipping costs as well as aesthetics — an upscale pouch sporting elaborate graphics offers a modern look and premium appeal, marketers say.

FoodHub makes second trip to White House
Sustainable Business Oregon
The Ecotrust’s FoodHub program had its second cameo at the White House Monday when Amanda Oborne, acting director, participated with some 60 other industry leaders in a conversation about the importance of local food. Oborne was the first speaker called to the microphone by U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan during a well-tweeted and Web-broadcasted summit on local food.

USDA begins tweeting state-specific food call alerts
Washington Post
Anyone with a Twitter account can now be among the first to know about food recalls with a new service the Department of Agriculture is rolling out. The USDA says state-specific food safety alerts for meat, poultry, and processed egg products are included as well as information on how to protect food during severe weather events. Up until now recalls have been announced in news releases and on a general USDA Twitter feed. (more…)

News from the Hub – Week of January 30, 2012

Friday, February 3rd, 2012 by

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?
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…)

Video: USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by

Ecotrust was proud to partner with USDA Rural Development to host the NW region’s first Regional Food Hubs Meeting. The event brought together representatives from across the local food conversation to discuss the importance of food hubs – centrally located facilities for aggregation, storage, processing, distribution and/or marketing of locally or regionally produced food products. We also asked, “How can our virtual FoodHub ( play a supporting role?”

In this video, USDA Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan underscores the importance of working regionally.