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Sobering

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Touch the Soil News #805 (Feature photo – The National Congress Building of Brazil – a government unable to exert sufficient control over exploitation of the indigenous people in rural areas – copyright free) Far away in the rainforests and hinterlands of Brazil, agribusinesses and big finance can be found plundering the environment and the indigenous folks who live there.­­­ Recently, a delegation of 30 human rights, development and rural experts collaborated in an unprecedented visit (investigation) to the Brazilian hinterlands. The goal was to uncover rumors of gross misconduct towards indigenous folks from large soybean farm enterprises. See the report summary here: http://www.fian.org/en/news/article/caravana_matopiba_uncovers_alarming_human_and_environmental_costs_of_agribusiness/ The investigation was an international fact…

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Free Lunches at School – Regardless of Qualifications

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Touch the Soil News #804 (Feature photo – Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New York City Schools) This fall, New York City’s 1.1 million school students will receive free lunches regardless of their economic background. New York school officials say that 75 percent of students already qualify for free or reduced price lunches. The new policy will reach approximately 200,000 more students. The free lunch would normally cost about $300 a year. Free lunches – regardless of economics – are already a reality in the cities of Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Dallas. Called the “Free School Lunch For All” the initiative was championed by Carmen Farina, Chancellor of the New…

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Costco Eggs See a Change of Venue

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Touch the Soil News #803 (Feature photo – Hutterite women return from working in the fields at sunset – Rainer Mueller – CCA 3.0) Making history in the U.S. is the unusual business arrangement by Costco with Hutterite colonies of Montana to grow, grade and pack organic eggs. News outlets have been abuzz with the recent opening of a 58,000 square foot facility ($9 million cost) that will process more than 280 million eggs a year. Located in Great Falls, Montana, the facility will supply Costco with Montana-grown, free-rage, organic eggs. The eggs are sourced exclusively from over 30 Hutterite colonies in Montana which together make up the ownership of…

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Dow Chemical and DuPont – Now Are One Company

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Touch the Soil News #802 (Feature photo – Jenni Jones – CC SA 2.0) The world is at a crossroads when it comes to chemicals including plastics. The recent hurricanes have breached many safety efforts from keeping toxins out of the environment. Unfortunately, the Houston metro area has more than a dozen Superfund sites. However, two giants in the business of chemicals for industry and agriculture just completed a merger they have been working on since 2015. Market analysts value the combined company at $130 billion. The new merged company is called DowDupont will operate as one company with plans to split into three different companies over the next 18…

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Beverage Spending

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Touch the Soil News #801 (Feature photo – Ralf Roletschek, Wikimedia) One of the World’s top research companies – Technomic – recently released information on the spending by Americans on beverages when they eat out. The number is $181 billion or roughly 20 percent of the dollars spent when eating out. The beverages include soft drinks, teas, coffees, juices, energy drinks and enhanced waters. In 2016, Americans purchased and consumed 113 billion beverage servings – that’s an average of 349 beverages per person a year – almost one a day. Considering that some of the population consumes less, there are many that may consume several “eating out” beverages a day.…

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Mass Production of Plant-Protein Burger Commences

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Touch the Soil News #800 (Feature photo – a sample of the “Impossible” burger – CC SA 4.0 Public Domain) Back in 2011, Stanford University Biochemistry professor Pat Brown founded Impossible Foods – a company that manufactures plant-based burgers. The meat is primarily made from wheat and potato protein and flavored with coconut fat and a synthetic hemoglobin molecule (gives blood color and taste) produced by genetically modified yeast cells. Impossible Foods has raised over $257 million from a broad group of investors including billionaire Bill Gates. These monies have helped fund a new plant that is projected to be able to produce enough of the Impossible (plant-based) burgers to…

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Go Marcy Kaptur

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Touch the Soil News #799 (Feature photo courtesy of Marcy Kaptur) Never heard of Marcy Kaptur? Well, most folks have not. However, Marcy holds the distinction of being the longest running woman representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. In office since 1983 (34 years), Marcy is introducing a new kind of agricultural bill. Called the Urban Agriculture Production Act of 2017 (H.R. Bill #3699), the Bill intends to help create the next generation of local, urban farmers and food producers. At the heart of the legislation is to attack the food-security erosion in much of America – often found in what is termed “food deserts”. As a preface to…

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Never Thought We Would Report This

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Touch the Soil News #798 (Feature photo – Tesla electric car charging unit – Mike Mozart CC SA 2.0) When it comes to food and agriculture – the largest human activity on the world’s land surface – climatic changes or anomalies pose the greatest risk, next to availability of fresh water. There is little question that when the world’s 1.3 billion cars fire up each morning, shoving roughly six (6) million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each day, there is going to be a consequence one way or the other. All of this heat and polluted air is, in its own way, challenging the production of fruits, veggies…

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Turning the Desert into Food, Energy and Fresh Water Production?

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Touch the Soil News #797 (Feature photo courtesy of Sahara Forest Project) Called the Sahara Forest Project, this international organization has been developing and testing technologies that utilize solar power, desalination efforts, greenhouses and planting directly in the desert. The organization is now launching a new facility in Jordan which represents the commercialization of the technologies they have been working on for several years. The basic facts of the Jordanian facility include: Two greenhouses of approximately 7,250 square feet (cooled by salt water from the sea) An outdoor planting area of 34,000 square feet The ability to produce about 286,000 pounds of vegetables a year The ability to produce about…

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Corruption in the Food Chain Hurts Everyone

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Touch the Soil News #796 (Feature photo public domain) The global scandal surrounding Fipronil – an illegal insecticide used to treat chickens against ticks and fleas – has reached colossal proportions. Millions of eggs tainted with the product have been pulled from the shelves of 15 European Union nations plus the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Hong Kong. One of the largest grocers in the EU pulled all the eggs off its shelves in 4,000 stores at one point about a month ago. The scare has alerted health officials around the world and egg laying farms are being investigated around the globe. As of this writing, news reports from many corners…

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