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Union of Concerned Scientists – Fix Food and Farming

Touch the Soil News #283 Usually when we think of the Union of Concerned Scientists we think about things like global pollution, unsustainable energy or climate change. However, the scientists recently came out with a 20-page report that had some pretty bold statements about the nation’s food system. Following are two statements they published: The nation’s cities are at the frontlines of a food system that is sickening millions of Americans every year and keeping many of these same people impoverished. This dysfunctional system is the product of federal food and agriculture policies that encourage overproduction and overconsumption of unhealthy processed foods. Local communities should not have to fight an…

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City Mayors of America Weigh in on Hunger

Touch the Soil News #282 The mayors of the major cities in America (cities of 30,000 and more) get together each year to discuss topics of mutual concern – one of them being hunger. Their umbrella organization is called the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). There are 1,407 cities of 30,000 or more and each city is represented in this organization by their mayor. President Obama addresses the United States Conference of Mayors. To the extent that America’s mayors get involved in solving hunger and homelessnes is the extent to which political power may increase for the nation’s mayors. Every year, the USCM puts together a report on hunger…

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News Roundup

Touch the Soil News #281 It Takes More than Urban Farming Recently, researchers Jeffrey Richardson and Monika Moskal of the University of Washington published an eye-opening research paper on the capacity of Seattle to feed itself from urban farms. The research paper found that urban farming in Seattle – if you used all lawns and city parks and vacant properties would only feed around 4 percent of the city’s population – on a mostly vegetarian diet. However, the more interesting news is that 100 percent of the city could be fed in an area around the perimeter of the city, only 36 miles out, were dedicated to growing food. To…

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The Economics of Eating Healthy

Touch the Soil News #280 As of 2010, experts reveal that diet has surpassed smoking as the leading cause of death and disease in America. Wow, not enough affordable food in the system. Recently we came across another one of those non-profits that is trying to solve not only hunger, but diet and affordable access to the kinds of foods that support health. Called Wholesome Wave, they hit on the nation’s problem of insufficient cash-flows. Wholesome Wave Co-founder and CEO Michel Nischan makes an interesting statement: “Change where money is spent.” While that is easier said than done, letting dollars simply take their course in a competitive environment limits the…

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China – Looking for Food

Touch the Soil News #279 While Chinese national and corporate interests now own millions of acres in countries around the world – including chunks in the United States, these resources are not enough to feed its 1.4 billion people. Estimates are that China controls between 12 and 15 million acres in other countries for food production. However, while that may sound like a large number, there are other ways that China gets food into its nation – outright purchases of basic agricultural commodities that are imported. For the 2015 agricultural season, it is projected that China will import 80 million metric tons of soybeans. Soybeans are the foundation feed for…

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The Movement – Cage-Free Eggs

Touch the Soil News #278 Watt Global Media – which specializes in news surrounding the egg and poultry industries just published all the players in the cage=free egg movement. Following are the companies and time frames when they will be able to source all of their eggs from producers that use cage-free practices.   Completion by 2016 Taco Bell and Shake Shack   Completion by 2020 Arby’s Nestle, Peet’s Coffee, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Caribou Coffee, Panera Bread, Wendy’s,   Completion by 2022 Royal Caribbean Cruises   Completion by 2025 Dunkin Donuts, General Mills, McDonlads, Groupo Bimbo, Qdoba Mexican Grill, Kellogg’s, Carnival Cruise Lines, Subway and Quiznos.   In the Future…

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Following the Cities

Touch the Soil News #277 The local food and urban farm movement is catching the attention of cities across the nation. No, they are not directly subsidizing local farmers, but they are trying to implement new codes and regulations that are local food and urban farming supportive. In this news piece we are going to sample some of the cities in which grass-roots efforts have paid off. Mostly below the media radar, local food activists are getting cities to become urban farming friendly San Antonio, Texas (from the Rivard Report http://therivardreport.com) Effective 1/1/2016, the city of San Antonio created a new zoning designation called the “residential market garden” as a…

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The Emerging Food Domino Effect

Touch the Soil News #276 Emerging in the global food landscape is what could well be called the domino effect. In past decades, the effect of one nation’s struggle for food did not necessarily domino over to other nations. Most nations tried to be somewhat food self-sufficient. Many nations had subsidy programs to support and encourage their national foods and farmers. However, no nation ever considered balancing its population with its ability to feed itself. Then came the World Trade Organization (WTO). To join the WTO, nations had to eliminate subsidies in order for farmers across the oceans to be able to compete with farmers of someone’s homeland. The world’s…

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The U.S. Versus Kenya – Which is the Most Food-Progressive?

Touch the Soil News #275 Recently the news conglomerate All Africa, published an article on kitchen gardening in Busia County, of Western Kenya. Kitchen gardening is the practice of raising leafy greens, vegetables, fruits or herbs in close proximity to the kitchen. The reason for the resurgence of home gardening stems around three things – health, income from extra produce to sell and its becoming “vogue” to do so. Timely rains and some irrigation infrastructure allows most kitchen gardeners to raise crops year-round. Local governments, NGO’s and non-profits are contributing to the success of kitchen gardening through training of crop husbandry, organic methods, and sustainable practices. In addition to kitchen…

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Anatomy of Food Poisoning in America

Touch the Soil News #273 Once a week we visit sources that compile food poisoning and food recall events. Surprisingly there is a new food poisoning or food recall event almost every day. The food poisoning and recall events surrounding Blue Bell Ice Cream provides a window into food handling that is not altogether reassuring. Earlier in 2015, the Centers for Disease Control reported a total of 10 patients infected with several strains of Listeria reported from four states: Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. These illnesses were onset from January 2010 through January 2015. All ten patients were hospitalized. Three deaths were reported from Kansas. The Centers for Disease Control…

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