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Food as Medicine – Is a Food Revolution Coming?

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Touch the Soil News #658 (feature photo – USDAgov CC 2.0) You will shake your head over the numbers in the graphs below. It’s a comparison of food expenditures and health care expenditures. The first graph is in total U.S. dollars, the second graph is on a per-capita basis. While there is a lot to this story, one of the underlying themes is the trajectory that industrial agriculture has embraced – chemical residues in food and processed foods in which nutrition is compromised. In 1960, the nation spent $74.6 billion on food and only $27.2 billion on health care expenditures. Spending more on food than health care came to an…

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Organics Update

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Touch the Soil News #657 Sales of organic products are increasing by almost 10 percent a year, compared to growth of around 3 percent for non-organics. Preliminary estimates for 2017 are that spending on organics may reach close to $48 billion – a huge jump from 10 years ago when organic spending was around $19 billion. Organic purchases have reached the broader public with a recent Nielson poll showing that over 50 percent of households buy organic produce. However, most organic purchases are concentrated to a much smaller number of households. The poll reveals that only 2 percent of households spend more than 50 percent of their produce dollars on…

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Global Meat Scandal – Food Tremor

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Touch the Soil News #656 (feature photo – Michael Bennett CC SA 3.0) A global food scandal is unfolding as Federal authorities in Brazil arrested and investigate almost 30 Brazilian meat companies. Included in the investigation are JBS SA and BRF SA. JBS SA is the world’s largest meat company overall. BRF SA is the world’s largest poultry exporter. Allegations include bribes to conceal unsanitary meat packing and processing conditions along with using chemicals to doctor up spoiled meat for export. The Federal probe in Brazil has been going on for over 2 years. Now that proof has been obtained for wrongdoing, the impact is having shock waves around the…

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It Is – After All – Without Humans

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Touch the Soil News #655 (feature photo courtesy of Wheelys) A new kind of convenience store is being explored. It has no employees. Customers download an app, provide information including a credit card number and they are ready to go. It is called Wheelys 247. It’s a humanless store in which the artificial intelligence talking system greets you when you come in. Your purchases are logged in as you taken them and then you walk out. You get an electronic receipt to IPhone. https://wheelyscafe.com/ The creators of Wheelys 247 envisioned a shopping experience with no lines, no people and no checkout. It’s affectionately called Just Walk Out Shopping. The 500…

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When Big Capital Speculates

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Touch the Soil News #654 (Feature photo – CC SA 3.0) While we call it the food chain, make no mistake the primary focus of food-chain giants is not food. It’s about how much money we can take out of the food businesses. After many years of consolidating, the stores of Albertson’s, Safeway, SuperValu, Acme, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s, Skaggs, Seeessel’s, Bruno’s, Smitty’s, Buttrey Food and Drug and Star Market have all been acquired into one company now called Albertsons Companies, Inc. Albertsons Companies Inc. is owned by a capital management firm called Cerberus. News leaked out recently that Albertsons Companies Inc. is looking at buying Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc. (Sprouts)…

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The Role of Gardening

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Touch the Soil News #653 (Feature Photo – Volunteers of the Victory Garden Initiative – photo courtesy of the Victory Garden Initiative) A number of years back, a professional woman living in Milwaukee – Gretchen Mead – was working as a social worker in a child and adolescent medical psychiatry unit. Her young patients, often diagnosed with serious mental health issues, typically consumed what is called SAD – Standard American Diet. The SAD diet is laden with preservatives, chemical residues and high amounts of carbohydrates, wheat and meat products. Mead found a correlation between what we eat and how we feel mentally. However, she made more connections with the food…

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Do You Prefer Impersonal or Personal Coffee

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Touch the Soil News #652 (Feature Photo, courtesy of Café X) While it may seem not such a big deal, robotics are leading the charge of “impersonal” in the food chain. Café X, an evolving approach to robotic baristas, now has a fully functioning coffee bar in San Francisco. No personal service however. Orders are taken via an app and a large automated barista with the help of a robotic arm serve the coffee. Henry Hu, Founder and CEO of Café X is heading rapidly down the robotic path to commerce. Claims are that you can get coffee in 10 seconds rather than 10 minutes. At the heart of the…

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Farmland Theft of the Century?

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Touch the Soil News #651 (Feature Photo courtesy of ACT NOW) Down under – on a large island nation north of Australia called Papua New Guinea – one of the world’s largest land thefts is being uncovered and challenged. At the heart of the matter is a growing contention between the locals and their government. The locals accuse their government of illegally issuing SABLs – Special Agriculture Business Leases. At issue is that over the past few years massive amounts of land have been taken away from local holders without their foreknowledge or consent. Most of the SABLs are 99 year leases, to foreign companies and foreign interests – leveraging…

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The Growing Art of Urban Food

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Touch the Soil News #650 (Feature photo – courtesy of Office of Sustainability, George Mason University) Welcome to Fairfax County – 1.2 million people – and George Mason University (GMU). GMU has almost 3,000 teachers serving almost 34,000 students. It is the largest public research university in Virginia. Enter Doni Nolan, a 2014 graduate from GMU in biology. While at the university, Doni was introduced to growing food in a facility called the President’s Park Greenhouse. She got hooked and decided that her life’s career was to be a food farmer. Today, Doni is the Greenhouse coordinator at GMU and is commonly known as the “Mason Farmer.” She oversees what…

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Who is Food Insecure in America?

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Touch the Soil News #649 (Feature photo – CCA 2.0) With grocery stores filled with food spend millions on advertising and discounts to bring more customers in, this advertising means little if you are on the bottom of the financial chain. Hunger, however, has a real personal aspect to it. It’s not just about the free market or commercial transactions. The nation’s largest food banking network – Feeding America – serves over 46 million Americans through a network of over 50 thousand charitable feeding agencies around the nation. Other estimates are that food insecurity affects over 50 million Americans. In the late 60’s, President Richard Nixon addressed Congress saying “That…

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