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A Touchy Subject – But Worthy of Contemplation

Positive Future #107 (Feature photo – Crowds – CCA SA 3.0 Generic) The number of children that women are having in the U.S. is on a small downward curve – down 1 percent in 2016 from 2015 – more recent numbers are not available according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Despite this lead by American women, the U.S. population continues to grow by about 2.3 million people above and beyond deaths. As American women are embracing smaller families, their children may thank them. Recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau reveals that housing in the U.S. is getting much tighter. In 2010, rental vacancy rates were at 10.6 percent. As…

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Discount Grocer – ALDI – We Don’t Accept Checks

Touch the Soil News #811 (Feature photo – Ben Doulos – CC SA 4.0) Food is a rather important necessity. And any barriers to accessing food can impact millions of people. Aldi, is a large grocer in the U.S. with over 1,700 stores in 35 states. The company is headquartered out of Germany and has a global store count of over 10,000 including the popular U.S. store Trader Joes. The Aldi brand in the U.S., does not accept checks, but recently announced that it now accepts all forms of contact-free payment including Apple Pay and Android Pay. One of the benefits of contact-free payment is that it has the same…

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Valuing Your Yard and the House Water Spigot

Touch the Soil News #714 Few years back, we tried to estimate the economic value of a residential lawn and access to public water for food growing purposes. For an average, we wrestled with numbers ranging from $15,000 to $30,000. While it is hard to justify this value based upon just the output of food crops, there are other issues. There is the growing need for food as medicine with Americans spending an average of $11,000 a year for health care costs. Then there are the psychological and health benefits of working in nature. Despite the positives associated with residential land around the house and water, an unquantifiable driver of…

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Hang in there London

Touch the Soil News #636 (feature photo – London City Hall – CC SA 2.0) The number one goal of most everyone that reads this news piece is to translate their work ethic and skills into dollars. We must connect into the mainstream flows of finance – which are what prop up Capitalism – through our jobs. So when it comes to people going hungry – when putting aside minor reasons – the basic problem is jobs and/or the low compensation of jobs. So, now that we’ve identified what most everyone knows already, it is interesting to see what is happening in London. London is one of the oldest capitalistic…

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Whole Foods Retracting?

Touch the Soil News #622 (feature photo – CC SA 4.0) According to Whole Foods Market, it is operating 469 stores and has over 87,000 employees. The long term goal of Whole Foods Market has been to expand to 1,200 stores – they’ve got a long way to go. Unfortunately, sales have slowed dramatically. Whole Foods Market plans to open six stores this quarter, but shutter 9 stores for a net decrease of 3 stores. The company has had to endure six straight quarters of declining same-store sales. The reasons for Whole Foods Market in losing wind in its sails are complex – heavy competition from majors like Kroger and…

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How Is Your Child-Rearing Budget?

Touch the Soil News #592 What will it cost to raise a child – born in 2015 – through the age of 17? The USDA reports that the cost is an average of $233,610. That cost applies to married couple with two children that has before tax income between $59,200 and $107,400. For wealthier families with incomes over $107,400 expenditures can reach almost $400,000 to raise a child through age 17. For less affluent couples with incomes of $59,200 or less, the cost for raising a child through age 17 is $158,600. Not included in these costs is the cost of college. The USDA estimates that the annual cost of…

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Can the World Feed Itself Today?

Touch the Soil News #502 Can the world feed itself in the future? The world is full of theorists who theoretically prove that the planet can feed 9 billion people. However, are we asking the wrong question? A more appropriate question is whether the world can feed itself today – never mind the future. A new report (the Foresight Report on Food Systems and Diets) from a special United Nations committee focuses on where we are today. In short, forget tomorrow, the challenges are here today. Here are some of the highlights coming out of the report: Three (3) billion people (40 percent of the world’s peoples) have diets that…

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The External Tentacles on American Agriculture

Touch the Soil News #501 Few folks realize that global trade agreements mean that foreign interests can own and operate agricultural enterprises in America the same as Americans. Back in 2013, the world’s largest pork processing company – Smithfield Foods – was purchased by Chinese state-supported company Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. for $14 billion. Brands such as Smithfield, Nathan’s, Armour and Farmland are icons in America – but are Chinese owned. Today, Smithfield has over 50,000 employees in the U.S., Mexico and 10 European countries. The company also owns the world’s largest slaughterhouse and meat-processing plan in the world located in Tar Heel, North Carolina. Overall, the company processes over…

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A Public Edible Fruit Park?

Touch the Soil News #468 We have heard of gleaning clubs that care and harvest fruit trees in neighborhoods and we have heard of Web sites that show you where fruit trees are located in a city. But an emerging faction in the food security movement has come to reality in West Seattle – Puget Ridge Edible Park. Locals care for the park which is located in a food desert. The USDA defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where at least 33 percent of the tract’s population has low access to a supermarket or grocery store. The Puget Ridge Edible Park (2/3 of an acre) hosts heritage…

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What Africa Can Teach the World About Food?

Touch the Soil News #440 A few years back, an individual with a degree in economics was discussing farm economics with Touch the Soil. His conclusion was rather sobering: “Good farm economics is hundreds of people farming a thousand acres. Poor economics is one farmer farming several thousand acres.” Fast forward to Nairobi – the largest city in Kenya, Africa – some 6.5 million people in the metro area – where almost 50 percent of the population lives in poverty. The city recently passed an initiative to foster urban agriculture not only for its production, but potential in creating employment and solving health problems. Interestingly, Nairobi city has a director…

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