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Robotics Entering the Food Chain

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Touch the Soil News #480 (feature photo Richard Greenhill and Hugo Elias GNU Free License) The food chain is one of the backbones of the America economy, representing 20 million workers (almost 12 percent of the American workforce). The entrance of robotics in the food chain is as much driven by financial reasons as it is technology reasons. Why would the nation’s food chain employ you or your neighbor, if the corporations that dominate the food chain can lower labor costs through robotic deployment? The critical question here is economics and not technology. For example, if robotics can cut out 10 percent of the nation’s labor costs, the overall economy…

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Analyze Food – With an Affordable Molecular Sensor

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Touch the Soil News #394 How would you like to know – on the spot – how much fat is in a salad dressing, how much sugar is in a particular fruit, get nutritional facts about dairy products? A company called Consumer Physics has invented the SCIO, a small hand-held molecular scanner that lets you test everything around you including your food (photo courtesy of Consumer Physics). Priced at $249, SCIO’s Website: https://www.consumerphysics.com/myscio/scio is presently taking pre-orders for their new invention which will be compatible with newer IPhones. Following is the company’s promotional video that shows how the device works: Want More? – Sign up below Special Deals Ahead…Sign up!

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A Global First – Sky Urban Vertical Farming System

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Touch the Soil News #265 Singapore entrepreneur Mr. Jack Ng, recently won the world’s top design prize ($110,000 USD) from INDEX – a design award program focused on creating a better world through design. Mr. Jack Ng has an interesting story. He was operating a construction and engineering enterprise out of a factory in Singapore. He had many foreign workers from India, China and Bangladesh – many of which were farmers in their home countries. When Ng discovered many of the workers were homesick, he invited them to farm in an unused space behind the factory. It brought the workers together and they shared what they grew. Mr. Jack Ng…

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Synthetic Eggs, Milk & Beef – the “Capital” Tug of War

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Touch the Soil News #231 A theme we’ve identified in the past is the over-capitalization of the financial markets. Said in another way, there are more dollars looking for an investment return than there are investment opportunities. This over-abundance of investment capital is fueled by dollars flowing into pension plans, investment channels and the resurgence of bank growth. When dollars are competing heavily for investments with “profit” potential, we can almost count on economic cannibalism. An investment dollar cares not if its end product or service displaces an existing product or service. The moral of the story is that new investment dollars often look to shove old investment dollars out…

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Sundrop Farms’ Greenhouses Boggle the Imagination

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Touch the Soil News #210 While the information doesn’t reach mainstream American news, the folks down under (Port Augusta, Australia) are engaged in a big project. Sundrop Farms – a hydroponic greenhouse venture – is in the midst of building a 49.4 acre complex of greenhouses. Sundrop Farms has reached an agreement with Australian supermarket chain “Coles” to supply locally grown, sustainably produced affordable produce. Coles has 750 retail outlets across Australia. Inside a Sundrop Farm tomato greenhouse – the new greenhouses will cover about 2.2 million square feet (photo courtesy of Sundrop Farms) The farming project, called the Port Augusta project, does not utilize the traditional farming cornerstones of…

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The Fastest Growing (Small) Food Companies in America (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #189 Thanks to research from Inc. 5000, we have some insights into the 10 fastest growing food companies and the trends they are setting. It’s a refreshing view in that smaller enterprises are entering the food chain. You don’t need to be a “farmer” per se to improve and diversify the food chain. Following are the first 5. logo courtesy of the Good Bean Company The Good Bean. This is a snack food company dedicated to developing and distributing healthy and innovative bean-based snacks. Their product line includes bean chips, chickpea snacks, and fruit and no-nut bars. The California company, while small, has had a 2,200…

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When it Comes to Food – The Three Big Ominous Shadows Humanity Faces (Part 1 of 3)

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Touch the Soil News # 161 An old wisdom says big future events cast big shadows in the present. This is not trying to predict the future, but simply looking at the shadows showing up on the paths humanity has elected to travel upon. If we don’t like the shadows, humanity can choose a different path if it so chooses. One of the difficulties that arise when detecting big shadows is what to do about them. Since our readership is made up of folks with diverse backgrounds, experience and knowledge, we’ll just leave answering that question to our readers. As we present the three dilemmas, we could not assess which…

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Impossible Foods – Getting the Google Eye

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Touch the Soil News # 148 To get a more complete picture of what is going on here, a few words about Impossible Foods. Impossible Foods was created by Patrick O. Brown, MD, PhD and a Stanford University Biologist. The business is three years old and is located in Redwood City, California. To date, Brown has assembled an impressive staff of researchers and developers to include over 50 scientists, farmers and engineers. Their goal – make the best meats and cheeses you’ll ever eat – from plants. The team looked at specific proteins and nutrients from greens, seeds, and grains to recreate a very realistic experience of meats and dairy…

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Organics by the Numbers – Is it Time to Consider a Career as an Organic Farmer?

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Touch the Soil News # 144 The Organic Trade Association (OTA) represents over 6,500 organic businesses across all 50 states. Members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, retailers and others. The OTA recently reported on the current state of Organics. “Our latest industry data show robust demand and great opportunity for the organic sector,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA. Thanks to the work of the OTA, the following information is made available about organics in America. U.S. Organic Sales reached $39.1 billion in 2014, up 11.3% over 2013. (see Info Graphic #1 below) Organic non-food sales reached $3.2 billion in 2014, up…

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Got Milk? International Tensions Behind Building World’s Largest Dairy

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Touch the Soil News # 139 Unable to produce all the milk products it needs, Russia has historically relied heavily on dairy imports from Europe. Recently, the EU extended economic sanctions against Russia. In Retaliation, Russia has worked out a deal with China to take their milk business to China. The deal is to build a 100,000 cow dairy in China and then create a farm in Russia to raise all the feed. The projects are financed by both Russian and Chinese investors. European Union farmers are already uneasy. The proposed China dairy is under construction and will take away 30 percent of the EU’s dairy exports to Russia. The…

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