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San Francisco Upstages the USDA, the FDA and Congress

Touch the Soil News #831 (Feature photo – New to this Era of Americanism, when it comes to food issues (and other issues), is the upstaging by cities, counties and states of the federal institutions that historically have been the power brokers over our food. Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance that requires large food retailers to disclose details about antibiotic use in the meats they sell. The new city ordinance – which was unanimously passed by the Board of Supervisors – will become law later this month. It is no surprise that industrial agricultural interests are in opposition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

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It’s a Porker

Touch the Soil News #827 (Feature photo – J.D. Bunod – public domain) This year, 2017, Americas some 60,000 pig farmers have been operating under a new antibiotics use law. The new law does not allow pork producers to administer antibiotics that are medically important to humans of their own volition. Instead, the administration of medically important antibiotics to pigs can now only be done with the supervision an approval of a veterinarian. This does, however, not solve the larger public preference of moving to meat totally absent from antibiotic use. Called The FDA Guidance 209 and 213, it seems that pig farmers have adjusted to having more veterinarian oversight…

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Antibiotics in Meat – How Does Your Favorite Restaurant Score?

Touch the Soil News #496 (feature photo courtesy of Center for Food Safety) Social protest in the food chain is not only growing, but it is becoming organized. Recently, a number of high-profile non-profits joined forces to produce a report card that grades major restaurant chains on efforts to move to antibiotic free meat in their restaurant chains. The cooperating organizations include the Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, Food Animal Concerns Trust and Keep Antibiotics Working. You can download the full report here: http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/reports/4471/chain-reaction-2016-how-top-restaurants-rate-on-reducing-use-of-antibiotics-in-their-meat-supply In a nutshell, here are the grades for America’s 25 largest fast food and fast casual restaurant…

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Woody Chicken Breasts?

Touch the Soil News #475 We’ve all heard the horror stories of chickens fed antibiotics as a way to accelerate weight gain. Then there are the stories of how breeding has created chickens so fat that they have problems just walking. Bloomberg News reported recently that U.S. chickens raised for meat today weigh 6.24 pounds – almost doubling since 1955 and more than tripling since 1925. Large broiler producers are finding that there is a correlation between fat chickens and what is called “woody breast.” Woody breast is a condition that describes the hard texture that is now frequently being found in factory raised (fat chickens) chicken breasts. Modern broiler…

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News Round-up

Touch the Soil News #271   Are You A Climatarian Eater? New terms are emerging that identify what kind of eater you are. A climatarian is one who eats with climate change in mind. This generally includes eating locally, choosing pork and poultry over beef and lamb to limit gas emission and using every part of ingredients (apple cores, cheese rinds) to limit food waste.   The Expansion of Food Banking We recently reported on the trend to locate food pantries on college campuses as polls reveal over 35 percent of freshman are food-insecure. On a new front, the Iowa Food Bank has started a new program to quash hunger…

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The Battle to Control What We Think About Food

Touch the Soil News #219 We’ve all heard the expression putting a “Spin” on information or truth. The “spin” essentially means that by turning and twisting information, you can drop the truth and add false ingredients. We were particularly interested in a report that just came out called “Spinning Food.” The upshot of the report is that Industrial food companies create “Front Groups” that look like legitimate enterprises, but are used to put a “Spin” on the story of food. The authors of the report include Kari Hamerschlag, Anna Lappe and Stacy Malkan with support from Friends of the Earth. Cover of the special Spinning Food report (courtesy of Friends…

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News Roundup

Touch the Soil News #214 Beer Breweries Illustrate Public Demand for Diversity The demand for a more diverse supply of agricultural products is not just in food, but drink as well. The Brewers Association recently announced that the U.S. now has over 4,000 breweries. That last time this was so was in 1873. California Leads in Curtailing Antibiotics in Farm Animals According to Reuters, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that sets the strictest government standards in the United States for the use of antibiotics in livestock production. The bill, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2018, will restrict the regular use of antibiotics for disease prevention…

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Was the Farmer Right in the First Place – Battle of the Animal Drugs

Touch the Soil News #207 A number of years ago, as an agricultural credit officer for one of the nation’s largest agricultural banks; I opened my mouth and got told off by a dairy farmer. As part of my duties, I spent time visiting farming enterprises that had “promise” in becoming a customer of the bank. This time I was visiting with a dairy farmer who banked with another bank. He was successful and had a 2,500-cow dairy close to a large population center. At the time, I had a burning question about why the heavy use of antibiotics in dairy and meat animals. For a little background, many dairies…

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