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A Big Fight is Brewing

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Touch the Soil News #674 Have you heard of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine? Founded in 1985, it’s a non-profit group headquartered in Washington, D.C. Their membership includes 12,000 physicians and another 150,000 committed members. The Physicians Committee filed a lawsuit on April 12, 2017 to stop California’s Los Angeles School District and Poway Unified School District from serving students processed meats – including hot dogs, pepperoni and luncheon meat. These meats are linked to colorectal cancer. The lawsuit alleges that the serving of foods that have been linked to cancer in school lunches violates California’s Education Code. The Code mandates that school lunches must be of the highest quality…

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Ag-Tech Innovations

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Touch the Soil News #668 (Feature photo – food waste CCA SA 4.0) Technology is fast moving into the realms of food and agriculture. There are a host of new companies emerging. Following are a few examples:   Aromyx Aromyx The company invented a chip that measures, stores and indexes every scent and taste of the human genome. Information from the chip can be uploaded into a computer. The information is then used by food manufacturers to create new tastes or re-construct tastes using other foods. Founders of the company explain it this way: ‘So one use might be that the fizzy drink you really love is quite bad for…

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From Medical Doctor to Meat from Plants

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Touch the Soil News #663 (Feature photo courtesy of Impossible Foods – this burger is not made of meat, but plant proteins) Patrick O. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., is the founder of Impossible Foods. His company studied to the nth degree what is it that makes up hamburger and its taste. Once figuring that out, they went to plants looking for similar elements and ingredients. From this was born a “plant” hamburger that is dangerously close to real hamburger (see video below). The company started in 2011, and are now almost to the point of mass production. They have been working with chefs in the San Francisco Bay area and New York…

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News Round-Up

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Touch the Soil News #647 (feature photo – logo of the World Health Organization)   EPA Won’t Belly Up After the World Health Organization announced that glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup) was a probable carcinogen, the U.S. EPA decided to do its own research. The EPA published a report later on that said Roundup is not likely to be carcinogenic. When consumer advocacy group U.S. Right To Know sued the EPA for the documents used to determine Glyphosate’s safety last May, the EPA has been stonewalling the request. Legally, under the Freedom of Information, the EPA must provide the documents.   Tyson Chicken Tyson Foods announced that all of…

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Restaurants In Trouble

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Touch the Soil News #632 (Feature photo – Ruby Tuesday – CC SA 3.0) According to RESTAURANT DATA.COM the number of new restaurant openings in the U.S. in 2016 was a whopping 33,903. However, this number has been on a steady decline since 2012 when 39,707 new restaurants were opened – that’s a decline of new openings of about 15 percent. However, the real question is how many restaurants are closing each year. According to the NPD Group, the total number of restaurants in the U.S. declined by 2 percent over the past year – that is a net loss of 12,670 restaurants. So, here is the real kicker. A…

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Recognition of a New Economic Paradigm

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Touch the Soil News #611 (Feature photo – children of Western Cape are at the heart of the local resolve to end hunger) Western Cape, a Province of South Africa is trying to rethink food and access to food. Officials of the Province are collaborating to bring life to a new food system called Nourish to Flourish. Western Cape has thousands of children that are food insecure whose needs are not totally met by school feeding programs. Details of the plan stem from a resolve that no person or family should ever go hungry. Odd that America, the world’s richest nation, is struggling with the same problem – a 50-million…

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Vegetable Oils Perspective – A Gorilla in the China Closet

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Touch the Soil News #555 For most of us, when it comes to access to food and the products we need, our focus is on getting dollars first. In our battle to translate labor into dollars, we often cannot imagine that something is more important than our finances – or corporate structures designed solely to maximize finances. The unfolding story of saving the rainforests – which are ecologically important to planetary health – always ends up in the same debate. Farmland lost to urbanization is made up by slashing and burning rainforests or encroaching on other environmentally and biologically sensitive regions. How could such a small thing like vegetable oils…

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Striving for Power Via Farm Chemicals, GMOs and Seed Patents (part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News #379 Historically we have followed the Monsanto company whose operations have ignited domestic and global protest. Operating at a lower public profile are two other companies (Syngenta and ChemChina) whose business lines are similar to Monsanto’s – genetic modification of plants, agrochemicals and patenting seeds for private corporate ownership. In an unsuccessful attempt last year (2015), Monsanto tried to acquire Syngenta – to create the world’s largest biotech and agrochemical company. Syngenta management spurred the deal, essentially saying Monsanto was not a suitable partner. Earlier this year, ChemChina (China National Chemical Corporation) – a state-owned enterprise by the Chinese government – made a bid to acquire…

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Urban Agriculture – A Study

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Touch the Soil News #377 Hot off the press from Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, authors Raychel Santo, Anne Palmer and Brent Kim have reviewed over 160 different studies on urban farming. Called Vacant Lots to Vibrant Plots, the study reviews all aspects of urban farming. Following are their key findings:   1) Urban agriculture’s most significant benefits center around its ability to increase social capital, community well-being, and civic engagement with the food system. 2) The most successful urban agriculture efforts require sensitivity to the historical and current racial, socioeconomic, geographical, and cultural dynamics in highly diverse urban areas. 3) Urban agriculture offers a number of ecosystem…

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Interesting Food Activity – Over in India

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Touch the Soil News #339 Trying to solve many issues with one program is an idea that more and more organizations are trying to strive for. In India, there is extreme poverty, negative side-effects from chemical food farming and the problem of food and other organic waste. The Yasoram Charitable Trust – a non-profit with a vision to assist the poor in India is financing an urban food project that goes something like this: Workers on the Yasoram payroll dig ditches to plant bananas and yams alternately with ginger, tomatoes, green chilies, spinach and okra. All of this is taking place in the Indian state of Kerala – home to…

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