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Food Chain to the World – Economic Security is not Guaranteed

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Touch the Soil News #776 (feature photo – Tobia Kleinlercher – CC SA 3.0) The food chain is illustrating just how unsettled things can be. One of the most unsettling situations unfolding in the U.S. is traffic through the traditional family sit-down restaurant industry. The concern is that the economy is no longer one of growth but an economy of stagnation where competitors simply cannibalize each other. DineEquity, the company that owns the Applebees and IHOP brands is seeing a noticeable erosion of cash flowing through its restaurants. In an August 10, 2017 press release, DineEquity shared the bad news. Domestic IHOP restaurants saw same-store sales drop 2.1% for the…

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Riding on Top of Global Brands

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Touch the Soil News #756 (feature photo honorablesamurai – CC SA 3.0) Unilever, one of the world’s largest companies, just released a press release. Thirteen of its products qualified to be in the top 50 products brands chosen by people around the world. Unilever reports that the polling company – Kantar World Panel – analyzed 15,300 brands in 1 billion households in 39 countries across five continents. The poll was conducted in the 12 months to November 2016. While many of the products were personal care in nature, there were two food brands – Knorr soups and Lipton Tea. Unilever, from the Netherlands, was founded 87 years ago, sells products…

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Goodby Gas Cars – Unrelated to Food Directly, but Related Indirectly

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Touch the Soil News #744 (feature photo CC SA 3.0 Unported – Salvatore Amone) Attitudes and economics of food are changing rapidly. While investors have poured billions of dollars into developing and owing “brand” names in manufacture foods, those brands are losing ground to captive brands at stores like Costco and Winco. The world of meat is undergoing serious questioning and the recent prompt by the American Medical Association to pitch processed meats may just be the beginning. Chemical agriculture – even at a time when investors are pouring billions of dollars into the realm – is a target for extinction that is growing in the consumer mind. So let’s…

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Looks Like Good News, But Not For Processed Meats

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Touch the Soil News #743 (Feature photo – CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication) The American Medical Association, organized over 170 years ago in 1847 has taken a big stance towards healthy eating. The organization has over 200,000 members from 170 different medical societies and organizations. The big news has to do with a recent resolution approved by the AMA membership about food in general and hospital food in specifics. Following is the first part of that resolution: “RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association hereby call on US hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by (1) providing a variety of healthful food, including plant-based meals and…

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California Beats Monsanto

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Touch the Soil News #737 (feature photo CC SA 2.0) California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment wanted to add glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup week killer) to its list of cancer-causing chemicals back in 2016. Monsanto sued the agency and lost. However, Monsanto is seeking an appeal. The State of California has decided to take another approach. Back in 1986, California voters passed what is popularly called Proposition 65. It mandates the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm. The list must be updated at least once year. There are over 800 chemicals on the list. You can…

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A New Green Revolution

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Touch the Soil News #730 (feature photo courtesy of Daniel Segura Fotografia) The ecological imbalance in cities with concrete, air pollution and heat generation really begs the question about urban vegetation. But how much vegetation can you bring to the city? In the city of Bogota, Columbia is a building called the Santalaia. The Santalaia is the largest vertical garden in the world – 33,500 square feet. The 11 story vertical garden is covered with vegetarian pillars that rise to the roof. This vertical garden is comprised of 115,000 plants of 10 different species. The Santalaia was created by Spanish biologist and landscaper Ignacio Solano (only 40 years of age).…

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Another Billion Dollar Checkbook Anxious to Buy

Sows in a pigpen jostle for food and water on Dean and Julie Folkmann's hog farm in Benton County, Iowa, near the town of Newhall.  As of 2016, the farm has been in the family for 162 years.  At any time, approximately 50 million hogs are being raised in the state with just over 3 million people.  That's about one-third of all the pigs raised in the United States.  One reason: the grain ground for hog food is often taken from the hog farmer's own corn and soybean fields.

Touch the Soil News #723 The world’s largest pork producer – Smithfield Foods – is headquartered in Smithfield, Virginia. The company was founded in 1936. While its roots are American, its ownership is not. Smithfield Foods was purchased in 2013 by the WH Group from China. The WH group paid $4.7 billion in cash and assumed an additional $2.4 billion of debt for a total price of $7.1 billion. Today, Chinese owned Smithfield Foods has approximately 52,000 employees that operate pork processing plants in 26 U.S. states, Mexico and 10 European countries. The company slaughters about 16 million hogs a year producing 3.3 million tons of meat per year. Smithfield…

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China – Where Will Food Come From?

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Touch the Soil News #706 Bloomberg News recently reported that China is scratching its head as to how to feed its 1.4 billion people in the future. China can’t feed its people today on its own as it must import millions of tons of staple crops each year. The problem is that by 2050 there will be another 2 billion people (besides the Chinese) that the world will have to feed. Much of China’s original farmable land has been urbanized, industrialized and polluted, leaving it unable to feed itself. China has 290 million acres of prime farm ground – roughly two tenths of an acre per person. The U.S. has…

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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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