Posted on

A Challenge to All Grocery Stores

1024px-West_Show_Jersey_July_2010_18

Touch the Soil News #596 This week, a modest-sized health and wellness supermarket challenged all other grocers to meet its level of food quality. Earth Fare is a 40-store chain that operates in 9 states throughout the Southeast and Midwest U.S. With roughly 2,500 employees, the grocer touts that its customers will live longer. This comes on the heels of the announcement by the National Center for Health Statistics that life expectancy for Americans declined in 2015 for the first time in 20 years. The Store touts that you can blindfold yourself as you shop in their stores and never worry that you are getting food compromised in any fashion.…

Read more

Posted on

Subway – the New “Clean Meat” Leader

Subway,_Adel

Touch the Soil News #223 In recent months, Subway has been under criticism by Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Food Animal Concerns Trust, Keep Antibiotics Working and Center for Food Safety.  At issue was the use of meat from animals which are routinely administered antibiotics. Subway is not a small company. It boasts 44,310 restaurants in 111 countries, 27,000 of which are in the United States. In an October 20, 2015 press release, the Subway company has pledged to take fairly dramatic action as relates to its food quality. In specifics, the company pledges to:   Subway will remove all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives…

Read more

Posted on

Oversights, Carelessness and Corruption Compromise Food

E.coli bacteria concept

Touch the Soil News #164 The title of this news piece almost reminds one of politics – an activity surrounded by perils, corruption and unsafe practices. One of the investigative themes we cover in Touch the Soil News relates to compromises in the food chain – a scary thought. Yet, it is these kinds of discoveries that support trends for decentralization, localization and transparency – even if it means starting your own food garden for a portion of your nutritional needs. Following are a few highlights from events unfolding within the last 30 days (sources: FDA and Food Safety News): 8/21/15 │ Alphin Brothers – a North Carolina seafood processor…

Read more

Posted on

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

USDA-organicVeggies

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…

Read more

Posted on

News Roundup – Catching Up on Food Chain Events

FILE -  In this Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008 file photo, health workers slaughter all the chickens at the wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong after three dead chickens tested positive for bird flu. The U.S. government asked scientists Tuesday Dec. 20, 2011 not to reveal all the details of how to make a version of the deadly bird flu that they created in labs in the U.S. and Europe. The lab-bred virus, being kept under high security, appears to spread more easily among mammals. That's fueled worry that publishing a blueprint could aid terrorists in creating a biological weapon, the National Institutes of Health said. Bird flu, known formally as H5N1 avian influenza, occasionally infects people who have close contact with infected poultry, particularly in parts of Asia. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

May 28, 2015 │ Genetically Engineered Salmon A draft environmental review of AquaBounty Technologies’ genetically engineered salmon reveals that Canadian authorities disagree with the U.S. FDA on key questions related to safety. If it moves forward, this would be the first genetically engineered animal approved for human consumption. In objection to the GE salmon, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans puts forth these findings. 1) The GE salmon is more susceptible to aeromonas salmonicida – a disease causing bacteria creating new unique health and environmental problems. 2) The GE salmon exhibits widely varied performance, suggesting that the growth-hormone gene construct inserted is unpredictable, raising questions about safety. The contradictions…

Read more

Posted on

Mainstream Poultry (Eggs) – Heading for a National Emergency?

AvianFluEuthanization

On April 20, 2015, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency relative to the avian bird flu. The governor even activated the National Guard to help fight the infection. On April 23, 2015, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton declared a state of emergency to fight the outbreak of avian bird flu affecting millions of birds in the state. On May 1st, 2015, Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad in concert with the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Iowa Division of Emergency Management declared a state of emergency – avian influenza outbreak. At the time some 15 million birds have been lost. On May 14,…

Read more

Posted on

News Roundup – News You Might Have Missed – Vol 2

WholeFoodsMarket

April 2015 │ Springdale, Arkansas Tyson Foods announced that it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. They will report annually on their progress, beginning with their fiscal 2015 Sustainability Report. Tyson has already stopped using all antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries, requiring a veterinary prescription for antibiotics used on broiler farms and having reduced human antibiotics used to treat broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011. See uploaded video here. April 2015 │ USDA The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that the organic industry continues to show remarkable growth domestically…

Read more

Posted on

News Roundup – News You Might Have Missed – Vol 1

organic-consumers-association2

April 1, 2015 │ Berlin, Germany The largest European aquaponics farm has just opened in Berlin, Germany according to European Agriculture News . The enterprise is capable of producing 25 tons of fish and 30 tons of vegetables each year while using substantially less water than conventional farming.  Three years ago, with $1.6 million in funding, Christian Echternacht and Nicolas Leschke founded Ecofriendly Farmsystems. In addition to the aquaponics greenhouse farm, they opened up a storefront attached to the farm to sell its produce. There are plans to open a similar enterprise in Switzerland. (See uploaded video and photo of Christian and Nicolas.) April 15, 2015 │ Albany, California Occupy…

Read more

Posted on

Emerging Specs of a Food-Chain Mega Trend (Part 2 of 2)

Farmland

In the realm of theory, our culture likes to believe it is possible for the world to produce (and distribute) enough food for everyone – a world with abundant food. In contrast, investment funds are accumulating – like a storm cloud – to take financial advantage of a world in which food is less than abundant. The largest pension fund management company in the U.S. makes no secret about its emerging target of farmland or why it is doing so. The pension company is called Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF).  TIAA-CREF manages $426 billion in retirement assets for 3.7 million employees with…

Read more

Posted on

Market Farmer Profile – Stop Waiting and Jump Right In

Erik-Chickens

Farmer Erik (Erick Halvorson) – also a student at WSU Vancouver, Washington – thinks it’s best to take action with one’s dreams. With access to five (5) farmers markets within a 30 minute drive from his small enterprise, Halvorson is one of some 70,000 farms in the U.S. that only sells directly to consumers. Halvorson began in 2013, leasing 5 acres from his parents to fill, what he calls, a childhood dream. Halvorson started his first year on the animal side of things – based on pasture-raised regimens. He offers eggs, pork and turkey. For 2015, Halvorson is expanding his offerings to include vegetables from a ¾ acre market garden.…

Read more