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How Far Off Track Is Food and Agriculture?

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Touch the Soil News #519 While politicians fret or ignore the food issues within their own nations, the FAO does the same, but for the whole world. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is charged with making some kind of sense of global food security. The FAO, in order to communicate its concerns for folks being able to eat, recently published “The State of Food and Agriculture – 2016.” Given the pressures of population and climate change, the FAO – in the report – arrives at a simple conclusion: A GLOBAL TRANSFORMATION TO SUSTAINABLE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE MUST BEGIN NOW. Given that 1/3 of the world’s…

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Union of Concerned Scientists – Fix Food and Farming

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Touch the Soil News #283 Usually when we think of the Union of Concerned Scientists we think about things like global pollution, unsustainable energy or climate change. However, the scientists recently came out with a 20-page report that had some pretty bold statements about the nation’s food system. Following are two statements they published: The nation’s cities are at the frontlines of a food system that is sickening millions of Americans every year and keeping many of these same people impoverished. This dysfunctional system is the product of federal food and agriculture policies that encourage overproduction and overconsumption of unhealthy processed foods. Local communities should not have to fight an…

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Where Have All the Mother Cows Gone – Long Time Passing?

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Touch the Soil News # 154 In the livestock business, they are called mother cows. In USDA statistics, they are referred to as beef cow herds. A mother cow is kept around the ranch to have a calf each year. A rancher keeps the mother cow and the calf goes into the meat supply. The USDA keeps track of how many mother cows are out there in order to get a sense of the ongoing supply of beef. In 1975, America had 46.9 million mother cows. That number has steadily dropped to 30.5 million cows this year on 7/1/2015. Why did mother cow numbers decrease by over 16 million head?…

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Reasons to Garden Are Escalating

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Touch the Soil News # 153 There are hundreds of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) around the world drawing attention to the fact that food availability today – and moving forward – is not as it was. One source we have deemed credible is the World Resources Institute (WRI). The WRI has some 450 experts that crunch data in over 50 countries. The WRI maintains offices in Brazil, China, Europe, India, Indonesia, Mexico and the United States. With an annual budget of $65 million, the WRI is one of the world’s top resources in identifying hot spots and issues of ecological concern. While there are a number of areas the WRI focuses…

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Will Fossil Fuel Divestment Force Agriculture to Change Dramatically?

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Touch the Soil News # 152 The social pressure, to move civilization beyond fossil fuels is growing by the day. Divestitures of fossil fuel investments are becoming the new way to demonstrate “green.” Fossil fuel divestment is the removal of investment assets including stocks, bonds or other investments in fossil fuel industries. The thought is to reduce carbon emissions and accelerate renewable energy. Driving the popularity of divestments are the physical manifestations of climate change. The fossil fuel divestment movement is no small movement. It is the fastest growing divestment movement in history. HSBC bank – one of the world’s largest – recently reported that international climate change actions could…

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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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What Are Food Hubs? Can They Help You Become A Successful Local Farmer? (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 141 The growing development of food hubs is materially populated with not-for-profit visions that do not seek high returns, but primarily the cash flows necessary to keep the doors open. In Part 2 of this food hub coverage we’ll take a brief look at five (5) successful food hubs and their operations. Information about these food hubs came from a research project by the Wallace Center. It is encouraging to see enterprises and communities support a change from the industrial food system. Red Tomato food hub, Plainville, Massachusetts Red Tomato has annual sales of approximately $4 million with 7 employees. Red Tomato, established in 1997,…

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What Are Food Hubs? Can They Help You Become A Successful Local Farmer? (Part 1 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 140 A few years back while visiting La Montanita Food Cooperative in Albuquerque, New Mexico, we learned about local food hubs. The Co-op had asked its 8,000 members about where the Co-op should source its food. The message came back loud and clear – source food locally and regionally. The Co-op was interested in not only fresh and local, but protecting and developing the areas food shed. A food shed strives to enhance the production, processing, delivery and consumption of food within a regional geographic area. A food shed normally incorporates enough area (and customers) to support diverse food production and processing. To fulfill their…

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The Nation’s Top 100 Restaurants – Can You Find Your Favorites? (Part 2 of 2)

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Touch the Soil News # 138 Here are restaurants #50 to #1. Surprising is the Starbuck’s Coffee is the nation’s #2 restaurant. Restaurants #50 to #26 #50) Steak ‘n Shake                        $952,000,000 #49 Bob Evans                                 $959,900,000 #48 Bojangle’s                                  $1,000,000,000 (one $billion) #47 Culver’s                                       $1,000,000,000 #46 Waffle House                             $1,100,000,000 #45 Ruby Tuesday                            $1,200,000,000 #44 Five Guys Burgers n’ Fries      $1,200,000,000 #43 Wawa                                          $1,200,000,000 #42 Zaxby’s                                       $1,300,000,000 $41 Red Robin                                  $1,400,000,000 #40 Carl’s Jr.                                    $1,500,000,000 #39 LongHorn Steakhouse            $1,500,000,000 #38 Golden Corral Buffet               $1,700,000,000 #37 Jimmy Johns’s                          $1,800,000,000 #36 TGI Fridays                               $1,800,000,000 35 The Cheesecake Factory            $1,800,000,000 #34 Whataburger                             $1,800,000,000 #33 Texas Roadhouse                     $1,900,000,000 #32 Hardee’s                                      $2,100,000,000 #31 7-Eleven stores                           $2,100,000,000 #30 Cracker Barrel Country Store $2,100,000,000 #29 Panda…

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Grow A Row – Is This a Window into the Future of Food?

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Touch the Soil News # 127 The non-profit  “America’s Grow a Row” was started by a non-farmer – Chip Paillex – some 14 years ago in New Jersey. Back in 2002, Chip and his daughter rented a small 30’ X 30’ plot and started planting food crops for the first time in his life. One day they saw a three-line article in the paper that said if you ever have extra produce, “grow-a-row” for the hungry and bring it down to the food pantry. Chip Paillex – Founder of Grow A Row (photo courtesy of Grow A Row) Moved by the simplicity of the message Paillex and his daughter began…

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