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What is a Food Tremor?

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Touch the Soil News #635 A food tremor is something more than background noise. It casts a hint of what a food problem can grow into. For example, in nature tremors often foreshadow a volcanic eruption or earthquake.   Food Tremors Now Happening The global demand for vegetable cooking oil is so great it is driving rainforest demolition and people exploitation. Peoples of all nations are competing voraciously for the same pool of cooking oils (palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil and olive oil). This tremor can drive food inflation. Congested crop farming leaves little room for nature to mitigate disease. Wheat rust is a fungal disease that compromises wheat,…

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Over 500 Million People Short of Fresh Produce

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Touch the Soil News #630 In the winter, 80 percent of the European Union’s fresh produce comes from modest farming areas in Italy and Spain. These areas much like California, except that this year unseasonably wet and cold weather has compromised production. Low supplies of things like iceberg lettuce, spinach, broccoli, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and eggplant have already caused rationing in the U.K’s largest grocery chain. In Southern Italy and France, blizzards are destroying the year’s crops of greens, citrus and grapes. The word is out that supermarkets from the U.K. to Germany are low on pretty much all produce. While the Europeans can import some fresh produce from the…

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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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Another Global City Looks to Act On Food Security

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Touch the Soil News #483 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada is one of those international tourist destinations. Located on beautiful Vancouver Island, the city has great ferry traffic from mainland Canada and the United States. These large “ferry” ships bring thousands of visitors to the natural wonders of the Northwest Pacific coast and the internationally acclaimed Buchart Gardens. The City of Victoria is looking to pass sweeping city codes to enable local food production and commerce. In addition to the standard vegetables that most market gardeners raise, the new codes would allow raw, unprocessed food such as fruits, nuts, seeds, eggs and honey to be grown and sold within the city.…

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A Public Edible Fruit Park?

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Touch the Soil News #468 We have heard of gleaning clubs that care and harvest fruit trees in neighborhoods and we have heard of Web sites that show you where fruit trees are located in a city. But an emerging faction in the food security movement has come to reality in West Seattle – Puget Ridge Edible Park. Locals care for the park which is located in a food desert. The USDA defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where at least 33 percent of the tract’s population has low access to a supermarket or grocery store. The Puget Ridge Edible Park (2/3 of an acre) hosts heritage…

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The Risk of Politicians Overlooking Food

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Touch the Soil News #458 The world’s issues are complex and it is easy for policymakers (and politicians) to overlook the importance of food and farming. While it has not been in the forefront of the news the past month, the pending exit of Great Britain from the European Union is getting closer scrutiny. While the U.K is far away, it is not out of the question that lack of political focus on food may impact the U.S. more in the future. For over 40 years, the British food chain has become intertwined with that of  Europe. Today Britain’s food security materially rests with the European Union. Recently, the Los…

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Feeding the Hungry – Gives Vision to Practical Religion

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Touch the Soil News #375 The food landscape in America is migrating beyond mega-farms and USDA policy. It has become an arena not only of social activism, but religious activism as well. It happens frequently that church congregations are seeing their physical assets and members in new and active ways. Grounds owned by churches are converted to food gardens, tended by congregation members with the produce donated to food banks and soup kitchens. Recently the Montgomery News (www.montgomerynews.com) reported on two Lutheran Church congregations in Sellersville, Pennsylvania joining forces to start raising food for the needy. The Jerusalem Lutheran Church had the land and the St. Michael’s Lutheran Church had…

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Russia to the World – We’re Curtailing Food Imports and Raising Our Own

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Touch the Soil News #368 Amid Western economic sanctions against Russia – for its intervention into the Ukraine – Russia decided to fight back economically to the Western World. One of Russia’s actions included the stopping of food imports from Europe and other Western nations. At stake are historical Russian purchases (imports) of foreign food to the tune of almost $44 billion a year. By 2015, Russia had cut those purchases by almost 40 percent. They plan more cuts in the future. Farmers in Europe and other parts are feeling the economic pain of this large market loss. A recent Bloomberg report found that Russia is working diligently to increase…

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Campus Hunger Gives Higher Education a Reality Check

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Touch the Soil News #366 According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the average cost of tuition and fees has increased more than 95 percent statewide since 2004. Depending upon which poll you read, estimates are that as many as 50 percent of college graduates end up working in a field that did not require them to go to college in the first place. To add to the burden of trying to survive after college graduation, some 37 million students are struggling to repay the $1.2 trillion in student loan debt outstanding – roughly $32,000 per student. Schools of higher education are at the core of teaching the nation…

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Battles of the Future May not Be Military – But Combatting a Decline in Farming

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Touch the Soil News #345 The singular largest use of land in the world is for farming. The singular largest restructure of the world’s natural habitats has been into farming fields. In a recent article in Modern Farmer (http://modernfarmer.com/2016/03/urban-farms-japan/) journalist Joshua Hunt explains how Japan’s agricultural prowess is under siege and compromise. The earthquake and tsunami of 2011 damaged the farming practices of 70,000 Japanese farmers. Estimates are that Japan’s farming and fishing industries took a $160 billion loss as a result of the tsunami. This is not the only farming challenge facing the Japanese: In 1965, with a population of 92 million people, 73 percent of calories consumed in…

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