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Trouble in Tea Land?

Touch the Soil News #794 (Feature photo – picking tea leaves on a tea plantation – CC SA 3.0) Far off in India in one of the world’s major tea growing areas where human issues are tripping things up. In the shadows of the Himalayas is the Darjeeling district – home of the Darjeeling tea. Political turmoil in the Darjeeling area has brought closure to many of the tea plantations, closure of banks and transportation is almost at a standstill. In the midst of these problems, the world’s largest tea company McLeod Russel India LTD has decided (for the first time) to sell one of its tea plantations (1,500 acres)…

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Avocado Food Tremor

Touch the Soil News #793 (Feature photo – CC SA 3.0) When it comes to avocados, some are calling it the perfect storm, the triage of problems 1) More people want avocados. 2) Weather and Climate are not co-operating. 3) Production is down. U.S. consumption of avocados is dramatic. U.S. per capita consumption of avocados has grown from 2 pounds in 2001 to 7 pounds last year (2016). One of the largest avocado producers in the world is Mexico which supplies almost 30 percent of the world’s production. Estimates are that 2017 production in Mexico could be down by 20 percent. Avocado production in the U.S. is concentrated to California…

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Egg Tremors

Touch the Soil News #771 (Feature photo Maksym Kozlenko CC SA 4.0)) Aldi, the largest grocer in Germany with over 4,000 stores, pulled all eggs out of its store last week. Widespread traces of an illegal chemical – Fipronil – has been discovered on eggs in the European Union. Historically, the chemical was used to kill ticks and mites in egg laying flocks. However, the European Union – over health concerns to humans – has made use of the insecticide illegal. It was discovered that egg producers in the Netherlands were using a product to keep mites and ticks out of their facilities that contained Fipronil. Millions of eggs have…

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Less Water = Food Tremors

Touch the Soil News #762 (feature photo – drought stunted corn crop – USDA photo) There have been a number of stories floating around the media that suggest a larger event is lurking between the cracks. Following are a few of the pieces:   Researchers at MIT warn of reducing availability of water for cotton and forage (hay). Hay is the foundational crop for meat animals. The area of concern is the Southwest. Now, the Southwest is huge and includes the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas – an area equal to almost 1/3 of the U.S. land mass. Drought trends could push yields in…

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Food Tremors

Touch the Soil News #745 Heat Wave Striking the California Central Valley, heat waves are stressing livestock. Up to 6,000 livestock deaths through the end of June 2017 have been reported. Livestock that perish in the heat do not enter the food chain, but must be disposed of through a rendering plant. The largest rendering plant in the Central Valley is operated by Baker Commodities Inc. They normally process 1 million pounds of dead animals a day – the heat wave has pushed that up to 1.5 million pounds a day (see video below).   Pig Fear On average, a mother pig will produce about 19.5 piglets a year, up…

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Peach & Blueberry Tremors

Touch the Soil News #673 In mid-March, South Carolina (rated as the #2 peach growing state behind California) experienced and unseasonal freeze. The frost destroyed 85 percent of the state’s peach crop – a loss of over 100 million pounds of peaches – 5 percent of the nation’s peaches. On average, American’s consume about 3 lbs. of peaches/nectarines each year. The loss is equivalent to the peach/nectarine consumption of 33 million Americans. The same frost hit Georgia, the nation’s largest producer of blueberries. Estimates are that around 70 million pounds were lost – equal to roughly 5 percent of the nation’s blueberry crop. On average, Americans consume 4.5 lbs. of…

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Global Meat Scandal – Food Tremor

Touch the Soil News #656 (feature photo – Michael Bennett CC SA 3.0) A global food scandal is unfolding as Federal authorities in Brazil arrested and investigate almost 30 Brazilian meat companies. Included in the investigation are JBS SA and BRF SA. JBS SA is the world’s largest meat company overall. BRF SA is the world’s largest poultry exporter. Allegations include bribes to conceal unsanitary meat packing and processing conditions along with using chemicals to doctor up spoiled meat for export. The Federal probe in Brazil has been going on for over 2 years. Now that proof has been obtained for wrongdoing, the impact is having shock waves around the…

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What is a Food Tremor?

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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The FAO Reports on Global Food Tremors

Touch the Soil News #614 The FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations keeps tabs on global food tremors. While some of the issues may be far from home, our interconnected world – politically, socially and ecologically acts like dominoes – we simply cannot completely separate ourselves from ourselves. So, here are some of the food tremors unfolding: Wheat Rust. It’s a fungal disease that is pushing the edges of an epidemic. New strains of wheat rust are popping up around the world and in recent times. Areas vulnerable to wheat rust account for approximately 37 percent of global wheat production (see video below). Cost of basic…

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Low-Price Food Tremor

Touch the Soil News #465 Wheat farmers in America rise and fall on the USDA’s reports of production. If the USDA reports production is up, speculators say there is an oversupply and farm prices often collapse. The USDA’s August 2016 World Supply Report reveals that the world will produce 743 million metric tonnes of wheat this season. This is 4 percent more than what was produced in the 2013 season. Since 2013, wheat prices and profitability of wheat farming have plummeted. The seal of the USDA. Unfortunately, the production estimates of the USDA often are the basis for speculation that can artificially drive prices down (hurting farmers) or drive prices…

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