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Village Farms – The Changing Face of Fresh Produce

Touch the Soil News #170 Village Farms is one of the world’s largest greenhouse fresh-produce operations with some 250 acres of greenhouses under food production – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant. CEO Mike DeGiglio in a recent video explains that in the 1980’s only 1 percent of retail tomatoes came from greenhouses. Today roughly 80 percent of retail tomatoes come from greenhouses. Awsome is the reaction to these super-size greenhouses – (photo courtesy of village farms) Village farms boasts that its produce ripens on the vine longer, allowing natural sugars to develop and that they have the shortest times from hand-harvest to grocery store. Recently, Mike DeGiglio was interviewed in…

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Dacha Gardening – Small Gardens Produce 51% of Food in Russian Federation

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The discussions will rage onwards in terms of dependence upon industrial food systems – and why there should be an exodus. In an interesting twist of fate, turns out home gardens produce 41.1 percent (in terms of value) of the crops and meat produced in the Russian Federation. Small peasant farms produce another 10.2 percent of the Federation’s food. (Source: Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation for 2013 – most recent year for which numbers are available.) Popularly called Dacha Gardens, these home enterprises produce approximately 80 percent of the Federation’s fruits and berries, over 66 percent of the vegetables, 80 percent of the potatoes and nearly 50…

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Food Hardship – Is the Solution Food Gardening?

The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) recently published its 2014 National, State and Local Index of Food Hardship. Food hardship is a state of being in which there is struggle to put food on the table.  According to the report, food hardship afflicted between 17.2 and 18.6 percent of Americans at various times over the last seven years – that’s between 55 and 61 million people. Here are some of the highlights: Mississippi has the highest food hardship rate of any state at 24.7 percent. About one out of every 4 people in Mississippi is food challenged. North Dakota has the lowest food hardship rate of any state at…

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Katie’s Krops – How One Girl Re-instates the Connection Between Gardening and Solving Hunger

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As much as we may try, the connection between eating and raising food is permanent. From subsistence farming, the world passed the gavel of raising food to farmers and now to industrial farming. In world almost exclusively organized around dollars, hundreds of millions of people have been externalized from the money it takes to buy from the farm via the grocery store. It took a nine year old girl to figure out that solving hunger was somehow related to raising food. Back in 2008, Katie Stagliano – a third grader, took on a school project to raise a cabbage. Her cabbage turned out to be a 40 lb. wonder. She…

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Market Farmer Profile – Stop Waiting and Jump Right In

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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.…

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Is Food Banking at the Baseline of Trends in How Humanity Will Save Itself?

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The world’s largest food banking network is in America. It is called Feeding America. What does it mean that a wealthy nation has the most developed food-banking system? Feeding America reports that 1 in 6 Americans are sufficiently externalized from the nation’s mainstream economics (poor) so as to default to the food banking system Feeding America has a nationwide network of 200 food banks that distribute food through some 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Walmart, the nation’s largest grocer, has only 5,000 stores and clubs in America. The mission of Feeding America is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country…

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The Purchase of General Hydroponics by a Subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro (Part 2 of 2)

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Historically, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company focused on the do-it-yourself home gardener. Its move into hydroponics, via a young subsidiary called Hawthorne Gardening Company, means it is treading into new territory. Scotts is known for its Miracle-Gro, Ortho and Roundup brands. The Roundup is still owned by Monsanto, but the consumer version is marketed exclusively by Scotts. In conjunction with entering into hydroponics, Scotts is on a global goodwill mission to help sponsor more than 1,000 community gardens and green spaces in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. This corporate funding effort is branded GRO1000. This is a rather strange effort, considering Scott’s close ties with Monsanto and the product Roundup. Glyphosate, the…

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The Purchase of General Hydroponics by a Subsidiary of Scotts Miracle-Gro (Part 1 of 2)

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The global focus on controlled environment agriculture includes hydroponics, a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. This form of production is one of the cornerstones of moving food production to urban settings. The practice of hydroponics has been successfully adapted to basil, tomatoes, herbs, strawberries and lettuce. Hydroponically raised food is no stranger to many of the grocery stores we shop at. At the heart of hydroponics is the nutrients put into the water solutions that feed the roots of plants. This is where General Hydroponics, one of the world’s leaders in supplying nutrients and water holding mediums in hydroponic settings, comes to the…

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Symphony of the Soil – A Film Review

Symphony of the Soil is a full-length film (104 minutes). Produced by Deborah Koons Garcia, the film received a New York Times “Critics’ Pick” listing. Garcia is also the producer of a previous film called The Future of Food – an in depth look at the dangers of GMO foods. Garcia’s style is to find world-class experts on the subject of her films and then weave their testimony between stunning facts and revelations. Symphony of the Soil brings experts together on the story of what soil is, the diversity of life in soils, how plants and microbes work together to survive, the farming and ranching practices that can maintain and…

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Regulators and the Restaurant Food Chain – Struggling to Restrain Birth of a Giant

In a previous article, we explored how America now spends more dollars eating out than at grocery stores for home eating. Like everyone else, we at Touch the Soil eat out also. One of the things we noticed is the frequency of Sysco and US Foods trucks at the back doors of the restaurants we go to. One begins to wonder, from whose menu do restaurants order their food from? It all came to a head recently when we stumbled across news about a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC is charged with ensuring companies comply with antitrust laws and regulations. Mostly the FTC works things…

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