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Food News

Vegetarian diets are not going to save the planet from climate change | Posted on February 2, 2017

“The world should just switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet.” — says seemingly everyone, regarding the food-sustainability problem. If someone offers a solution to the Gordian Knot of food sustainability, run it through the following gauntlet:Does it allow you to do most of your food shopping at the grocery store? Does it require just eliminating one or two things from your diet or, alternatively, eliminating all but a few things? Does it excuse you from making substantial shifts in your diet as the seasons progress? A ‘yes’ to any of those questions is the clarion call of bulls . A long list of solutions gets beaten to death in this gauntlet, and few so much as vegetarianism.

UConn students push back on new burgers, ask to go back to beef

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 31, 2017

The University of Connecticut Dining Service’s decision to replace beef burgers with blended mushroom burgers is not going over so well with some students on campus, according to the school newspaper. One student, Cameron Tracy, was so turned off by the half-beef/half-mushroom burger that he started a petition to bring the all-beef patties back, at least to have as an option. The petition is at 250 signatures and counting. School officials said the change was made in response to a student survey to make food options on campus more healthful and more environmentally sustainable, and they’re not going back. “If we made (all-beef burgers) as an option, we’re not having the impact on the environment that we want to have (and) we’re not having the impact on students’ health we want to have,” said C. Dennis Pierce, director of Dining Services. “Any time you change something on a menu it can be kind of risky, but when you think about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it does validate (the change).”

Tenth Amendment Center wants states to legalize raw milk

Feed Safety News | Posted on January 30, 2017

Usually state legislative battles over raw milk are fought only by local advocates and raw milk specific groups like the Weston A. Price Foundation.  What follows is testimony about how long some has been drinking raw milk and how they’ve never personally gotten sick.  The Tenth Amendment Center is making a different arguments.  “Constitutionally, food safety falls within the powers reserved to the states and the people,” says a position paper written by Maharrey. “The feds have no authority to enforce food safety laws within the border of a state. Nevertheless, federal agencies still want more control over America’s food supply, and they go great lengths to get it.”  “For example, the FDA bans the interstate sale of raw milk. But, not only do they ban the transportation of raw milk across state lines, they also claim the authority to ban unpasteurized milk within the borders of a state.” Maharrey says “FDA ultimately wants to maintain a complete prohibition on raw milk with a one-size fits all control over everything you eat and drink.”   “While FDA apologists claim the agency only wants to protect consumers, in truth, federal regulations tend to benefit big companies and squeeze out family farms. In the name of safety, FDA regulations limit your ability to access local, fresh food,” Maharrey says. He says the effect of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is to permit FDA to dictate to the states through partnerships with them. By contrast, the Tenth Amendment Center sees the raw milk bills as a way to help nullify the federal prohibition goal.

Restaurants: The next front for the immigration debate? | Posted on January 30, 2017

From down-home delis to upscale bistros, dozens of restaurants nationwide are seeking "sanctuary" status, a designation owners hope will help protect employees in an immigrant-heavy industry and tone down fiery rhetoric sparked by the presidential campaign. First inspired by churches, the label is something cities and other public entities have sought to offer local protections to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, whether it's barring police from asking citizens about immigration status or refusing to cooperate with federal agents.  Roughly 80 restaurants are participating, in locations including New York, Minneapolis, Detroit, Boston, Oakland, California, and Ann Arbor, Michigan.  The restaurants agree to anti-discrimination policies, put up signs on windows that pronounce their sanctuary status and receive know-your-rights training, such as webinars on how to ask federal immigration agents for proper paperwork if there's an attempted raid. Some will also offer a text line for customers or employees to report any incidents of harassment.

Canadian utility agrees to buy Washington Gas

The Washington Post | Posted on January 27, 2017

WGL Holdings, which supplies natural gas to 1.1 million customers in the Washington region, was bought by Calgary-based ­AltaGas in a cash deal worth $6.4 billion, the companies said Wednesday. They hope to close the sale by year’s end.  AltaGas Ltd. said it will relocate its U.S. power business to WGL Holding’s headquarters on Constitution Avenue in Washington. The Canadian firm may add about 20 positions over the next two years, according to executives on both sides of the deal.

Massachusetts working on improving access to fresh food

The Recorder | Posted on January 27, 2017

Rather than allow a 416-page state plan released in December 2015 to rot on a shelf, a Greenfield-based collaborative has been working to have it seed a bold future for farming and food accessibility in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative is working to promote, monitor and facilitate implementation of the plan, one that was written for and accepted by a state’s Food Policy Council, says collaborative Director Winton Pitcoff. After getting organized, the collaborative, which was itself one of the recommendations of the plan, has focused its first year on two projects, as well as moving along legislative initiatives and policy objectives recommended in the report. First, there’s trying to balance the potential conflict between farming and the autonomous town public health boards, which have authority over a vast array of issues, some of which can involve farming practices and may result in restrictive policies and regulations made in the absence of expertise. Those regulations, which can be adopted even without a public hearing, may vary from town to town, making it hard for farmers, who look for consistency, said Pitcoff.

Farm near Fukushima nuke plant ships milk again for public sale

South China Morning Post | Posted on January 26, 2017

A dairy farm near the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan began shipping raw milk again. It was the first milk shipped for processing and public sale from an area previously designated for evacuation following the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the seaside plant in Fukushima Prefecture, according to the prefectural government. Milk produced at the farm in the Naraha district had been checked for radioactive cesium every week from last May to December, with no reading ever surpassing the government-set limit of 50 becquerels per kilogram. In fact, the readings were below the testing equipment detection limit. Around 400 kg of raw milk from 18 cows was shipped

More meat price declines forecast, but chicken looking up

Meatingplace (free registration required) | Posted on January 26, 2017

Ample supplies of beef and an expected rise in pork production will keep retail prices for both proteins on a downward path in the coming year, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) predicted in its 2017 Food Price Outlook.  Beef and veal prices paid by consumers declined 6.3 percent in 2016 as the increased pace of cattle slaughter, especially during the second half of the year, and higher carcass weights resulted in higher year-over-year beef production. ERS predicts beef and veal prices will decrease an additional 2.5 to 1.5 percent in 2017. Retail pork prices fell 4.1 percent in 2016, largely due to ample supplies of other animal proteins, particularly beef, available for domestic consumption. With USDA forecasting a 5.1 percent increase in pork production in 2017, large pork supplies are expected to drive retail prices 1 to 2 percent lower this year, ERS said.  Retail chicken price inflation remained relatively low into 2016 partly due to an increase in broiler production. The strong U.S. dollar also kept more broilers on the U.S. market, weighing on retail chicken prices.Poultry prices declined 2.7 percent in 2016. However, as the industry recovers from lower 2016 retail prices, ERS predicts poultry prices will rise between 2 and 3 percent in 2017.

Farm Direct Marketing Revenue Topped $8 Billion in 2015

Growing Produce | Posted on January 26, 2017

USDA has released its first-ever survey on direct marketing, and it shows that the local food industry is huge. More than 167,000 U.S. farms sold food through direct marketing, earning $8.7 billion in 2015, the survey shows. The report includes not only fresh produce, but also “value-added foods,” defined as foods like meat and cheese.  The report, titled “Local Food Marketing Practices Survey,” is the first survey USDA has conducted focusing on the economic impact of farm marketing in the U.S. It will be repeated following the 2017 Census of Agriculture, pending approval from the Office of Management and Budget.

A2 milk will be expanding nationwide | Posted on January 25, 2017

Leading Australian dairy brand, a2 Milk®, today announced the beginning of the national launch of its full line of 100 percent pure, natural cows' milk that is easy to digest. A natural alternative for people with sensitivities to conventional dairy milk - which typically contains the A1 beta-casein, a protein often associated with indigestion and discomfort - a2 Milk® offers consumers with perceived lactose sensitivities the opportunity to enjoy the taste and nutritional benefits of real and natural dairy milk.