Ever wonder why so many in the general public are confused about the source of their food? I used to but no longer! The food world has become a mixture of fact and deliberate misinformation disguised as responding to the consumer. The most recent example strikes me a ironic and a bit funny. In the spirit of cage-free eggs to improve chicken welfare, H.J. Baker recently announced a new product, “the first vegan protein concentrate for use in poultry.” Is that an oxymoron? Chickens are omnivores and destined to become or produce food.
Consumer demand for regionally produced food is on the rise. But transportation and distribution logistics for mid-size shippers, distributors and farmers can be tricky. These supply chain partners are looking for ways to more efficiently move products from Wisconsin’s farms to markets, while upholding many of their customers’ sustainability values. That’s where the CALS-based Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) comes in. CIAS is working with university and private-sector partners to bring regionally grown food to urban markets while growing rural economies and addressing the environmental impacts of food freight. “When people think of local food, they think of farmers markets and community-supported agriculture,” says Michelle Miller BS’83, associate director of programs for CIAS. “While these direct markets are the gold standard for connecting us with the people who grow our food, they don’t address the need to get more high-quality regional products into grocery stores, restaurants and schools.” Consumers tend to believe that food is more sustainable if it travels a short distance from farm to table. However, a USDA study found that compared to direct markets, the large truckloads and logistical efficiencies found in the conventional food system sometimes use less fuel per food item transported.
Wisconsin scientists are breeding new varieties of produce that not only are delicious, but also will thrive in organic growing systems. And in a new collaboration called “Seed to Kitchen,” they’re partnering with chefs and farmers to help determine what works best.
The father of a toddler who died after drinking raw milk knew it was dangerous when he gave it to him in tiny amounts, a court has heard. The man, who has not been named, said he understood Mountain View Farm's Organic Bath Milk had been labelled as not for human consumption, but that it looked like 'every other milk carton' on shelves. Four other children also took ill after drinking other brands of raw milk that year which had been branded as bath products, prompting health authorities to reiterate warnings over its consumption. While the sale of raw milk for drinking purposes has been illegal for years, retailers are still able to sell it as a cosmetic product. Many have continued to drink it under the belief that it is not harmful and may even benefit their health despite warnings it is more likely to contain bacteria which can cause serious infections - particularly among children.
Hormel Foods Corp.’s claims that certain of its pork products are “natural” are deceiving consumers, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in the District of Columbia Superior Court. The complaint takes aim at the Austin, Minn.-based processor’s Natural Choice brand of lunch meats and bacon, pitting its slogan “Make the Natural Choice” and claims like “100% Natural” and “All-Natural” against consumers’ understanding of what “natural” means. The lawsuit cites Consumer Reports research that found that most consumers believe “natural” to mean that animals were raised using "sustainable" farming techniques on "independent" family farms — as opposed to “factory farms” — and that the products are free of artificial ingredients. USDA’s definition of “natural” is: “A product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a manner that does not fundamentally alter the product. The label must include a statement explaining the meaning of the term natural (such as "no artificial ingredients; minimally processed").”
Hershey's board unanimously rejected a $23 billion offer from its rival Mondelez International. In a statement, the maker of Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Peanut Butter, said it turned down the offer after determining "that it provided no basis for further discussion between Mondelez and the company." Hershey said Mondelez, the maker of Oreo cookies and Cadbury chocolate, offered it $107 a share in cash and stock. The offer also included other "non-monetary conditions." Earlier Thursday, people familiar with the matter told CNBC that Mondelez had pledged to protect jobs following any deal and to locate its global chocolate headquarters to Hershey, Pennsylvania, and rename the combined company Hershey. Those overtures were seen as critical to paving the way to a potential transaction, given past failed attempts to acquire Hershey. Hershey's shares hit a 52-week high intraday and was recently trading up $17.86, or 17.4 percent at $114.55. With the stock trading higher than the speculated offer price, it is likely investors are betting Mondelez could sweeten its offer, or another suitor could appear.
Paul Quinn College was in the middle of a food desert. Its football team kept losing -- badly. So in 2010, the Dallas college decided to transform its football field into a farm. It left both goal posts standing
Ray Bouffard, owner of Georgia Market just off Interstate 89 at Exit 18, is a worried man. Sitting in a small locker room for his employees he explains that he just spent $8,000 on new scales so he could efficiently label foods made in his deli that contain GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. Vermont's first-in-the-nation law requiring labeling for genetically engineered foods goes into effect on Friday, and Bouffard believes the law might be bad for his business. The Vermont law requires manufacturers — and retailers who make food in their delis — to determine whether their products contain any genetically engineered ingredients, and if they do, label their packages accordingly. "It's a complex scenario relative to what we have to do," Bouffard said. "The issue is not so much that the retailers are against this thing. We obviously want to support GMO labeling. The problem we have is we've gone it alone as the State of Vermont. This really should have been mandated federally." Bouffard is not alone in his concerns and confusion. Jim Harrison, president of Vermont Retail and Grocer's Association, said 200 business owners participated in a GMO-labeling webinar he offered. "There are a lot of questions, especially when you get down to the retail level," Harrison said. "I bake a chocolate chip cookie, do I need to label it? How do I know what's in my sandwich? A lot of retailers assumed this law is for manufacturers not us. The reality is it's for retailers as well as manufacturers, so there's a lot of anxiety." Harrison also said at least one manufacturer is asking store owners to do the labeling for them. Dannon sent its Vermont retailers a package with labels saying, "Our yogurt is not going to be labeled until August. Please label in the interim." Harrison advised his members not to comply.
A Vermont Agency of Agriculture study has found that many foods sold at farmers' markets are competitively priced with those same products sold at retail stores. Among the findings:— 92 percent of certified organic produce at farmers' markets is competitively priced, defined as within a 10% price range, with the same produce in retail stores. — Local meats and proteins sold at farmers' markets also are competitively priced with retail stores more than 57% of the time. — Local, certified-organic products at farmers' markets are almost always competitively priced with the same products at retail stores.
Perhaps now more than ever, restaurant chains are having more of an influence on how U.S. farmers raise poultry and livestock. A recently released report revealed that for the first time ever, Americans are spending more money eating out than on groceries. With that in mind, it’s worth watching which restaurant chains are hot and which are not, as well as which ones are responding to pressures to adopt stricter policies on antibiotic use. Among the largest QSR chains in the U.S., Chick-fil-A ranked highest with an 87 percent satisfaction rate. It was followed by Papa John’s, 82 percent; Little Caesars and Panera Bread, 81 percent; and Arby’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway, each with 80 percent. Those rated below 80 percent were Chipotle Mexican Grill, Domino’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Wendy’s, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Jack in the Box and McDonald’s. Lumping the smaller chains into “All others,” those restaurants were given an 81 percent approval rating. Chick-fil-A announced that it would commit to a 100 percent “raised without antibiotics” standard for its chicken. No. 2 rated Papa John's revealed in December 2015 that the chicken used as pizza toppings and in its chicken poppers would come from birds never treated with antibiotics. It announced it would complete the transition this summer. In a tie for third on the list in terms of customer satisfaction are Panera Bread and Little Caesars. Panera Bread was one of the first restaurant chains to adopt a strict antibiotic policy. To date, Little Caesars has not revealed any policies on animal antibiotic use.