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If you thought you were paying fair prices for chicken at the supermarket, think again

The Washington Post | Posted on November 18, 2016

In the vast and complicated U.S. economy, it is rare for an individual to exert much control over the price of a major commodity. But then there is Arty G. Schronce and the price of chicken. As director of a bulletin from the Georgia Department of Agriculture, Schronce makes a weekly calculation that gives supermarkets around the country the going rate for a pound of chicken. The price average from Schronce directly affects what big retailers such as Walmart and Safeway pay for chicken — it’s often built into supermarket purchasing contracts — and that price is then passed along to shoppers. It has, in other words, affected billions of dollars in purchases. But has it been accurate? Recently, this influential estimate has drawn questions about whether it artificially inflated U.S. chicken prices and elicited scrutiny from the U.S. Agriculture Department. Now it turns out that even Schronce has harbored serious doubts about its accuracy.   Over the past two years, the price estimate, known within the industry as the “Georgia Dock,” has drifted significantly upward from other chicken price averages, rising about 20 percent or more out of line with a separate but lesser known index maintained by the USDA. A deviation in supermarket chicken prices of that magnitude would have cost U.S. grocery shoppers billions of dollars in recent years.  Food price estimates such as the Georgia Dock affect the price of many perishable products — such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and livestock — because producers rely on them to set the terms of long-term contracts. Many of the price measures, used for decades, are products of long tradition.


Mislabelled seafood may lead to more sustainable consumption

Fish Information Services | Posted on November 17, 2016

Seafood mislabelling can actually lead consumers to eat more sustainably, concluded scientists from the University of Washington (UW) broadly examining the ecological and financial impacts of the issue. These scientists found that the substituted fish is often more plentiful and of a better conservation status than the fish on the label or in the restaurant menu. Official estimates have shown that up to 30 per cent of the seafood served in restaurants and sold in supermarkets is mislabelled due to fraud, human error or marketing ploys combined with an often multicountry traverse from boat to restaurant. “One of the motivations and hopes for this study is that we can help inform people who are trying to exert their consumer power to shift seafood markets toward carrying more sustainable options,” said co-author Christine Stawitz, a UW doctoral student in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the Quantitative Ecology and Resource Management program.


Children who drink full fat milk are skinnier

Dailymail | Posted on November 17, 2016

hildren who drink full fat milk are slimmer than those who drank semi-skimmed milk. Researchers think that the blue cap milk left kids feeling more full so were less likely to snack on unhealthy foods. The researchers also found that the children had higher levels of Vitamin D – the 'sunshine vitamin.' Because vitamin D is soluble in fat rather than water, the higher fat content in full milk means it carries more of the vitamin.

 


Does 'cage-free' mean a better life for chickens?

CNN | Posted on November 17, 2016

It's not a clear choice which of the possible living conditions for egg-laying hens -- enriched cages, cage-free systems, free-range setups -- serve them the best. The philosophical question of whether animals deserve any kind of moral consideration has been debated at least since the ancient Greeks. Cage-free and free-range systems clearly do a better job of allowing hens to express behaviorsthat are similar to those of wild jungle fowl. They can move around, and they have better opportunities for scratching, dust bathing and foraging. However, in comparison to enriched cages, hens in cage-free and free-range facilities suffer injuries simply because they move around more. Access to the outdoors often means that predators also have access to hens, and some are inevitably taken by hawks, foxes or the like.


Oregon has large backlog of food safety inspections, audit finds

Oregon Live | Posted on November 17, 2016

Nearly a quarter of the food businesses in Oregon from groceries to dairies are overdue for safety inspections, according to an audit from the Secretary of State's office.The 2,841 companies are at least three months' past due, the audit said.


High-protein diet link to heart failure in older women studied

Meatingplace (registration required) | Posted on November 17, 2016

Women over the age of 50 who follow a high-protein diet could be at higher risk for heart failure, especially if much of their protein comes from meat, according to preliminary research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.


Whole egg prices at all time lows

American Egg Board | Posted on November 17, 2016

The egg supply has completely recovered from the impact it suffered due to the avian influenza (AI) outbreak in 2015, surprising industry analysts. Initial forecasts had predicted an 18-month timeline for flocks and supply to return to pre-AI levels, yet producers have achieved this goal in one year’s time. Prices for both shell eggs and egg ingredients reflect this abundant supply. In fact according to industry analyst, Rick Brown, senior vice president, Urner Barry, whole egg prices are at a 10-year low.


Demand for organic feedstuffs far outstrips domestic supply

DTN | Posted on November 17, 2016

Organic and non-GMO sales in the U.S. amount to chicken feed, but that chicken feed is increasingly imported because U.S. farmers aren't in a position to fill demand for certified organic or even non-GMO feed.  The gap between supply and demand in organic and non-GMO feed markets offers an opportunity for farmers, but price takers aren't jumping to join the marketing wave. Premiums are also there for non-GMO crops, but they are significantly lower than organic and harder to predict. Regional factors play more into that. USDA reports non-GMO feed was pulling a premium of 12% to 14% above the average market price last year compared to genetically engineered feed commodities. Imports of organic corn have gone from 3.1 million bushels in 2014 to a projected 17.9 million bushels this year. Those imports could top 20 million bushels in 2017. Much of that organic corn is coming from Turkey, Romania and Argentina. For soybeans, the organic imports are even higher, hitting 40 million bushels this year. Imports made up 40% of the market in 2015 for U.S. organic corn feed and will likely top 50% this year. For soybeans, imports accounted for 78% of the U.S. organic feed market. Between the two, the U.S. is importing roughly $353 million in organic corn and soybean feed -- in a country that plants more than 188 million acres of mostly biotech corn and soybeans.


Cook County, home to Chicago, approves sugar tax in growing trend

Reuters | Posted on November 13, 2016

Chicagoans and other residents of Cook County will see soft-drink prices rise after a new tax on sugary beverages was narrowly approved by county officials on Thursday, aimed at both addressing health issues linked to sugar consumption and trimming a budget shortfall. Cook County, with about 5.2 million residents, is the most populous municipality so far to implement a tax on sugary drinks. Voters in San Francisco and two other northern California cities, Oakland and Albany, approved similar measures on Tuesday. The Cook County tax will be a penny per ounce.


This app reduces food waste by offering restaurant 'leftovers' for 80% off

Tree Hugger | Posted on November 13, 2016

The latest in a crop of apps designed to address the issue of food waste connects restaurants that have excess & leftover food with people looking to save money on prepared foods. It comes from Food for All, which is currently operating as a pilot project with 30-some restaurants in Cambridge, MA, and which is looking to scale up its venture to both Boston and New York City next year. The platform is taking aim at the estimated 43 billion pounds of food that is thrown out each year by restaurants, fast food joints, cafeterias, and caterers, and in addition to reducing food waste, the Food for All app is designed to give consumers a sweetheart of a deal (50-80% off of retail prices) on prepared foods. The app allows users to search for food deals close to their desired location, place their order for the leftovers (foods that did not/will not sell by the end of the day), and then go pick up the food at the designated time (before close of business, obviously, but time frames are determined by the businesses themselves).


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