Three bills introduced into the Illinois General Assembly loosen up cottage food sales and promote farmers markets, but apparently are not intended to alter the state’s new raw milk law. Illinois in 2016 aligned itself with the surrounding states of Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin by prohibiting any retail sales of milk without pasteurization. On-farm sales are permitted under new regulations. Raw milk cheese aged 60 days can be sold under a separate permit, but sales of other unpasteurized raw milk products are also prohibited. Three bills, two in the House and one in the Senate, have been introduced in Springfield, making changes for farmers markets and cottage food producers. All three measures, with very similar language, have been assigned to committees.All three call for establishing a state Farmers Market Task Force “to address farmers market vendor complaints regarding the reasonableness of local health departments” fee and sanitation provisions.”The proposals also call for providing farmers market vendors with “effective means to maintain potentially hazardous food at a specific temperature.” That language is apparently intended to allow vendors to use ice chests to keep food cold. Currently refrigerators are required.
An improbable coalition is calling for dramatic changes to the state's dairy industry. Former agriculture secretary Roger Allbee has joined forces with three longtime environmental activists to argue that depressed milk prices, the need to reduce water pollution, and uncertainty about trade and migrant labor at the federal level present a unique opportunity to reinvigorate Vermont dairy farming. "A perfect storm is brewing," Allbee told the House Agriculture and Forestry Committee earlier this month. "Vermont has the rare opportunity of helping rescue its largest agricultural industry and to plot a future agriculture [system] for the state that is uniquely Vermont." The goal: to develop a set of environmental and ethical standards for dairy farms and build a made-in-Vermont brand that would bring farmers a premium price for their milk. Farms would have to meet those requirements — which could go above and beyond using organic practices — to qualify for using the state seal.
Canadian meat processor Maple Leaf Foods announced it has signed a definitive agreement with Brynwood Partners VI L.P. to acquire Lightlife Foods, a leading manufacturer and brand of refrigerated plant-based protein foods in the United States, for $140 million (U.S. dollars) and related costs.
There’s a simple step consumers can take to cut waste: Rethink “fresh.” It’s a word we associate with food that’s wholesome and good-tasting. And there’s no argument about a just-picked tomato or a just-caught striped bass; those are the tastes that drive me to grow tomatoes and catch fish. But most tomatoes and fish don’t come to us just-picked or just-caught. They come to us after having been picked or caught, packed and shipped, warehoused and displayed. Because “fresh” signifies “perishable,” especially when it comes to produce and seafood, there’s a lot of waste in that system. According to JoAnne Berkenkamp, senior advocate for the food and agriculture program of the Natural Resources Defense Council, freezing and canning can cut back significantly on produce waste — a huge problem, since slightly more than half of our fruits and vegetables go uneaten. The savings start within hours of picking. “The vegetables are typically shipped straight from the farm to processing facilities and frozen or canned within hours, and then stabilized for months or years,” she says.
Organic grain is flooding into the U.S., depressing prices and drawing complaints from domestic organic farmers who fear their harvests are held to stricter standards than foreign-raised crops.
There is a lot of emotion these days surrounding the use of seed created with genetic engineering. Some groups have grown concerned about associated pesticides and what they see as corporate control. Scientists tell us that the technology is beneficial and poses no additional risk compared to other breeding methods. I wanted to find this out for myself. In March I contacted Rupp Seeds, one of many suppliers of seed for farmers. The immediate problem I faced was that of scale. I live in a very small Annapolis duplex with a lawn that takes me about five minutes to cut. Transgenic seed is more expensive and so far tends to only be economical for large scale farming where the increased costs are offset by savings in other areas. The smallest quantity I was able to purchase was a package of 2500 sweet corn seeds and 1000 squash seeds. I was not prepared for the squash. I planted nine seeds resistant to different diseases. Essentially they were vaccinated as proteins from the viruses were inserted to create immunity. This should allow farmers that plant these varieties to use less fungicide. Each squash plant just kept growing, invading a large chunk of my back yard. When the squash is harvested, more grow in its place. Next year one seed is all my family needs for a summer of squash it seems. The corn is a bit more controversial. The Seminis variety Obsession II is glyphosate tolerant and contains a gene from the naturally occurring bacteria bacillus thuringus (an organic insecticide). I was mildly disappointed to discover that I never even got the chance to spray glyphosate on them. These fast growing stalks quickly out competed the weeds for sunlight. The idea that farmers are out there “drenching” their corn in glyphosate is one of the greatest internet myths out there. The amount sprayed will certainly vary by climate conditions and month planted. But long before anything known as food emerges from the stalks the sun will be prevented from reaching the weeds.
Wsconsin-based Sargento Foods Inc., is expanding a voluntary recall of some cheeses due to a possible bacterial contamination. The company recalled some cheeses Feb. 10, but expanded the recall Friday to include products produced on the same line. Sargento says it also cut ties with Indiana-based Deutsch Kase Haus, which supplied cheese which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Philadelphia’s six-week-old tax on sweetened beverages is already taking a toll on drink distributors and grocers, with some reporting sales drops of as much as 50 percent. “In 30 years of business, there’s never been a circumstance in which we’ve ever had a sales decline of any significant amount,” said Jeff Brown, chief executive officer of Brown’s Super Stores. “I would describe the impact as nothing less than devastating.”
Tyson Foods executives announced that all Tyson consumer brand products would feature chicken with No Antibiotics Ever (NAE). The company also unveiled a new logo.
When people don’t seem to use science to make decisions, it is tempting to assume that it’s because they don’t understand the underlying science. In response, scientists and science communicators often just try harder to explain the science in the hope that eventually the facts will persuade people to change their behaviours or beliefs. This is known as “the deficit model” of science communication. While there have been many attempts in science communication to move away from the deficit model, it continues to persist, partly because we still don’t really understand the different ways in which people interact with science in their everyday lives.Even the idea that there is a single body of knowledge known as “science” is problematic: various sciences have different ways of weighing up evidence or looking at things such as risk.Another issue is that people have multiple roles that affect the ways they make decisions: citizen, consumer, scientist, and carer, to name a few. And finally, the role of science in our “post-truth” world is more contentious than ever.