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Food News

Breeding for Flavor

GROW | Posted on July 7, 2016

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.

Father of toddler, who died after drinking raw milk, knew it was dangerous

Dailymail | Posted on June 30, 2016

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 sued over ‘natural’ pork claims | Posted on June 30, 2016

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 board unanimously rejects preliminary offer from Mondelez

CNBC | Posted on June 30, 2016

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.

To fight a food desert, this Dallas college turned its football field into a farm

Splendud Table | Posted on June 30, 2016

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

VT retailers say GMO label law unclear

Burlington Free Press | Posted on June 30, 2016

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.

Food at farmers' markets competitively priced with retail stores

Greenfield Reporter | Posted on June 30, 2016

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.

Most top fast food chains have policies on antibiotics

Watt Ag Net | Posted on June 30, 2016

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.

The Food Movement Has Nothing To Do With Farming | Posted on June 30, 2016

We live in an Instagram-ready, organic cold-pressed hemp milk age. To us, the word “farm” brings to mind a rustic (yet modern) retreat where a cornucopia of lusciously crisp fruit and vegetables are picked daily by weathered hands (body optional) and perfectly clean eggs are laid in perfectly clean straw in reclaimed wood barns with just enough dust in the air to create a flawless #nofilter “eggstra” special post. Obviously, some farming is growing fruits and vegetables. But consider your local grocery store. When we walk into the produce section (which is probably 1/5th or so of the store) 90% of what we can see was likely grown in either Florida, California, or abroad. California and Florida combined make up less than 1% of the total US Cropland. Thus, most farmers are not vegetable farmers. The vast majority of farmers are grain farmers- they grow corn, soybeans, wheat, or barley, which makes sense when we consider that grain is what makes up much of the other 4/5ths of the grocery store. It also makes sense because most of the US (and the world) simply isn’t fit for growing many of the fruits and vegetables we expect to be continuously available. Not only do fresh fruits and vegetables require warm weather, ample sunlight, and limited wind and pest exposure, they also require hand-picking which, in talking to farmers who couldn’t even find one hired man in their area to bring on part-time, is a laughable idea.

Food Judgements Lean to the Extremes

DTN | Posted on June 29, 2016

Beef may well be one of the most vilified foods on the planet today. A recent example, found on the Medical Daily website, lists seven reasons a person should avoid eating beef. Those include mentions of studies tying consumption of beef to Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, colon cancer and type 2 diabetes. Mad Cow Disease is reason No. 5 to never eat beef; and the fact that "cows are nice" is reason No. 7.  Downplaying this type of article as internet fear-mongering risks underestimating its impact. Consider that 72% of adults in the U.S. go online for health information, according to a Pew Research Center survey. The vast majority use search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo to find answers to medical questions. Beth Kitchin, assistant professor in nutrition sciences at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, said she's not surprised to find people are often confused by reports singling out this or that food as a cause of cancer.

"I think basically our whole profession is so crazy now. You can find somebody to tell you whatever you want to hear, whether it's that Paleo is great, or you need to go gluten-free, or that sugar is toxic. We are throwing out whole categories of food," she said. "Looking at beef, reports that came out where the World Health Organization [WHO] said red meat is a carcinogen were really exaggerated. There is no food that is toxic for people. Sugar is not toxic. Beef is not toxic. That doesn't mean we shouldn't limit ourselves, but this all gets very hyperbolic. The key to good health, as boring as it sounds, is moderation."