Thursday, February 09, 2012

Ethan's Farm and Food Roundup

EthanThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed its planting and gardening temperature map of the United States for the first time in over two decades, to reflect a warming climate that allows gardeners to grow previously vulnerable plants in new areas. The new map is based on recent warmer average temperatures and is completely interactive in an online database.

Do you know where your chickens and eggs are coming from? Do you know the difference between terms like cage free, free range, and pastured poultry? This Grist article seeks to clear up some of the confusion about the true origin of your food, and give you a better idea of what you are buying at the supermarket. And learn lots more about food labels on our site.

Supporting local food could be a jump-start to our economy, and pending plans all around the country are helping to make this possible. The “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative seeks to connect consumers with local farmers growing their food, and other markets are helping small farming operations to find central markets to sell their products. If these plans gain strength, we could see noticeable effects on both our economy and the agricultural system, says Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan.

The debate about the sale of raw unpasteurized milk to the public goes on, even as a recent campylobacter outbreak is investigated at a Pennsylvania dairy farm. The outbreak illustrates the popularity of raw, unpasteurized milk despite strong warnings from public health officials about the potential danger. Do you, or would you, drink raw milk?

Large factory farms threaten more than just the food market for local family farmers. Factory farm waste that is deposited into lagoons and streams on site can have a very serious impact on surrounding operations, and some small farms have seen increased stillborn births as a result of contaminated water. Darvin Bentlage, a cattle and wheat farmer in Missouri, has seen this first hand.

In an effort to battle the rising age of farmers, Rogue Community College in southeastern Oregon is offering for-credit internships for students that work on local farms. Working in partnership with the Rogue Farm Corps, the program hopes to reintroduce young farmers back into the local agriculture scene in the Rogue Valley.

The rise of urban farming means the size of your garden may become a bigger factor in the overall cost of your home. With the potential for fresh organic produce right out of your own backyard, city-dwellers may soon consider small yards for gardening a luxury.

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