Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ethan's Farm and Food Roundup

EthanDutch scientists have found a way to make the world’s first laboratory-grown hamburger. Using bovine stem cells, they were able to make layers of cow muscle fiber, and combine them with other lab grown mystery meats to form a lump of beef. They plan to release the very first artificial burger for consumption this fall.

Suburban living and local agriculture are starting to come back together again after years of separation. When suburban areas surrounding cities were developed for housing, small farms were pushed even further away from cities. But as urban farming grows, suburbs are beginning to rethink their strategy for providing food to their communities. Some farmers are prospering by providing suburbs with fresh local produce in cities around the country.

After the recent Dairy Law that has modified rules about the sale and consumption of raw milk, the Vermont legislature is turning its focus to House Bill 722, which would require the labeling of all GMO foods in the state. It would also place restrictions on language use by biotech companies, and prohibit words like “all-natural” and “naturally grown” on GMO products.

And Connecticut is considering introducing a similar bill.

Can gardening help troubled minds to heal
? Scientists have found that gardening can be very therapeutic for a wide range of mental health issues including PTSD and depression. Known as horticultural therapy, gardening helps to reduce cortisol, which is a leading chemical associated with stress in the body.

A Russian biophysics team has successfully grown a 30,000 year-old plant from its frozen fruit. The fruit seeds were presumably stored away in cold burrows by squirrels, and have been preserved in the ice at a depth of about 40 meters ever since. This is by far the oldest plant to be resurrected, and breaks the previous record of a 2,000 year old plant from Israel.

Cows are now able to contact farmers when they are feeling ill or coming into heat. Using the same motion sensors from the Nintendo Wii remote, certain movements exhibited by the cow’s collar will send a text message to the farmer detailing the need for help. Hopefully, this will increase animal welfare and provide optimum windows for breeding, helping farmers everywhere profit.

Here’s an inspiring story about one of the first cold-weather farmers, Eliot Coleman of Maine.

And a sad but telling story about more ranchers needing to find off-farm jobs to support their ranches in an era of high costs. And fewer ranchers are coming on the land; as one rancher puts it, "Our offspring is not enamored with working their asses off for not a lot of return.”

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