Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ethan's Farm and Food Roundup

EthanIn California, excess nitrate from agricultural fertilizers and animal manure has been found in the drinking water of surrounding communities. Experts say that nearly 10% of residents may be drinking contaminated water that could lead to a whole host of medical problems. And unfortunately, they say that the contamination will get progressively worse in the future if it isn’t taken care of.

You know the mild weather that a lot of us across the country have recently enjoyed? Well, “the dairy cows have really enjoyed it,” according to an economist in Kansas City. The warmer weather has resulted in record milk production for dairy farmers in the US, Australia and New Zealand--the three largest exporters of milk products. With all of the excess milk on the market, dairy prices and demand are falling. That means that there will be a whole lot of sour milk and low milk prices for farmers in 2012, another burden for dairy farmers who are still recovering from the dairy crisis of 2009 and are already dealing with rising feed costs.

There has been a strong and growing movement towards urban agriculture, including reclaiming neglected urban lots to grow vegetables and produce. But the closer you get to the heart of the city, the more concerned you should be about the health of your soil. This article from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) gives you useful information about testing your city soil to make sure you are growing healthy, hearty plants.

This past Monday, 45 US representatives and 10 US senators signed a letter to the FDA asking them to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The letter was inspired by the Just Label It! petition, which is supported by more than 400 health and consumer organizations (including Farm Aid) and has been signed by 900,000 concerned farmers and eaters, demanding that consumers have the right to know what it's their food! If you haven't signed yet, sign now!

This year’s warm winter had an impact on more than just the ski resorts. Maple syrup producers all over New England are facing the tough possibility of sitting the year out, with maple trees turning out less than ideal sap for production. Some producers may need to boil over twice as much sap to get the same amount of syrup, and the financial impact and energy required may simply not be worth the time and cost.

From an article in the New York Times about small farmers supporting themselves through farm tourism: “For all the talk about sustainable agriculture, most small farms are not self-sustaining in a very basic sense: they can’t make ends meet financially without relying on income from jobs off the farm.”

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