To celebrate Food Day 2012, Bolthouse Farms and the New York Foundling opened a learning garden on the rooftop of Haven Academy. The garden is stationed in the poorest Congressional district in the United States, where nutritious ingredients are not always available. The learning garden will be used to teach children how to make healthy food choices. Students from Haven Academy will able to harvest vegetables and herbs to be used in the school cafeteria.
Also in celebration of Food Day, the Worldwatch Institute is showcasing a list of 50 sate-by state food initiatives that aim to make the agricultural system more sustainable. Part one of the list was released a couple of days ago.
A study was conducted to test the effect of climate change on rice, the world’s second-most produced crop. Scientists found that if growing practices and rice varieties remain the same on a warming planet, rice yields would decrease by a third and greenhouse gas emissions from rice production would more than double.
More than 350 of California’s top chefs have announced their support of Proposition 37. The initiative would require labeling of foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. It would also prohibit companies from marketing the word ‘natural’ on genetically modified foods. Although Prop. 37 would not require restaurants to label their food; many chefs want to know if the ingredients they’re using have been genetically altered. Opponents of the proposition maintain that GM-labeling would only burden consumers with higher grocery bills and expose food companies and farmers to lawsuits.
Across the Corn Belt, farmland prices continue to rise. Some states are experiencing as much as a 15 percent increase in farmland since last year. Banking regulators are warning farmers against making land purchases that will lead to debt and bankruptcy. However, farmers continue to buy land in hopes of expanding their businesses.
Brazilian farmers and ranchers are preparing to supply the world with much of its food. As the demand for soy increases worldwide, farmers are moving cattle off of pasturelands to make room for soybean crops. Ranchers are also freeing up land for soy production by using feedlots to fatten up their steers. Many argue that planting soy enriches soil, which will help produce more grass and cattle. On the downside, moving animals away from pasturelands may add to the domestic grain demand in Brazil. Also, support for naturally processed food is waning as Brazil farmers and ranchers try to provide food for 7 billion people worldwide.
Over the past two years, $78 million has been cut from the Farm Service Agency budget. Earlier this year, the FSA office in Saratoga County, NY closed due to budget cuts. Since then, three more offices in New York and more than 130 nationwide have been shutdown. Farmers must travel across counties to seek aid and work with employees who are unfamiliar with their cases.