The American South, a place that relies heavily on their hot summer days to produce cultural staples such as tomatoes, peanuts, tobacco, and peaches, has struggled immensely this season due to unusual amounts of rain. While many are hopeful that the fields will dry up in time for fall crops, some farmers worry about the tendency of the southern climate in these situations to remain either dry or wet.
It has been found, in a recent study of more than 700 farmers, that weedkiller is making farmers clinically depressed. Researchers are unsure of whether it is the chemicals in the weedkiller that is causing this, a theory that will require further research. It does however raise more questions about genetic engineering, which has increased chemical use in spite of its goals to decrease use of inputs, and the potential health hazards of chemical exposure in our food.
On a lighter note, 16 teams made up of family farmers competed in the Family Farm Olympics held at the Phillips County fairgrounds in Holyoke, Colorado, at the end of July. Activities included a variety of relay races, involving wheelbarrows, tire-flipping, and eggs on spoons.
A food bank in Tucson, Arizona, is helping their clients become farmers, going above and beyond the expectation of merely distributing food. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona has helped more than 50 families establish garden plots, allowing them to reap the benefits of growing their own fresh produce, instead of the processed food typically given out.
Students at the University of Minnesota are growing their own food to be sold at local farmers markets and school functions on their Cornercopia Student Organic Farm. The success of this on-campus farm has recently led the University to grant them more land, in an effort to feed the local community, and increase awareness of organic and sustainable farming.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared August 4-10 as National Farmers Market Week! Farmers markets have become a critical part of our nations food system, proving benefits for both farmers and consumers who seek fresh and healthy food. Which one of the 8,1444 farmers markets in the nation will you be visiting this week?
The first lab-created hamburger was unveiled this week, after years of research. Said one lucky(?) taster, "It wasn't unpleasant." But at a cost of more than $300,000, is this the protein of the future?
Farm Bill update: Congress has begun their August recess with still no Farm Bill resolution in site. Here's the latest on what to expect when legislators return to session in September.