Friday, August 23, 2013

Genevieve's Farm and Food Roundup


GenevieveA New York family farm won a battle against a large-scale utility project this week. The four-generation farm successfully persuaded the state to reconsider their approval to build 21 miles of transmission lines that would tear up their fields of soy, wheat and corn. The state agreed to work with the Krenzer family to devise an alternative plan, allowing them to continue their 100-year tradition of family farming.

More blueberry bushes and good weather have led to a surplus of the popular berry this season. The lower prices are good news for consumers, but not for farmers. Some blueberry farmers are suffering from 60 cents less per pound this year, but hopefully that won’t be enough for them to quit planting in the future.

"Rooftop farming is under consideration in every major city in America," says Steven Peck, president of the nonprofit Green Roofs for Healthy Cities. Restaurants in Chicago, New York, and soon Boston are creating the next great farming frontier, growing and picking fresh produce on their rooftops to carry directly down to the kitchen.

In an effort to increase the health benefits of carrots, plant breeders have been experimenting with their pigment, creating a variety of purple, yellow, dark red and white carrots that each offer different nutrients. These colorful carrots have recently become popular among small-scale farmers, and are likely to earn a spot at your local farmers market.

Customers of the Chisholm Family Farm in Unadilla, NY, feel so strongly towards its efforts and contribution to the community that they are volunteering their time and energy to help build a creamery barn. A project that was abandoned by the farm's hired contractors, the dairy barn is now expected to be complete by November thanks to these kind-hearted volunteers.

President Obama spent the week touring upstate New York to promote his education plan, but instead found himself in the midst of the fracking debate. Activists and concerned New York residents swarmed the president in protest of the controversial issue that he has openly supported.

The new computerized inspection system used by 6,500 of the nation's meatpacking plants was apparently shut down for two days this month. Millions of pounds of beef, poultry, pork, and lamb continued to go out the door before workers could check for E-coli and other bacteria, putting consumers at risk. USDA officials insisted that the breakdown of the $20 million computer system had not compromised the nation’s meat supply. But officials from meatpacking plants say this and other breakdowns undermine the department’s assertions that the new technology has improved the safety of the nation’s meat.

A NPR story covered the biggest challenge new farmers face: access to credit. That's only one of the reasons the millennial generation of farmers often eschews traditional forms of agriculture and favors small-scale operations. Said one farmer, "It's a very rare person who's not grown up on a farm that's going to go out and say, 'I want to plant 100,000 acres of corn. I want to invest $300,000 in a tractor. I want to get a confinement hog barn with 300,000 pigs.'"

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