Jenny’s Food and Ag Update for September 20, 2014

Jenny's Food and Ag Update

A sprinkle of compost helps rangeland lock up carbon (SF Chronicle)

Record gourd tips scales at Half Moon Bay pumpkin fest (SFGate)

LA City Council introduces plan to encourage urban farming (LA Times)

Save the climate, pay a farmer (Grist)

Farm-to-Table Gives Us Food That Tastes Good- but Chef Dan Barber Wants More (Takepart)

New SF restaurant’s mission: Save the environment (SF Chronicle)

Zero Food Footprint

Americans on Food Aid Document Their Hunger in Photos (Yes!)

Whole Foods Is Now Ranking Produce By Eco-Friendliness (Huffington Post)

Wait Till You See Whole Food’s Newest Food Label (Takpart)

Should big business get out of the food business? (Grist)

Read the rest..

Irving, Texas-based Xochitl Tortilla Chip Company Busted by Consumer Reports for False “No GMO” Labels

10701947_858793397494458_5142145627943282805_n[1]The tortilla chip company Xochitl has gained a foothold in grocery stores across the United States in large part because of two words added to its package to reassure consumers: “No GMO.” It’s website shows that the chips are now in grocery stores across the country, and both organic and non-organic varieties are offered (both say “No GMO” on the bag.

But according to a recent test conducted by Consumer Reports that actually found its way to the mainstream media, the company has been lying about that important distinction.

Xochitl appears to have deleted their Facebook page in response to complaints from consumers following the report..

Despite the non-GMO claims by Xochitl (pronounced “so-cheel”) and their Totopos de Maiz original corn chips, the recent Consumer Reports investigation found that the non-organic (supposedly non-GMO) varieties of the chips contain over 75% GMO corn, over a test of six different packages.

Corn of the GMO variety was found in each type of the chips, despite the No GMO and “all-natural” labels on the front of the packages.

A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Xochitl (So Shee) Inc. for allegedly falsely advertising various flavors of corn chips – including Xochitl Totopos de Maiz Salted Tortilla Chips, Unsalted Tortilla Chips, Garlic Tortilla Chips, Cajun Style Tortilla Chips, Picositos Con Limon Tortilla Chips, and Holiday Inspired Tortilla Chips– as “all natural” and as containing “No GMO” when, in reality, the chips are not all natural and contain genetically modified ingredients. (Cohen et al v. Xochitl (So Shee) Inc. and Xochitl Gourmet Foods LLC, Case No. 14-cv-23751, S. D. FL.).

Help Save Austin’s Sprindale Farm

via Edible Austin

Dear Friends,

I’m here with an update on Springdale Farm. We have spent almost two years working with the City of Austin staff, Planning Commission, and City Council to:

1) re-define the Urban Farm Ordinance, and
2) make sure we are compliant with all new codes and ordinances.

Unfortunately, we also continue to face opposition and your help could mean the difference between Springdale Farm continuing or being closed down.

Our goal here is simple. We want to be able to keep farming on our land.

Diversifying our income base is what all farmers have to do. Urban Farms don’t receive government subsidies, nor have we asked for any. We just want the city to grant us the proper permits to continue to host occasional events on the farm. Some places call it agri-tourism. We call it making a living, and as a commercially zoned property, we are simply asking for permission to do what other commercially zoned properties are allowed to do.

And here’s what we need from you.

Please email our city council or our zoning case manager and let them know that you support Springdale Farm. Let these public officials know that hosting weddings and supper clubs are a part of the culture of Austin that makes our city great. If you’ve had the opportunity to eat at Eden East at Springdale Farm, please let city council members and the case manager know that you appreciate Eden East as well.

Your action of expressing gratitude for Springdale Farm and the activities that happen here could make the difference in whether Springdale Farm stays in existence or not.

Please also check out to join us on the farm on September 28 for a lovely Sip and Stroll with 17 of Austin’s top local chefs, local libations, farm games, and silent auction.

Thank you, and let’s keep growing together,

Glenn and Paula

Artificial Sweeteners Linked to Metabolic Disease

Artificial sweeteners — promoted as aids to weight loss and diabetes prevention — could actually hasten the development of glucose intolerance and metabolic disease, and they do so in a surprising way: by changing the composition and function of the gut microbiota — the substantial population of bacteria residing in our intestines. These findings, the results of experiments in mice and humans, were published September 17 in Nature. Dr. Eran Elinav of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Immunology, who led this research together with Prof. Eran Segal of the Department of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, says that the widespread use of artificial sweeteners in drinks and food, among other things, may be contributing to the obesity and diabetes epidemic that is sweeping much of the world.

Read more..

Jenny’s Food and Ag Update for September 15, 2014

Jenny's Food and Ag Update

Migrant Farmworkers Find Paths Out of Poverty Through Incubator Farms (Yes!)

Imports, small harvest hit famed New Mexico chili peppers (Yahoo!)

We Must Degrow the ‘Corporate Food Regime’: Food Sovereignty Advocate (Common Dreams)

The Awful Reign of the Red Delicious (The Atlantic)

Reports Says ‘Green’ Businesses Donate Millions to Congressional Climate Deniers (EcoWatch)

Report: #Disrupt Denial: How Big Business is Funding Climate Change Denial in the 113th Congress and Why They Should Stop (Forecast The Facts)

10 Ways to Grow a Better Food System (Food Tank)

Endless War in the Fertile Crescent: How Modern Crises Threaten Ancient Food Supply (Common Dreams)

Just because you can go foraging doesn’t mean you should (The Guardian)

Why Food Pilgrims Will Wait Four Hours For A Taste Of The Sublime (NPR)

Read the rest..

Four Ways Industrial Ag Is Destroying the Soil – and Your Health

industrial agriculture

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away? Not anymore, according to soil health experts—unless the apple comes from a tree grown in healthy, organic soil.

According to Australian soil scientist Christine Jones, as reported by Courtney White in his book, Grass, Soil, Hope, apples have lost 80 percent of their vitamin C.

And that orange you just ate to help ward off a cold? It’s entirely possible that it contains no vitamin C at all.

study looking at vegetables from 1930 to 1980, found that iron levels had decreased by 22 percent, and calcium content by 19 percent.  In the United Kingdom, from 1940 to 1990, copper content in vegetables fell by 76 percent, and calcium by 46 percent. The mineral content in meat was also significantly reduced.

Food forms the building blocks of our bodies and health. Soil forms the basis for healthy food. Unhealthy soil grows poor quality food. And poor quality food means poor health.

Even our mental health is linked to healthy soil, rich in microbes.

So what’s happened to our soil? It’s been under assault since the advent of modern industrial agriculture, with its monocrops, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

The term “biodiversity” evokes images of a rich variety of plants—trees, flowers, grasses, fruits, vegetables—mixed in with an equally diverse collection of animals, insects and wildlife, all co-existing in a lush environment.

But there’s a whole world of biodiversity that lives beneath the surface of the earth—at least in areas where the soil hasn’t been destroyed. And that biodiversity is essential for the growth of nutrient-rich foods.