What Does “Natural” Mean?


Not much..


Last year, according to Nielsen, foods labeled “natural” generated $43 billion in sales.That’s more than five times the figure for foods carrying an “organic” label ($8.9 billion).

Meat from livestock fed genetically modified corn, for example, can still be labeled “natural,” as can animals raised with regular doses of antibiotics. And the USDA has no regulations at all for labeling natural foods that do not contain meat or eggs.

More than half of those surveyed said that they specifically looked for a “natural” label on their foods.

There’s just one problem: There are no real federal regulations around the word “natural.”

Even with the lack of regulation, plaintiffs can sue companies individually for false advertising—and in recent years, consumers have done just that. In 2013, PepsiCo. agreed to a $9 million class action settlement fund after plaintiffs complained about Naked Juice’s “all natural” labeling that belied ingredients like genetically modified soy.


Regaining Ground

Rural Madison

High-Bionutrient Crop Production

Soil is a living, breathing, and self-healing entity made up of a complex web of living organisms. Uncountable numbers of bacteria, fungi, insects and protozoans interact with each other and break down and convert minerals from rocks into the compounds plants need to grow. In exchange, plants make a form of energy (sugars) by combining sunlight and water through photosynthesis.

There is a growing awareness of the benefits from increasing soil quality. The typical American consumer is not aware of how far the flavor, nutritional content, and shelf life of produce, dairy and meat have declined over the past sixty years. One cause of this decline is due to the physical loss of soils from erosion and mechanical tilling. Another is poor soil management and lack of understanding of how to support natural biological organisms. The greatest destruction of soils has come from the application of billions of tons of chemicals and poisons that have killed subsoil organisms vital for soil and plant health. Additionally, selective plant breeding has sacrificed appearance, taste, and nutrition for standardization and increased levels of production – quantity over quality.

Too often the food we eat doesn’t deliver the nutrition our bodies need to be truly healthy. Evidence is mounting that lack of adequate dietary nutrition is the cause of our rising rates of degenerative diseases.

Mineralize Madison is a simple program that will help growers test their soils and source, transport, and apply the right combination of minerals and organic soil amendments to stimulate the soil organisms that symbiotically assist plants in growing to their full potential.

Learn more at ruralmadison.org..

Farm-City, State

Farm-City, StateFarm-City, State asks the question, ‘What if an entire city could feed itself?’

Come join us as we explore Austin’s local food scene and see how it will grow into the future. How do you feed an entire city? These people have an answer and the feature film will explore scalability, distribution, consumer education and the future of food in Austin, Texas.

Learn about the characters in the local food scene that have changed the face of food in Austin over the past 6 years. Watch the journey of one local urban farmer that starts in a backyard and grows to a larger piece of land in East Austin. Enjoy the adventures of a family of 5 that sources local food for 30 days – and how they like or dislike it?

This dynamic adventure will help you understand where Austin fits into the local food scene that is sweeping the nation.


Asian slave labour producing shrimp for US supermarkets

A six-month Guardian multimedia investigation has, for the first time, tracked how some of the world’s big-supermakets are using suppliers relying on slave labour to put cheap shrimp on their shelves.

The investigation has established that large numbers of men bought and sold like animals and held against their will on fishing boats off Thailand are integral to the production of prawns (commonly called shrimp in the US) sold in leading supermarkets around the world, including the top four global retailers: Walmart, Carrefour, Costco and Tesco.

Slavery is back and here’s the proof..

Learn more

Why Would School Nutritionists Oppose Healthier Meals?

By Marion Nestle

School Lunch

Understanding why school nutritionists want to scrap the USDA’s nutrition standards takes some effort.

The question: Why is the School Nutrition Association (SNA)—the organization that represents the interests of “lunch ladies”—supporting Republican attempts to derail the nutrition standards?

The SNA has a long and honorable history of fighting for better nutrition for children, and it supported the 2010 Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act—the one that gave USDA the authority to mandate healthier meals.

Jerry Hagstrom, who writes the daily Hagstrom Report, took a stab at explaining why SNA shifted position:

When the school-lunch program started, most schools cooked their own food. As the number of children participating in the school-lunch program grew, the need to provide more food led the schools to buy prepackaged, processed food, which led to the companies making those foods becoming big players within SNA.

Helena Bottemiller Evich of Politico adds to the explanation:

The story behind the school lunch flip-flop is a complicated web of lobbying change-ups, industry influence and partisan posturing inside the Beltway…Interviews with more than a dozen former and current SNA officials reveal a dramatic shift in SNA’s policy platform, and even more so, its approach: choosing to wage war on Capitol Hill — pitting the association against [Michelle] Obama and her team — instead of trying to win more concessions directly from the Department of Agriculture…[This] has sparked a civil war within the nutrition community and the association itself. Nineteen former SNA presidents wrote to appropriators last week urging them to reject calls for a waiver — a break in ranks that was painful but necessary, signers said.

She adds this critical piece of information:

Several former presidents of the organization said they are worried that food companies have influenced the group’s agenda over concerns that the nutrition standards for the $11 billion program will take a big bite out of sales of popular items like pizza and salty snacks…About half of the group’s $10 million operating budget comes from food industry members.

Kevin Concannon, USDA Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, told Jerry Hagstrom that the SNA’s current leadership is making a “serious mistake” is supporting members of Congress who want to block USDA’s standards.  If the SNA lobbies for permanent blockage of the standards, he thinks they will be “playing with fire.”  SNA, he said, is isolated on the issue.   “The stakes are really high for the future of the country,” he said. “It is a battle worth waging.”

Is SNA isolated?  Indeed it is.  Here’s the list of organizations that support the new standards, compiled by the American Public Health Association.

Wrong Mine, Wrong Place

Tens of millions of salmon are beginning to return to the streams, rivers and headwaters of the Bristol Bay Fisheries Reserve in Alaska. They are in the final stage of completing a life cycle that began years earlier in the very same location and as long as the spawning grounds are intact and protected, these runs will continue to thrive forever.

But this vast, pristine habitat—home to one of the most important salmon fisheries in the world— is facing a catastrophic threat. Given massive discoveries of gold and copper deep below the surface of Bristol Bay’s headwaters, a foreign mining conglomerate called the Pebble Partnership plans to build North America’s largest open pit mine. Should toxic mining waste from the Pebble Mine find its way into the watershed, the effects would prove catastrophic to salmon and the entire ecosystem.

Learn more..