They aren’t here for their beauty or as a cash crop — they are a key pest control strategy down on the organic farm.
Research here on wild sunflowers, he says, shows they are home to lady beetles and parasitic wasps, which are good bugs that kill bad bugs.
“The sunflowers help us provide a bed-and-breakfast for beneficial insects and keep them going year round,” he said. “And native sunflowers are a lot better at it than domestic. There’s a lot more insect biodiversity in wild sunflowers.”
Grass-based organic dairy farming promotes cow health, enhances milk quality, and lightens the environmental footprint of dairy farming. Reproductive health problems on high-production, grain-based dairies lead to fewer and longer lactations, increasing costs and cutting lifelong production and revenue,
Organic systems promote cow health and longevity by placing less stress on cows and feeding them healthier forage-based diets, while also improving the nutritional quality of milk, according to a new report released today by The Organic Center, Bolder, Colo.
The Senate made substantial progress on the pending Food Safety Bill Wednesday. To move the sweeping food bill forward, the upper chamber voted 74-25 to limit debate, circumventing Sen. Tom Coburn's (R-OK) objection. And key stakeholders resolved the two controversial issues that have plagued the bill: bisphenol A and small farm exemptions.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) amendment--which originally aimed to ban the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, in all food containers, but had since been scaled back to only containers meant for infants and small children--officially kicked the can.
The Tester-Hagan Amendment, on the other hand, remains a real possibility. The amendment, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and supported by Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), would exempt farms and food producers that either fit the FDA's definition of "very small business," sell most of their products directly to consumers, restaurants, or retailers within state lines or within 400 miles that have annual sales of less than half a million dollars.
But there's a particular type of fast food that goes back just a half-century, dating to the post-war rise of car-centered cities and suburbs. It relies on regimentation, weird additives, flavor "engineering," super-cheap (but highly subsidized) ingredients, and super-expensive marketing. I won't bore you with why I think this type of fast food sucks; wouldn't want to be labeled a food snob!
But let's talk about that marketing. Yale's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity has just put out an extraordinary report [PDF] on fast-food industry marketing.
Here's the report's headline number: $4.2 billion, which is how much the industry spent marketing its wares in 2010.
Sandy Lerner has starred in a second and a third.
After being fired from the Silicon Valley computer networking company in 1990, six years after she helped start it, Lerner created a line of punk cosmetics she later sold for a hefty profit.
Now 55, the no-nonsense entrepreneur, self-described cattleman and onetime socialist is deep into her third career.
She runs Ayrshire Farms near Middleburg. The $7 million-a-year business includes 3,000 certified organic, certified humane, heritage-breed turkeys now giving their lives for next week's Thanksgiving holiday.
The USDA said its EA has been drafted in response to a request from KWS SAAT AG and Monsanto – currently the only supplier of GM sugar beets – for administrative action to allow continued cultivation of Roundup Ready sugar beets under certain conditions.
Deputy administrator for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service APHIS biotechnology regulatory services Michael Gregoire said in a statement: “APHIS takes its role in protecting plant health very seriously and is well aware of the importance of this decision for sugar beet growers and processors. We are issuing this environmental assessment to share our decision-making process as transparently as possible and allow for public comment.”
The departments of agriculture and trade and industry are circulating for comment a draft policy on organic farming that promises to promote the practice among emerging black farmers and provide training.
The initiative has led to the registration of a non-profit SA Organic Sector Organisation (SAOSO) to try to end fragmentation in the industry.
SAOSO spokesman Ian Robinson said: "We will lobby for the far-reaching benefits of organics, from more efficient water use to carbon sequestration and the health benefits of better nutrition and reduced agro-chemical toxins."
For Wes Jackson, the prairie holds the key to an agricultural revolution he's been promoting for more than 30 years. Jackson is president of the Salina, Kan.-based Land Institute, and a founding father of the sustainable agriculture movement. The institute researches new crops that Jackson says will be easier on the earth and on our bodies. The underlying premise is mimic nature's ecosystems - like prairies or alpine meadows - and grow a mixture of perennials instead of the monoculture of annuals that characterize modern agriculture.
This month, October, is Non-GMO Month. I find most people are really confused about what a GMO is and where GMOs are found. Some people tend to think that GMO seeds are similar to the type of hybridization that has been going on amongst gardeners for centuries. Not true! The type of genetic modification that happens to create GMO seeds involves the forceful insertion of things like E.coli genes or genes that produce glyphosphate (an herbicide) or cause Roundup resistance (allowing farmers to dump more Roundup onto the plants) into corn and soybeans and cotton.
In Iowa, the race for Secretary of Agriculture has started attracting national attention. Two starkly different candidates are in a dead heat for the traditionally low-profile post, and the winner will be a bellwether of our national attitudes towards food and agricultural policy.