Daily Essentials | 17 September 2013
Randall Monroe | XKCD
ARE FOOD BANKS SELLING OUT TO CORPORATE AMERICA?
Steve Holt | Take Part | 23 August 2013
behind the stacked boxes and eager volunteers is what author Andy Fisher calls an unholy alliance between food banks and corporations, many of whom earn big tax credits and glowing PR for donating money and food to anti-hunger groups.
It gets worse, he says: The country’s largest food banks are governed by boards dominated by corporations, including Fortune 500 industrial food companies like Walmart, ConAgra, and major grocery chains. As many as a quarter of the board members at major food banks come from Fortune 500 or Global 500 companies, Fisher found.
AMERICAN FARMERS SAY THEY FEED THE WORLD, BUT DO THEY?
Dan Charles | NPR
It seemed that this dispute needed a referee. So I called , an economist at Cornell University who studies international agriculture and poverty.
“They’re both right,” he says, chuckling. “Sometimes the opposite of a truth isn’t a falsehood, but another truth, right?”
It’s true, he says, that bigger harvests in the U.S. tend to make food more affordable around the world, and “lower food prices are a good thing for poor people.”
FARMING SMARTER WITH COVER CROPS
Brian Scott | The Farmer’s Life
What excites me most about cover crops is keeping more of what we have and potentially using less inputs in the future. I feel that increasing organic matter alone will be a great improvement to our farm even without all the other benefits. As organic matter increases soils can handle water better and hold on to and provide more nutrients to a growing cash crop. Improved soil structure means our crops will grow deeper roots. Having an active root system in the ground twelve months of the year instead of six means the beneficial organisms in the soil will be more active which is really good.
Nitrogen is one of our most expensive and most necessary inputs. If cover crops can allow us to either use less nitrogen or at least do a better job of effectively using the nitrogen we apply that will be a huge bonus for corn. Boosting yields on one end and cutting costs on the other end is a pretty great combination. Cover crops aren’t free, but I think their benefits will far exceed the costs.
PETERSON REMAINS SKEPTICAL ABOUT FARM BILL’S CHANCES
Tom Cherveny | West Central Tribune
He told the group that many in the majority party in the House oppose not only the food stamp provision, officially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but any type of Farm Bill itself.
Peterson said southern states used to elect representatives who were concerned about agriculture. However, he said, the last two elections saw winners emerge from the South who could not “care less about farmers.”
“They want to get rid of farm programs, cut the budget,” Peterson said. “It’s a different world.”
A very different world could be coming if a Farm Bill is not approved.
NEW MEXICO’S DROUGHT THREATENS A WAY OF LIFE
Cindy Carcamo | The Los Angeles Times
Her husband, John, the mayordomo of the acequia at their farm, was also reluctant at first. By May, friends with the acequia association persuaded the Boneys to set aside a test plot — 100 feet long and 70 feet wide — and install drip irrigation to grow lettuce, chard and other vegetables. It’s the first time such irrigation is being considered for wide use in the county.
“If it doesn’t work, I can always go back to the old ways,” said Boney, 54.
Antonio Medina, who encouraged Boney to try drip irrigation, was once uncomfortable with straying from the old ways. But the 75-year-old Medina has never seen a drought like this.
Mishka Henner | Mishkahenner.com
SOLUTIONS FOR MICRONUTRIENT DEFICIENCY
Anastasia Bodnar | Biofortified | 7 September 2013
The recent destruction of Golden Rice trials in the Philippines has me thinking again about how crop genetics, including biotechnology, can help in reducing malnutrition. Greenpeace and others would have us believe that home gardening and supplements are the solution, but unfortunately it’s just not that simple. On the other side, I’ve seen quite a few short posts dismissing the potential of gardens and supplements but haven’t seen anyone go into the details. Let’s examine them thoroughly.
Let’s start with some good news: we have made great strides in reducing hunger. Millennium Development Goal number 1c, set by the United Nations in 2000, was to “halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger”. We are on target to meet that goal, but despite these efforts, “about 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished”.
“We know that a lot of things contribute to poor nutrition and obesity but access is a key issue,” says Dr. Giridhar Mallya of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. “People don’t have the ability to get healthy foods in their community at an affordable price. That makes it that much harder for them to be healthy overall.” See how The Food Trust and its partners are improving food access and health in Philadelphia and around the country.