5 must read Ag stories + a coupla cool events

Take your pick! The Dirt regular reader/commenter, Michael Greer, sent in his bean harvest. From left: Jacob's Cattle, Vermont Cranberry, Yellow Indian Woman, Black Coco, Pink Floyd, and Maine Sunset. Photo: Michael Greer.

I'm clearing out my starred items folder of some of the best food and farm stories from the last week.  Before we get to those, though…

I wanted to let you know that Adirondack Harvest is hosting a "Farm to Chef" event tomorrow at The Butcher Block restaurant in Plattsburgh from 9-11:30am.  It's billed as a effort to "foster relationships between regional farmers and area chefs and restaurants in order to utilize and create locally-sourced food and menus."

Frequent The Dirt reader, commenter, and lamb farmer, Kirby, went to a similar meeting in Lake Placid yesterday.  He wrote that these meetings help farmers tell their stories to people who could serve their food.  "I can't change the world, but, I may be able to change my neighbourhood."  Nice stuff, Kirby.

Now on to some really good farm and food reads.  Don't sleep on these!

NPR published an investigation yesterday into the claims of sustainably caught seafood.  Turns out it's very complicated and many scientists say they label may not be true: "…that blue stamp doesn't mean that you're sustainable.  It's a gamble."

We've reported quite a bit about the USDA's new school cafeteria guidelines.  Well, the agency is giving its employees a taste of their own medicine.  In this great read in the Washington Post, the USDA is applying new healthy rules to almost all of its dining rooms in Washington.  Not everyone's thrilled: "To bite into hot golden fries and other deep-fried delights, USDA employees will have to venture to the South Building’s sub-basement, where there is a greasy spoon named Valencia Cafe."

A report by Eat, Drink, Politics found that the nation's largest group of professional nutritionists – the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics – takes significant funding from the companies with the worst nutrition records, like Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Hersheys.  Dieticians can even take accreditation courses from these companies.  Forbes has the details:  "These particular companies make money selling the very foods people are eating too much of, so how could they possibly offer science-based information that would go against their interests?”

Wired Magazine says drones will be used far more for agriculture than for law enforcement. “Spraying, watering — there’s a whole market for precision agriculture, and when you put that cost-benefit together, farmers will buy [drones].”

NPR's The Salt asks if Walmart's effort to buy local produce is working.  A lot of farmers don't think it is: "They tend to try to force people into lower prices than feasible.  My only concern is that they're willing to pay the price to get the quality that they get from local produce."

Finally, two more farm-related events in the North Country.

Gardenshare is showing Queen of the Sun: What Are The Bees Telling Us? tonight at 7 at the Unitarian-Universalist church in Canton.

A volunteer group is building a hiking & skiing trail to showcase some farmland as well as forest in the Champlain Valley.  Champlain Area Trails is hosting a trail clearing day this Saturday, February 16th.


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  1. On that USDA piece; Let's hope that the food guidelines work their way into the capitol building as well. I have long noticed that far too many of America's lawmakers seem to have spent too much time at the trough, taking care of their own needs first, and napping through the peoples business.

  2. Re: seafood – the NPR piece didn't surprise me at all. How can a wild-caught food source NOT collapse on a planet with a growing human population? I'm starting to thing that the only ethical action I can take is to stop eating fish – although I'm likely to continue to indulge in freshly caught, grilled, pesto-topped bluefish when I visit my dad and stepmom in Cape Cod. She often buys the bluefish directly from the fisherman,