Archive for the ‘agriculture’ Category

Less-Gassy Grass Cuts Cow Burps, Eases Global Warming

October 17, 2016

Less-Gassy Grass Cuts Cow Burps, Eases Global Warming
Scientists at Denmark’s Aarhus University and the DLF seed corporation are using DNA technology to develop a type of grass that is easier for cows to digest, meaning less gas builds up in bossy’s belly. Bovine burps are a major source of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that promotes climate change.

The project, funded by Denmark’s Ministry of Environment and Food, uses genomic selection to determine promising grass strains for breeding. The project is expected to take about 5 or 6 years, so you’ll have to excuse bovine belching until then. Environmentally-anxious cowboys and cowgirls can follow the project here.

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Uncle Sam Wants You — To Drink More Milk

September 19, 2016

Got Milk? Why?

“New evidence also shows that drinking lots of milk doesn’t protect against bone fractures and may be linked to certain types of cancer. And all the good stuff in milk — calcium, potassium, and protein — can be found in greater amounts in foods like broccoli, kale, and black beans.

 But these foods are at a disadvantage when it comes to competing against dairy. They don’t have trade groups giving millions to members of Congress and lobbying for influence over the nation’s nutrition policy.”
— “How big government helps big dairy sell milk,” Liz Scheltens and Gina Barton, Vox

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Trump Explains His Agricultural Policy

August 3, 2016

Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump first outlined his agricultural policy at the 2005 Emmy Awards in the Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California.

Related:

“A Donald Trump presidency could lead to food shortages in the US,” Deena Shanker, Quartz

“Farmers: Trump ‘terrible for agriculture,'” Bill Tomson, Politico

“Here Is the Mysterious High Roller Donald Trump Wants to Put in Charge of Our Food,” Tom Philpott, Mother Jones

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Strawberries from Fumigated Farms

July 29, 2016

Americans eat four times as many strawberries as they did 40 years ago. A short animation from The Center for Investigative Reporting explains how and why.

Director, Producer, Animator: Ariane Wu
Illustrator and After Effects: Arthur Jones
Narrator: Roman Mars
Reporters: Kendall Taggart, Bernice Yeung, Andrew Donohue

Read more here.

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Crying Wolf on Turkey Prices

November 22, 2015

Crying Wolf on Turkey Prices

On Thursday, November 26th, Americans will wolf down 49 million turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Since nearly 8 million of the big birds were destroyed this summer over fears of Avian Flu, turkey forecasts predicted prices would be up 15 to 20 percent. Supply and demand, right?

Not so fast:

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Bread Bags Full of Government Cash

January 23, 2015

Bread Bags Full of Government Cash

Montgomery County, Iowa is know as the site of the Villisca Axe Murders and as the childhood home of Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA). On Tuesday, in a recycled campaign speech mislabeled as a State of the Union Response, Senator Ernst explained that when it rained she and other Iowa school kids wore plastic bread bags over their shoes as galoshes, an example of Hawkeye State thrift and self-sufficiency.

But Ms. Ernst’s family may have paid for their Wonder Bread with money from the federal government. Her Uncle Dallas got a bushel full of agricultural subsidies, $370,000, and her Grandpa got $57,479. And while her Poppa pocketed a mere $38,395 in USDA corn subsidies and conservation payments, he landed $215,665 in building contracts from the Montgomery County Government during the years when daughter Joni was the County Auditor.

So much for pork-busting, honesty, and good government. Joni Ernst should be right at home at the slop trough that is the U.S. Senate.

Related:

“GOP Response: The Breadbags of Empathy,” Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

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Turkeys, Wild and Otherwise

November 25, 2014

Turkeys, Wild and Otherwise
There may or may not have been turkey at the first thanksgiving, but there will probably be one on your holiday table. Centuries before Columbus, the Aztecs domesticated wild turkeys, and Spanish conquerors took some birds home to Europe where they became popular, reaching England between 1524 and 1541. That means the New England “pilgrim” Puritans were as familiar with turkeys as their Wampanoag dinner guests, but neither would recognize the over-bred bird you bought this week.

A wild tom turkey usually weighs about 20 pounds and can fly for up to a mile with speed bursts up to 55 miles per hour. It’s dark-feathered, sly, slim, tall and long-legged, and can run like the devil through the brush. It can live up to 10 years if it doesn’t get an infection and can be found in any of the contiguous 48 states.

A domestic tom turkey can weigh up to 40 pounds, has white feathers, stumps around on short legs, and sports a huge breast. Most market turkeys come from Minnesota or North Carolina. A domestic turkey can’t fly or reproduce normally, is treated with antibiotics, and only lives for 2 or 3 months before it gets slaughtered for your dining pleasure. Happy Thanksgiving!

 More:

“Head To Head: Wild Vs. Supermarket Turkeys (Infographic),” World Science Festival

“Wild and domestic turkeys: birds of a different feather,” South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

“On This Thanksgiving, Celebrating The Wild Turkey,” Barbara J. King, NPR

Related:

“Look How Much Bigger Thanksgiving Turkeys Are Today Than in the 1930s,” Kiera Butler, Mother Jones 

“How Turkeys Got Broad, White Breasts,” Sara Bir, Modern Farmer

“How America’s Thanksgiving turkeys got so huge,” Svati Kirsten Narula, Quartz

“Benjamin Franklin praises the virtues of the turkey,” from a 1784 letter to his daughter via Lapham’s Quarterly

“Get to Know the Turkey Species You Don’t Eat,” Matt Somiak, Mental Floss

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Food Chains

November 21, 2014

Food Chains,” a film by Sanjay Rawal, documents where your produce comes from, who makes it available to you, and the cost. Executive Producers: Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser. In theaters and also on iTunes.

More:

“Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser take on fairness for farmworkers in ‘Food Chains,’” Soraya Nadia McDonald, Washington Post

“Sanjay Rawal’s New Film ‘Food Chains’ Asks “Is My Food Fair?” Big Think

“‘Food Chains’ Looks at the Real Cost of Your Cheap Tomatoes,” Maddie Oatman, Mother Jones

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Toledo: Don’t Drink the Water

August 4, 2014

Toledo: Don't Drink the Water

Residents of Toledo and environs, all 500,000 of them, have been warned not to drink or or wash with their tap water. The region’s water treatment plant found microcystin, a toxin that can cause nausea and liver damage. Boiling the water only concentrates the toxin. The source of the poison is a blue-green algae bloom on the west side of Lake Erie, thought to be caused by excessive phosphorous from agricultural runoff.

More:

“Water crisis grips hundreds of thousands in Toledo area, state of emergency declared,” Tom Henry, Toledo Blade

“A toxic algae scare has left 500,000 people in Ohio without drinking water,” Brad Plumer , Vox

“7 Things You Need To Know About The Toxin That’s Poisoned Ohio’s Drinking Water,” Emily Atkin, Think Progress

“Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins: Information for Drinking Water Systems, EPA Office of Water

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Pistol Packin’ Pork Lobbyist

July 24, 2014

Pistol Packin' Pork Lobbyist

Ronald Prestage, President-elect of the National Pork Producers Council, went to the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning because, you know, pork barrel politics. Mr. Prestage, a veterinarian who runs a 170,000-sow swine operation, was carrying a Ruger 9mm pistol. You never know when you’ll run across a fierce feral hog on The Hill, or a raging, veggie-wearin’ PETA protester. Unsympathetic Capitol Hill Police arrested him. House Republicans want everyone in DC to pack heat, just not around them.

When Dr. Prestage realized he had his gun in his bag, you can imagine how he felt. He’s a former Chairman of the National Turkey Federation.

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