FEAST: A far-reaching study of agricultural techniques by Cambridge University scientists confirms what our great-grandparents knew generations ago.
“There is mounting evidence that the best way to meet rising food demand while conserving biodiversity is to wring as much food as sustainably possible from the land we do farm, so that more natural habitats can be ‘spared the plough,’” said conservation expert and project co-author Dr. David Edwards from the University of Sheffield.
Researchers focused on organic farming in the European dairy sector and determined that for the same amount of milk produced by conventional dairy farming, organic systems cause at least one third more soil loss.
“Organic systems are often considered to be far more environmentally friendly than conventional farming, but our work suggested the opposite. By using more land to produce the same yield, organic may ultimately accrue larger environmental costs,” Edwards said.
FAMINE: McCormick’s “Gourmet” Spices are the latest household products to jump on the deceptive food marketing bandwagon.
Even though there are NO GMO spices currently on the market, McCormick is labeling its “gourmet” line as “Non GMO.”
So why do it?
“The answer is clear – to boost profit margins,” responds the consumer-advocacy group, Peel Back the Label.
“The average consumer can purchase a 2.37 oz. bottle of McCormick’s Ground Saigon Cinnamon,” the organization notes. “But if you’re a gourmand, congratulations! With the introduction of McCormick’s new line of spices, you’ve won the opportunity to pay an additional $1.46 to get slightly more than half of the same spice – but ‘gourmet.’ Whatever that means.”
FEAST: Hats off to recent Ohio State University graduate Jaclyn Krymowski for calling out the dangers of “over-romanticizing” agriculture in a recent column for “Ag Daily.”
Consumers, she wisely observes, love the notion of the small red barn and flourishing green field as “a mythical happy little farm,” where working with land and animals is a “side-effect of living a ‘simple life.’”
“The realities of financial hardship, horrific freak accidents and mental health issues have no place in this naïve and idyllic vision,” she contends, noting such whitewashing means “it’s easier to buy into the anti-agriculture lies, to criticize and complain online. Misinformation can be spread without consequence.”
The reality of “placenta and blood-stained Carhartts” just doesn’t jibe with the romanticized notion of farm life, Krymowski notes.
The good news? Farmers are learning to be better communicators.
“We are in the midst of an agri-renaissance era,” she notes.
“There are more and more farmers coming out on social media open to addressing all aspects of farm life. They are sharing the bitter topics, such as culling beloved animals, and the tears that come when a neighbor loses their farm. We’ve always known why we love agriculture. What we’re learning is how to share that with the rest of the world.”
FAMINE: Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers — this time around it was the Appleton Post-Crescent — continues to exemplify why the mainstream media is losing credibility with readers, particularly on issues of environmental or agricultural importance.
In the Aug. 29 edition, the paper reported that sewage plants in the cities of Neenah and Menasha “overflowed” because of heavy rains.
In light of the fact that similar “sewage releases” in other Wisconsin cities, such as Milwaukee and Wausau, released hundreds of millions of gallons, it was an abject failure of any journalistic standard that no amount was given for how much sewage was poured into local bodies of water in either instance.
Two weeks later, The Post-Crescent ran an article about an incident involving a small, unregulated farm that resulted in — as the headline described it — “Acute Manure Spill.” The accident involved 300,000 gallons of manure, which is no small thing, but by every comparison to recent “sewage releases” in urban communities, was very small by comparison.
This pattern of bias — urban environmental disasters are merely “overflows,” rural environmental incidents are “acute spills” — reveals a publication less concerned about informing readers than they are about lecturing them.