The Greater Our Numbers, The Louder Our Voice
There’s been a lot of buzz this month about Tamar Haspel’s column, The Surprising Truth About the ‘Food Movement,’ in which she suggests that there are a surprisingly small number of folks care about where their food comes from and how it was raised. We disagree. At CFSA, we meet people every day who want to know that the food they eat was grown, raised, or caught in ways that benefit farmers, farm workers, the environment, pollinators, farm animals, and the list of reasons to care goes on and on.
CFSA’s member-farmers work hard to bring you food that you can feel good about eating. And, if consumers didn’t care, our farmers wouldn’t be making a living growing and raising food that is about more than creating the most units for the cheapest price.
We are making a difference. And, we’re making it happen not just with our purchasing decisions, but by staying informed and demanding better food from our elected officials.
We hope this month’s Buzz helps.
Rochelle Sparko, CFSA’s Policy Director
P.S. Let’s get a buzz going! Recommend the Buzz to a friend.
February’s Must-Read Sustainable Ag. Stories
We at CFSA agree wholeheartedly with the authors of this article; a lot of people care about where their food comes from! This column is written by two of America’s experts on the local food movement: Anna Lappe is a founder of the Small Planet Institute and the Small Planet Fund and Chellie Pingree is a U.S. Congresswoman from Maine with thirty years of organic farming experience. The piece is a response to Tamar Haspel’s recent column “The Surprising Truth About the ‘Food Movement’”.
What happens when poultry farming takes place next to your house? It depends. CFSA works for farmers raising their poultry on pasture and with access to the outdoors because it’s healthier for the poultry and the environment. When poultry are confined indoors, waste management can become a problem, and health – of the birds and the people living nearby – can be at risk. Check out what’s happening in this rural North Carolina community and remember that there are lots of reasons to support the work being done by CFSA’s poultry farmer members!
CNN recently released a new investigation on the food industry that examines antibiotics in meat, food safety and the push for profits. The site includes multiple videos and interviews, and provides an overview of many of the issues currently affecting our food supply. CFSA farmers are working hard every day to provide foods that are antibiotic and pesticide free.
This article explains how bird flu likely mutated in a confinement turkey operation last month from a relatively innocuous strain to a deadly strain. The immediate threat has passed–the deadly strain was contained to one turkey operation. But the mutation raises concerns about the health of confined birds and the economic risks to farmers of raising poultry in confinement. Pasture-based birds may be better able to fight off the disease, and the warmth and sunlight may help kill the virus. Like we said, there are lots of reasons to support CFSA’s poultry farmer members!
This is huge! There’s good evidence that organic agriculture can feed the world, provide a living for farmers, improve the environment, and provide safer conditions for farm workers. Next time someone tells you that we need GMO seed to feed the world, this article can give you a research-based response.
Chad Ray is a 10th generation farmer in Franklin County and a member of CFSA. We love that our members are finding creative ways to preserve farmland. Chad is very vocal about his farming passions and CFSA sends a hearty “Thank You” to Chad for always being a strong voice for innovative farming methods!
Most consumers believe that foods labeled ‘natural’ are produced without genetically modified organisms, hormones, pesticides, or artificial ingredients; however, this simply is not true. CFSA is encouraging the government to improve the integrity and accountability around the term natural. We’re doing what we can to ensure that labels like “natural” aren’t used to confuse consumers into buying things they’d rather avoid. Talking to your local farmer about her methods or buying certified organic are great ways to know more about what you’re getting when you buy groceries today.
CFSA believes that farmers and communities should be able to breed seed, save seed, and buy the seed that best meets their needs. This gets harder and harder as the major seed and agrichemical companies merge. The deal described in this article will further consolidate the global seed, fertilizer and pesticide markets. This means fewer options for farmers in a time when diverse seed, weed and pest controls are needed in the face of a changing climate.
Colorado is now home to some of the nation’s first USDA Certified Organic hemp. Hemp, which is different from marijuana because of its low THC levels, can be legally grown in some states. While it cannot yet be legally grown in NC or SC, both states have passed legislation that could lead to legalization. CFSA is participating in efforts to implement industrial hemp pilot programs that could bring this exciting industry to the Carolinas.
Vermont is poised to require that some products made with GMO ingredients carry a label saying so beginning this summer, but the federal government may issue a nationwide standard before the Vermont law goes into effect. Signs point to a federal standard that would be voluntary (as if any company wants to say its product contains GMOs) or would rely on QR codes that consumers would have to have a smartphone and internet access to read. CFSA advocates for mandatory GMO labeling that is clear and easy for consumers to understand and access.
You need more than the honeybee for high yields! Creating an environment that encourages lots of pollinators to hang around significantly increases productivity on small farms. Management of crops and surrounding natural areas in a way that provides food and a place to live for many pollinators is likely to boost yields. CFSA works to limit the amount of herbicides and pesticides used in the Carolinas to foster native pollinator habitat.
Crop diversity in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past 100 years. Transportation, uniform appearance and shelf life concerns has led to a loss of diverse crop varieties across many fruit and vegetable species. CFSA has worked with multiple partners over the years to preserve heirloom seed varieties so that certain plants are not lost forever. Maintaining diverse crop varieties is not only important for saving cultural heritage and a variety of flavors, but they are also important for potential disease issues and climate change challenges.
President Obama’s administration recently adopted tougher farmworker protections; however, all of the new rules will still rely on the existing enforcement system when they take effect in 2017. The Associated Press recently reviewed federal and state enforcement data that revealed that the pesticide-safety system is riddled with problems and lack of enforcement.