Whey-ing Greek yogurt's environmental impact
June 12th, 2013
01:19 PM ET
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The Greek yogurt industry recently made headlines after a Modern Farmer article claiming companies are “scrambling” for a solution to the “dark secret,” of a byproduct's potentially toxic effects on the environment.

The ballooning demand for Greek yogurt in the United States has created a $2 billion industry, as well as a huge surplus of acid whey. The article suggests that disposal or accidental dispersal of the byproduct could, "turn a waterway into what one expert calls a 'dead sea,' destroying aquatic life over potentially large areas."

But according to John Lucey, director of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, “The suggestion that acid whey is some toxic material is just plain silly.”

Let’s strain out the facts.
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Filed under: Environment • Path to the Plate


Corn crops - what a difference a year makes
June 6th, 2013
12:45 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

If I'd met Mother Nature in 2012, I would have to assume at this point in 2013 that she is bipolar. Record high temperatures last March pushed us to planting time nearly a month ahead of an average start date. At the beginning of June 2012, we did not yet know that the rain wouldn't fall for another six weeks, and temperatures would hold steady in the triple digit zone.

I asked my sister to snap a picture of me standing in the corn we planted on April 2. I was surprised at how well the crops looked without more than a few tenths of precipitation since seed met soil, and wanted to show off our earliest planted corn blowing away that old "knee high by Fourth of July" saying.
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Despite last year's drought, corn production is popping
March 20th, 2013
07:00 PM ET
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Editor's Note: Brian Scott farms with his father and grandfather on 2,300 acres of land in northwest Indiana. They grow corn, soybeans, popcorn and wheat. He blogs about it at The Farmer's Life.

The Dekalb seed company recently shared a poster on Facebook depicting the top corn yields of 1940 and it got the gears turning in my head. For many decades, corn growers at the local, state and national level have competed in yield contests to see who can grow the most corn per acre. Bragging rights are at stake (and sometimes cash and prizes), and the 1940 yield contest winner for my home state of Indiana harvested 94.81 bushels per acre.

What about that clicks in my ag-nerd brain? The fact that in 2012, hopefully the worst drought of my farming career, saw our farm garner an average corn yield of 94.7 bushels per acre. For all intents and purposes, that's equal to the best of the best in my great grandfather’s day.

The poster shows a 102.38 bushel average for contestants over 12 states. The U.S. averaged about 123 bushels per acre following the horrendous drought of 2012. By those numbers, today’s worst is better than yesteryear’s top dogs.
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Nationwide study casts a wide net over seafood fraud
February 21st, 2013
03:02 AM ET
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Mislabeled fish is flooding the marketplace and Americans may be swallowing it hook, line and sinker, according to a new study by an environmental activist group.

A look at seafood sales across the country by ocean conservation group Oceana found that roughly one third of the time, seafood sold at U.S. grocery stores, seafood markets, restaurants and sushi venues had been swapped for species that are cheaper, overfished, or risky to eat.

Beth Lowell, campaign director for Oceana, told CNN that the study was conducted over the course of two years and encompassed retail outlets in major metropolitan areas across 21 states. Staff and supporters of the organization purchased 1,247 pieces of fish and submitted samples to a lab for DNA testing to determine if the species matched the in-store menu or label in accordance with Food and Drug Administration naming guidelines.

Out of the 1,215 samples that were eventually tested, 401 were determined to be mislabeled.
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December 10th, 2012
04:15 PM ET
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Ask Joe Henderson any question and odds are he’ll give you a very thorough answer. But ask him how to save one of the most endangered breeds in the world, the Randall Lineback, he’ll give you a very short retort: You have to eat it.

Henderson, a Washington, D.C. real estate executive and farmer, raises around 250 Randall Linebacks on the rolling hills of his Chapel Hill Farm in Berryville, VA. And what exactly is a Randall Lineback?

“Well, we don’t know what to call it,” says Henderson.
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No bull - start a conversation with a farmer
July 3rd, 2012
08:00 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in Animal Science, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. He is one of many farmers using social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at AgricultureProud.com or on Twitter and Facebook.

First impressions are critical when it comes to forming opinions; unfortunately, they do not always convey the entire story. Modern farming faces this problem, as most farmers have remained quiet and allowed animal and food activists to talk about modern agriculture. I think more people should allow farmers to be a part of this conversation.
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5@5 - Why hunting your own dinner is an ethical way to eat
July 2nd, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Editor's Note: Lily Raff McCaulou is an award-winning journalist, Knight-Wallace Fellowship recipient and a columnist for The Bulletin in Bend, Oregon. Her first book, "Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner" was published in June.

Growing up, I didn’t know anyone who hunted. Hunters, I figured, were probably just barbaric gun nuts. Then, eight years ago, I moved from Manhattan to rural Oregon, to write for a small newspaper. My perspective shifted when I began interviewing hunters for my articles and realized that although I had long considered myself an environmentalist, these hunters – most of whom scoffed at the “E” word – were more knowledgeable and thoughtful about animals and nature than I was.

Eventually, I decided to buy a gun and join them. But don’t worry, I’m still an environmentalist, loud and proud.

Five Reasons Why Hunting a Wild Animal Makes an Ethical Dinner: Lily Raff McCaulou

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Filed under: 5@5 • Animal Rights • Food Politics • Hunting • Path to the Plate • Think


No bull - what a farmer wants you to know about how beef gets to your plate
June 15th, 2012
01:15 PM ET
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Ryan Goodman is a generational rancher from Arkansas with a degree in Animal Science from Oklahoma State University in Animal Science, and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, studying beef cattle management. He is one of many farmers utilizing social media to bridge the gap between farmers and urban customers. Follow his story daily at www.AgricultureProud.com or follow on Twitter (@AR_ranchhand) and Facebook.

How does our beef travel from pasture to plate? Can you describe this process from the time a calf is born to the moment your knife slices a steak?

In this country, we are blessed with a great group of farmers who care for their animals and a food safety system to ensure things work properly. There are farmers who do things various ways for good reasons for both their customers and their farms. A good balance of science and communication can go a long way in sustaining this process.
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The bitter truth behind the chocolate in your Easter basket
April 4th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
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Chocolate is one of life's greatest pleasures, but for the children working in slavery conditions in cacao fields across West Africa's Ivory Coast, the reality behind it is anything but sweet.

Some 70 to 75 percent of the world's cocoa beans are grown on small farms in West Africa, including the Ivory Coast, according to the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative. The CNN Freedom Project reports that in the Ivory Coast alone, there are an estimated 200,000 children working the fields, many against their will, to satisfy the world's hunger for chocolate.

The average American eats around 11 pounds of chocolate each year, and the weeks leading up to Easter show the second biggest United States sales spike of the year next to Halloween - 71 million pounds according to a 2009 Neilsen report. A recent press release from Kraft claims that worldwide, more consumers purchase chocolate during Easter than any other season.

So how does a chocolate lover ensure that the treats filling their family's Easter baskets are not supporting a life of slavery for a child half a world away?
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