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.

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.

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.

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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