Food + Agriculture News: 6/22/23

Food + Agriculture News: 6/22/23

Bringing Oats Back to American Farms - Civil Eats

There’s three really good reasons why this is a good idea. 

Oats grown in the “off season” of corn and soy, so farmers can grow and extra crop and generate more revenue

Growing an extra crop in the off season means weed pressure isn’t as intense

Oats are beneficial to crops like corn and soy for two reasons: they reduce pests that specifically eat them, and they decrease the amount of nitrogen fertilizer used to grow them

Long story short, less pesticide, fertilizer, and herbicide, and more revenue for farmers

The demand for oat milk is driving more farmers to plant oats, but they’re held up because there aren’t many US processors who accept oats. That may change with companies like Oatly investing more in US agriculture, and could be spurred along by incentives in the upcoming farm bill. 

US approves chicken made from cultivated cells, the nation’s first ‘lab-grown’ meat - AP News 

Folks, it’s happening. You’ll know that I’m not a big believer in “fake meat” (like Impossible burgers) but I do think there will be a market for lab grown meat. From all accounts, it tastes close to the real thing and once the tech is dialed in they’ll produce it cheaply. 

The biggest thing they’ll have to overcome is that it’s lab grown meat, and that’s just weird. But if it tastes good and the price is right, I think they’ll make it. 

On that point, the price is not yet right. It’s still much more expensive than regular chicken. For now, it will be offered at a couple of high end restaurants and eventually make its way to grocery stores in an estimated 7-10 years. Long way to go. 

Is eating local produce actually better for the planet? - The Guardian

In the most simplistic sense, this article makes the case that transportation doesn’t actually account for a large percentage of emissions compared to emissions that actually come from the farm – about 61%. Therefore, eating “locally” doesn’t really make a difference.

But even that’s up for debate. Some scientists argue that transportation emissions should include shipping of inputs like fertilizer to the farm, and even how ingredients in fertilizer get to the production facility. As you can see, it quickly becomes a rabbit hole. 

In all, this article is illuminating but the headline is misleading. The “local food movement” is also about buying from small scale farms using organic practices. Defining it as purely based on miles and not as a conscientious objection to industrial food misses the point entirely.

There’s no doubt that industrial farms achieve incredible efficiency in growing and transporting massive quantities of food that dwarfs the impact of 10 farms all driving trucks to the same location each week to sell fruits and vegetables (for example). 

But it’s also far more likely that those industrial farms also account for the vast majority of the 61% of emissions that take place on farms.

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