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Food and Agriculture News: 5/19/22

This Antioxidant May Provide a Key Link Between Regenerative Agriculture and Human Health - Civil Eats 


This research is absolutely critical to the future of organic growing. Proponents of heavy spraying always point to increased yield (even though this is, at best, a short term proposition). Proponents of organic growing point to nutrients in the soil. This study finally shows that increased nutrients in the soil increases nutrients for humans (which seems obvious, I know, but in a recent email exchange with a UGA Extension Agent he claimed there were no studies showing such correlation). 


In fact, this article even calls it the holy grail of food and agriculture! 


That connection between healthy soil and healthy food is important, but it’s not the complete equation, admits Andrew Smith, Rodale’s chief operating officer and chief scientist. “We’ve done a good job of linking soil health to plant health, but never have really done a good job of linking soil health to human health.”


The article gets into the importance of mycelium and leaving the soil undisturbed – also known as “no till” farming. Good stuff. 


Breakfast with the Panthers - It wasn’t all young men and guns: the Black Panther Party’s programs fed more hungry kids than the state of California - AEON 


Whatever you know – or think you know – about the Black Panther Party, this article is well worth your time.


The truth is, the Black Panther Party’s main offense was exposing the vast shortcomings of various bodies of the US government during the 1960s – whether it was police brutality, failure to maintain roads, properly educate young people, or feed children. For this, they were branded as thugs and terrorists. 


And while they’re never given credit, the Black Panther Party – particularly women of the movement – is the reason children receive breakfast at schools today. 


A few excerpts:


The Panthers hosted their first Free Breakfast for Children Program at Father Neil’s St Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Oakland on 20 January 1969. That first day, they served 11 kids. By the end of the week, more than 100 came. Each week more showed up, despite the propaganda campaign that law enforcement began, telling parents the food was tainted or threatening arrest for those who attended.


At the peak of their breakfast programme, the Panthers were feeding more kids around the country daily than the state of California did. The communities embraced them for this and their other survival programmes – which included helping secure safe housing, instituting door-to-door healthcare, developing innovative addiction treatment, free grocery distribution, clothes and shoe giveaways, as well as lending support to other local activist groups. This important work of the Panthers remains under-recognised.


 In an internal classified memo written by Hoover – the FBI’s director and the mastermind of the massive illegal COINTELPRO (counter-intelligence programme) that sought to eliminate liberal-leaning and civil rights groups – he declared the Free Breakfast for Children Program ‘the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralise … the [Black Panther Party].’ Why was feeding hungry kids seen as so dangerous?


Federal and local law enforcement agents were bent on destroying the Panthers’ free breakfast programme and what it represented. They confiscated food meant for poor children or destroyed it by soaking it with water or urinating on it; they spread lies about the breakfasts being poisoned, or the Panthers teaching hate and ‘anti-American’ rhetoric. And they ramped up their efforts, as Hoover himself wrote, to ‘neutralise … and destroy’ the Panthers themselves, through unfounded arrests and sometimes state-sanctioned assassinations.


President Biden Calls on Farmers to Double Crop in Face of Food Insecurity - Modern Farmer


There’s a lot to unpack here. What seems like a simple request is anything but. Afterall, if farmers could double crop, why wouldn’t they? Well, for starters, there’s timing. Plant a second crop too late in the game a risk not getting a harvest at all. Second, that’s double the work the soil has to do – and if you recall the articles from last week, our soil is very depleted. To make up for depleted soil, we use fertilizer, which is at an all time high price. 


And those are just the surface level issues. This article does a great job of exploring just how complex – and possibly corrupt – this idea really is. 


How Windfall Profits Have Supercharged Food Inflation - Forbes 


How’s this for an opening paragraph?


The Federal Reserve Board has voted to increase interest rates by 50 basis points in an attempt to curb price inflation. The monetary policy move does not address the main reason for increased food prices: how big food companies, exploiting their market leverage, have passed costs onto consumers and reaped excessive profits.


Then there’s this one:


According to economist Isabella Weber , “Outsize price hikes are at least partially responsible for inflation. Companies have bragged about how they have managed to be ahead of the inflation curve, how they have managed to jack up prices more than their costs and as a result have delivered these record profits.” And during a recent congressional hearing on inflation, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said “Corporate greed is motivating large companies to use the pandemic and supply-chain issues as an excuse to raise prices simply because they can.”




Protecting livestock producers and chicken growers - Equitable Growth 


Alright, so this is a full on research paper. I mean, it’s gigantic. I first saw this image and thought, oh wow, this really breaks down how broken the livestock industry really is. So, for a taste, just hit this link. But then I pulled up the whole paper and it’s a behemoth. 


To make a very long story short, there are rules and systems in place that could dramatically improve the life of a chicken grower, but they aren’t being used. In large part, it’s because the enforcement agency is dramatically underfunded.


Roughly 117 people, as of 2019, are responsible for policing a nationwide industry of $88 billion.


Good luck with that.

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