Food and Agriculture News: 8/18/22

Food and Agriculture News: 8/18/22

Employee burnout in the restaurant industry has reached a tipping point. Here’s how some Atlantans are creating a better workplace. - Atlanta Magazine 

Love this article because it highlights one of my favorite places in town – A Sip of Paradise Gardens. It’s located in East Atlanta Village, right next to the EAV Farmers Market location, and was started as a refuge for hospitality workers during the height of the pandemic.

In this article, you’ll read about how this garden made a real impact in their lives, as well as other strategies hospitality workers and their employers are taking to alleviate stress and put mental health at the forefront of what is a highly stressful field. 

Also, special shout out to Shay and Keyatta, who are both featured in this article, for helping us develop our Farmers Jam Cocktail Syrup at a taste test last month. 

Climate and Tax Bill Rewrites Embattled Black Farmer Relief Program - NY Times 

Since the inception of this newsletter, we’ve been following stories about the federal government’s attempts to provide debt relief to Black farmers who have been historically discriminated against by USDA, by their own admission. All of the previous attempts have failed. 

Now, tucked into the new Inflation Reduction Act is a new plan which takes race completely out of the equation to avoid the funding being held up in court once again. While this angle may prevent lawsuits, it also dramatically widens the eligibility pool, therefore decreasing the intended impact. 

“Comparing the situation to the broken promise in the 19th century that former slaves would receive 40 acres and a mule, John Boyd, the president of the National Black Farmers Association said: ‘Justice doesn’t come in alphabetical order in this country. Black is always last.’”

The Field Report: What the Historic Climate Bill Means for Farmers and the Food System - Civil Eats 

In all, the specifics of the bill for farming and agriculture mirror the wider reactions to the overall bill: it does more than ever, but not nearly enough. Here’s the key summary from Jonathan Foley:

“There are some big gaps in what it does, and some tradeoffs that I’m not thrilled about. But, overall, it does make major investments in a lot of places we need, and it will—overall—contribute to a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the U.S,” said Jonathan Foley, executive director of Project Drawdown.

Biden rule would give organic chickens access to outdoors - Reuters 

Chicken labels are some of the most misleading labels in food. “Free range” and “cage free” are basically useless. “Pasture Raised” is what you really want, but few people know what that actually means. “Certified Organic” was supposed to make things clear, but in the case of chickens mostly related to their diet.

Finally, the Biden administration is closing a loophole that allowed “Organic” labels on chickens that didn’t have any access to the outdoors. 

The catch is that companies have 15 years to comply – so at least two other administrations could simply cancel this rule, as Trump did to a similar rule created by Obama. 

How to Fall Out of Love With Your Lawn - NY Times 

Any longtime readers will know this is a hill I’m willing to die on. Almost all American landowners are extremely mediocre grass farmers who get almost zero value in return for money, sweat, water and equipment poured into their lawns. 

Look, if you enjoy your lawn, let the dog run around, play catch with your kids, have at it. But the vast majority of people only interact with their lawn when they’re mowing it. Such. A. Waste. 

Anyway, this really speaks to me. It’s actually a 5 minute video – complete with a King of the Hill cameo – but check out the second paragraph, which goes straight for the dagger:

“But while the lawn may be a powerful symbol of American postwar prosperity, it’s also an ecological dead zone that’s sucking the nation’s aquifers dry.”

National security concerns arise as China buys up U.S. farmland - KOMO 

Given tensions with China, headlines like these could be seen as alarmist. However, the concerns bring up some good points:

- Some of the land that was previously used for food production is now lying fallow, potentially limiting our food production.

- Other patches of land are near Air Force bases, including where the US tests new equipment such as drones.

- US citizens are not allowed to buy farmland in China, but China currently owns over 350,000 acres of US farmland.

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