Friday, January 30, 2009

UK COOL nightmare and other top headlines

The UK is dealing with a new impetus for country of origin labeling, but food manufacturers there, like here, dread the thought of origin labeling for multi-ingredient prepared foods. From the link.

"In this instance, most consumers don't expect country of origin labelling, unless its absence would mislead them. Creating different labels to reflect the changing origin of ingredients would add further, unnecessary costs to our sector at a difficult time for food producers," she said.

More headlines snatched from the Web:

Most produce recession proof Coverage from The Packer

A recent poll commissioned by the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association finds that over the past six months, consumers have at least maintained consumption levels of 14 out of 15 leading fresh fruits and vegetables.

Organic sector weighs option in fertilizer matter
Coverage from The Packer

Europe suspends plan to censure Kenyan produce

Water: California's new gold rush The Sacramento Union. It's never been more grim.
The giants of California agribusiness are the biggest economic engine in the valley, which produces every cantaloupe on store shelves in summer months, and the bulk of the nation’s lettuce crop each spring and fall.

This year, officials in Fresno County predict farmers will only grow about 6,000 acres of lettuce, roughly half the acreage devoted to greens in 2005.


Richard Howitt, a professor of agriculture economics at the University of California, Davis, estimates that $1.6 billion in agriculture-related wages, and as many as 60,000 jobs across the valley will be lost in the coming months due to dwindling water.

Analysts haven’t yet provided any estimates of crop losses this year. But Bill Diedrich, an almond grower on the valley’s parched western edge, said he’s already worried he may lose some of his nut trees in the drought.

What's the Obama agenda for Bush era regulations?
From OMB Watch

A Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulation that sets requirements for country-of-origin labeling on meat and other perishable food items. Although consumers support country-of-origin labeling, critics say the regulation has loopholes. USDA used an overly broad definition of "processed" foods that can be exempt from labeling requirements. USDA published the regulation Jan. 15, and it is scheduled to go into effect March 16.

School officials worry about less fresh food for student lunches From the LA Times. This sounds significant and not welcome news for the industry.

Cafeteria workers may have to rev up those can openers: That's the warning from a slew of school and elected officials who are worried that California will run short of the money it gives school districts to supplement school breakfasts and lunches.

State schools chief Jack O'Connell has been warning since December that the money could run out this spring, and this month Assembly Bill 95 was introduced -- which would provide $19.5 million to make up for the shortfall. The state pays 22 cents for each meal a student gets for free; the federal government provides the bulk of the funding -- $2.17 to $2.57 per every free or reduced-price meal served.

Healthy and cheap Another stretch your budget feature, this published by The Tulsa World. Lots of produce centered advice here.

Nutrient-rich, inexpensive vegetables, legumes and grains are better options than most cheap convenience food, said Sharon Stroud, a certified nutritionist at Whole Foods Market, 1401 E. 41st St. Stroud leads regular tours through the market to show shoppers how to get more nutrition for their money.

"I have people tell me all the time they can't afford to eat healthy," Stroud said.

But the long-term medical expense of eating unhealthy foods is something people should also consider, she said. Many inexpensive convenience foods are loaded with salt, sugar and trans fats that offer little nutritional value and lots of empty calories.

Nutritional guidelines recommend at least nine servings of fruits or vegetables per day, and if you're eating all nine, you're not going to have as much room in your diet for junk food, Stroud said.

Why I love the sneaky chef From

The whole concept of her book is to puree fruits and vegetables and add them to foods your kids already love. The hope is that they won't even notice they're eating them.

Valley GOP leaders target pesticide rules
California's state Republicans seek relief from Calif. central valley farmers

Farm to table in Hawaii A look at CSAs in the 50th state

NJ Tomato grower faces nearly $1M fine From Newsday

A corporate tomato grower has been fined almost $1 million for pesticide violations that could have affected the health of its workers, state environmental officials said Thursday.

The Department of Environmental Protection cited hundreds of violations by Ag-Mart Produce, including denying inspectors access to facilities, losing track of a highly toxic insecticide, careless record keeping and using forbidden mixtures of pesticides.

John F. O'Riordan, a lawyer for Ag-Mart Produce, said it was "stunned by the fine and more stunned by the DEP's comments. We will vigorously challenge this, and I believe we will be vindicated and the fine will be dismissed."

Emergency aid to food banks in Obama stimulus bill

The Obama Stimulus Bill in the Senate includes emergency aid to food banks.$150 million worth. Each local pantry could see up to $100,000 in relief.

I say potatoes, you say vodka
From SF Examiner

All of the Karlsson vodkas are made from a variety of new potatoes harvested from the Bjare Cape in Sweden where the product is created. This region is to potatoes what France’s Bordeaux region is to wine. Surprisingly (or at least it was to this wine drinker) most vodkas these days are made from grains, not potatoes. Karlsson’s wanted to bring back the old world flavors that tubers impart to the vodka.

Web site promotes concept of "White House farmer"

Dole announces asset sale transactions

First, Dole has closed the first phase of the previously announced sale of its flowers division. With the closing of the first phase, Dole has now completed the sale of its flowers business and retains only certain real estate of the former flowers division to be sold in the subsequent phases of the transaction. Second, Dole has closed on the sale of certain banana properties in Latin America. Third, Dole has signed a definitive purchase and sale agreement to sell certain property in North America. When the North American property sale closes, towards the end of the first quarter of 2009, Dole will have received net cash proceeds of approximately $84 million from these three transactions.

E-verify: a nightmare for workers

For all of the promise that the stimulus plan passed by the House will help create jobs, a provision tucked into the package could actually push workers into unemployment.

That amendment calls for requiring that any contractors that receive federal dollars must participate in a program known as E-verify. A joint and voluntary program of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), E-verify is used to verify employment eligibility.

China looks to jump queue in apple exports to Australia
Prepare to be disappointed, China

The world's biggest apple-growing nation, China, may win entry to the potentially lucrative Australian market before New Zealand apples arrive there.

A draft plan on Chinese apples, released last week by Biosecurity Australia, says they could be imported as long as risks from 18 pests of concern were a "very low level", the Weekly Times newspaper reported.

The pests include mites, oriental fruit fly, mealybugs, Japanese apple rust, apple brown rot, European canker, apple scab, apple and sooty blotch and flyspeck complex - but biosecurity officials said they were satisfied China does not have fireblight.

A spokesman for Australian orchardists - who lobbied against entry of New Zealand apples on the grounds that they might carry fireblight - expressed doubt.

"We're ... yet to be convinced that China is free of fire blight," said the growers quarantine expert, John Corboy.

Great recession of '09

Fresh & Easy produce packs

Jobless numbers rise, durable goods orders fall

Apple juice helps with Alzheimer's?

The ugly math of foreclosures

“What we need is a moratorium on foreclosure while we get a plan in place. We could have five to eight million more foreclosures in the U.S. if we don’t do something about this. Banks have already written down these mortgages.”

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