Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yes we can (eat locally in winter) and other top headlines

A shout out to my younger brother Doug - Happy Birthday. You deserve a great day today. Now, on to the day's news...

I see that locavores are doggedly insisting that eating local is doable, even in the Northeast U.S. during the winter months. From the Boston Globe:

In the winter, however, even the most committed New Englander could be forgiven for falling off that wagon. People cite deeply felt reasons for becoming locavores, or those who choose to eat food grown and produced in the region where they live. (The term was coined in 2005 by a group in the Bay Area and has since become ubiquitous; it was the New Oxford American Dictionary's word of the year for 2007.) They want to support the local economy, eat what tastes best right now, minimize food miles, maximize nutrition, connect with their communities, and live in tune with the seasons. But after enough root vegetables, oranges from California and blueberries from Chile could start to look pretty appealing.

Not necessarily, say many who eat predominantly local food throughout the winter. With a little planning, it's surprisingly easy to be a locavore in the winter. Even in New England.

TK: Eating local has taken on the form of a religion, with followers only grudgingly forgiven if they are tempted by the brazen Chilean blueberry or the loose morals of the orange from California. Please, stop the charade. It's too painful to watch for those of us who don't observe your strange sacraments.

Other headlines snatched from the Web:

Peterson no fan of stimulus bill and Obama appointments From AgriNews
Peterson was critical of the federal stimulus package making its way through Congress. He said he'd support a smaller package, somewhere in the $400 billion to $500 billion neighborhood, focused on infrastructure improvements that need to be done anyway and helping the unemployed.

Tom Vilsack, new face of agriculture Washington Post
About nutrition in school lunches:

Part of my responsibility is to find people who share my concern and have more expertise than I do. People we nominate will be people who understand this issue and have the desire to effect change. The specifics of how we can do this will come from the experts. My job is to listen to the president, who is the ultimate vision maker, articulate his vision to the people who work in this department and add my two cents' worth. The vision is, he wants more nutritious food in schools.

Produce inspection fuds being swiped From Nogales International

Grocery price war threatens margins From Forbes
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, shoppers are increasingly seeking out the lowest prices--especially on company-branded products--raising the stakes for stores wanting to be seen as offering the best value for the buck."While we expect the 'trade in' from the restaurants and 'trade over' to private label to benefit the supermarkets, we do not believe it will be enough to offset pricing pressure from competitors," Weinswig said, pointing to price-slashing at regional grocers and promotions for lower prices in the future. Furthermore, Weinswig expects Wal-Mart to boost its private-label offerings. The retailer's private-label offerings currently account for 16.0% of products compared to 27.0% at Kroger and 25.0% at Safeway.

Whole Foods CEO calls for new approach Yale Daily News

For John Mackey, chief executive officer of Whole Foods, companies should focus not on boosting profits but on finding a deeper purpose. Mackey, who delivered two public addresses Tuesday, argued that the most successful form of capitalism is what he called “conscious capitalism,” an attitude he said Whole Foods has attempted to espouse in its business dealings. Those seeking profits — like those seeking happiness — will find that both profits and happiness come only out of a larger search for purpose.“I want us to evolve from the profit focus to the purpose focus, from the short term to the long term,” Mackey said.

House hearing to focus on peanut executives From AP. Today's House Energy and Commerce hearing may have fireworks

Senate stimulus bill lacks House E-verify provision From Federal Computer Week
The Senate's $838 billion economic stimulus package approved today would not require E-Verify employment verification for all contracts created through stimulus funding; the House version of the measure has that requirement.

Recession, poverty and the Recovery Act Center for American Progress reports...

Iowa farmers eligible for USDA pilot program From Midwest AgNet. Iowa farmers can plant veggies under pilot program.

Aussie veggie supplies take hits From The Herald Sun: Floods and brush fires take toll

Grocer pulls Unilever items over pricing issue
From WSJ

The stare-down shows how fraught relations between retailers and their suppliers are becoming amid the severe slump in consumer spending. Grocery stores across the globe are putting growing pressure on food and drink companies to lower prices or to offer other more favorable terms.Faced with penny-pinching consumers and the growing strength of discount stores, retailers are desperate to cut prices, and a growing number are asking suppliers to help foot the bill.Meanwhile, consumer-goods companies such as Unilever are struggling with a drop in demand from stores whose customers are trading down to cheaper private-label brands. Earlier this month, Kraft Foods Inc. lowered its earnings guidance for the year as retailers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., cut back orders.

Anglo-Saxon model of regulation has failed From FT and Roubini:

It is clear that the "Anglo-Saxon" model of supervision and regulation of the financial system has failed. It relied on self-regulation that, in effect, means no regulation; on market discipline that does not exist when there is euphoria and irrational exuberance; on internal risk management models that fail because - as a former chief executive of Citi put it - when the music is playing you gotta stand up and dance. Furthermore, the self-regulation approach created rating agencies that had massive conflicts of interest and a supervisory system dependent on principles rather than rules. This light-touch regulation in effect became regulation of the softest touch.

Reports warns Fresno County to protect farmland From The report by the American Farmland Trust says 20 percent of farmland lost to development has occurred since 1990. The study assessed soil quality and water availability to identify a half-million acres that should be kept in farming. It says the region faces the same pressures to develop that consumed farmland in Southern California during the past century. If the report is accepted by the council of governments, county planning officials hope to use it to help update the general plan.A new study says planners should put southeastern Fresno County off-limits to development to reduce sprawl and save farmland.

My Organic Market announces recycling numbers for 2008

Wal-Mart De Mexico sees modest 4Q growth From Dow Jones

Mexico suffers bloody day of drug violence From AP

UN to convene climate change meeting in September
From China View

Management changes at Fresh Express plant
Coverage from The Packer

Mortgage group warns of commercial foreclosures
SignOn San Diego

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