The Produce for Better Health Foundation reports that families as a result of poor economic conditions are buying fewer fresh fruits and vegetables. A survey of mothers finds that fruit consumption has dropped 12 percent in the last year while vegetable purchases are down 6 percent.
The drop is especially pronounced in lower income households, the foundation reports. Most mom's--87 percent--say it's important to include fresh produce in their family's diet. Still, 90 percent of American households fail to eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.
Too Close for Comfort....
A new study shows that kids who go to school near a fast food joint are more likely to be obese.
The study followed 9th graders over a decade and found they were 5 percent more likely to be overweight if their school was located within one-tenth mile of a pizza, burger or other fast-food outlet.
“It could be that students don’t like to wander too far,” said one of the study's authors. “Maybe they don’t have a long lunch period. Maybe it’s just the effect of having temptation right in front of your eyes.”
Dandelions are Cool Again....
Congratulations to the park system in Chicago, Illinois, for ditching pesticides and urging homeowners to do likewise. Nearly 90 percent of Chicago's park lands are now chemical free.
“The Park District is keeping our Chicago parks a healthy place for everyone to enjoy,” said Tim Mitchell, Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO.
The Chicago Park District mows turf grass to keep weeds down. Following natural lawn care basics, the Park District keeps the grass three inches high. This allows the roots to grow strong and access water deep in the ground. As a result, the taller grass naturally shades out some weeds. With the reduction in use of chemical weed killers, dandelion flowers grow back quickly, oftentimes overnight. The sight of dandelions indicates grass that is healthy and safe for all park patrons to play on.
Gardeners Glory in San Fran's Compost....
San Francisco implimented municipal curb-side pickup of food scraps and other compostables and now the city is producing tons of "black gold" for local farms, orchards and gardens.
San Francisco's garbage and recycling companies are leading the way in producing a high-quality, boutique compost tailored for Bay Area growers, experts say. In one year, 105,000 tons of food scraps and yard trimmings - 404 tons each weekday - get turned into 20,000 tons of compost for 10,000 acres.
The compost is in such demand from nearby growers of wine grapes, vegetables and nuts that it sells out at peak spreading season every year.
About 2,000 restaurants, 2,080 large apartment buildings and 50,000 single-family homes have embraced the city's environmentally friendly green bins.
Local Meat Prices Sky High....
Here's a livestock farmer who confesses what we've been saying all along: shoppers at farmers markets are paying outrageous prices for locally raised meats.
"Local farmers are unwilling or unable to scale up to reasonable production levels, so they compensate for low volume by charging exorbitantly high prices to get their cash flow up," says farmer Bob Comis, writing in the Ethicurean blog.
This reminds us of the $28-a-pound pork shoulder we once purchased at the Dupont Circle farmers market here in the District of Columbia.
"Local meat, poultry, and eggs, however, are dramatically more expensive than industrial, often two, three, or even more times so," Comis continues. "Are these dramatically higher prices legitimate, in the sense that they reflect the true cost of raising that food? I don’t think so. I believe very strongly that these prices are as artificially high as industrial food is low."
Comis says the reason for nose-bleed prices is because local farmers grow on such a small scale. They charge a fortune, but still don't make much of a profit. The solution? Local farmers need to scale up so they aren't charging "extortionate" prices.
"Local meat is more expensive than industrial and always will be, there is no doubt about that. But it’s time for a little honesty about just how much more expensive it really needs to be."
Is Kent Conrad a Blockhead?
Senate Budget committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) has announced he will reject President Obama's plan to cut billions in crop subsidy payments that flow mostly to large profitable farm operations and wealthy landowners.
Instead, according to a March 24 report by Charles Abbott of Reuters news service, Conrad said he would slash several other programs, among them two conservation programs that are critical to winning the fight against global warming.
The conservation programs Conrad would like to cut help farmers reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and also engage in practices that take carbon out of the air and store it in the soil. They help farmers protect their land and the environment from the more frequent floods, droughts, and severe weather blamed on global warming.
Unlike millionaire "farmers," however, conservation programs don't make campaign contributions.