Sustainable, Local and Organic Food News

Local Food New Focus on College Campuses

The number of college campus dining halls featuring locally grown, sustainable foods has grown to the point that even media giants like Time Magazine have started to take notice–in a recent article, Time reports that that 200 universities nationwide have started serving local foods–half of them since 2001.

In addition, 45 campuses have student-run farms that not only provide food to dining halls, but give students valuable experiences in learning how food is planted, grown and harvested.

Many of these new catering decisions seem to be instigated by rising student ecological awareness and demand for sustainable foods that not only are more nutritious, but which taste better and are more environmentally sound.

I think that the activism of younger Americans bodes well for the entire idea of supporting local, sustainable agriculture, and I am pleased to see that the movement has grown to the point where it is even being noticed by Time Magazine. This sort of wide coverage of the local food movement will do a lot to expose the average American to the concepts of eating seasonally and locally.

Organic Milk: What Exactly Does That Mean?

Meanwhile, back at the dairy farm, the New York Times takes on the issue of organic milk.

Apparently, organic milk is the “gateway” for many consumers into the realm of organic food. Lots of parents who won’t buy any other form of organic produce will pay a premium for organic milk, even though they may not know what the label “organic” entitles them to.

Apparently, it is this, and only this: “It comes from a cow whose milk production was not prompted by an artificial growth hormone, whose feed was not grown with pesticides and which had “access to pasture,” a term so vague it could mean that a cow might spend most of its milk-producing life confined to a feed lot eating grain and not grass.”

As for how much time cows spend in the pasture for their milk to still carry the USDA Certified Organic label is currently a topic for much heated discussion at the USDA and elsewhere.

But, while the government, farmers and dairy industry are arguing, Americans are still buying a lot of organic milk products: a 23% growth in the organic dairy industry is predicted in the next year.

That is a lot of milk; one wonders when demand will outstrip supply, driving already high prices even higher.

Director of Iowa State University’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture Forced to Resign

Fred Kirschenmann, director of ISU’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, says he was forced to resign as director and take a lesser staff position because of a philosophical difference of opinion concerning the future of the center. He believed that the center’s energies should take on a more national focus, while Wendy Wintersteen, interim dean of the College of Agriculture, believed that the focus should be on helping only Iowa farmers.

The mission of the internationally-known Leopold Center is to study the negative effects of traditional, industrialized argricultural practices and research more ecologically sound alternatives.

A letter-writing campaign protesting this management change is currently being organized by local and national advocates of sustainable agriculture.

Read the full story here.

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