Soil & Sea: reports from our producers

This article was originally published in February 2017

All Organic Valley products now are free of carrageenan, an emulsifier/thickener often found in food that has been linked to health concerns.

Eight percent of the nation’s 2.1 million farms produced and sold food locally through direct-marketing in 2015, according to a first-ever national U.S. Department of Agriculture survey. The survey found that more than 167,000 U.S. farms produced and sold food locally in 2015 through direct-marketing practices, resulting in $8.7 billion in revenue.

Too much sugar is a top consumer concern, FoodNavigator reports. Despite some confusion and distrust of labelling, more than half the shoppers surveyed (56 percent) look for and give priority to “no sugar added” claims when grocery shopping, and 32 percent look for sugar-free foods.

Technology that applies facial recognition to fish may help combat a looming global fishing crisis. The Australian arm of The Nature Conservancy recently won funding from Google that will allow the organization to develop software to help digital cameras recognize fish as they’re caught. The technology may give fishing regulators the tools necessary to understand what species are being caught where and in what quantities to inform sustainable management.

Will Oregon’s Coho salmon be saved from extinction? Federal fisheries managers recently finalized a 10-year plan that lays out voluntary steps federal, state and private landowners should take to ensure recovery of the species, which currently is listed as “threatened.” Under the Endangered Species Act, fish and wildlife managers are required to create recovery plans for listed species.

New technology may make the egg industry more humane. Many consumers are concerned about the fate of male chicks in the egg business. Most are incubated in large hatcheries and slaughtered at birth because they’ll never lay eggs and are not considered ideal meat birds. Vital Farms (a PCC egg vendor) recently developed the technology to determine the sex of the egg on the day it’s laid so male eggs can be sold in the marketplace, making hatcheries money while preventing the killing of newborn chicks. The technology is slated to be available within a year.

Before leaving office, President Obama withdrew 115 million acres of the Arctic Ocean and 31 underwater canyons in the Atlantic Ocean from future oil and gas development. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act vests the president with the authority to withdraw unleased offshore areas from future oil and gas drilling. Obama previously used this law to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea, and part of the Chukchi Sea.

Also in this issue

GMOs 2.0

New, experimental genetic engineering techniques are altering food and other products while racing ahead of regulations. What are the consequences and will they be allowed in organics?

Food dollar math

Farmers earn 3.5¢ of every dollar spent eating out, and 16¢ of every dollar spent on food eaten at home.

News bites, February 2017

GE salmon update, Biotech industry influences GE policy, Study: GE not equivalent, and more