At World’s Fair In Italy, The Future Of Food Is On The Table

MAY 31, 2015 7:34 AM ET
Sylvia Poggioli

For the next six months, Italy is hosting a dinner party — and the entire world is invited to attend.

The event, called Expo Milano 2015, is the latest World’s Fair. This year’s theme is “feeding the planet, energy for life.” The global population is projected to pass 9 billion by 2050, and Expo organizers want to start a global conversation now about sustainability, biodiversity and food security.

With exhibits from 145 countries over a 12-million-square-foot area, the expo is a showcase for the many cultures of food and environmental technology. Some pavilions have vertical farms. Brazil has transplanted a tropical forest. And some countries are exhibiting jointly their staple products— such as rice, coffee and cocoa. Continue reading

Small Farmers Are Creating Resilient Local Food Systems Globally

Posted by: : Paul Ebeling Posted on: May 25, 2015: Farmers Are Creating Resilient Local Food Systems Globally

Below is a discussion on how family farmers, food heroes, and organizations around the world are working to create resilient local food systems.

The food system depends on a healthy environment, but poor agricultural practices are responsible for environmental degradation. Beekeepers continue to lose 30 percent of honeybee colonies during an average winter, likely due to pesticides and other agro-chemicals.

Soil degradation is occurring at staggering rates, with soils being depleted 10 to 40 times faster than they are being replenished. And up to 100,000 plant varieties are currently endangered worldwide.

The increase in food prices in 2008, Russian wildfires brought on by excessive heat and drought in 2010, and, most recently, the worst drought in more than 100 years in California, all are warning signs that farmers and farmers’ groups, global food producers, industry leaders, researchers, and scientists must address the planet’s food security in the face of weather volatility and climate change.

Food Tank and The Lexicon of Sustainability are spotlighting farming and resilience through The Food List, a cross-media messaging campaign that provides the vital tools needed for fixing the food system. Continue reading

Welcome to the 4th Annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge!

Do you have a child between the ages of 8-12? Can you imagine his or her recipe being featured in a cookbook? Or the two of you representing your home state at a Kids’ “State Dinner” at the White House this summer?

If so, First Lady Michelle Obama, WGBH Boston, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture invite you and your child to enter the 4th annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids’ “State Dinner.”

In order to be eligible, lunch recipe submissions need to be created by a child between the ages of 8-12 and should follow the MyPlate nutrition guidelines: Fruits and vegetables should make up about half of the recipe or dish, and it should also include whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy. Submissions must include information about how and why they were created and be:

One recipe from each of the 50 states and territories will be chosen. And, the prize is priceless! As healthy food ambassadors for each state and U.S. territory, the winning chefs and a parent or guardian will be flown to Washington D.C. where they will have the opportunity to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner,” hosted by Mrs. Obama at the White House!

A parent or legal guardian is required to fill out the entry form on his or her child’s behalf.

Good luck. We can’t wait to see (and taste) what kids across the country cook up!

Contest, March 31st to April 30th, 2015. Winners, Announced June 2015. White House Kids’ State Dinner, July 2015

Hungry for more University-community partnership seeks healthy food for all

Spring/Summer 2014 | By Meghan Lepisto

livable cities food accessThe majority of food consumed in American cities is transported from at least 1,500 miles away.

And yet, in urban areas like Detroit, more than half of the population is out of reach of fresh food, shopping for meals at the corner liquor store or convenience mart.

As you digest such numbers, it quickly becomes clear: in meeting the nation’s food needs, our performance is wanting, with implications for nutrition and health, community stability, and local economies.

An interdisciplinary team of UW-Madison scientists is working toward solutions, supported by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They’ve teamed with UW-Extension, the nonprofit organization Growing Power, Wayne State University, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute and a range of community-based organizations to study ways to boost the availability and consumption of healthy food in urban communities.
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National Program Continues to Increase Local Foods in Schools and Provide New Economic Opportunities for Farmers and Ranchers

March 16, 2015

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the release of a request for applications for the USDA’s Fiscal Year 2016 round of Farm to School grants. Designed to increase the availability of local foods in eligible schools, these grants help new farm to school programs get started or expand existing efforts, facilitating stronger connections between local and regional producers and school cafeterias.

“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” Vilsack said. “These Farm to School grants will help schools respond to the growing demand for local foods and increase market opportunities for many types of food producers.”

Four different kinds of grants are available. Planning grants are for schools or school districts just getting started on farm to school activities; they’re designed to help them organize and structure their efforts for maximum impact by incorporating best practices into early planning considerations. Implementation grants are available for schools or school districts seeking to augment or expand existing farm to school efforts. Support service grants are intended for non-profit entities, Indian tribal organizations, state and local agencies, and agriculture producers or groups of producers to evolve farm to school initiatives.

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Local Food Co-op Awards Nearly $15,000 in Micro-loans

March 18, 2015

ASHLAND, WI – Four local farms will receive micro-loans totaling close to $15,000 from the Chequamegon Food Co-op to help with farm-related projects this spring. The Co-op’s micro-loan program began in 2008 as a way for the cooperative grocery store to invest its profits in the local food system and to potentially provide more local foods for the Co-op’s shelves. These small, no interest loans are capped at $5,000 and have a 3-year payback period. Micro-loan recipients were as follows:

  • Owner Gilbert Schwartz of Seasonally Sourced in Ashland, Wis. will purchase foraging gear, storage containers, and processing equipment.
  • Owners Rob Hartman and Ashley Smith of Twisting Twig Farm in Bayfield, Wis. will upgrade their photovoltaic system and purchase a back-up generator.
  • Owners Kelsey and Todd Rothe of River Road Farm in Marengo, Wis. will construct a walk-in-cooler inside their barn.
  • Owner Theresa Depies of Springbrook Dairy in Springbrook, Wis. will improve the cheese curds and quark cheese packaging.

Of the nearly $15,000 awarded in this loan cycle, $10,800 came from the Co-op’s CHIP for Change program. CHIP for Change is a contribution program where money given by customers at the Co-op’s registers helps fund the micro-loan program.

Chequamegon Food Co-op offers micro-loans in the spring and fall. The next micro-loan application deadline is Tuesday, September 1, 2015. To learn more about the micro-loan program, please contact Harold Vanselow, general manager, at (715) 682-8251 or

The Chequamegon Food Co-operative is a member-owned natural foods store that specializes in local products within 100 miles of Ashland, Wisconsin.

UW Report: Demand For Organic Produce, Meat Is Outstripping Supply In Wisconsin

Report Also Finds That Organic Market Is Increasingly Dominated By Younger Farmers

Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 10:40pm
By Maureen McCollum

A University of Wisconsin-Madison report says that the demand for organic produce and meat is outpacing the supply in Wisconsin.

It also says that organic farming continues to attract younger and newer farmers in the state, even as the average conventional farmer in Wisconsin continues to grow older.

Wisconsin is home to the second highest number of organic farms in the country. Although some producers are leading the way in organic dairy, beef, and certain vegetables, they can’t keep up with the demand from consumers. Organic grain, processed vegetables, and soybeans are still imported into Wisconsin.

UW-Madison plant pathology assistant professor Dr. Erin Silva coauthored the Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin 2015 Status Report. She says consumers will continue wanting more and more organic products.

“With the demand still strong, we don’t foresee a potential erosion of the organic premium. The projections do continue to see demand increasing over the next five years or so,” she said.

Silva said there’s plenty of room for new and transitioning farmers to jump into the organic market, where she says younger farmers are heavily represented. On Wisconsin’s conventional farms, 17 percent of producers are under the age of 45. On the state’s organic farms, nearly a third of them are.

Silva coauthored said the trend started several years ago.

“We certainly hope that with the interest of new farmers and a younger population in organic farming that that helps maintain and continues to support the overall agricultural economy,” said Silva.

The report shows that newer farmers are also more likely to be running organic farms than conventional ones.

National Survey on Cover Crops Seeks Farmer Participation

Farmers are invited to share their thoughts on cover crops – whether or not they use cover crops themselves – in a national survey, now in its third year of collecting valuable data on the increasingly popular management practice. The results, which will be released this summer, will help growers, researchers, agricultural advisors, ag retailers and policymakers more effectively address questions about cover crops and learn about best practices.

Farmers, take the online survey now.

Farmers who complete the questionnaire are eligible for a drawing for one of two $100 Visa gift cards. All answers are anonymous; respondents will be directed to another website at the end of the survey to enter the $100 Visa gift card drawing.

The survey is being conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and is sponsored by USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) and Corn+Soybean Digest.

All farmers are invited to complete the survey, says Chad Watts, project manager for CTIC.

“It doesn’t matter if you’ve planted cover crops for 40 years or if you’ve never worked with them before,” he notes. “We want to hear from farmers with all levels of interest and experience. It’s just as important to understand what might be preventing a farmer from planting cover crops as it is to understand why another grower is so excited.”

Read more….

Local foods can boost economy

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015 7:00 am

Frank Zufall, staff reporter, Sawyer County Reporter

Ariga Grigoryan, community, natural resources and economic development agent for University of Wisconsin (UW)-Extension, told the Sawyer County Economic Development and UW-Extension Committee on Monday, Feb. 9, that growing and selling local foods is one way to stimulate the local economy.

Grigoryan discussed the potential impact of local foods while reviewing the details of a $100,000 federal grant she is pursuing to expand the local farmers market.

“The purpose of the grant is to increase domestic consumption,” she said, “and access to locally produced regional agriculture products. This encourages local farmers to produce more and local products (to be) consumed locally.”

The federal grant, she said, targets areas called “food deserts” — lower income areas where consumers travel from one to 10 miles for food. That definition would include most of Sawyer County.

“We are hoping to expand our vendors at the farmers market or have startup farms,” she said. For locally produced foods, she said, consumers are willing to spend more, and that encourages producers to raise more. The key issue for buyers and providers to meet is “access,” or a market to sell the food.

“This is part of creative economy,” she said about selling local foods. “It can boost local food (production) by 15-20 percent.”

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Students create Campus Food Map and Sustainable Dining Guide

January 16, 2015, Madison

A new Campus Food Map and Sustainable Dining Guide is now available online, created by a student team as part of the Environmental Studies 600 capstone course Consumer-Driven Sustainability.

Environmental studies students Danielle Caputo, Jen Tirella and Russell Wagner created the interactive map with the goal of helping the UW-Madison campus community make more sustainable food choices. The map includes reviews of all campus eateries and their sustainable dining options.

“Our hope is to educate our community about the variety of sustainable dining options available on campus,” the students write on the Campus Food Map website. “We found it imperative to investigate our campus’ dining options and create something that can connect students to their food choices.”

The student team visited each eatery on campus and gathered information about each location’s sustainable food options, then translated their findings into a user-friendly, familiar map interface that makes information about menu items and food sustainability more accessible. Masrudy Omri, a recent geography alumnus, designed the mapping platform.

The UW-Madison Office of Sustainability supported the class with a Sustainability Innovation in Research and Education (SIRE) Educational Innovation grant and is also hosting the online map on their website.

Holly Gibbs, an assistant professor of geography and environmental studies, and Nelson Institute graduate student Tyler Lark led the course in the spring semester of 2014. View other student projects from the capstone course.