Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 1:57 pm
For the past two years, at an undisclosed location in the Upper Midwest, a large commercial egg farm has been probed with every tool of modern science. Researchers have collected data on feed consumed, eggs produced, rates of chicken death and injury, levels of dust in the air, microbial contamination and dollars spent. Graduate students have been assigned to watch hours of video of the hens in an effort to rate the animals' well-being.
Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 2:23 pm
For many years, if a public school district wanted to serve students apples or milk from local farmers, it could face all kinds of hurdles. Schools were locked into strict contracts with distributors, few of whom saw any reason to start bringing in local products. Those contracts also often precluded schools from working directly with local farmers.
Sara Creech has grown dependent on farming. She started out planting an orchard of fruit trees: apples, peaches, cherries and pears. She added berry bushes and rows of vegetables.
And then she bought her first chickens.
"A lot of people call chickens the gateway animal," says Creech, who lives in rural North Salem, Ind. "Like once you have a chicken on the farm, then you end up getting sheep on the farm, and then you end up getting horses, and cows. And then it just explodes from there."
The political battle over immigration, now provoking a confrontation between Congress and the White House, touches all of us in one very direct way: our food. That salad mix, and those apples, may well have been harvested by workers who arrived here in the U.S. illegally.
Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:20 pm
The federal government banned the sale of raw milk across state lines nearly three decades ago because it poses a threat to public health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association all strongly advise people not to drink it.
Originally published on Thu February 19, 2015 3:29 pm
As most people know, mushrooms love dark places. You can find them growing in the dim recesses of forests or at the foot of old trees. But is that where we get most of the mushrooms that end up in our hearty risottos and juicy portabella sandwiches?
Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 2:57 pm
On a breezy morning next to a cornfield in rural Weld County, Colo., Jimmy Underhill quickly assembles a black and orange drone with four spinning rotors.
"This one just flies itself," he says. "It's fully autonomous."
Underhill is a drone technician with Agribotix, a Colorado-based drone startup that sees farmers as its most promising market. Today he's training his fellow employees how to work the machine in the field.
Originally published on Fri February 6, 2015 6:25 am
After more than a decade of explosive growth, sales of local food at U.S. farmers' markets are slowing. A January report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that while more farmers are selling directly to consumers, local food sales at farmers markets, farm stands and through community supported agriculture have lost some momentum.
Originally published on Tue February 3, 2015 12:58 pm
When it comes to organic certification, food producers must follow strict guidelines.
For an organic steak, for instance, the cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed, and the feed mix can't be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering.
Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. Several consumer groups, though, say the recommended rules don't go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.
Originally published on Fri January 23, 2015 10:34 am
2014 brought with it an abundance of grain for Colorado farmers and it doesn’t look likely to change in 2015. While farmers wait for a rebound, the new year could bring substantive policy change.
Great Plains farmers are unlikely to see relief in 2015 from sluggish commodity crop prices, according to Brian Kuehl, director of federal affairs with K-Coe Isom, one of the country’s largest agricultural consulting firms. Kuehl spoke at an economic forecast event in Greeley.
Originally published on Thu January 8, 2015 1:17 pm
Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.
Federal researchers are on a mission to back up the genetic material of the plants and animals that the nation’s food supply depends on. A pair of ranchers in the hills of western Colorado are joining in and are trying to ensure the future of the rare Black Welsh Mountain sheep.
It’s a sunny morning at Desert Weyr, a 40-acre sheep farm outside of Paonia, Colorado.
Oogie McGuire and her husband own this farm. They raise Black Welsh Mountain sheep. They’re smaller than the white sheep most people are used to seeing. They’re solid black, and the males have curled horns.
Originally published on Fri December 12, 2014 9:45 am
The average American farmer is a white man in his late 50s. Or at least, that's who's in charge of the farm, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
But the number of female-run farms has tripled since the 1970s, to nearly 14 percent in 2012. And if you dig a little deeper, you'll find women are showing up in new roles. But because of the way farm businesses are structured, women's work often isn't included in those USDA counts.
Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:18 pm
Farmers who just got into the business in recent years found it was a good time to both plant and harvest.
"We were all spoiled little brats the past two years, with $5, $6, $7 corn, yep," says farmer Grant Curtis.
He's sitting in the captain's chair of his combine on a brisk, overcast day in western Illinois. He's driving back and forth over rows of corn on his family's farm. Then he arcs the 80,000-pound machine off course towards a single stalk he missed.
Originally published on Wed November 26, 2014 9:22 am
It's a busy time of year for turkey farmers around the country. And these days, with the growth of the local food movement, small family farms are struggling to keep up with all the orders for birds. So, we went to find out what one New England farmer is doing to get her gobblers from the field to the table. Enter the "abattoir."