Digest: Farm aids, cool retailing concept in UK, fake grouper on menus

The age of agri-tourism: Small farms are increasingly diversifying into non-agricultural activities like farm tours, cheese-making classes, and photo safaris. The income from such activities often dwarfs their revenues from crops. New York Times

Idea ripe for U.S. implementation: The new Farmers' City Market shop in south-west London aims to bring the farmers market indoors, while freeing farmers from having to do the selling. All produce is clearly labeled by farm and region, and there's no packaged food. This concept could be the missing link that U.S. small farms need between farmers markets and farmer-friendly specialty grocery stores like Monterey Market (see "Eat at Bill's"). Guardian (UK)

Fish fakery: The grouper is highly prized in Florida and around the U.S., but DNA tests reveal that what is sold as grouper is often another species — like farm-raised Asian catfish. No big deal? Some such faux filets also carry salmonella and traces of illegal carcinogenic fungicides. Washington Post

Bird-flu fatigue: It may seem like fears of the bird-flu pandemic have been overblown by the media, but this smart, well-balanced piece explains why epidemiologists are still worried, and we should be, too. (New York Times) Related: Reuters is reporting that Russia has its third outbreak.

Trickle-down ethanol effects: Citing in part increased costs of high-fructose corn syrup, Coca-Cola plans to cut about 3,500 jobs, or 5% of its global workforce. FinFacts.com

Fishy conclusions: One of those articles that just drives us crazy reports that the children of U.K. women who ate very little fish during pregnancy had lower IQs and more behavioral and social problems than kids whose mothers ate plenty of seafood. Pregnant women have been warned since 2001 not to consume fish because of high mercury levels. The article does not mention whether the study adjusted for income/education differences in the fish-eating and non-fish-eating groups, nor does it comment on how the study followed pregnant women starting in 1991, when mercury levels were presumably lower worldwide. Washington Post

Organic milk rules tightening: The supply of organic milk is expected to spike in 2007 due to a one-year grace period on a federal rule change that mandates dairy farmers use 100% organic feed; farmers have been hurrying to register under more lenient current rules governing the year before they become certified. Associated Press

Raw-milk witch hunt victim: Blogger (and Business Week reporter) David Gumpert has an upsetting post about the Indiana Amish farmer who supplies raw milk to the Michigan’s Family Farm Cooperative targeted by heavy-handed Michigan and federal government campaigns. The Complete Patient

Save our seeds: Reasons to plant heirloom fruits and vegetables. Marin Independent Journal

Them's some fancy dogs: The Chicago Health Department has issued its first citation for violating the ordinance banning foie gras ... to a hot-dog seller. Associated Press

The bill stops here: An editorial lauds AgSec Mike Johann's proposed changes to the Farm Bill. New York Times

Crate idea: Despite the inappropriately cutesy headline (like we're ones to talk), this editorial is remarkable for acknowledging in a North Carolina newspaper that the least we can do for the animals we eat is give them the space to turn around. News Observer (NC)

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