Digest – News: Biofuel savior, Organic Pastures cream recalled, organic food more nutritious

The Holy Grail of fuel plants?: The poisonous black seeds of a seemingly worthless weed may be a potentially ideal source of biofuel. Developing nations are in a mad race to plant jatropha, which can grow in marginal soil or beside food crops, does not require a lot of fertilizer, and yields many times as much fuel per acre planted as corn. (New York Times)

Raw-milk police are back: A year after the E. coli incident that nearly torpedoed California’s largest raw-milk dairy, California health officials have found Listeria in Organic Pastures’ raw cream and ordered it withdrawn from shelves, although no one has gotten sick. (CDFA press release) Rawmilk reporter David Gumpert has the complete story, along with an interview with Organic Pastures head Mark McAfee, over at his blog, The Complete Patient. Although it does sound like the state is once again persecuting Organic Pastures without any justification, there’s something that does concern us: McAfee says the cream in question actually came from a dairy in Northern California, because, “We can’t make enough cream to satisfy our own customers.” Buyers of raw milk (or cream) place a lot of faith in their producer: they expect to know exactly where what they’re drinking comes from. If OP is going to serve as a distributor/collective, it should identify on its website (and ideally, labels) whose milk it’s selling. A lack of transparency will erode trust.

Nutrient decline and fall: Today’s farmers raise more bushels of corn, pecks of apples, and pounds of broccoli from a given piece of land than they did decades ago. But those crops are often less nutritious, according to a new report released today from The Organic Center — unless they’re organic. The nutritional advantage of organic food ranges from a few percent to sometimes 20 percent or more for certain minerals. (Press release)

Which is healthier, Diet Pepsi or whole milk?: The FDA has invited food companies, trade groups, watchdog organizations, medical experts and its overseas counterparts to discuss how front-label symbols, like the "traffic light" system used in Britain, can improve public health. (The Associated Press)

CAFOs on the Hill: A Senate committee held a hearing on CAFOs and the environment last week, with a long list of witnesses from various walks of life. Here’s Senator Boxer’s opening statement. The committee web page also has a digital recording of the session and the opening statement from each witness. (Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works)

NOT two more years!: Budget squabbles in the Senate are reducing the chances that the Food and Farm Bill will be completed before it expires on September 30. The needs are many, the funds are few, and each senator’s pet programs are the most important thing ever (to them anyway). (CQ Today)

Soda for sofa spuds: Are you dehydrated or drained after a long day sitting on the couch playing video games? Thanks to Mountain Dew’s preposterous new extra-caffeinated "Game Fuel"edition,"hitting the wall" during gaming can be avoided. Just what this nation needs. (Evening Sun)

New study shows connection between food additives and hyper kids (MSNBS via Reuters)


5 Responsesto “Digest – News: Biofuel savior, Organic Pastures cream recalled, organic food more nutritious”

  1. Buckethead says:

    I was a big fan of raw milk until I spent three days sick from camphylobacter contamination. Two other people were sick from the same week’s milk.

  2. Mark says:

    On the raw milk subject…you can’t have it both ways. If you expect that a large producer would have to remove product that has been found contaminated, you have to accept that the same goes true for the smaller one. Additionally, I think the bigger point you make about the source of the milk is as concerning — again, they are acting just like the big guys in this sloppy nature of things and should be very careful not to loose trust of the consumers!

    Just my two cents…for full disclosure purposes, I really don’t get this raw milk fad, the risks are much more than people make out, even with the potential healthier benefits. In the end, we need to consumer less dairy and safety should always come first whether it is raw milk or not. Also, I suspect until we consume significantly less dairy, raw milk is only an option for a minority of people and that is an issue in it’s own right.

  3. Steve G says:

    Listeria is really really nasty for developing fetuses. I think it is not overzealousness or persecution that causes the government to go after sources of listeria. Bring on the raw-milk police is what I say!

    Admittedly, a pregnant woman would probably not be choosing explicitly to eat raw milk, however we found ourselves in a situation while my wife was pregnant when we were about to eat a meal where raw cheese was a component but it had not been divulged.

  4. MgM says:

    Why is it always either “we all should drink raw milk! everyone! it’s sooooooooooo good for you” or “it should be banned forever!” I think we all can agree that vodka should not be drunk by pregnant women and children, but doesn’t mean it should be banned (well…some people would like to ban it). How about recognizing it as a unique and challenging product, different from pasteurized milk, and regulating it accordingly?

  5. Bonnie aka Dairy Queen says:

    I agree with MgM — and yesterday I wrote a long comment saying so, before my own comment system apparently ate it. Basically, I’ve gotten sick from eating in restaurants before, but does that mean a) I will no longer eat in restaurants, b) no one should eat in restaurants, and b) all food served outside the home should be irradiated? None of the above, to me.

    Eating food entails risk, period. Everyone is free to decide how much risk they are comfortable with — “I eat only in establishments that meet health code!” vs. “I’ll eat at any taco truck as long as there’s a line.” And that goes for their kids, too. The government doesn’t stop parents from letting their kids drink Diet Coke — why should it stop them from giving them something with potentially greater health benefits and arguably equal health risks?

    There are lots of pathogens out there and I personally think the best defense is a strong offense. I have been drinking raw milk for 8 months now and I have not experienced any miraculous health improvements — it has not banished my zits or my occasional hayfever. There is one thing, though: I ate all kinds of “risky” food when I was in Tunisia for two weeks, street meat and salads wherever, and I did not get sick at all. Since I have had Montezuma’s revenge in Taiwan, Indonesia, Syria, and Mexico — and let’s not forget Turkey, where I have never been so glad to see a McDonald’s (and a Western bathroom) in my life — I think this is notable. Raw milk and perhaps the occasional home-fermented batch of kimchi have probably populated my once-suburban stomach with the equivalent of Hell’s Angels.

    Plus, I swear it tastes so much better.