Due to a road trip to remote Oregon with non-Ethicurean parental units and deadline pressures, there has not been a full Digest for over a week. (Sorry.) Some of these links are thus a little moldy, but we need'em for the archives, so just hold your noses.
Living with Ed, maybe: President Bush has nominated former North Dakota GOP Governor Ed Schafer as the next Secretary of Agriculture. Shockingly, he does not appear to have worked for either Big Ag or a lobbying firm. But Tom Philpott over at Gristmill points out that Schafer did champion the biotech industry while governor.
Feeling dumb enough yet, Rep. Peterson?: A four-year, £12 million UK study found pretty conclusively that organic food is more nutritious than conventional produce, and contains much higher quantities of antioxidants. (Telegraph)
Passing the bacterial buck: Meat recalled a month ago from the now defunct Topps meatpacking house has been found in seven northern New Jersey stores, reported state consumer safety officials. "We have no control over what a grocery store owner does with his stock," shrugged the distributor. (Newsday.com) Related: An also out-of-business Canadian meatpacker has been fingered as the likely source of the bad Topps beef, reports Reuters.
Fair-freight?: The UK's Soil Association decides that in the future, air-freighted food must pass the fair-trade test to retain organic label, reports The Guardian. Over at Chews Wise, Sam Fromartz analyzes the move. Meanwhile, Tim Lang, the inventor of the phrase 'food miles', tells the Guardian that consumers' decision-making should be restricted by the supermarkets to a choice between good and better.
Money well spent: The Beef Checkoff (that's the money that all beef producers, whether feedlot or grass-fed, must pay per head of their cattle, to be used for national marketing campaigns they have no individual say in) has pledged $150,000 to the Applebee's chain so it can upgrade its menu with new beef entrees. (Meatingplace.com)
Shelling out: Wegmans will become the first supermarket chain to adopt environmental and health standards for farmed shrimp. (New York Times)
And health officials say drinking raw milk is like playing Russian roulette: General Mills has recalled about 5 million frozen pizzas sold under the Totino’s and Jeno’s labels because of — what else? — possible E. coli contamination. (Reuters)
Saving for a grainy day: A coalition of farming, religious, and consumer groups are calling for the reestablishment of strategic grain reserves. The USDA is predicting extremely low stocks of grain, and so a few bad storms or drought could cause grain prices to skyrocket. A reserve could act as a safety valve as it has in the past, as well as reduce price volatility. (Ag Observatory)
That will buy a lot of crabs: An article about how food stamp benefits will rise by $1 billion if the proposed Farm Bill passes contains the immortal typo, "With the increase, the Senate farm bill would put an additional $5 billion into pubic nutrition through 2012." Somewhere, a copyeditor is having a very bad day. (Reuters)
Now that's serious cheese: The latest Wisconsin state budget devotes $600,000 over two years for a "Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin" program. (Wisconsin Agriculturalist)
Good luck telling the difference with no labels: Penn State University food services won't serve cloned meat. (The Daily Collegian On-Line)
Georgia's hearing Friday on dyeing raw milk gray moves to larger venue to accommodate expected turnout (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Study reveals that nitrogen fertilizers deplete soil organic carbon (University of Illinois)
China arrests 774 in food and drug crackdown (New York Times)