Urban Farming News

Will Elisabeth Hagen Make Food Safer?

Posted in food security, global hunger, hunger, local food, Uncategorized, USDA by Urban Farming News on February 3, 2010


We are all aware of the prominence of adulterated food. Black pepper and salami are the current culprits. Spinach, peanuts, tomatoes, ground beef…. all harbors for food borne illnesses. Enough is enough.

We need a strict and efficient person to lead the attack. A “Food Czar,” as coined in USA Today.

Elisabeth Hagen, current food safety secretary nominee has an outstanding track record. In four years time, she has risen from assistant deputy of public health, through Food Safety Inspection Service chief medial officer and into the current nomination.

Can she do it? Can the USDA actually improve procedure and food safety?

Proposals include tightening E.coli 0157:H7 adulteration standards (currently, steaks and chops are considered safe if this bacteria is present)

What level do we have to reach before change happens?

My first realization of unsafe food was several years ago during the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. I remember watching the news with my parents. As a child, I was aghast and terrified. Since then my younger sister has served as a quality control specialist for a large meat producing company. As a result, I grow continuously skeptical of commercial meat products.

I enjoy few things more then a fabulous summer cook out and a delicious, grilled, fresh hunk of meat. (Deepest apologies to my Veg buddies, I love you guys and veggies!). However, in the past few years I only indulge when I am aware of the exact source of the product. Preferably, the steer’s name…perhaps that’s saying too much, perhaps we all need to reach this level of caution.

Perhaps the USDA should step up and ensure that food is safe. Enough said.

– Karleen

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US Army Takes The Heartland To Afghanistan

Posted in food security, global hunger, urban farming by Urban Farming News on January 7, 2010

Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime: teach a man to farm…you get the gist. (Pardon my use of the masculine.)

As reported by good ‘ole NPR: the US Military Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan Farmers. Due to the tumultuous and dangerous climate of the past few years, few farmers remain. Fortunately, many soldiers right from America’s heartland are fighting the good fight to end hunger. Troops from California, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Texas are presently in Afghanistan. There are plans for more on the way.

The endeavor began in 2008, currently the agribusiness units are in 14 out of 34 of the provinces. These Agribusiness Development Teams are equipped with agricultural knowledge and supplies. For the first time, many Afghani wheat farmers have hand-cranked seed spreading machines. Previously, all sowing was done by hand. The military is also providing supplies and soil testing, thus providing a scientific method to fertilizer use. In turn, the food yield will be highly increased. The vast majority of the farming is sustenance based; this food will feed families.

Of course, there are many facets of the Agribusiness development in Afghanistan. A major goal is to decrease the export of Opium poppies in lieu of other crops. The farmers hope to lead by example with the success of their wheat, nut and fruit crops. Don’t forget that there is also the constant threat of attack on these lands. Food security has a new meaning.

I have to say, this warms my heart. We all have someone near and dear who has served in this current conflict. As Urban Farmer’s we are battling to end food security domestically. I’ll take this bite of jingoism with a side of idealism; we can indeed rally together and end hunger.