| November 4, 2014

Amanda’s Farm & Food Roundup

AmandaIt’s time to start making sure we hold the salt on our farmland and not just on our food. Recent studies by a team of international experts has revealed that salt poisoning costs the world 5,000 acres of farm land each day, amounting to $27.3 billion in lost crops. While salt is naturally present in soil, certain irrigation practices have been known to increase sodium levels to a high enough point to cut crop yields anywhere between 15 and 70 percent. Eventually, the acres can become unsuitable for farming entirely, taking necessary land out of play and contributing to world hunger and global warming. Experts have suggested using approved chemicals to remove the salt from damaged lands and improving irrigation maintenance and quality to reduce future build up as solutions. In total, salt poisoning is estimated to impact one-fifth of the world’s soil.

As more young adults turn away from corporations, some big companies are thinking up ways to bait them back. In a recent marketing ploy, seed manufacturer Monsanto has hired Vance Crowe as the director of millennial engagement. For corporations like Monsanto, millennials are the biggest enemy; they’re educated and concerned consumers who tend to value ethics and health above price point, leading them to buy local, non-GMO foods rather than the products engineered by Monsanto. Now, it’s Crowe’s job to try to turn millenials away from their values and back to Big Food.

There was a time when drones sounded like something that could only exist in science fiction, but they’ve become increasingly accessible tools for farmers. Iowa farmer and college student Kyle Miller leases drones valued at $8,000 from a local company to survey his family’s farm, tracking nitrogen deficiencies through aerial infrared images and fixing crop problems with more ease and precision. For now, the Federal Aviation Administration prohibits the commercial use of drones, so Miller can only fly them on his own land. As a student of agriculture and computer science, Miller hopes that these laws change so he can help less tech-savvy farmers in the area by surveying their land, leasing out his knowledge and services to the community.

Could increasing prices on soda by a few cents deter buyers? In Berkley and San Francisco, many think yes. When residents in the Bay Area get their ballots this November, they’ll be asked to approve or deny one-cent per once tax on sugar-filled drinks in Berkley and a two-cent tax in San Francisco. While the beverage industry has spent almost $8 million in opposition of the initiative, officials and supporters remain hopeful that the progressive area will stand up to big corporations and support public health.

In Wheeling, West Virginia, a one-acre farm on a reclaimed plot in one of the city’s toughest neighborhoods is keeping local money in the economy, inspiring and bringing together neighbors, and making citizens proud of their city again. Following the success of Farm 18, nearly two dozen copycat gardens have popped up, along with a new weekly farm stand to sell the produce, and plans are in the works for an organic inner-city teaching farm and orchard.

Worried about a zombie apocalypse? For those of you who been watching too much of The Walking Dead or are just still in the Halloween spirit, here’s a guide to stocking up and storing all of your favorite local foods in preparation for impending doom — or you know, just winter.

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