THE READER
March
2007

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Newsbites

Reprinted with permission.

Customer survey results indicate strong interest in a grocery cooperative for Stoughton
Stoughton and other area residents who completed a survey from the Yahara River Grocery Cooperative exploratory group (YRGC) have indicated a strong interest in an additional grocery store in Stoughton, particularly in a cooperative grocery store.
Seventy-one percent of respondents indicated they would shop at a grocery cooperative at least once a week, and nearly two-thirds said they’d be interested in becoming members.

“The response was amazing,” said Eric Borchardt, chair of the exploratory group’s marketing communications committee. “Three-hundred-and-seventy-nine individuals, or about eight-percent of Stoughton households, responded to the non-random, self-administered survey that gauged interest in a grocery cooperative. Such a high response from potential customers would seem to indicate substantial interest in a grocery cooperative in Stoughton.”

Borchardt was surprised to find that 36-percent of respondents drive more than 10 miles to shop for food, some as many as 40 or 50 miles. “The loss of Main Street Market is being felt by many in our community,” Borchardt said. “Clearly, not all of the area’s grocery needs are currently being met. YRGC is interested in developing a grocery that meets the diverse needs of all community members, offering them the convenience of shopping in Stoughton and the ability to invest in Stoughton’s future by keeping their dollars in our local economy.”

Anyone interested in helping create the cooperative is invited to join YRGC at its bi-weekly board meetings. The next board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 13th, at 6pm at the EMS Building Training Room, 516 South Fourth Street in

Stoughton.Organic grain farms more profitable than conventional

Findings from a four-year study at the Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) 130-acre Swan Lake Research Farm near Morris, MN, indicate grain farmers can be more profitable if they switch to organic crops. In the study, ARS economist David Archer and soil scientist Hillarius Kludze compared an organic corn-soybean rotation and an organic corn-soybean-spring wheat/alfalfa rotation, half grown with conventional tillage and half with strip tillage, with a corn-soybean rotation using conventional tillage. Records from the study showed that organic soybeans earned up to $14 more per bushel, organic corn up to $3 more per bushel, and organic wheat up to $5 more per bushel than their conventional counterparts. Researchers said the Sawn Lake Research Farm is representative of typical corn and soybean operations in Minnesota. -O’Mama Report

EU to remove thousands of toxic chemicals from consumer products

The European Union has passed one of the most far-reaching consumer and environmental protection regulations ever. EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals) law, based upon the “Precautionary Principle,” will force chemical companies and consumer product manufacturers to prove that all of the synthetic ingredients in their products are safe, or else replace those chemicals with safe alternatives. The rules will take effect in mid-2007, at which time companies will be required to lay out plans to gradually replace the most high-risk chemicals. Some 13,000 substances deemed of high concern, face automatic testing and possible removal from the market. A number of U.S. cities and counties, including San Francisco, have recently passed laws based upon the precautionary principle. -Organic Consumers

AssociationFrankenwines to hit U.S. this year

Consumers beware: the Frankenwines are coming. As with other genetically engineered food, there will be no labeling required on wines that, for the first time, will contain gene-altered yeast. The FDA has carried out no studies of its own on the experimental yeast, and yet has approved it as “safe,” based completely on data provided by the company selling the product. According to Dr. Joseph Cummins, emeritus genetics Professor at the University of Western Ontario, wine yeasts are unstable, and genetically altering them can lead to unexpected toxicity in the final product. Genetically engineered yeast is banned in every nation in the world, other than in North America, so the use of the controversial yeast by a few large domestic wineries will likely damage the entire U.S. wine industry. -Organic Consumers Association

Weird science: genetically engineered “cannibal” cows

Experts have long agreed that the fatal brain-wasting disease called Mad Cow is spread by the routine practice on industrial farms of feeding cows to cows—essentially turning natural herbivores into cannibals. (This practice of course is banned on organic farms.) Now a group of industry-friendly scientists have come up with a “solution” to the problem. Instead of discontinuing the practice of force feeding bovine herbivores blood, manure, and slaughterhouse waste, scientists claim they have successfully genetically engineered a new cow that will not contract Mad Cow Disease, even when fed infected meat from mad cows. Scientists have genetically engineered the cows to be born without normal nervous system prions, which go awry when an animal catches the disease. According to the researchers, the animals appear to be doing fine, so they apparently don’t really need those prions anyway (even though they are there as a result of millions of years of evolution). -Organic Consumers Association

2006 is warmest year on record in U.S.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced in January that 2006 was the warmest year on record in the United States, nearly identical to the previous record set in 1998.

“No one should be surprised that 2006 is the hottest year on record for the U.S.,” said Dr. Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “When you look at temperatures across the globe, every single year since 1993 has fallen in the top 20 warmest years on record.”

The burning of oil and other fossil fuels results in additional atmospheric carbon dioxide that blankets the Earth and traps heat. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased greatly over the last century and global temperatures are rising as a result. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is the highest it has been in the past 650,000 years.

“Heat-trapping global warming gases remain in the atmosphere for decades or centuries,” said Dr. Ekwurzel. “Realistically, we have to start fighting global warming in the next 10 years if we want to secure a safe environment for our children and grandchildren.” -Union of Concerned Scientists

Soy foods may lower the risk for ovarian cancer

A new study from the American Journal of Epidemiology finds that soy foods may lower the risk for ovarian cancer. Dietary factors and incidence of ovarian cancer were analyzed among 97,275 women from the California Teachers Study cohort. Those who consumed 3 milligrams of isoflavones (a phytoestrogen found in soy foods) per day had a 44 percent lower risk than women who consumed less than 1 milligram. Typical soy foods such as tofu or soymilk contain, on average, about 20 to 50 milligrams per serving depending on processing. Other than isoflavones, no significant evidence linked any other foods or nutrients with ovarian cancer risk. -Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Quick food facts

E.coli, food safety and your food source
• 80 percent of non-organic beef in the U.S. is slaughtered by four companies.
• 75 percent of non-organic pre-cut salad mixes are processed by two companies.
• 30 percent of non-organic milk is processed by one company.
• Depending on the time of year, up to 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes from other countries. -Organic Consumers Association