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Local grocery cooperative achieves its $100,000 fundraising goal
The Yahara River Grocery Cooperative has reached its capital fundraising goal of $100,000, which cooperative officials say will significantly help them in their efforts to obtain the long term funding needed to open sometime in late fall.

“In just three and a half months, the cooperative has signed up 460 members and 58 investors,” said YRGC spokesperson Eric Borchardt. “We’re all just amazed. Since our kickoff event on April 29th, when there were literally lines out the door, the enthusiasm for this store has been tremendous. The memberships and investments just keep pouring in.”

Borchardt said the current timeline has the store opening the first week of November, but that is dependent on obtaining long term financing. Substantial progress toward the opening has been made already, through the work of the cooperative’s board of directors and the significant help of project manager Stephen Lawrence. The board has determined which point-of-sale system to go with, the refrigeration system that is best for the facility, credit card processing services and phone systems. Applications for financing have been made, a store layout is being created by a designer with 30 years expertise in cooperative grocery design, a local accounting firm has been hired, a local contractor is being hired to handle infrastructure and build out, the lease had been expanded to include the downstairs area for storage and mechanicals, and the organization is currently hiring a general manager. In addition, the cooperative’s business plan and $350,000 budget have been approved by the board of directors. Details of the proceedings of board meetings can be found on the cooperative’s web site at www.yaharagrocery.coop/board.htm.

Borchardt emphasized that the campaign to attract members and investors is ongoing, and that the more capital the cooperative has the more products and services it can offer its members and the community. “What’s great about reaching this goal is that it gives us the start-up capital we need and it shows an abiding commitment from the community to having a grocery store that they can call their own,” said Borchardt.

The Yahara River Grocery Cooperative has held a number of fundraisers over the course of the last three months, including the “Make It Yours” kickoff event, a table in front of the store at Syttende Mai, a well-attended auction, a garage sale during the citywide garage sale, the “In The Mood Soiree” at Vincenzos, and a hootenanny in front of the store during the Coffee Break Festival. Additional fundraisers are planned for the fall.

To learn more about the Yahara River Grocery Cooperative or to become a member or investor, visit www.yaharagrocery.coop.

USDA rejects delay in almond treatment plan opposition working to overturn scheme
Small-scale farmers, natural food co-ops, and consumers are renewing their call to the USDA to reassess the plan to “pasteurize” all California almonds with a toxic fumigant or high-temperature sterilization process. The USDA on August 16 rejected a request from the California Almond Board to delay the plan’s implementation by six months. It is now scheduled to go into effect on September 1.

“The almond ‘pasteurization’ plan will have many harmful impacts on consumers and the agricultural community,” said Will Fantle, research director for The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. “Only 18 public comments from the entire U.S.—and all from the almond industry insiders—were received on the scheme. The necessity and safety of the treatment processes has not been fully analyzed-as well as the costs to small-scale growers and the loss of consumer choices.” Fantle notes that his organization hosted a recent conference call with nearly 50 industry stakeholders across the country discussing how to overturn the USDA rule.

Raw produce and nuts are not inherently risky foods. Contamination may occur when livestock manure or other fecal matter is inadvertently transferred to food through contaminated water, soil, or transportation and handling equipment. Raw foods can also be infected by poor employee hygiene and sanitation practices either on the farm or in processing facilities.
Treating domestic raw almonds with toxic fumigant, propylene oxide (PPO), is the cheapest approved USDA “pasteurization” method. PPO is a genotoxic chemical recognized as a possible carcinogen. PPO fumigation is banned in the European Union, Canada, Mexico, and most other countries. Raw organic almonds will require a high-temperature steam process that will likely eliminate the ability of many raw food devotees to sprout the nut and may affect its nutritional value.

Treated almonds will still be sold as “raw.” This is deceptive, according to Cornucopia. “People choose to buy raw almonds for a variety of personal reasons, including health, nutrition, and even religious beliefs,” Cornucopia’s Fantle said. “This rule denies them the right to control their food choices by making informed decisions in the marketplace.”

One of the two outbreaks of Salmonella in almonds that occurred earlier this decade, and led to the pasteurization scheme, was traced back to a large industrial-scale grower—with a 9000-acre orchard. Some opponents view the treatment plan as a “liability shield” for giant growers while ignoring the root cause of contamination.

And organic farmers are being penalized—with expensive and unwarranted treatment plans—for problems occurring on giant operations. Says Glenn Anderson, of Hilmar, CA, “In the biodiverse environment that is found in organic almond production it is unlikely that salmonella can exist in concentrations that could cause disease.” Anderson calls the USDA treatment plan “rushed” and short on investigating alternatives, including agricultural production methods.

Cornucopia and other stakeholders are calling for increased public pressure on the USDA for a full review of its almond pasteurization order. Members of the public who want to protect their right to untreated domestic raw almonds can visit Cornucopia’s web page (www.cornucopia.org) for an action alert and other materials helping them voice their concerns to key decision makers. -Cornucopia Institute

Organic dairy and meat improves quality of mothers’ breast milk
A new study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, showed that organic dairy and meat products in a mother’s diet positively affect the nutritional quality of her breast milk-markedly increasing beneficial fatty acids.

Specifically, a diet in which 90% or more of dairy and meat products are organic is correlated with measurably higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA is a type of fat that is believed to have anti-carcinogenic, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-diabetic and immune-enhancing effects, as well as a favorable influence on body fat composition. For newborns specifically, CLA is believed to especially aid immune system development.

“These findings provide scientific support for common sense, by showing that organic foods are healthier,” says Dr. Lukas Rist, who is the lead author of the study and the head of research at the Paracelsus Hospital in Switzerland. The study involved 312 breastfeeding women with 1-month old infants from the Netherlands.

Other recent studies add support to the growing body of evidence that organic foods offer measurable nutritional benefits. Cows that acquire most of their nutrition from grazing pasture have been shown to produce milk with decreased levels of saturated fat—the “bad” type of fat—and increased concentrations of unsaturated fatty acids and CLA—the “good” types of fat.

In the European Union, where the study took place, organic standards require that dairy farms make maximum use of pasture. U.S. organic regulations also require that organic dairy cattle not be confined with pasture being a major feed source. Research has proven that meat and milk from pastured animals contain elevatedlevels of antioxidants and other nutritionally beneficial compounds, including CLA.

“Many consumers know, based on increasing media coverage of scientific and medical research, that organic foods reduce their exposure to pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics, but this study shows that organic foods also offer superior nutritional quality,” says Charlotte Vallaeys, Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “The benefits of consuming organic food are of paramount importance when thinking about their impact on the development of very young children and fetuses,” Vallaeys added.

The relationship between a mother’s organic diet and the quality of her breast milk is an important topic that has caught scientists’ attention. Additional studies that look at the health status of newborns fed by breastfeeding mothers with an organic diet are under way and will be published in the near future. -Cornucopia Institute

Vegetables and fruits double breast cancer survival rates
Two new reports from the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WHEL) study show that diets including at least five fruit and vegetable servings a day reduce mortality by nearly 50 percent in women previously diagnosed with breast cancer.

A June report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology showed that women who followed the five-a-day recommendation and remained physically active had a nearly 50 percent reduction in mortality risk during the seven-year study period. A report in the July 18, 2007 edition of Journal of the American Medical Association shows that recommendations for even greater fruit and vegetable intake did not extend benefits beyond those achieved by the five-a-day group. The WHEL study included more than 3,000 women.

Prior reports from the WHEL study have shown that diet changes alter the hormones that influence cancer growth. In a sub-study of 291 participants, increases in fiber and reductions in dietary fat were associated with reduced serum concentrations of estradiol, bioavailable estradiol, estrone, and estrone sulfate.

Previous studies have shown that low-fat, high-fiber diets improve cancer survival. The Women’s Healthy Eating and Living (WINS) study showed that reducing dietary fat and boosting fiber cut the risk of cancer recurrence by 24 percent. -Physicians Committee for

Responsible MedicineDrinking coffee may protect memory in older women
Drinking caffeine-loaded coffee may protect against loss of memory or thinking skills in older women, according to a study published in the August 7, 2007 issue of Neurology.

The observational study found women age 65 and older who drank more than three cups of coffee daily retained better memory after the four-year study than those who only drank one cup or less per day. The correlation held up even after other factors that may affect memory were considered including such as age, education, disability, depression, high blood pressure, medications, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic illnesses.

However, no association between caffeine intake and memory abilities in men was observed, according to Karen Ritchie, PhD, of INSERM, the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research, in Montpellier, France and colleagues.

“Women may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine,” Ritchie said. “Their bodies may react differently to the stimulant, or they may metabolize caffeine differently.”

In the study, 7,000 people from three French cities had been followed for four years and their cognitive abilities were evaluated at baseline, two years and the end of the four-year study. Coffee drinking habits were also surveyed.

Those who drank more than three cups of coffee a day were less likely to show decline in memory. The possible benefits seemed to increase with age. Coffee drinkers at the age of 65 years were 30 percent less likely to have memory decline compared to 70 percent less likely in those who were over 80.

But no one should rush to drink large amounts of coffee daily to prevent loss of memory, the researchers warned, as the results did not reveal any causal relation between drinking coffee and memory. Drinking coffee may not definitely lead to better retention of memory.

Oddly enough, there was no association between coffee drinking and incidence of dementia, according to Ritchie and colleagues although apparently drinking coffee helped retain memory.
Ritchie’s finding contradicts some early studies. A number of early studies have suggested that high intake of caffeine through drinking coffee were inversely related to the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, one common cause for dementia. -FoodConsumer.org