Madison, WI is now home to CATCH Healthy Habits, a nationally recognized intergenerational program that promotes healthier eating and physical activity among children in Kindergarten through 5th grade. Teams of volunteers aged 50+ lead program sessions, each of which includes a nutrition lesson, a healthy snack and 30 minutes of fun, active, and non-competitive play. This evidence-based curriculum successfully increases healthy behaviors in both children and adult volunteers. Through a generous grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, the program recently expanded to 18 cities nationwide and the Madison Senior Center implements this program in our area.

Programs start February 13th on Monday afternoons at Frank Allis Elementary School and Lowell Elementary School.

Volunteers are needed to lead activities with children, prepare healthy snacks and guide nutrition lessons. Volunteers should be: over the age of 50; willing to commit one hour per week for up to 9 weeks; interested in serving as a mentor to young children; looking to serve the community in a social, fun, and healthy way.

Lesson plans are provided for all sessions, and training will occur in early February. Additional volunteer opportunities are available in program support.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Laurie Bibo at 608-267-8673,, or visit

In late December, the United States Department of Agriculture announced its approval of a novel strain of genetically engineered (GE) corn, developed by Monsanto, purportedly being “drought tolerant.”

Despite receiving nearly 45,000 public comments in opposition to this particular GE corn variety and only 23 comments in favor, the Obama administration gave Monsanto the green light to release its newest GE corn variety freely into the environment and American food supply, without any governmental oversight or safety tracking.
In addition to its announcement approving Monsanto’s newest GE corn variety, the USDA also opened a 60-day public comment period for two additional petitions—one for Monsanto’s GE soybean containing higher levels of an omega-3 fatty acid, that does not naturally occur in soybeans, and the other from Dow AgroSciences for corn that has been genetically engineered to better resist the poisonous herbicide 2,4-D.

While the USDA attempts to assure the public that 2,4-D is safe, scientists have raised serious concerns about the safety of this herbicide, which was used as a key ingredient in “Agent Orange,” used to defoliate forests and croplands in the Vietnam War.

2,4-D is a chlorophenoxy herbicide, and scientists around the world have reported increased cancer risks in association with its use, especially for soft tissue sarcoma and malignant lymphoma. Four separate studies in the United States reported an association with chlorophenoxy herbicide use and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

For more on the story from The Cornucopia Institute, see

With the 2012 growing season just around the corner, national consumer organization Food & Water Watch is challenging Walmart, the country’s largest food retailer, to measure up to its sustainability claims and say no to Monsanto’s first genetically engineered sweet corn. Food & Water Watch announced a national campaign to pressure the company for a commitment not to sell the GE sweet corn, which would send a strong signal that this product is not desirable in the marketplace. To date, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and General Mills have already agreed not to use GE sweet corn in any of their products.

Public opinion polls done by Consumer Reports show that a majority of consumers asked would not eat genetically modified food and nearly all—95 percent—are insistent that GE food must be labeled, at minimum, so they can make informed choices. As the country’s largest grocery retailer, Walmart sells $129 billion worth of food a year, giving it unmatched power in shaping the food supply chain. If Walmart refuses to stock Monsanto’s GE sweet corn, other retailers will likely follow suit and farmers won’t feel the economic pressure to plant the biotech seeds.

More information about Food & Water Watch’s campaign to stop Walmart from selling Monsanto’s GE sweet corn can be found at

Animal Welfare Approved recently awarded Cherrie Nolden, a local farmer and Willy Street Co-op Owner, a grant to help finance her research on using goats for prairie restoration at the 7,300 acre Badger Army Ammunition Plant (BAAP) in Sauk County, Wisconsin. Nolden is working primarily on holdings within the BAAP that are owned and managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dairy Forage Research Center.

The aim of Nolden’s research is primarily to determine the utility of browsing livestock for prairie restoration purposes. She says that the meat from her goats will eventually be for sale. She raises the goats organically and they browse on a diverse landscape. “This type of animal husbandry is a win-win-win for the landowner with brush control problems, for the consumer of the meat, and for the welfare of the livestock,” she said of her research project.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) applauds the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pre-releasing its long awaited prohibition on the extra-label use of cephalosporin drugs in food-producing animals. Cephalosporin drugs are an essential tool in both human and animal medicine but mounting evidence has linked extra-label use of these drugs to the development and spread of cephalosporin-resistant organisms.

“The extra-label ban is just the first of many actions that FDA must make in order to better protect the public from the dangers of antibiotic-resistance,” said Paige Tomaselli, Staff Attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “Losing the effectiveness of critically important antibiotics as a result of our own misuse would be a catastrophic loss for modern medicine,” added Tomaselli.

For more information, see

Doug Gurian-Sherman, Senior Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists Food & Environment Program released the following statement in response to the USDA’s approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn:

“Monsanto’s new corn will not be a silver bullet for farmers suffering from the kind of severe drought facing the Southwest right now. While the industry continues to say it’ll do better, achieving substantially higher levels of drought tolerance with genetically modified crops in the foreseeable future is uncertain. Furthermore, it’s unlikely this drought-resistant crop will actually save water as Monsanto would like everyone to believe. Classical crop breeding can produce drought-resistant crops that are cheaper and more effective than what Monsanto has come up with.
“Ultimately, the only way to address the water challenges that American farmers face every day will require readdressing how we farm, which crops we breed and grow, and how we allocate the water we use to farm. The biotechnology industry has been working on drought-tolerant and water-saving crops for more than a decade, and the results so far, while useful, are underwhelming compared to conventional techniques like breeding. At most, this crop is a Band-Aid, not a cure.”

For more statements from the Union of Concerned Scientists, see

The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture has recently posted information on nine recently completed projects, including one from Dave Swenson, an economist at Iowa State University. Swenson’s project measures how increased local food consumption in the Upper Midwest would affect the region’s economy in support of the Foodsheds in the Upper Midwest Initiative. One scenario, which assumes that metropolitan demand would drive nearby food production regardless of state boundaries, concludes that fruit and vegetable farms would support 6,694 jobs and produce more than $284 million in labor income in the six-state area. For comparison, the same cropland under conventional agriculture provides 1,892 jobs and just over $42 million in labor income.

The Leopold Center has funded more than 430 competitive grant projects since 1988 under four initiatives: Marketing and Food Systems, Ecology, Policy and Cross-cutting. The most current research results can be found on the Leopold Center’s website at

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