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Dole Fruit Bowls, Key Food and Captain Planet Foundation to host Learning Garden contest

In order to promote the understanding and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, Dole Fruit Bowls, Key Food and Captain Planet Foundation are teaming up to host a learning garden grant contest.

The Dole Fruit Bowls, Key Food and Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden Grant Contest will allow New York City school officials, parents or volunteers involved with eligible schools (K-5) to apply to win a Captain Planet Learning Garden. Two grand prize-winning schools will win a Learning Garden from the Captain Planet Foundation, which includes garden installation (or expansion of an existing garden), a mobile garden cooking cart, standards-based learning garden lessons, lesson supply kits and a day of professional development for teachers. In addition, the two winning schools will receive a one-year supply of Dole Fruit Bowls.

CPF’s Project Learning Garden provides the opportunity for teachers to extend the classroom into the garden for project-based learning, fresh vegetable tasting events and an understanding of the role that fresh fruits and vegetables play in a healthy lifestyle.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Captain Planet Foundation to offer Learning Gardens to New York City schools,” Stan Stuka, marketing director of Dole Fruit Bowls, said in a press release. “We know that the best learning gardens have the power to teach students about good nutrition and how fruits and vegetables grow, even when they begin simply by planting seeds in up-cycled Dole Fruit Bowls.”

“We are extremely excited to be a part of this program,” Michele Gissi, interactive marketing and public relations manager of Key Food Stores Co-Operative Inc., said in the release “As a food retailer, we pride ourselves on nutritional education and healthy eating options. We are so happy to be able to bring Learning Gardens to two schools in our community through this grant.”

A panel of judges will select the two grand prize winners, who will be announced on National Food Day, Oct. 24.

“We know that when kids engage with a learning garden, they develop an early palate for fresh fruits and vegetables and an authentic understanding and appreciation for the natural world in which they live,” Leesa Carter, executive director of Captain Planet Foundation, said in the release.

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An Earth Day Suggestion to Protect our Planet, Farmworkers and Families

(This was published April 22, 2014, on The Hill’s Congress blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.)

Each Earth Day, we are inundated by advertising and other pronouncements with ways to help protect our planet. But one step – curbing the use of toxic and harmful pesticides in agriculture – would help protect the environment, farmworkers and our families.

The dangers that pesticides present to the environment are well-documented and widely discussed. Outrage and concern have grown over the depletion of bee populations due to pesticide spray. In big agribusiness states such as Florida and California, the chemicals endanger dozens of fish and bird species.

But the careless use of these toxic chemicals such as chlorpyrifos and phosmet also has dangerous effects on our food system – for both farmworkers and consumers.

Pesticide exposure causes farmworkers to suffer more chemical-related injuries and illnesses than any other workforce in the country, including manufacturing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that as many as 20,000 workers are affected annually. The real number is likely much higher, as many workers have no access to medical attention.

Many farmworkers don’t receive adequate training about pesticide hazards, so they might not even realize their symptoms are due to pesticide exposure. And farmworkers who lack legal work authorization – the majority are undocumented immigrants – are less likely to report violations of workplace safety for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.

Consequences of pesticide exposure range from stinging eyes, rashes and blisters to blindness, nausea, dizziness, headaches, coma and even death. Infertility, neurological disorders and cancer are also common. Farmworkers’ family members sometimes are similarly affected. Pesticide exposure is credited with causing birth defects, developmental delays, leukemia and brain cancer among farmworker children. Many of these children also attend schools and live in homes that are dangerously close to fields using these chemicals.

The dangers don’t stop in the fields. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found disturbing levels of pesticide exposure in consumers. In their 2013 study, 93 percent of all Americans tested were rated positive for metabolites of chlorpyrifos, banned in households due to the danger posed to children, yet still permitted for agricultural use. In the same study, 99 percent tested positive for DDT degradants, a pesticide that has not been used in nearly 40 years, primarily because of its well-known harms.

As we look for solutions to environmental dangers this Earth Day, it is clear that progress toward curbing the risks of pesticides is achievable. For example, EPA is currently considering changes to the Worker Protection Standard, the federal regulation designed to protect farmworkers from risks such as pesticide exposure.

Our planet and the nation’s farmworkers deserve to be protected from the deadly nature of pesticides. All consumers deserve to know what is in their food and whether it is safe.

To learn more about the harmful effects of pesticides, read Exposed and Ignored: How Pesticides are Endangering Our Nation’s Farmworkers or visit www.farmworkerjustice.org.

Food Safety News

Livestock can produce food that is better for people, planet

With one in seven humans undernourished, and with the challenges of population growth and climate change, the need for efficient food production has never been greater. Eight strategies to cut the environmental and economic costs of keeping livestock, such as cows, goats and sheep, while boosting the quantity and quality of the food produced have been outlined by an international team of scientists.

The strategies to make ruminant — cud-chewing — livestock a more sustainable part of the food supply, led by academics at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences, are outlined in a Comment piece in Nature this week.

The eight strategies include:

  • Feed animals less human food.

    Livestock consume an estimated one-third or more of the world’s cereal grain, which some advocate would be better used to feed people directly. Some of this could indeed be avoided by capitalising on ruminants’ ability to digest food that humans cannot eat, such as hay, silage and high-fibre crop residues.

  • Raise regionally appropriate animals.

    Working to boost yields from local breeds makes more sense in the long term than importing poorly adapted breeds that are successful elsewhere. European and North American Holstein dairy cows can produce 30 litres of milk a day. Thousands of these animals have been exported to Asia and Africa in an attempt to alleviate malnutrition. But exposed to hot climates, tropical diseases and sub-optimal housing, the cows produce much less milk, and the costs of feed and husbandry far exceed those of native breeds. Farmers, therefore, should be encouraged to keep and improve livestock adapted to local conditions.

  • Keep animals healthy.

    Human and livestock disease are generally treated as separate problems, but sick animals can make people sick. In low- and middle-income nations, 13 livestock-related zoonoses (diseases transferable between animals and humans) cause 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths each year. Animal management should include measures to control transmissible diseases, by improving hygiene, quarantining new arrivals on farms and establishing co-ordinated, sustained surveillance for diseases that cross the boundaries of species or countries.

  • Adopt smart supplements.

    Supplements can boost the productivity of ruminant animals by encouraging microbes in the rumen to grow quickly and provide the animals with better nutrition. Also, with some supplements, animals can produce more milk and meat for proportionally less greenhouse gas.

  • Eat quality not quantity.

    Raising animals for milk and meat is often considered at odds with the challenge of feeding a growing human population, but for undernourished communities there are health benefits to consuming healthy animal products. However, the goal of public health should be a balanced diet across all countries, with a target of no more than 300 grams of red meat per person per week.

  • Tailor practices to local culture.

    Close to one billion of the world’s poorest people rely on livestock for their livelihood. Traditional animal husbandry supplies more than just food. Keeping animals provides wealth, status and even dowry payments. However, the benefits of keeping animals are disrupted when conventional grazing and mixed-farming practices are replaced with industrial systems that prioritise short-term production. Policies to encourage high welfare, efficient management should consider cultural as well as natural factors.

  • Track costs and benefits.

    Despite ruminant livestock’s poor image as major greenhouse gas emitters, sustainably managed grazing can increase biodiversity, maintain ecosystem services and improve carbon capture by plants and soil. A cow produces up to 70 kg of manure per day, providing enough fertilizer in a year for one hectare of wheat, equivalent to 128 kg of synthetic nitrogen that might otherwise come from fossil fuels.

  • Study best practice.

    A global network of research farms — known as farm platforms — can evaluate the economic and environmental benefits of these and other farming practices, act as examples for local farmers to follow and provide valuable information for policymakers.

Professor Mark Eisler, Chair in Global Farm Animal Health in the School of Veterinary Sciences and Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol, said: “The quest for ‘intensification’ in livestock farming has thundered ahead with little regard for sustainability and overall efficiency, the net amount of food produced in relation to inputs such as land and water.

“With animal protein set to remain part of the food supply, we must pursue sustainable intensification and figure out how to keep livestock in ways that work best for individuals, communities and the planet.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bristol. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily