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Lead contamination spurs recall of water bottles from L.L. Bean

Thousands of insulated water bottles designed for children and sold by L.L. Bean are under recall for lead content because the Chinese manufacturer used the wrong kind of solder material.

Insulated water bottles designed for children are being recalled because of lead contamination. The four above patterns and one below are all included in the recall.

Insulated water bottles designed for children are being recalled because of lead contamination. The four above patterns and one below are all included in the recall.

About 6,700 of the recalled bottles were sold online, at retail stores and through the L.L. Bean catalog from July 2015 through May of this year, according to the recall notice on the Consumer Products Safety Commission website.

“The lead solder at the exterior base of the bottle contains high levels of lead. Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and can cause adverse health issues,” the July 21 notice states.

“Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled water bottles and contact L.L.Bean for a full refund.”

When sold, the recalled 13.5-ouncerecalled L.L. Bean kids water bottle insulated water bottles carried label stickers with the item identification number 297684 on the bottom of each bottle. The stickers also had the codes “PO#844” and “BB2D2-LLB-R45-0413.”

The bottles were available in five printed graphic patterns:

  • Dino Bones;
  • Flower Power;
  • Orange Grid camo;
  • Purple Tie Dye Butterfly, and
  • Robo Shark.

“Routine testing by the manufacturer resulted in a positive reading for the presence of lead on the outside bottom of the bottle where the outer vacuum layer is sealed,” according to a statement on the L.L. Bean website.

“It was determined that some of the water bottles provided to L.L. Bean were erroneously sealed on the bottom with a solder bead containing lead instead of the lead-free solder bead originally specified. This could potentially expose the user of the bottle to the lead seal on the outside bottom of the water bottle. For your child’s safety, immediately stop using the water bottle and return the bottle to L.L. Bean,” the company stated.

GSI Outdoors Inc. of Spokane, WA, imported and distributed the Chinese water bottles, according to the recall notice.

Federal officials warn that even very low levels of lead can harm children.

“Protecting children from exposure to lead is important to lifelong good health. No safe blood lead level in children has been identified. Even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention, and academic achievement. And effects of lead exposure cannot be corrected,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Food Safety News

Cattle grazing and clean water are compatible on public lands, study finds

June 28, 2013 — Cattle grazing and clean water can coexist on national forest lands, according to research by the University of California, Davis.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, is the most comprehensive examination of water quality on National Forest public grazing lands to date.

“There’s been a lot of concern about public lands and water quality, especially with cattle grazing,” said lead author Leslie Roche, a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “We’re able to show that livestock grazing, public recreation and the provisioning of clean water can be compatible goals.”

Roughly 1.8 million livestock graze on national forest lands in the western United States each year, the study said. In California, 500 active grazing allotments support 97,000 livestock across 8 million acres on 17 national forests.

“With an annual recreating population of over 26 million, California’s national forests are at the crossroad of a growing debate about the compatibility of livestock grazing with other activities dependent upon clean, safe water,” the study’s authors write.

“We often hear that livestock production isn’t compatible with environmental goals,” said principal investigator Kenneth Tate, a Cooperative Extension specialist in the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences. “This helps to show that’s not absolutely true. There is no real evidence that we’re creating hot spots of human health risk with livestock grazing in these areas.”

The study was conducted in 2011, during the grazing and recreation season of June through November. Nearly 40 UC Davis researchers, ranchers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service staff and environmental stakeholders went out by foot and on horseback, hiking across meadows, along campsites, and down ravines to collect 743 water samples from 155 sites across five national forests in northern California.

These areas stretched from Klamath National Forest to Plumas, Tahoe, Stanislaus, and Shasta-Trinity national forests. They included key cattle grazing areas, recreational lands and places where neither cattle nor humans tend to wander.

UC Davis researchers analyzed the water samples for microbial and nutrient pollution, including fecal indicator bacteria, fecal coliform, E. coli, nitrogen and phosphorus.

The scientists found that recreation sites were the cleanest, with the lowest levels of fecal indicator bacteria. They found no significant differences in fecal indicator bacteria between grazing lands and areas without recreation or grazing. Overall, 83 percent of all sample sites and 95 percent of all water samples collected were below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency benchmarks for human health.

The study noted that several regional regulatory programs use different water quality standards for fecal bacteria. For instance, most of the study’s sample sites would exceed levels set by a more restrictive standard based on fecal coliform concentrations. However, the U.S. EPA states that E. coli are better indicators of fecal contamination and provide the most accurate assessment of water quality conditions and human health risks.

The study also found that all nutrient concentrations were at or below background levels, and no samples exceeded concentrations of ecological or human health concern.

The study was funded by the USDA Forest Service, Region 5.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Conserving soil, water in world’s driest wheat region

In the world’s driest rainfed wheat region, Washington State University researchers have identified summer fallow management practices that can make all the difference for farmers, water and soil conservation, and air quality.

Wheat growers in the Horse Heaven Hills of south-central Washington farm with an average of 6-8 inches of rain a year. Wind erosion has caused blowing dust that exceeded federal air quality standards 20 times in the past 10 years.

“Some of these events caused complete brown outs, zero visibility, closed freeways,” said WSU research agronomist Bill Schillinger.

Science to anchor farmer incentives

He and WSU agricultural economist Doug Young compared three fallow management systems in the western part of the Horse Heaven Hills with six inches of annual rainfall and the same practices in the eastern part with eight inches of rain.

The study was published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal in September: Schillinger, W. F. and D. L. Young. (2014). Best Management Practices for Summer Fallow in the World’s Driest Rainfed Wheat Region. Soil Science Society of America Journal.

The five-year study provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with science-based information needed to develop incentives for wheat farmers to change from traditional-tillage fallow practices to undercutter-tillage or no-till fallow systems.

Timing to trap moisture

Farmers in the Horse Heaven Hills practice a winter wheat-summer fallow rotation where only one crop is grown every other year on a given piece of land.

Average yields can be as low as 18 bushels per acre — compared to upwards of 120 bushels per acre in the higher rainfall area of the Palouse in eastern Washington. Though the margins are tight, with careful management wheat farming in the Horse Heaven Hills can be profitable.

To get the highest yield, farmers need to plant winter wheat in late August or early September after a year of fallow. The fallow period allows enough moisture from winter and spring rains to accumulate in the soil for seeds to get established.

“In east-central Washington, if you can’t plant in late summer into deep seed-zone moisture in fallow, then you have to wait for fall rains in mid-October or later,” Schillinger said.

The longer it takes to get winter wheat seedlings established, the lower the potential for good yields.

To help ensure precious soil moisture remains in the seeding zone, farmers till the soil in the spring. Tillage breaks up the capillary action of the soil; this helps slow soil moisture evaporation in the seed zone during the hot, dry summer months.

But too much tillage can cause soil loss through wind erosion that feeds hazardous dust storms.

Undercutting in the east

Compared to traditional tillage, Schillinger and Young found that undercutter tillage was the best option for fallow in the slightly moister eastern region of the Horse Heaven Hills, where late-August planting is possible and spring tillage helps retain summer soil moisture.

With wide, narrow-pitched, V-shaped blades, the undercutter slices beneath the soil surface to interrupt capillary action in the seed zone without causing much disturbance of the soil surface.

Schillinger said scientists and farmers have conclusively shown that spring tillage with the undercutter effectively retains seed-zone moisture. It also retains significantly greater surface residue and surface soil clods — which are less likely to be disturbed by wind and become airborne — compared to traditional tillage implements such as a tandem disk or field cultivator.

No till in the west

In the western region of the Horse Heaven Hills, the best option for controlling wind erosion was to practice no-till fallow; that is, to avoid tillage altogether. Most of the time, rainfall in this area simply isn’t sufficient to establish an early stand of winter wheat with any fallow management system.

“There’s no reason to till the soil when you already know in the spring that it will be too dry to plant wheat in late August,” Schillinger said.

Economist Young found that, despite the modest grain yield potential, wheat farming in this environment can be profitable — with enough acreage and judicious use of inputs to manage costs. In fact, late-planted winter wheat on no-till fallow was just as profitable as traditional-tillage and undercutter-tillage fallow treatments at the western site.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington State University. The original article was written by Sylvia Kantor. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Conserving soil, water in world’s driest wheat region

In the world’s driest rainfed wheat region, Washington State University researchers have identified summer fallow management practices that can make all the difference for farmers, water and soil conservation, and air quality.

Wheat growers in the Horse Heaven Hills of south-central Washington farm with an average of 6-8 inches of rain a year. Wind erosion has caused blowing dust that exceeded federal air quality standards 20 times in the past 10 years.

“Some of these events caused complete brown outs, zero visibility, closed freeways,” said WSU research agronomist Bill Schillinger.

Science to anchor farmer incentives

He and WSU agricultural economist Doug Young compared three fallow management systems in the western part of the Horse Heaven Hills with six inches of annual rainfall and the same practices in the eastern part with eight inches of rain.

The study was published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal in September: Schillinger, W. F. and D. L. Young. (2014). Best Management Practices for Summer Fallow in the World’s Driest Rainfed Wheat Region. Soil Science Society of America Journal.

The five-year study provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with science-based information needed to develop incentives for wheat farmers to change from traditional-tillage fallow practices to undercutter-tillage or no-till fallow systems.

Timing to trap moisture

Farmers in the Horse Heaven Hills practice a winter wheat-summer fallow rotation where only one crop is grown every other year on a given piece of land.

Average yields can be as low as 18 bushels per acre — compared to upwards of 120 bushels per acre in the higher rainfall area of the Palouse in eastern Washington. Though the margins are tight, with careful management wheat farming in the Horse Heaven Hills can be profitable.

To get the highest yield, farmers need to plant winter wheat in late August or early September after a year of fallow. The fallow period allows enough moisture from winter and spring rains to accumulate in the soil for seeds to get established.

“In east-central Washington, if you can’t plant in late summer into deep seed-zone moisture in fallow, then you have to wait for fall rains in mid-October or later,” Schillinger said.

The longer it takes to get winter wheat seedlings established, the lower the potential for good yields.

To help ensure precious soil moisture remains in the seeding zone, farmers till the soil in the spring. Tillage breaks up the capillary action of the soil; this helps slow soil moisture evaporation in the seed zone during the hot, dry summer months.

But too much tillage can cause soil loss through wind erosion that feeds hazardous dust storms.

Undercutting in the east

Compared to traditional tillage, Schillinger and Young found that undercutter tillage was the best option for fallow in the slightly moister eastern region of the Horse Heaven Hills, where late-August planting is possible and spring tillage helps retain summer soil moisture.

With wide, narrow-pitched, V-shaped blades, the undercutter slices beneath the soil surface to interrupt capillary action in the seed zone without causing much disturbance of the soil surface.

Schillinger said scientists and farmers have conclusively shown that spring tillage with the undercutter effectively retains seed-zone moisture. It also retains significantly greater surface residue and surface soil clods — which are less likely to be disturbed by wind and become airborne — compared to traditional tillage implements such as a tandem disk or field cultivator.

No till in the west

In the western region of the Horse Heaven Hills, the best option for controlling wind erosion was to practice no-till fallow; that is, to avoid tillage altogether. Most of the time, rainfall in this area simply isn’t sufficient to establish an early stand of winter wheat with any fallow management system.

“There’s no reason to till the soil when you already know in the spring that it will be too dry to plant wheat in late August,” Schillinger said.

Economist Young found that, despite the modest grain yield potential, wheat farming in this environment can be profitable — with enough acreage and judicious use of inputs to manage costs. In fact, late-planted winter wheat on no-till fallow was just as profitable as traditional-tillage and undercutter-tillage fallow treatments at the western site.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington State University. The original article was written by Sylvia Kantor. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Conserving soil, water in world’s driest wheat region

In the world’s driest rainfed wheat region, Washington State University researchers have identified summer fallow management practices that can make all the difference for farmers, water and soil conservation, and air quality.

Wheat growers in the Horse Heaven Hills of south-central Washington farm with an average of 6-8 inches of rain a year. Wind erosion has caused blowing dust that exceeded federal air quality standards 20 times in the past 10 years.

“Some of these events caused complete brown outs, zero visibility, closed freeways,” said WSU research agronomist Bill Schillinger.

Science to anchor farmer incentives

He and WSU agricultural economist Doug Young compared three fallow management systems in the western part of the Horse Heaven Hills with six inches of annual rainfall and the same practices in the eastern part with eight inches of rain.

The study was published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal in September: Schillinger, W. F. and D. L. Young. (2014). Best Management Practices for Summer Fallow in the World’s Driest Rainfed Wheat Region. Soil Science Society of America Journal.

The five-year study provides the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service with science-based information needed to develop incentives for wheat farmers to change from traditional-tillage fallow practices to undercutter-tillage or no-till fallow systems.

Timing to trap moisture

Farmers in the Horse Heaven Hills practice a winter wheat-summer fallow rotation where only one crop is grown every other year on a given piece of land.

Average yields can be as low as 18 bushels per acre — compared to upwards of 120 bushels per acre in the higher rainfall area of the Palouse in eastern Washington. Though the margins are tight, with careful management wheat farming in the Horse Heaven Hills can be profitable.

To get the highest yield, farmers need to plant winter wheat in late August or early September after a year of fallow. The fallow period allows enough moisture from winter and spring rains to accumulate in the soil for seeds to get established.

“In east-central Washington, if you can’t plant in late summer into deep seed-zone moisture in fallow, then you have to wait for fall rains in mid-October or later,” Schillinger said.

The longer it takes to get winter wheat seedlings established, the lower the potential for good yields.

To help ensure precious soil moisture remains in the seeding zone, farmers till the soil in the spring. Tillage breaks up the capillary action of the soil; this helps slow soil moisture evaporation in the seed zone during the hot, dry summer months.

But too much tillage can cause soil loss through wind erosion that feeds hazardous dust storms.

Undercutting in the east

Compared to traditional tillage, Schillinger and Young found that undercutter tillage was the best option for fallow in the slightly moister eastern region of the Horse Heaven Hills, where late-August planting is possible and spring tillage helps retain summer soil moisture.

With wide, narrow-pitched, V-shaped blades, the undercutter slices beneath the soil surface to interrupt capillary action in the seed zone without causing much disturbance of the soil surface.

Schillinger said scientists and farmers have conclusively shown that spring tillage with the undercutter effectively retains seed-zone moisture. It also retains significantly greater surface residue and surface soil clods — which are less likely to be disturbed by wind and become airborne — compared to traditional tillage implements such as a tandem disk or field cultivator.

No till in the west

In the western region of the Horse Heaven Hills, the best option for controlling wind erosion was to practice no-till fallow; that is, to avoid tillage altogether. Most of the time, rainfall in this area simply isn’t sufficient to establish an early stand of winter wheat with any fallow management system.

“There’s no reason to till the soil when you already know in the spring that it will be too dry to plant wheat in late August,” Schillinger said.

Economist Young found that, despite the modest grain yield potential, wheat farming in this environment can be profitable — with enough acreage and judicious use of inputs to manage costs. In fact, late-planted winter wheat on no-till fallow was just as profitable as traditional-tillage and undercutter-tillage fallow treatments at the western site.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington State University. The original article was written by Sylvia Kantor. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Margaux’s signature accessory? A very cool water bottle

The author always has her water handy “at my desk, in my car and at meetings.”

HELLO

First impressions are everything — we all got the memo. As professionals, we know that we get up, dress up and show up every day if we want to succeed in life. We select appropriate attire depending on our job, we do our hair and we work hard because we want to project a positive image to those around us. Appearance matters the first time or the 50th time we see someone. Check!

DETAILS

What about those accessories? They’re also sending a silent message to your co-workers, colleagues, employees, customers and potential customers, and I’m not talking about a great pair of shoes or the perfect handbag.

Margaux never goes anywhere without her cool Voss water bottle.Consider for a moment, the item that always seems to be with us whether we think about them or not. Is that omnipresent cup of coffee in a stained Styrofoam cup or a sleek insulated travel mug? Is a refillable monster beverage jug from the convenience store/gas station a wardrobe staple?  Do you show up for meetings with a messy stack of papers or an iPad?  When your phone rings do you whip out an old-school flip phone or a newer smartphone?

CALLING CARD

Are you good with your current look or does it need some attention? Maybe just some fine-tuning? What message does it send? Decide what your signature accessory is going to be, make sure it represents your personal brand and own it.

Being a health and wellness advocate who preaches first and foremost: water, water, water, there is no question that a bottle of water will be with me always — at my desk, in my car and at meetings. The environment is also important to me so I found a cool looking glass Voss bottle that I can wash and reuse. Then, I refill it with reverse osmosis water multiple times daily. 

If it breaks or I lose it, it’s not expensive to replace. Honestly, I used it for years BEFORE I found out that the unique bottle was the brainchild of Neil Kraft, former creative director for Calvin Klein. It makes perfect sense though. It’s chic and goes with everything! The water bottle has turned into a calling card of sorts.

TRENDING

What you select for yourself just may catch on to those around you — hopefully it’s good and healthy. One day I noticed that my students started to show up at class with the same bottle of water that I had, then the whole Voss water bottle thing took off on it’s own. Now, I can spot them in a crowd just by the accessory they are carrying.

INSPIRE ON

What’s your signature accessory? Are you owning it or rethinking it?

Supermarket News

Mercer Island Issues Boil Water Advisory, Restaurants Close

The city of Mercer Island in Washington is advising residents to boil their water before drinking, or to use bottled water after samples showed the presences of E. coli.

The Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle and King County also orders all food establishments such as restaurants, coffee shops, and delis operating on the Island to suspend operations until the boil water advisory is lifted.

Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Boiled or purchased bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice. Bring the water to a boil, let it boil for at least 1 minute, and let it cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that could potentially be in the water.

Dishwashers can be used if run with the sanitizing/heat cycle and commercial dishwashing detergent. Dishes can be hand washed if rinsed in a diluted bleach solution – one teaspoon household bleach to one gallon of water – and then allowed to air dry.

Water can be used for bathing, but do not drink any of the water and do not allow babies to put the water or wet washcloth in the mouth.

The city will issue further notice when the water supply is confirmed to be safe.

Aside from Mercer Island, all other Seattle Public Utilities water is safe for drinking.
The city of Mercer Island in Washington is advising residents to boil their water before drinking, or to use bottled water after samples showed the presences of E. coli. Washington State Department of Health and Public Health – Seattle and King County also orders all food establishments such as restaurants, coffee shops, and delis operating on the Island to suspend operations until the boil water advisory is lifted.

Fecal coliforms and E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.

Boiled or purchased bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, and food preparation until further notice. Bring the water to a boil, let it boil for at least 1 minute, and let it cool before using. Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms that could potentially be in the water.

Dishwashers can be used if run with the sanitizing/heat cycle and commercial dishwashing detergent. Dishes can be hand washed if rinsed in a diluted bleach solution – one teaspoon household bleach to one gallon of water – and then allowed to air dry.

Water can be used for bathing, but do not drink any of the water and do not allow babies to put the water or wet washcloth in the mouth.

The city will issue further notice when the water supply is confirmed to be safe.

Aside from Mercer Island, all other Seattle Public Utilities water is safe for drinking.

Food Safety News

Food & Water Watch Sues USDA Over New Poultry Inspection Rule

Food & Water Watch (FWW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture on Thursday that would stop the implementation of the agency’s New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS).

The new poultry inspection rule, announced July 31, requires additional microbiological testing at all poultry processing facilities and introduces a fifth inspection system available for U.S. plants to voluntarily adopt. NPIS is based on the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) and directs poultry companies to sort their own product for quality defects before presenting it to an FSIS inspector.

The consumer group is concerned that the system allows companies to privatize poultry inspection.

According to USDA, the goal of NPIS is to free up inspectors from each line to be able to ensure that sampling and testing are done properly and sanitation requirements are met, and to verify compliance with food safety rules.

Wenonah Hauter, FWW executive director, said that the system “flies in the face of the agency’s mandate to protect consumers,” and the the complaint states that it will deny consumers “the right to know which products that have an official inspection legend and establishment number are actually federally inspected.”

FWW believes that NPIS violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) requirement that federal government inspectors, and not poultry slaughter establishment staff, are responsible for condemning adulterated young chicken and turkey carcasses.

The organization is also concerned that allowing line speeds to increase to 140 young chickens per minute for NPIS establishments means that carcasses can pass by one federal inspector much faster than under the Streamlined Inspection System (SIS), which limits each inspector to 35 carcasses per minute, and the New Line Speed Inspection System (NELS), which limits them to 30.

Further, the complaint states that the “proposed NPIS rules were not similar to the final rules in a number of ways,” that there was “inadequate risk analysis and response to comments,” and that there was no opportunity for the organization to orally present its views about the rules at a public meeting.

“USDA’s new system will harm consumers and reverse 100 years of effective government regulation of the meat industry,” Hauter said. “It’s essentially a return to Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle.’ It’s a huge step backwards for our food safety system.”

Food Safety News

Food & Water Watch Sues USDA Over New Poultry Inspection Rule

Food & Water Watch (FWW) filed a lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture on Thursday that would stop the implementation of the agency’s New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS).

The new poultry inspection rule, announced July 31, requires additional microbiological testing at all poultry processing facilities and introduces a fifth inspection system available for U.S. plants to voluntarily adopt. NPIS is based on the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) and directs poultry companies to sort their own product for quality defects before presenting it to an FSIS inspector.

The consumer group is concerned that the system allows companies to privatize poultry inspection.

According to USDA, the goal of NPIS is to free up inspectors from each line to be able to ensure that sampling and testing are done properly and sanitation requirements are met, and to verify compliance with food safety rules.

Wenonah Hauter, FWW executive director, said that the system “flies in the face of the agency’s mandate to protect consumers,” and the the complaint states that it will deny consumers “the right to know which products that have an official inspection legend and establishment number are actually federally inspected.”

FWW believes that NPIS violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) requirement that federal government inspectors, and not poultry slaughter establishment staff, are responsible for condemning adulterated young chicken and turkey carcasses.

The organization is also concerned that allowing line speeds to increase to 140 young chickens per minute for NPIS establishments means that carcasses can pass by one federal inspector much faster than under the Streamlined Inspection System (SIS), which limits each inspector to 35 carcasses per minute, and the New Line Speed Inspection System (NELS), which limits them to 30.

Further, the complaint states that the “proposed NPIS rules were not similar to the final rules in a number of ways,” that there was “inadequate risk analysis and response to comments,” and that there was no opportunity for the organization to orally present its views about the rules at a public meeting.

“USDA’s new system will harm consumers and reverse 100 years of effective government regulation of the meat industry,” Hauter said. “It’s essentially a return to Upton Sinclair’s ‘The Jungle.’ It’s a huge step backwards for our food safety system.”

Food Safety News

US (CA): Watermelon growers deal with less water

With the state’s water woes, California’s watermelon growers have had to find a way to keep up production with dwindling water allocations. While some growers have managed to keep up good yields, others across the state have suffered by having to do with less.

“Overall, this year has been good with good yields,” said Steve Dabich, director of sales for Dulcinea Farms. “The challenge was that we knew we were going to have to use more well water, because of the water shortage, but that hasn’t hindered us at all.” Dabich said their growers were able to successfully drill for more water, and because they weren’t significantly hampered by water restrictions, they were able to get good yields.

However, growers relying on water allocations during the years when there wasn’t a drought, has led to a lack of these resources when there actually is one. Growers throughout the state have had trouble matching production from previous years because of combined weather events and a lack of water. That’s led to decreased production and increased prices. Some growers, knowing that growing watermelons would be difficult this, opted to grow other crops. That further depressed state production and has led to increased prices.

“The situation for watermelons has been less volume and higher prices,” said Barry Zwillinger of Legend Produce. “Prices in California are about 30 percent higher than normal, and that’s because growers in the state have produced fewer watermelons. Growers want to maximize their acreage, and watermelons tend to use more water, so many growers tended to grow more cantaloupes this year instead of watermelons.”

FreshPlaza.com

Water costs skyrocket 1,000% in California

Water costs skyrocket 1,000% in California

It is not as if there aren’t any economic factors influencing the price of groceries these days. Transportation alone, thanks to skyrocketing fuel prices, has lifted the cost of everything we buy at the grocery store. Now, one of the worst droughts in U.S. history is making the one thing absolutely vital for food production — an ample water supply — more expensive as well, and that, ultimately, will translate into even higher prices at the market.

To set the stage, back in February the U.S. Bureau or Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, in which the agency found insufficient water stocks in California to release to farmers for irrigation. That was the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that had happened.

“If it’s not there, it’s just not there,” said Water Authority Executive Director Steve Chedester, who noted that it would be tough finding water in the coming year or more. Farmers were to be hardest hit, the official added, stating, “They’re all on pins and needles trying to figure out how they’re going to get through this.”
‘Paying as Much as 10 Times More’

One way to deal with the drought is for farmers to plant fewer fields, which would mean that early on there would be fewer crops; in the law of supply and demand, when supply is reduced but demand remains high, prices rise.

The other option would be farmers being forced to pay premium prices for the remaining available water, which would also add to the final cost of crops — costs that would have to be passed on to consumers.

Fast-forward to late summer 2014: As the drought has only worsened over the summer, farmers in California’s Central Valley, which is by far the world’s most productive agricultural region, are paying as much as 10 times more for water than they did before the state’s record dry spell forced officials to cut water supplies earlier this year.

As reported by Bloomberg Briefs, costs to raise crops in California have soared to $ 1,100 an acre, or $ 140 more per acre than last year in the Fresno-based Westlands Water District, a region representing 700 farms, according to Gayle Holman, a spokeswoman for the district. Meanwhile, north of the state capital of Sacramento, in the Western Canal Water District, water is selling for double the usual price: $ 500 per acre-foot, which is about 326,000 gallons.

The most severe shortages have occurred in the San Joaquin Valley, in an area from Bakersfield to Patterson and Chowchilla, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, a group based in Sacramento that represents farmers and most agricultural irrigation districts in the state.
Whole States Are Running Dry

The drought, as it worsens, threatens also to dramatically increase production costs that are already high in part because of an unexpected, unseasonable December frost, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Last month, analysts said they believe that the price of fresh fruit will rise as much as 6 percent this year.

Meanwhile, dairy products — of which California is the largest producer — could rise as much as 4 percent. Following three years of record-low rainfall, 82 percent of California is currently undergoing extreme drought conditions, per the U.S. Drought Monitor, a federal website.

Mat Maucieri, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, said that the rising food prices are “a function of supply and demand in a very dry year and the fact that there are a lot of competing uses for water in California.”

As shown on the U.S. Drought Monitor website, the entire states of California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico, along with most of Texas, Utah and Oregon, are experiencing various levels of drought conditions. California is, by far, experiencing the worst.

Source: www.theepochtimes.com

Publication date: 8/5/2014


FreshPlaza.com

More crop per drop: Reducing water footprint of cultivated herbs

New research from the University of Southampton is aiming to reduce the water footprint and increase shelf life of potted and cut herb production in the UK.

Focusing on a range of potted and cut herbs, including flat-leaved parsley, basil and coriander, the aim is to reduce the use of irrigation water during crop production, while improving the flavour and quality of the herbs. It has already been shown in other growing systems that substantial water savings can be made without detrimental impacts on crop quality.

The project is led by Professor Gail Taylor from the University of Southampton and builds on research findings from a BBSRC IPA (Industrial Partnering Award) with Vitacress Ltd.

The project was awarded from the Annual Sainsbury’s Supermarket Agricultural R&D Grant — where growers, suppliers and researchers are asked to compete for a pot of £1 million provided by Sainsbury’s.

More than 18 million pots of herbs are produced in the UK each year and much of this production is undertaken by Vitacress under glass in Sussex. Cut herbs are grown widely in the UK summer and overseas in winter.

Professor Taylor says: “It’s hard to imagine a world without fresh herbs and yet this product has only been on our supermarket shelves for the past ten years or so and much remains to be learned to optimise the use of water in cultivation. We will use the latest technologies in thermal and remote imaging to assess precisely when irrigation should be applied, targeting water to best effect and helping Sainsbury’s to achieve their targets for the 20 x 20 Sustainability Plan, which includes a robust water stewardship commitment from suppliers and also a target to double the amount of British food sold.

“This research, we hope, will contribute to both of these aspirations, while at the same time increasing our fundamental knowledge on the way in which plants use water.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

More crop per drop: Reducing water footprint of cultivated herbs

New research from the University of Southampton is aiming to reduce the water footprint and increase shelf life of potted and cut herb production in the UK.

Focusing on a range of potted and cut herbs, including flat-leaved parsley, basil and coriander, the aim is to reduce the use of irrigation water during crop production, while improving the flavour and quality of the herbs. It has already been shown in other growing systems that substantial water savings can be made without detrimental impacts on crop quality.

The project is led by Professor Gail Taylor from the University of Southampton and builds on research findings from a BBSRC IPA (Industrial Partnering Award) with Vitacress Ltd.

The project was awarded from the Annual Sainsbury’s Supermarket Agricultural R&D Grant — where growers, suppliers and researchers are asked to compete for a pot of £1 million provided by Sainsbury’s.

More than 18 million pots of herbs are produced in the UK each year and much of this production is undertaken by Vitacress under glass in Sussex. Cut herbs are grown widely in the UK summer and overseas in winter.

Professor Taylor says: “It’s hard to imagine a world without fresh herbs and yet this product has only been on our supermarket shelves for the past ten years or so and much remains to be learned to optimise the use of water in cultivation. We will use the latest technologies in thermal and remote imaging to assess precisely when irrigation should be applied, targeting water to best effect and helping Sainsbury’s to achieve their targets for the 20 x 20 Sustainability Plan, which includes a robust water stewardship commitment from suppliers and also a target to double the amount of British food sold.

“This research, we hope, will contribute to both of these aspirations, while at the same time increasing our fundamental knowledge on the way in which plants use water.”

Story Source:

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Eating less meat: Solution to reduce water use?

Eating less meat would protect water resources in dry areas around the world, researchers at Aalto University have found.

Reducing the use of animal products can have a considerable impact on areas suffering scarce water resources, as meat production requires more water than other agricultural products.

“Diet change together with other actions, such as reduction of food losses and waste, may tackle the future challenges of food security,” states researcher Mika Jalava from Aalto University.

Growing population and climate change are likely to increase the pressure on already limited water resources and diet change has been suggested as one of the measures contributing to adequate food security for growing population.

The researchers assessed the impact of diet change on global water resources over four scenarios, where the meat consumption was gradually reduced while diet recommendations in terms of energy supply, proteins and fat were followed. The study published in Environmental Research Letters is the first global-scale analysis with a focus on changes in national diets and their impact on the blue and green water use of food consumption.

Food supply for growing population

Global population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, adding over 2 billion mouths to be fed to the current population, according to the UN. By reducing the animal product contribution in the diet, global green water (rainwater) consumption decreases up to 21 % while for blue water (irrigation water) the reductions would be up to 14 %. In other words, by shifting to vegetarian diet we could secure adequate food supply for an additional 1.8 billion people without increasing the use of water resources. The potential savings are, however, distributed unevenly, and even more important, their potential alleviation on water scarcity varies widely from country to country.

Regional differences

The researchers at Aalto University found substantial regional differences in diet change potential to reduce water use. In Latin America, Europe, Central and Eastern Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, diet change reduces mainly green water use. In Finland, for example, turning into a meat free diet would decrease the daily green water use of a Finn over 530 litres but at the same time resulting nearly 50 litres increase in blue water use. In the Middle East region, North America, Australia and Oceania, also blue water use would decrease considerably. In South and Southeast Asia, on the other hand, diet change does not result in savings in water use, as in these regions the diet is already largely based on a minimal amount of products.

The research is just published in Environmental Research Letters.

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

‘Tailored’ water: the latest in lawn care

In Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and other major cities in New Mexico, nearly every public golf course is now watered with treated municipal wastewater rather than precious potable water supplies. Across the U.S. Southwest as a whole, more than 40% of all golf courses receive treated effluent. Reusing the effluent increases the sustainability of golf courses.

Additionally, golf courses and homeowners alike fertilize their lawns during the growing season. The major nutrient in fertilizer is nitrate. A New Mexico State University turfgrass expert has a new vision for even more efficiency.

Bernd Leinauer, a turfgrass expert at New Mexico State University, suggests combining “fertigation,” drip irrigation, and decentralized water treatment. In a paper published in the journal Crop Science, he and co-author Elena Sevostianova detail their modern-day recipe for a lush, green lawn.

Leinauer says combining the three approaches could solve several issues. Right now, many big New Mexico cities remove nearly all the nitrate from wastewater all the time. That’s an expensive and energy-intensive step designed to prevent pollution of surface- and ground- waters. “But from a turf perspective that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Leinauer says, since golf course managers (and homeowners) end up applying mineral nitrate fertilizers to keep turf thriving.

Fertigation is a method of supplying fertilizers to plants through irrigation water (fertilize and irrigate at the same time). Drip irrigation delivers water directly to plant roots underground, instead of sprinkling plants from above.

In Leinauer’s and Sevostianova’s vision, a decentralized treatment system at a subdivision would be “tailored” to generate effluent during the summer that contained 15 parts per million (ppm) of the nutrient nitrate. Residents would then use this water to fertigate their lawns. Because drip systems put water directly into the soil, Leinauer says, homeowners wouldn’t come in contact with it.

“Why not leave the nitrate in the water?” Leinauer asks, “Then the effluent already contains a fertilizer that the golf course operator [or homeowner] doesn’t have to buy” or manage. The tailored water from the decentralized treatment system makes this feasible. “The overall idea is to combine subsurface, drip irrigation with tailored water: water with nutrient levels tailored for the summer versus the winter.”

Will re-using this high-nitrate content water cause problems? Will the nitrate seep into the subsoil, and eventually to groundwater? Leinauer is now studying this at a test facility.

So far, results are good. Turf plots drip-irrigated with tailored water are just as green and healthy as those receiving potable water and mineral fertilizers, Leinauer says. The researchers also see little evidence of greater nitrate loss from the fertigated, drip-irrigated plots.

Still, he cautions, the results are preliminary and there are other challenges to address. For example, wastewater effluent tends to be high in salt. These problems must be solved, though, as water supplies continue to decline. In New Mexico, for example, demands on potable water from agriculture and a growing populace are so great that “basically the only water left for the landscape is treated effluent,” Leinauer says. But the issue is hardly unique to his region. Leinauer hopes researchers around the country will embark on similar studies.

“We’re doing our part here in the Southwest, but our region is completely different from, let’s say, New England, or the Midwest,” he says. “So, these questions need to be investigated more thoroughly on a regional basis.”

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

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Oil palm plantations threaten water quality, scientists say

If you’ve gone grocery shopping lately, you’ve probably bought palm oil.

Found in thousands of products, from peanut butter and packaged bread to shampoo and shaving cream, palm oil is a booming multibillion-dollar industry. While it isn’t always clearly labeled in supermarket staples, the unintended consequences of producing this ubiquitous ingredient have been widely publicized.

The clearing of tropical forests to plant oil palm trees releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas fueling climate change. Converting diverse forest ecosystems to these single-crop “monocultures” degrades or destroys wildlife habitat. Oil palm plantations also have been associated with dangerous and abusive conditions for laborers.

Significantly eroded water quality now joins the list of risks associated with oil palm cultivation, according to new research co-authored by researchers from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, who warn of threats to freshwater streams that millions ofpeople depend on for drinking water, food and livelihoods. The new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences contains surprising findings about the intensity and persistence of these impacts, even in areas fully forested with mature oil palm trees.

Land clearing, plantation management (including fertilizer and pesticide application) and processing of oil palm fruits to make crude palm oil can all send sediment, nutrients and other harmful substances into streams that run through plantations. Vegetation removal along stream banks destroys plant life that stream organisms depend on for sustenance and shade.

“Although we previously documented carbon emissions from land use conversion to oil palm, we were stunned by how these oil palm plantations profoundly alter freshwater ecosystems for decades,” said study co-author and team leader Lisa M. Curran, a professor of ecological anthropology at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

Palm oil epicenter

Indonesia produces almost half of the world’s palm oil. Home to the world’s third-largest tropical forest, the country is also one of the principal emitters of greenhouse gases, due to the rapid conversion of carbon-rich forests and peatlands to other uses.

From 2000 to 2013, Indonesia’s land used for oil palm cultivation more than tripled. About 35 percent of Indonesian Borneo’s unprotected lowlands may be cleared for oil palm in coming years, according to previous research by Curran and the study’s lead author, Kimberly Carlson, a former Stanford graduate student who is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment.

Curran, Carlson and their colleagues focused on small streams flowing through oil palm plantations, smallholder agriculture and forests in and around Gunung Palung National Park, a federally protected area that Curran was instrumental in establishing in 1990. They found that water temperatures in streams draining recently cleared plantations were almost 4 degrees Celsius (more than 7 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than forest streams. Sediment concentrations were up to 550 times greater. They also recorded a spike in stream metabolism — the rate at which a stream consumes oxygen and an important measure of a stream’s health — during a drought.

Possible solutions

The impact of these land use changes on fisheries, coastal zones and coral reefs — potentially many miles downstream — remains unclear because this study is one of the first to examine the oil palm’s effects on freshwater ecosystems. “Local communities are deeply concerned about their freshwater sources. Yet the long-term impact of oil palm plantations on freshwater streams has been completely overlooked until now,” Curran said. “We hope this work will highlight these issues and bring a voice to rural communities’ concerns that directly affect their livelihoods.”

Potential management solutions, according to Carlson and Curran, include maintaining natural vegetative cover next to streams and designing oil palm plantations so that dense road networks do not intersect directly with waterways. These kinds of improved practices are being pioneered by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and other organizations that certify palm oil production as sustainable. Yet, Carlson said, “Our findings suggest that converting logged forests and diverse smallholder agricultural lands to oil palm plantations may be almost as harmful to stream ecosystems as clearing intact forests.” Very few protections for such non-intact forest ecosystems exist.

According to Curran, extensive land conversion to oil palm plantations could lead to a “perfect storm” combining the crop’s environmental effects with those from a massive El Niño-associated drought. (One is predicted this fall.) “This could cause collapse of freshwater ecosystems and significant social and economic hardships in a region,” Curran said.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. The original article was written by Rob Jordan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Reorganization of crop production, trade could save China’s water supply

China’s rapid socioeconomic growth continues to tax national water resources — especially in the agricultural sector — due to increasing demands for food. And, because of the country’s climate and geography, irrigation is now widespread, burdening rivers and groundwater supplies.

One solution to these growing problems, however, might be to reorganize the country’s crop production and trade, especially in agricultural provinces such as Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang and Hebei, according to new report issued by Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and School of Engineering and Applied Science and scientists in China and Japan.

The researchers report in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that reducing agricultural production in these provinces and importing food commodities from other provinces or nations instead could help China conserve more water. These provinces all use large volumes of water to produce crops that are later exported to wetter regions. If balanced with more water-efficient irrigation systems locally, restructuring these regions could reduce national water use while avoiding an excessive geographically centralized agricultural production.

“Our analysis provides a framework for understanding how such policies would benefit China’s water use in the future,” said study co-author Denise Mauzerall, professor of environmental engineering and international affairs. In particular, corn production and trade at the domestic level might be an area to target as changes could significantly reduce national water use for irrigation.”

“Overall, China may want to consider a targeted investment in agricultural research and development,” said lead author Carole Dalin, a Princeton University Ph.D. student studying environmental engineering.

Of China’s industries, agriculture is the most water-intensive in terms of production and covers most of the country’s northern provinces. Crops like corn, rice and wheat thrive best in these drier regions, but rainfall is limited, and stores of underground water are diminishing. To fulfill high production demands, water is drawn from underground reservoirs (aquifers) in the northern provinces and used for irrigation more rapidly than it is replenished.

Water used during crop production is referred to as “virtual water.” Through food trade, these water resources are transferred across borders in what’s called a “virtual water trade.” The researchers found that, in China, these transfers mostly occur from dry agricultural areas to wetter provinces. This situation places strain upon China’s water reserves and will only intensify as China’s economy and consumption of water-intensive food continues to boom. While growing crops in the wetter regions would be more water efficient, land in those places is either urban or industrial or difficult geographically (mountainous terrain, etc.), the researchers report.

“The need for China to include ‘virtual water’ in its national policy has been pointed out. Our provincial-scale domestic analysis of the country’s virtual water trade is key to guiding such policy planning,” said Dalin, who is a former Princeton Environmental Institute Science, Technology and Environmental Policy fellow.

To this end, the research team — which also includes Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and co-authors from China and Japan — combined a hydrological model with domestic and international trade simulations to determine the efficiency of China’s food trade in terms of water use as well as the role of foreign trade in this virtual water-trade system. In particular, the researchers sought to answer one question: Is there a way to reduce China’s water use without decreasing national food security?

The researchers looked at domestic and international trade of corn, rice, soy and wheat, along with such livestock products as ruminant (animals like cattle, goats and sheep that subsist on plant matter), pork and poultry. These products accounted for 93 percent of China’s domestic food supply in 2005, the last year with available data. The researchers combined this information with water use across provinces — from both rainfall and irrigation sources — and determined how much water was transferred between provinces through food trade.

To obtain estimates of these water transfers, the researchers analyzed how much food was traded between provinces and the water amount needed to produce each type of food. They determined the amount of water transferred in kilograms by multiplying the traded volume of a specific food item by the water used to produce a unit of this item (the item’s “virtual water content”) in the exporting province.

The researchers found that irrigation accounts for about 25 percent of water used to produce crops and for 16 percent of water used in meat production in China. However, those numbers skyrocket in Xinjiang, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, where irrigation water is used predominantly for crop production (85 percent, 69 percent and 49 percent, respectively.) These numbers indicate that such provinces see little rainfall during the growing season and rely heavily on sometimes non-renewable water resources, such as groundwater.

“This shows us that water is being used faster than it is being replenished, which cannot go on indefinitely,” Mauzerall said.

Finally, the researchers investigated whether Chinese food trade leads to global water savings. They found that domestic corn trade leads to significant losses of irrigation water resources (such as rivers, reservoirs and groundwater). However, the provinces of Hubei, Henan, Jiangsu and Anhui, produce wheat quite efficiently, and their exports lead to large national water savings for both rainfall and irrigation water.

“Our work highlights opportunities for addressing water scarcity in China by adjusting where water intensive crops are grown and how they are traded” said Mauzerall. “Policies which encourage such adjustments can help conserve water while maintaining China’s food security.”

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily