Meme Thomas, instructor for the Honeybee Conservancy classes at Rodale Institute and founder of Baltimore Honey, says there are seven simple ways to help both the honeybee and native pollinator populations in your area right now.
1. Include nectar- and pollen-rich plantings in landscapes. Focus on plants that bloom during the important feeding windows of late winter, pre-spring (February – April) and during the high summer when there is usually a dearth of nectar (June – November). (more…)
Building a more sustainable food system requires rethinking how we produce, transport and consume food. It means considering multiple facets of sustainability – ecological, economic, social – and acting in ways that best promote these throughout the whole system. To do this, farmers, entrepreneurs, researchers and advocates across the country are developing innovative strategies. One in particular seems promising: connecting sustainable agriculture to the health care sector to promote healthier consumption. An example of this kind of partnership is the community supported agriculture (CSA) health insurance rebate. (more…)
The end of 2012 raised quite a few eyebrows and much ire as some quiet and some not-so-quiet snubs were aimed at organic foods. First, the Stanford meta-analysis, which claimed organic foods were “no better” than conventional foods (though their actual findings showed some clear organic benefits). Then, the timid report from the American Academy of Pediatrics hesitantly providing a wishy-washy statement for pediatricians to use as a guide when discussing organic foods with patients. And, finally, the betrayal of Dr. Oz, a formerly staunch supporter of eating organic, who tucked tail and spouted support for GMOs (and venom at “elite” organics) like a well-paid industry mouthpiece. (more…)
The statement about injecting human waste into the soil [in the TIME article What If the World’s Soil Runs Out?] concerns me. How does Rodale [Institute] feel about this issue? ~ Lisa
Treated human waste (otherwise known as sewage sludge or biosolids) has been floated as the “solution” to everything from the topsoil loss to dwindling supplies of mined phosphorus. But it has also been indicated as a risk to human and environmental health for a multitude of reasons. Heavy metals, although declining in recent years, are still a concern as are antibiotics, hormones, steroids and other pharmaceuticals, or things like triclosan, flame retardants and solvents that end up poured down drains. (more…)
Rodale Institute Chief Scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham answers your questions and talks about what is going on under our feet nationwide.
To what degree does composting decompose pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals? Totally? Partially? To safe levels? How usable is the resulting compost as fertilizer that contained pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals. Are there leftover residues that can be taken up by crops? What are the chances for pesticides and antibiotics specifically? (more…)
The brown marmorated stink bug is a relatively new agricultural pest. It was accidentally introduced to Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s from Asia and can damage fruit and vegetable crops alike. Numbers of brown marmorated stink bugs have jumped considerably in recent years leading researchers to fast track work on how to combat them, especially for organic farmers.
Brown marmorated stink bugs belong to the family Pentatomidae which includes everything from other pests like the rice stink bug to beneficials such as the predatory soldier bug, so proper identification is an important first step in battling this growing threat. Following are some easily identifiable characteristics that differentiate the brown marmorated stink bug from other members of the same family. (more…)
By Susan A. Schneider, Director of LL.M. Program in Agricultural & Food Law at Arkansas School of law and contributor to the Agricultural Law blog.
As our nation grieves the losses in Newtown, Connecticut, we struggle to understand. We see the faces of the children killed—true pictures of innocence—and wonder how something so terrible could have happened.
While much of the immediate press coverage has focused on limited gun control measures, President Obama described the problem as “complex” and called upon us to “look more closely at a culture that all-too-often glorifies guns and violence.”
As always, I see a connection to agriculture and farm policy. (more…)
The latest media buzz over organic foods is a bit of a non-event here at the Rodale Institute. The Stanford study asks the question, “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier than Conventional Alternatives?” It is a good question, one that many citizens ask themselves each time they head to the grocery store. The fact is the researchers didn’t really answer it, despite the headlines claiming organic food is not healthier or safer. In fact, the questions they did answer point firmly toward organic as a better choice.
One of the greatest challenges of running a CSA is producing a steady flow of an endlessly changing variety of vegetables for an entire season. Dealing with the unique needs of dozens of crops and hundreds of different varieties can be overwhelming. CSA farming also requires the growing of multiple successions of many crops in order to ensure a long, uninterrupted harvest. The key to dealing with these challenges is developing a good growing plan before the season.