Environment

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

When it comes to organic certification, there are strict guidelines for food producers to follow. 

Think about an organic steak. The cow it came from has to be raised on organic feed. The feed mix can’t be produced with pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetic engineering. 

Now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in considering a set of rules for organic farmed fish. The problem is several consumer groups say the recommended rules don’t go far enough to meet the strict standards of other organic foods.


While reporting my story on how foods earn a label certifying them as "non-GMO," I came across a comment that struck me – and it might surprise you, too.

The comment came from Ken Ross, the CEO of Global ID. (He didn't make it into the final story.) Global ID is the parent company of FoodChain ID, one of the companies that traces ingredients to determine whether they contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

On the prowl for owls in St. Louis Forest Park

Jan 20, 2015
Mark Glenshaw / forestparkowls.blogspot.com

In the past nine years St. Louisan Mark Glenshaw, the so-called owl man, said he has ventured into that city's Forest Park about 2,500 times to follow the activities of two great horned owls who he has named Charles and Sarah.

Years ago he began doing what he calls owl prowls where maybe half a dozen folks go with him on a guided tour of the owl's territory. 

In the late 1970s, a young Southern California beer enthusiast named Bill Sysak began doing something quite novel at the time. He bought cases of beer and stashed the bottles in his basement to age like wine. Over several years, Sysak discovered that some beers could develop rich flavors — like toffee and caramel — not present in their youth. Excited by what he found, Sysak ramped up his cellaring program and made it a full-time hobby.

The Owl Man Knows all about Charles and Sarah

Jan 6, 2015
Gary Grigsby

It all began nine years ago when Mark Glenshaw was walking in the 1,400 acre Forest Park near his home in St. Louis.

He had been doing this regularly for several years but this time out he said he saw two great horned owls in the park.  "The first sighting I had set a really high benchmark.  Just was instant addiction.  In 20-30 minutes I saw them hoot together, duet, a beautiful vocal and visual display.  I saw them fly.  Powerful, graceful, silent flyers.  And then I saw one of them chase a great blue heron, a bird twice its size and I was completely hooked."

Columbia? Taken. Mississippi? Taken. Sacramento? El Niño? Marlin? Grizzly? Sorry, they're all taken.

dok1 / Flickr

To support a growing population, farmers worldwide need to emphasize the sustainable growth of three major foods: corn, wheat and rice, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization

Kristofor Husted / KBIA/Harvest Public Media

linked to the destruction of bee colonies may not be as effective against corn and soybean pests as many once thought, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report.

Many beer aficionados are familiar with the rare breweries run by Trappist monks. The beer is highly sought after, but it's not the only food or drink made by a religious order. Many abbeys and convents have deep roots in agriculture, combining farm work with prayer.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

CENTRALIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is planning to hold a summit to brainstorm ways to beef up the state's cattle industry.

Nixon announced the summit during a Wednesday visit with Future Farmers of America members at Centralia High School. It's meant to find ways to expand the industry and spur economic development in rural Missouri.

Crop-dusting pilots are the adrenaline junkies of the agriculture world. They whiz through the air, flying under power lines to sow seeds or spread pesticides on farmers' fields.

It's a dangerous job, and now these pilots are facing a new challenge — short towers that can sprout up in fields overnight. These towers are used to gather data for wind energy companies.

Goats are having a moment, and we're not just saying that because our blog is called Goats and Soda.

There are nearly 900 million goats in the world today, up from 600 million in 1990. The reason for this goat spurt is the growing popularity of goat cheese, goat milk and goat meat.

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media

  On this week's Under the Microscope, traffic jams caused by a large harvest. 

Kristofor Husted / Harvest Public Media/KBIA

 

For the Midwest’s biggest crops, this harvest season was a big one. With winter setting in, the race is on for farmers to ship out their harvest so it’s not left out to spoil. But the giant harvest and a lack of available rail cars have created a traffic jam on the rails and the highways.

Usually, famers store their harvest in silos and grain bins, but this year, farmers brought in so much, there’s just no room.  Farmers in Missouri, Indiana, Illinois and South Dakota are all being hit particularly hard by the storage shortage.

Flickr / Natalie Maynor

More cities want to take eating local food from just a hip trend to an economic generator, but as in many grassroots movements, there can be some growing pains along the way. Northern Colorado advocates are trying a new model to spur growth and they’re borrowing ideas from the tech sector.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The state has issued a permit for a large hog-breeding farm in central Missouri that had been strongly opposed by neighbors.

 

The permit from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources will allow Callaway Farrowing to build a farm raising 10,000 hogs on 20 acres in western Callaway County near Kingdom City.

 

Neighbors held meetings in opposition of the farm and submitted a petition with 1,400 signatures asking the state to reject it.

People live for — and die because of — the "Viagra of the Himalayas."

That's the nickname for one of the weirdest fungi around.

It starts with the larva of the ghost moth — a caterpillar that lives underground. A fungus invades the larva, kills it and consumes the body. Just the outer skeleton remains.

Eventually, a small brown stalk erupts from the dead caterpillar's head. In the spring, the pinkie-size stalk pokes an inch or two from the earth. That's when people across the Tibetan Plateau head to the high-alpine meadows to harvest the crazy-looking creature.

Mike Lee

Mike Lee steers his plane over the Missouri-Arkansas state line, checking out a checkerboard of green and brown fields of rice, cotton, corn and soybeans. Lee is the owner of Earl’s Flying Service, a crop dusting business in Steele, Mo., and he’s scouting some farm fields that his pilots will treat later in the day.

wobble-san/Flickr

After jumping up in value over the past few years, farmland in many of the Plains states has slowed down in its appreciation.

A bumper crop, cheap prices for grain, and the lowest predicted farm income in five years have all taken a swipe at the value of farmland. Overall, states in the region, including Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Colorado, have farmland value hovering about 1 to 2 percent above its worth this time last year.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing last night at Hatton-McCredie Elementary School to allow residents of Callaway County to bring up concerns about a controversial hog farming operation. 

Frank Morris/Harvest Public Media

Callaway Farrowing is looking to build a facility that would bring 10,000 hogs to Callaway County.

The Iowa-based industrial livestock feeding operation filed an application for the facility to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on July 31, 2014. Family farmers and members of the group Friends of Responsible Agriculture met Wednesday to discuss their concerns with the proposal. Lifelong farmer Terry Spence said the meeting at the Missouri Rural Crisis Center in Columbia identified environmental issues resulting from corporate farming operations.

New leader for MU soybean breeding efforts

Oct 24, 2014
Clay Masters / Harvest Public Media

This week Andrew Scaboo accepted a new position at the University of Missouri as Assistant Research Professor in soybean breeding.  

Monsanto will continue selling soybean seeds coated with pesticides that have been linked to honey bee deaths, even though the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found the seeds do not improve yields.

The seeds in question are treated with a class of chemicals called neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine.

Tax Credits / Flickr

 

Americans had to dig deep into their wallets to cover costs associated with foodborne illnesses, according to new estimates from the U.S. Department Agriculture.

U.S. farmers are bringing in what’s expected to be a record-breaking harvest for both corn and soybeans. But all that productivity has a big financial downside: plunging prices that have many Midwest farmers hoping to merely break-even on this year’s crop.

Flickr / Natalie Maynor

The Farm Bill was passed in February. But now, piece by piece, it’s taking effect. We’re beginning to see how parts of the farm bill are doing more to help farmers go small.

Heather Cescent / Flickr

A federal district court upheld a California law Friday that requires all eggs sold in the state to come from hens housed in more spacious cages.

Luke Runyon / Harvest Public Media

Voters in Colorado will decide whether or not they want the state to require labels on foods containing genetically modified ingredients, or GMOs. The 2014 ballot measure highlights a much larger national conversation about the safety and prevalence of genetically modified foods.

Couresy PETA

A recent Missouri law meant to protect farmers may be making it harder to report alleged animal abuse, as animal welfare organizations have feared.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) on Wednesday asked law enforcement in Mercer County to investigate allegations of abuse at Murphy-Brown’s Badger-Wolf pig-breeding operation in northern Missouri. But PETA says it could not reveal who gave PETA the photos that captured the abuse, as the source of the information “is afraid of reprisals.”

Nowadays, when there's a killer heat wave or serious drought somewhere, people wonder: Is this climate change at work? It's a question scientists have struggled with for years. And now there's a new field of research that's providing some answers. It's called "attribution science" — a set of principles that allow scientists to determine when it's a change in climate that's altering weather events ... and when it isn't.

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