Food Systems

Confessions of a Grainiac

This is a guest post by Jack Lazor of Butterworks Farm. All views expressed in this article are personal to Jack.

I grew my first grain crops during the 1977 season one year after buying our farm.  Total acreage was six—four of wheat, one of barley and one of flint corn. The cereals were planted with a wooden wheeled antique grain drill and harvested with a PTO driven John Deere grain binder and a large tin Dion threshing machine.  We ended up with some very nice looking hard red spring wheat that seemed to glow at us.  Beginner’s luck was upon us.  This initial success bolstered our confidence and nurtured a passion for grain growing that has continued until very recently.

What is CAPS Accreditation?

In 2015, one of the recipients of the Co-op Patronage Seedling Grants was the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Grower’s Association’s (VVBGA) Community Accreditation for Produce Safety (CAPS).  They received $12,700.55 from the grant program to help cover the cost of creating and implementing the CAPS program, including developing a web platform and providing farmer workshops.  CAPS is a voluntary and affordable Produce Safety Accreditation specifically for Vermont farms. The goal of CAPS is to help farmers reduce the risk of food-borne pathogens and maintain food safety credibility in the marketplace, even if they are exempt from the final rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Debunking Date Labels

Do you know the difference between the phrases “sell by,” “best by,” and “expires” on products?  If not, you are not alone.  It’s estimated that confusion over date labels is estimated to account for 20% of consumer food waste, which throws away $29 billion in spending each year! There is currently no federal law requiring date labeling on products, which has led to a patchwork of state regulations for date labeling and voluntary labels from producers and manufacturers.

Going Beyond Borders for NOFA-VT's Winter Conference

This is a guest post about NOFA-VT's upcoming Winter Conference, written by Helen Whybrow, Roving Farm & Food Reporter.

Our brave little state has been through a lot: a 2016 winter of no snow, followed by this summer’s drought, an election season full of strife, and now with a new President, worlds of uncertainty about what’s to come. It can be easy, in the dark days of winter, to wonder about the larger purpose of one’s efforts on the farm or in the world.

Thankfully, NOFA-VT has attracted two international giants in the food and farming world to speak at the 35th annual winter conference on February 18-20 at University of Vermont. Dr. Fernando Funes Monzote, of Cuba, and Dr. Vandana Shiva, of India, will both bring a message of resilience, hope, and the power of people to make slow—but radical—change.

The Dish Recap: Food Waste

Last night we hosted our ninth(!) Dish panel discussion.  The topic of the evening was food waste and was moderated by Alison Nihart from UVM’s Food Systems Initiative. The panel consisted of Theresa Snow from Salvation Farms, Nick Savasta from Cheese and Wine Traders, Ren Weiner from Miss Weinerz, and Michele Morris from CSWD. This timely topic was even reflected in our snacks - Ren Weiner provided the crowd with samples of her doughnuts made with spent grains from Zero Gravity Brewery.  Delicious!

A New Design for an Old Label

In case you missed it, the FDA released a new nutrition label design at the end of May.  These changes will be rolled out on packages over the next two years and should be in place by July 2018. This is the first update to the nutrition label in the past 20 years!

JBF Food Conference Recap: Rethinking the Future of Food

Last month, the James Beard Foundation hosted their 6th annual conference tackling the very large topic “Rethinking the Future of Food.” I will say, this is no easy feat. Breaking it down into three perspectives, speakers, panelists, and participants examined this topic through the lenses of the future of health, the future of the kitchen, and the future of the farm.

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