National Editor Tom Karst
National Editor Tom Karst

The Senate is ramping up hearings on the farm bill, and one Washington source I visited with this morning said that there seem to be bipartisan support to move the farm bill out of the committee by Memorial Day.

The farm bill will gain traction when program crop interests agree on a path forward. House action also figures to heat up after a consensus approach takes shape.

Meanwhile, member of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance are meeting weekly and making sure their voices are heard for those priorities in a tight budget environment.

I received an email in my inbox about the release of a new book, "The American Way of Eating," authored by Tracie McMillan. Check out a description of the book online. Here are the first few lines of the release:

From the release:

In "The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee's, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table," (Scribner, February 21, 2012) Tracie McMillan portrays the life she led for 18 months when she confronted the daily challenges common to those who live off the meager wages earned in low-level food industry jobs. Evocative scenes take readers from the pain-inducing work in farm fields, supermarkets, and restaurants to the crowded, chaotic homes and dinner tables she shared with fellow workers.

McMillan weaves her own journey into the broader context of a broken food system that results in too many people being ill fed. And she asks “Why? Her insightful reporting on labor and economic issues involving agriculture and food, coupled with her exploration of the raw politics of food policy, explains why so many Americans don’t eat well despite living in a land of plenty.

“Our agriculture is abundant,” McMillan contends, “but healthy diets are not.”

McMillan describes cutting garlic in the fields of California—calculating what her labors could earn her at a rate of $1.60 for every five-gallon (25 pound) bucket she should fill with heads of garlic:  

    "My thighs look as though they've been attacked by an enraged but weaponless toddler, peppered with dull reddish brown bruises where I've pressed into them again and again. My hands, swollen and inundated with blisters the first few days, have acclimatized, but there's a worrisome pain shooting up my right arm. And while I don't have a scale to gauge my weight, my clothing has become suspiciously loose."


TK: It would be great to nab an interview with the author: I will work on that....

What was he thinking? Jim Prevor suggests that produce grown organically should be labeled as such, even if said produce is marketed as conventional fruits and vegetables.  That doesn't make sense to me, as it would add unnecessary expense for no added benefit. I put the question up to a vote on the Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group. Check out the poll and the link to Prevor's argument here.

In Produce farming on the brink, Daniel Cohen dispenses a lot of advice. I like what he said here:

Regulators have a compulsive belief in the efficacy of complex paperwork, almost for its own sake. It could be called faith-based paperwork. The same money could be spent on solving problems, but they assume the solutions are all known.


Other Fresh Talk hot links

Wal Mart pushes into Southern California

Shopping environment and fruit/veg consumption

What's on MyPlate day