Happy Mother’s Day out there to all of the great moms – we owe you a debt we can never repay. 

The yesterday's news that is the swine flu isn't done quite yet, and we, as people, are not “out the woods” with the swine flu just yet.  The AP story at this link,

_WHO says up to 2 billion people could be infected by swine flu if outbreak turns into pandemic over months or years. But WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda says it's too early to tell how widespread or severe the outbreak will become.
_President Barack Obama sought to reassure Hispanics that swine flu won't lead to epidemic of discrimination in the United States just because Mexico has been the center of the outbreak.
_CDC says only about 10 percent of Americans with swine flu are believed to have gotten it during trips to Mexico.
On the Net:
• CDC:
http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu
• WHO:
http://tinyurl.com/och3eq

 

TK: What caught me eye was that over 2 billion could be infected with swine flu over months or years. That’s pretty sobering news. Also,  watch the media for a focus on the role of immigrant farm workers in spreading the disease, though the CDC only 10% of Americans who have had the swine flu have traveled to Mexico before they came down with the flu.

Other headlines tonight

Social media spreads words on flu AJC
http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/05/10/cdcsocialmedia0510.html

TK: Ah, yes, the redeeming value of Twitter. Of course I’m already a believer (follow me at tckarst )

'Viral media' to track a virus? The irony is not lost on Dr. Jay Bernhardt, the director of the CDC's National Center for Health Marketing.
For this reason, the National Center for Health Marketing has pushed out Twitter feeds, a Flickr photo stream, podcasts, videos and a Facebook page. It has been a 24/7 ffort to get important messages out through every medium.

Birth of the cooled Boston.com

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2009/05/10/birth_of_the_cooled/
TK: Fresh: A perishable history… good stuff here. We need a copy of this book at The Packer.

Think of the issues people are talking about now in the food world: A healthy diet. Food safety. "Food miles," the ecological cost of transporting what we consume. Locavores, who eat only locally grown food. Seasonal food, organic food; farmed fish, overfished fish; how and where vegetables and meat are grown or raised. All of these have roots in the modern concept of freshness, according to Susanne Freidberg, author of the new book "Fresh: A Perishable History."Today freshness wouldn't be possible without a complex web of human tinkering. The calcium citrate formula NatureSeal keeps cut apples pristine for up to 28 days so we needn't slice them ourselves; the company Eggfusion lets producers track each egg's age using laser technology. Refrigeration, one of the food-related technologies we most take for granted, was itself controversial when introduced. To understand freshness, Freidberg argues, is to understand how taste, commerce, and innovation have influenced one another over a century.
"At bottom, the history of freshness reveals much about our uneasy appetites for modern living," writes Freidberg, an associate professor of geography at Dartmouth College who divides her time between Hanover, N.H., and Cambridge. "This culture promotes novelty and nostalgia, obsolescence and shelf life, indulgence and discipline. It surrounds us with great abundance, but not with much that feels authentic or healthful. It leaves many people yearning to connect to nature and community but too busy to spend much time in either." A complicated relationship, to be sure.

 Retail chains and farmers markets Chicago Tribune
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-ia-farmersmarkets,0,3637989.story
TK: Encouraging outdoor farmers markets to bring in store traffic … and perhaps become produce suppliers..

The buy-local movement in northeast Iowa is apparently thriving -- from $110,000 in sales in 1998 to about $1 million in 2007. And sometimes, those farmers markets are based out of the very regional grocery chains, like Hy-Vee, with whom they're competing. Waterloo Hy-Vee dietitian Stephanie Beenken says local produce markets keep money in the community, and might draw in customers who want to do the rest of their shopping at the larger chain next door. "I think people really enjoy it," Beenken said. "They can buy fresh, local food outside and finish the rest of their shopping inside."The Waterloo Hy-Vee on University Avenue allows farmers to sell fruits and vegetables in its parking lot on Thursday afternoons between late May and late October."We may put a dent in their day's sales, but it sends a good message that they're trying to help out local farmers," said Brynn Friedrich of Cedar Falls, who sells vegetables she grows with her husband on 3 acres.
Later….

And sometimes, those farmers markets will turn into suppliers for the chain grocers -- what they don't sell might be featured in the store a day later. The produce manager "will stop by my booth to see what I have and ask what I can drop off Saturday," Friedrich said. "They want large quantities, like 50 zucchinis."

Getting rid of your grocer CBS News
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/05/09/eveningnews/main5003732.shtml
TK: A slightly different take on the retail v. local food angle..

Consumers seeking a healthy lifestyle these days are increasingly cutting out the supermarket and going straight to the farmer for fresh fruits and vegetables. CBS News correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports that community-supported agriculture is a growing trend.

Safeway workers could strike as early as Monday AP

TK; Rocky labor relations in the Rocky Mountains….

Union workers at Safeway voted to authorize a strike, with workers possibly walking off the job as early as Monday, which could affect two of Colorado's largest grocery chains.
Contracts were expiring Saturday night for about 17,000 King Soopers, Safeway and Albertsons workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 in Colorado. The union said all three chains have offered similar proposals, but the sides still disagree over wages and pension benefits.
King Soopers and Safeway have agreed that one chain can lock out its employees if workers at the other chain go on strike. The two chains also have accepted applications for temporary workers, if employees walk out.

 

Growing more growers Atlanta Journal Constitution
http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/05/09/farms0509.html
TK: The local food movement needs more growers. Won’t the invisible hand of the market place take care of that…..

Out of the $20 billion in food Georgians purchase annually, $16 billion comes from out of state, according to Georgia Organics. Meanwhile, the number of farmers markets in Georgia expanded from 12 to 62 between 2004 and 2008, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Survey.
“One of our ultimate goals is to grow more growers,” Rolls said.

 

Fruits and veggies – a tough sell to kids The Detroit News
http://www.detnews.com/article/20090509/LIFESTYLE03/905090314/1040/Fruits-and-veggies-A-tough-sell-to-kids
TK: Pivonka quoted in this piece….

T"he last thing parents want at the end of the day is a fight over the dinner table, so at the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters Web site ( www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org), we have loads of tips to help," says Pivonka.

Fighting the flu with technology Lohud.com
http://lohud.com/article/20090510/BUSINESS01/905100327/-1/newsfront/Fighting+the+flu+with+technology
TK: Long but interesting piece about researcher studying pandemic through use of supercomputer

And what if swine flu, which can be transmitted between people but has a low mortality rate of just 1 percent to 4 percent, suddenly became much more lethal?
Those are some of the questions that IBM researcher Ruhong Zhou is putting through the Blue Gene supercomputer at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown.
While Zhou has been working on avian flu and the risks of a global pandemic since 2006, his work has taken on greater urgency because of the recent eruption of swine flu. Starting in Mexico, the outbreak of what government health officials are now calling the "novel influenza A (H1N1)" had reached 44 states as of midweek.

10 genes, furiously evolving NYT
http://richarddawkins.net/article,3820,n,n
TK: A little flu education, gentlemen?

The current outbreak shows how complex and mysterious the evolution of viruses is. That complexity and mystery are all the more remarkable because a virus is life reduced to its essentials. A human influenza virus, for example, is a protein shell measuring about five-millionths of an inch across, with 10 genes inside. (We have about 20,000.) Some viruses use DNA, like we do, to encode their genes. Others, like the influenza virus, use single-strand RNA. But viruses all have one thing in common, said Roland Wolkowicz, a molecular virologist at San Diego State University: they all reproduce by disintegrating and then reforming.

Healthful shift ahead for U.S. schools Des Moines Register
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20090510/BUSINESS01/905100336/-1/ENT06
TK: Another important development in public policy that has implications for f/v marketers…but the story seems to ask if nutrition standards can be so high as to be ineffective in inducing kids to eat school lunch. As one source suggests, a closed campus is probably a good policy – no lunch hour dashes to BK or the Golden Arches at risk of life and limb..

Students in Des Moines schools are getting a taste of the changes facing kids across the United States, if Congress cracks down as expected on what can be sold in school cafeterias and vending machines.French fries, nachos, lemonade, Oreos and Pop-Tarts are out. Also gone: ice cream bars and other products that do not meet the district's standards set in 2005 for fat, sugar and sodium. Most soft drinks have disappeared from vending machines. Serving sizes are smaller, too.
The tougher standards are needed to address the childhood obesity epidemic in both Iowa and the nation, nutrition advocates say. Congress is due to rewrite regulations for school lunches and other nutrition programs this year and is considering a policy for schools nationwide that is similar to the standards in Des Moines schools.But school nutrition officials caution that this battle of the bulge could include some unintended consequences: A la carte sales have dropped by half since Des Moines changed its standards. Some high school students are skipping the school fare to head to local fast-food places or convenience stores to get the french fries and soda they can't get at schools.Tyler Carlson, a sophomore at Roosevelt High School, often buys pizza in the school cafeteria, but like many of his fellow students he heads to the nearby Git-N-Go to get a Mountain Dew to drink with it. He skips the fruits and vegetables the cafeteria I don't like the other stuff," he said. Nathan Dzon, a junior at East High School, said he skips the cafeteria altogether: "I don't like the taste."Instead, he goes to the Oasis grocery and liquor store across from campus or heads to the QuikTrip market a few blocks away. On a recent day, his lunch at Oasis consisted of a Honey Bun, a Caramello bar and some Mentos.
"I have a really high metabolism," he said. "I eat all the time and never gain weight."

Katelyn McCormick, a junior at East, usually eats in the cafeteria. She doesn't touch the stuff in the vending machines now. It's "all healthy, like, nothing I would eat," she said.Under the district's policy, vending machines include products such as baked chips and low-fat crackers and cookies.To Sandy Huisman, the school system's nutrition director, the Des Moines schools' experience both shows the need for national standards and raises cautions about the unintended consequences. Having national nutrition standards in place will encourage manufacturers to produce more of the low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar products that the schools need, but the higher standards could also drive kids to get the junk food off campus, she said."The reality is that there are a fair number of kids who will go off campus and get what they want," she said.Other school districts have maintained weaker nutrition standards to avoid the problems that have cropped up in Des Moines.

National GroGood program SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/prnewswire/story/1334970.html

TK: Sounds like a worthy projects in Chitown
Uptown-area residents got the community garden they've long desired on Saturday, thanks in part to The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and its group of philanthropic partners in conjunction with Keep America Beautiful, Keep Chicago Beautiful, the Chicago Park District, Garden Writers Association, Plant a Row for the Hungry, the National Gardening Association and Franklin Park Conservatory. Through its national GroGood edible gardening program, this coalition installed a local garden dedicated to growing produce to provide Chicago's hungry with fresh-grown fruits and vegetables.