Fresh From the Field
When it comes to a healthy diet packed with nutrients and vitamins, simply eating your veggies might not cut it anymore. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that nutrient levels in crops have continued to go down in the past three decades, raising concerns for farmers and consumers alike. At the same time, controversy over genetically modified crops continues to brew, as some advocacy groups argue the risks associated with the technique have not been properly studied. In honor of Earth Day, the Hopedale Unitarian Parish is offering in April several programs to raise awareness of several environmental debates that could impact our health and wallets, and what we can do to grow the best food possible.
Are organic foods more nutritious than conventionally raised ones? Stanford University scientists cast doubt on that concept last year in a widely publicized report. But the gritty little secret is that whether your apples and spinach are organic or not, nutrient levels can vary dramatically depending on growing conditions, such as soil type and quality, temperature, and days of sun versus rain. As a consumer, you have no independent way of verifying that you have chosen a superior batch. But what if you had a handheld scanner that would allow you to check nutrient density? “You could compare carrots to carrots,” says Dan Kittredge, executive director of the Bionutrient Food Association, which is raising the funds to research such a device. “If this batch is a dud, pass. If the next one is good, that's where you spend your money.”
Listen in on an interview Dan did recently on Valley Free Radio's "Farm to Fork" show, or a number of other interviews, podcasts, and workshops in our audio archive -- a new section on the BFA website we'll be growing. We've also got the audio and accompanying slide presentations from the recent Soil & Nutrition Conference posted there as well. Lots of great insights!
In addition to the workshop series ongoing since last Fall, BFA is excited to announce that we have just recently added another four courses to be held in the next couple months, as farmers and gardeners head into their growing seasons. New courses will be held in Westminster, MA, Sterling College, VT, or Morgantown, WV - if you live nearby, workshops start soon, so sign up today!
Coming up at the end of this month, BFA and NOFA/Mass will be hosting the second annual Soil and Nutrition Conference: Putting Principles Into Practice. The conference will be held Jan 31 - Feb 2, 2013 at First Churches in Northampton, MA. Register by January 17 and receive an early-bird discount! Want to learn more? Watch a short video with Dan Kittredge and Derek Christianson speaking about what's planned for the 2013 Soil and Nutrition Conference, and about the featured presenter, John Kempf of Advancing Eco-Agriculture in Middlefield, OH.