• Organic Farming Expands, Contributes to Sustainable Food Security

    Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service. Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds. >> Read the Full Article
  • Women, Eat More Strawberries & Blueberries

    Eating three or more servings of blueberries and strawberries per week may help women reduce their risk of a heart attack by as much as one-third, researchers reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. Blueberries and strawberries contain high levels of naturally occurring compounds called dietary flavonoids, also found in grapes and wine, blackberries, eggplant, and other fruits and vegetables. A specific sub-class of flavonoids, called anthocyanins, may help dilate arteries, counter the buildup of plaque and provide other cardiovascular benefits, according to the study. >> Read the Full Article
  • Shoe Stable Fly!

    Swatting at flies is a major aggravation but luckily for us, we can often shoe away these annoying arthropods before that painful bite. But what about cows and other livestock that only have a tail to defend themselves? Besides a quick pinch, stable flies actually have a huge effect on cattle costing the U.S. cattle industry more than $2.4 billion! How might you ask? Animals will often stop grazing and bunch together to minimize the number of bites they're getting. Consequently, this can reduce milk production in dairy cows, decrease weight gain in beef cattle, and reduce feed efficiency. >> Read the Full Article
  • The World's Oldest Living Olive Trees Are Lebanese

    Tucked away in the sleepy village of Bechealeh, Lebanon, 16 olive trees have witnessed 6000 years of political unrest, plagues, diseases, varying climatic conditions and changing civilizations. In fact these "trees of Noah" are considered by locals to be a living miracle because nature, as we all know, is often silent and passive in the face of hardship, greed and violence so the fact that these arcane olive trees have managed to skirt 6000 years of climatic shifts, hacking axes and diseases makes me believe that, as improbable as this may sound, that there has been some mystical or divine providence watching over and protecting those trees for Bechealeh, for Lebanon and – who knows – maybe even for all the rest of us. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Doubt Cast on Link Between Global Warming and Increased Drought

    There have been devastating droughts in the past few years in places like Africa, Australia, and the United States. Last summer, the drought in the central US caused the loss of massive crops and a major economic hit for the country. The seemingly increasing prevalence of droughts has some announcing the effects of climate change coming to fruition. However, a new study from researchers at Princeton University in New Jersey and the Australian National University in Canberra has cast doubt on this premise. Their work indicates that the development of drought is much more complex than formerly believed and that recent droughts were more an aberration than an overall drying trend. >> Read the Full Article
  • New Connection Links Parkinson's Disease with Pesticide Exposure

    Scientific evidence already has connected pesticide exposure with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease. Chemicals like paraquat, maneb, and ziram, commonly found in pesticides have been found in farmworkers and others living and working near the fields, and are tied to an increase in the disease. New research has identified another chemical from pesticides, benomyl, that is linked to Parkinson's. The toxic effects of benomyl are still found in the environment, even 10 years after the chemical was banned by the EPA. This chemical triggers a series of cellular events leading to Parkinson's. >> Read the Full Article
  • Antibiotics or Oregano to Keep Chickens Healthy?

    It’s za'atar season in the Middle East and though we don't really need it, there's another reason to love this versatile spice: it could be useful as an alternative to antibiotics. Both a perennial herb and a spice mixed with other ingredients, za’atar livens up a host of dishes throughout the Gulf, Levant and Mediterranean. Now a small handful of farmers in the United States are feeding their poultry and livestock an oregano oil mixture in lieu of increasingly ineffective antibiotics, The New York Times reports. And they insist it keeps the animals disease free. Though the numbers are compelling, scientists caution there is insufficient data to substantiate their claims. >> Read the Full Article
  • Vineyard Microbes May Create Wine Variations

    Wine gets it flavor from the grape itself, the climate of which the grapes are grown, and the winemaking process- so vineyard management is a crucial part in contributing to the final aromatic properties of a wine. With this, researchers are finding that a wide variety of microorganisms are also contributing to pre- and post-harvest grape quality and will essentially influence the final taste of a wine. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sweet Potatoes Unexpected Reaction to Rising CO2 Levels

    Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere caused by human-driven emissions might lead to larger sweet potatoes, a staple food for many African and Asian countries, research reveals. Sweet potatoes could double in size with the increase in CO2 levels currently forecasted for the end of this century, according to research by a team from the University of Hawaii, United States. The team presented their finding at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco this month (3-7 December). >> Read the Full Article
  • Safeway Exceeds Cage-Free Eggs Goal

    Safeway Inc. is the first major grocery retailer in the U.S. to require all of its cage-free eggs to become Certified Humane. In 2008, Safeway started an initiative with its suppliers to source all Lucerne Cage-Free and O Organics shell eggs from farms that are Certified Humane. The Certified Humane label is administered by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC). >> Read the Full Article