The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that winter farmers markets this year have seen a 38% increase since 2010, with an astonishing 1,225 winter markets in operation nationwide. That means that consumers who are interested in buying locally grown products year-round now have more ways to do so than ever.
Kathleen Merrigan, Agriculture Deputy Secretary, says "Consumers are looking for maore ways to buy locally grown food throughout the year. Through winter markets, American farmers are able to meet this need and bring in additional income to support their families and businesses."
Oregon has several markets that are in operation year-round. Winter market customers can expect to find lots of hearty greens, root vegetables like carrots and beets, winter squashes, lettuces (grown in hoophouses) apples, and prepared baked goods.
Creswell Farmers Market
2nd and D Streets
Salem Public Market
1240 Rural Ave, SE
Oregon City Downtown Winter Market
Saturdays, twice monthly, November through April, 10am-2pm
8th Street, between Main and Railroad
Madras Saturday Market
Sundays twice monthly, December through April, 10am-2pm
Wilson High School, 1405 SW Vermont Street
Lloyd Farmers Market
Oregon Square Courtyard, 800 Holladay Street
The Peoples Coop
3029 SE 21st Ave
Portland Shemanski Park Market
Saturdays in January and February, 10am-2pm
SW Park Ave & SW Montgomery Street
The USDA has announced a recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey sold by the food giant Cargill due to links to salmonella. The amount represents approximately 8% of all ground turkey consumption in the United States in a year, and is being called one of the largest meat recalls ever.
The tainted meat was sold from February 20 through August 2, and produced at a plant in Springdale, Arkansas. It has been linked to 76 illnesses nationwide, and one death in California.
According to the USDA website, salmonella bacteria are the most frequently reported caused of food-borne illness, and cause health effects such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, chills, headaches, nausea and vomiting. Additionally, small children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems risk death from salmonella exposure. The strain of salmonella tied to this recall -- Salmonella Heidelberg -- has been described as being particularly virulent, with approximately 40% of those exposed requiring hospitalization.
Oregon Public Health has issued a warning against the turkey, instructing consumers to throw away or return ground turkey linked to Cargill. Consumers wondering whether their ground turkey is affected can consult the Cargill full list of recalled products. Senior epidimiologist William E. Keene of the Oregon Public Health Division says that the outbreaks have occurred continually since March, which suggests that the salmonella is occuring due to a continuing problem at the processing plant.
Oregon has had at least one illness linked to the outbreak: an infant who was hospitalized in Multnomah County and recovered.
Salmonella is killed if turkey is cooked to 165 degrees, and handling raw turkey with caution mitigates exposure. The Associated Press says it's important "that raw meat be handled properly before it is cooked and that people wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling the meat. Turkey and other meats should also be properly refrigerated or frozen and leftovers heated."
Last week, Oregon's proposed BPA ban moved one step closer to fruition -- it passed the Oregon Senate by a 20-9 margin.
The bill, which would ban BPA from baby bottles, sippy cups and reusable water bottles, now moves to the Oregon House. The fight is expected to be a bit tougher in the House, but if it passes Governor Kitzhaber has declared his support for the bill and is expected to sign it.
Senator Chris Edwards, when speaking in favor of SB695, stated "Moms of Oregon are way ahead of the legislature on this ... we don't need BPA to produce baby bottles and sippy cups."
There is a new focus on the harms of bisphenol-A (BPA) -- the ubiquitous chemical that is used in food linings, hard plastic materials and even register receipts -- after a peer-reviewed study co-authored by The Breast Cancer Fund was released which found that removing BPA from a household's food packaging can reduce BPA exposure by 60% within 3 days of switching the family's diet.
This study was the first of its kind to really take a look at BPA in food packaging, and the overall impact on exposure. This is critical because BPA has been connected with health concerns like early puberty in children, diabetes, obesity, and reproductive issues in both men and women.
As part of the study, the Breast Cancer Fund released a list of the 10 Canned Foods to Avoid to reduce BPA Exposure -- coconut milk and soup are the highest on the list. This author has since replace the coconut milk in her cupboard with cans from Native Forest, which Treehugger has stated sells the only coconut milk in a BPA-free can that's commercially available.
- Want to reduce BPA exposure? Cut canned foods from your diet, report says. Los Angeles Times, 03/30/11.
- Bisphenol-A Fact Sheet. Safer States.
- BPA-Free Oregon Facebook Page. For updates on the BPA fight in Oregon.
December is a month of buffets, holiday parties and family dinners. In order to ensure a safe and healthy holiday, it's important to follow a few simple tips regarding food.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently estimated that 1 in 6 Americans becomes sick from foodborne illnesses each year.
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of preparation. Web MD says that leaving food out too long is easy to do around the holidays, and can cause health problems.
- Use shallow containers when serving on a buffet. The US Department of Agriculture advises that shallow containers encourage rapid, even cooling which means that foods will be held at a safe temperature for a longer period of time.
- If you're shipping food as gifts, be sure to follow the USDA's tips on mail order food safety. Ship the food overnight if possible, and make sure to label it as "keep refrigerated" so that the recipient is sure to open it right away and refrigerate it.
- When shipping highly perishable foods, it's best to check in with the recipient on their schedule. It may take away from a bit of the surprise, but it's better than the surprise one gets when coming home from a week-long trip to a days-old perishable food being on their doorstep (true story!)
- If you're giving preserved or prepared food as gifts, label it with handling instructions. For instance, you may want to write "please refrigerate" on refrigerator (non-processed) jams and jellies or other items that should stay cold. Alternately, you can ask the recipient to "refrigerate after opening." It's also preferable if the items are clearly marked with exact ingredients and date of production.
- Follow the same precautions that you do during the rest of the year: wash your hands often when cooking, keep raw meats away from other ingredients, heat foods to the proper internal temperature, and keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- If you're pregnant, take a few special precautions. Pregnant women should be wary of egg nog made with raw eggs, avoid unpasteurized milk and cheeses, and wash their hands often -- especially when preparing raw foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a special tip sheet for pregnant women regarding holiday events.
The first genetically engineered (GE) food animal -- the "AquAdvantage" salmon -- is being debated at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The AquAdvantage salmon grows much more quickly than non-GE salmon, requires less feed, and can be grown in inland communities. It is created by combining the Chinook salmon gene with an eel-like fish called the ocean pout and inserting it into the genome of an Atlantic salmon.
AquaBounty, the company that has created the AquAdvantage salmon, claims that the salmon is safe, will be land-bound (preventing escape into the wild salon population), and is sustainable.
As the Tylenol, Motrin and Benadryl recalls expand, people are beginning to wonder how much control the FDA has over companies and their products. The answer? Not much. Companies issue voluntary recalls to remove the contaminated food from the open marked—the FDA can request that a company issue a recall but not demand it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year, 76 million Americans are sickened, 325,000 hospitalized, and 5,000 die from consuming contaminated food. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General has reported that FDA inspects less than a quarter of all food facilities each year, and that more than half of all food facilities have gone five or more years without an FDA inspection.
A recent report on food safety by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council also notes the many gaps in the FDA’s current performance in food safety, and recommends that Congress increase the agency’s authority to act. The report urges that Congress require all food processors to register with the FDA (which is not required under current law), to act proactively to prevent foodborne illness, and tell the FDA when they discover adulterated products. S. 510 accomplishes all of these things.
Americans spend an estimated $720 million dollars on olive oil each year, but it turns out that some of that oil isn’t from olives. Many brands, even high end, dilute the product with nut, safflower or canola oils and still claim it is “extra virgin” olive oil. This can be a health hazard for consumers with food allergies—most people blame the product they cooked in the oil—not suspecting the oil itself to be a risk.
A lack of strict standards means the U.S. is awash in low-quality, adulterated and even dangerous oils that have made some consumers ill, according to experts. The new rules are voluntary—not mandatory—so the prospect of more slick shenanigans continues.
Connecticut investigators tested dozens of bottles of olive oil from store shelves a few years ago after local producers and consumers complained that there was something fishy—or perhaps nutty—going on. They were right.
"People were getting sick and thinking, 'It must be the poultry that I fried up in the olive oil last night,' or that it was a type of bread that had been exposed to nuts in the bakery," said Jerry Farrell Jr., commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Early this year, his team returned to the market aisles after hearing rumbles of more sly shortcuts.
Every year the Fourth of July weekend means a few things: fireworks, parades and summer barbecues. But barbecues can also mean accidental food poisoning and sickness! Do you know the best ways to ensure a safe and healthy BBQ? Here are a few tips for making the tastiest, healthiest food on the grill.
- Start by cleaning the counter and grill tops, wash hands thoroughly and keep cooked and raw food separate.
- Thaw meat in the fridge for a full 24 hours prior to grilling. The longer the meat stays cold the less chance of harmful microorganisms developing.
- Marinade the meat for as long as possible (in the fridge of course). New studies have shown that marinating meat for 12 hours can reduce the amount of carcinogenic HCAs (heterocyclic amines) created by BBQ-ing by up to 99 percent.
The Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health alert for wild salmon caught off the coast of Oregon and California due to elevated levels of PCBs. Polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs are a highly toxic industrial compound no longer used in the United States. The advisory dictates that adults and children eat no more than one meal of this salmon per month and young children (under 6) should eat less than ½ a meal per month.
Seafood Watch advocates salmon from Washington is a "Good Alternative" while those from California and Oregon should be avoided. Currently, the best option for wild salmon is from Alaska.
As 35,000 to 60,000 barrels of oil continue to flow into Gulf waters each day, BP is fighting to keep the oil from beaches and wetlands along the southern coast of the United States. But the dispersants used to protect wetland wildlife could be more harmful than the oil alone. Twenty thousand gallons of dispersants are being poured into the Gulf of Mexico each day and the benefits of keeping some oil out of beaches and wetlands carry uncertain costs. Scientists warn that the dispersed oil, as well as the dispersants themselves, might cause long-term harm to marine life. (Read More at NYTimes.com). Not much is known about the chemicals in the dispersants, as, until recently, they were kept secret by trade protection laws. Now that the EPA has posted the list of ingredients, it is very disconcerting.
Twenty thousand gallons of Corexit 9500 are now being used in the Gulf every day. An earlier formulation was linked to respiratory, nervous system and blood disorders among cleanup crews for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Environmentalists worry that Corexit could affect workers, harm fish and shellfish in the Gulf, and ultimately enter the human food chain. (Read More at Wired.com)