Yeee-ow, but it’s cold and windy here in Upstate New York. We had snow, sleet, freezing rain AND ice this week, so it’s a bit discouraging as far as gardening goes. However, there IS food news!

A unique analysis of US diets: It’s the Subsidies, Stupid!:

If USDA subsidies actually were in line with the Food Pyramid, the following changes would take place in terms of what groups would actually get money:

Fruits and Veggies: Up 900%

Grains: Up 50%

Meat and Dairy: Down 100%

Sugars, Oils and Alcohol: Down 50%

Nuets and Legumes: Up 50%

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/03/another-view-of-why-youre-fat.php

This winter has been awful for everyone, but especially for bees: “Among all the stresses to bee health, it’s the pesticides that are attracting scrutiny now. A study published Friday in the scientific journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) One found about three out of five pollen and wax samples from 23 states had at least one systemic pesticide — a chemical designed to spread throughout all parts of a plant.

EPA officials said they are aware of problems involving pesticides and bees and the agency is "very seriously concerned."

The pesticides are not a risk to honey sold to consumers, federal officials say. And the pollen that people eat is probably safe because it is usually from remote areas where pesticides are not used, Pettis said. But the PLOS study found 121 different types of pesticides within 887 wax, pollen, bee and hive samples.”

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100324/ap_on_sc/us_food_and_farm_disappearing_bees

School Lunch: 6-cents will get the kids what, exactly?: “Legislation approved Wednesday by the Senate Agriculture Committee would allow the Agriculture Department to create new standards for all foods in schools, including vending machine items, to give students healthier meal options. The legislation would spend $4.5 billion more over 10 years for nutrition programs…. When New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand offered an amendment to ban artery-clogging trans fats from schools, for example, Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., said Congress should let the Agriculture Department tackle the issue.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/26/senate-advances-school-lu_n_514660.html

I find it rather interesting that this news coincides with the debut of the new reality show on ABC, “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, which probably should have been titled, “How a Telegenic British Chef With a Slight Speech Impediment Manages to Piss Off An Entire West Virginia Community. Can Their Metabolisms Be Saved?”

When Americans Know What They Are Eating, Will It Change What They Eat?: “The new law, which applies to any restaurant with 20 or more locations, directs the Food and Drug Administration to create a new national standard for menu labeling, superseding a growing number of state and city laws. President Barack Obama signed the health care legislation Tuesday.

The idea is to make sure that customers process the calorie information as they are ordering. Many restaurants currently post nutritional information in a hallway, on a hamburger wrapper or on their Web site. The new law will make calories immediately available for most items.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/23/calorie-count-disclosure_n_509964.html

GA House Responds to Processed Peanut Salmonella Case: As you may recall, there was a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that was traced to a Georgia based peanut processor (the FDA also found one of their plants in Texas – which had never been inspected because it had never been registered, which had even worse filth and vermin issues). This week, the Georgia State House approved a much tougher food safety bill. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 714 documented illnesses in 46 states were the result of infection with the outbreak strain of Salmonella; peanuts and peanut products produced at the Blakeley, Georgia, processing facility owned and operated by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) may have contributed to nine deaths.

Over 3,000 products were recalled, resulting in one of the largest single food recalls in U.S. history.  “http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/03/ga-house-toughens-food-safety-legislation/

And (and Aunt Toby knows that you all hover expectantly in anticipation of my weekly report), the weather really “put pay” to the garden this week. I went out yesterday to take the temperatures and could…not…even…get…the…damn…thermometer…into..the ground. It was that frozen from the rain, cold temps (it was 21 degrees in the morning here yesterday), and the ice. I also pulled back one of the sheets of glass which we’d put over the bed we are trying to warm up so that we can sow greens in April. It was 41 degrees. So, we lost a couple of degrees (and this set up is not what I’d call a closed system here – there are leaks all over the place between the wood frame and the sheets of glass and the unevenness of the ground underneath the wood and so on), but we are still in decent shape for some warming next week. Oh, as you can see from the photo at the top, the rhubarb is up. Anyone who believes climate change is a hoax should look at that photo and remember this: When we moved into Chez Siberia in 1983, I would not have seen that sight before the end of April. We are now one month earlier than we were 25 years ago.

Until the next time, keep a weather eye out and eat something local.