What’s Happening March 15- March 22, 2007

Michigan Organic Farmer Listserve-News for and by YOU

Visit our new WEB site to see where your next farm tour or open house can be listed FREE. www.michiganorganic.msu.edu


1. 2007 Michigan Organic Conference-Something for Everyone!

2. Got Raw Milk? Be Very Quiet

3. Area: schools phasing out fat in favor of more fiber, fruits and vegetables

4.  Rodale Press (Kutztown, PA) & Penn State Host Survey for farmers on Weed management

5. Unfavorable Ethanol News Lowers U.S. Corn Prices

6. Bean On Bean Acres More Profitable For Some?

Job Openings



8. Position Available: Seasonal Assistant Farm Manager at the Michigan State University Student Organic Farm

9. Allen Neighborhood Center  517/367-2468, ext. 2003 VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) Positions



10. Soil Quality and Composting to Enhance Crop Production March 24 at MSU


11. Michigan Farmers’ Market Association

Membership Kick-Off and Market-Style Resource Fair, April 20, 10-2 pm   East Lansing, MI


12.    John Jeavons, known across the world for his GROW BIOINTENSIVE®

March 30-31, Detroit, MI


13.    Video IP Conference Opportunity on Insect and Disease Management for Organic Vegetables, Thursday April 19, 6:00 to 8:30-East Lansing and Ithaca, MI




1. 2007 Michigan Organic Conference-Something for Everyone!

Dear Michigan Organic Farmers,

I want to thank all of you for contributing to the first (I hope annual) Taste of Michigan event at the 2007 Michigan Organic Conference. The event took place at the close of the conference and offered some very yummy foods, drinks and a chance for everyone to gather before going home.


The food and drink were very much appreciated by all, not only because it was free but it was from Michigan, local, organic and often from someone they knew!

The menu consisted of:

Almar’s  Apple cider (sweet and hard)

Various Michigan wines

Whetham’s (coop) Soybean hummus

Hampshire Farm’s Spelt muffins

Simmons’ Farm Cornbread plain and blueberry muffins

Food for Thought Jams and Salsas

AppleSchram apple slices

The Giving Tree and Student Organic Farm Carrots

Steve-N-Sons Grassfield cheeses


Thank you all for your hard work to grow and prepare these delicious foods. I look forward to next year’s Taste of Michigan!




Vicki Morrone


2. Got Raw Milk? Be Very Quiet

Tuesday, Mar. 13, 2007 By WENDY COLE/CHICAGO

Time Magazine


Richard Hebron, 41, was driving along an anonymous stretch of highway near Ann Arbor, Mich., last October when state cops pulled him over, ordered him to put his hands on the hood of his mud-splattered truck and seized its contents: 453 gal. of milk.

Yes, milk. Raw, unpasteurized milk. To supply a small but growing market among health-conscious city and suburban dwellers for milk taken straight from the udder, Hebron was dealing the stuff on behalf of a farming cooperative he runs in southwestern Michigan. An undercover agricultural investigator had infiltrated the co-op as part of a sting operation that resulted in the seizure of $7,000 worth of fresh-food items, including 35 lbs. of raw butter, 29 qt. of cream and all those gallons of the suspicious white liquid. Although Hebron's home office was searched and his computer seized, no charges have been filed. "When they tested the milk, they couldn't find any problems with it," says Hebron. "It seems like they're just looking for some way to shut us down."

People have been drinking raw milk for a long time, of course — at least since sheep and goats were domesticated in the 8th or 9th century B.C. Raw milk is rich in protein and fat, and milk from cows became a staple of the American diet in colonial times. When milk leaves the animal, however, it can also contain any number of pathogens, which is why most doctors consider pasteurization — subjecting milk to a short burst of heat followed by rapid cooling — one of the great public-health success stories of the 20th century. By eliminating most of the pathogens that cause disease, including E. coli, salmonella and listeria, they say, pasteurization has helped lower infectious-disease rates in the U.S. more than 90% over the past century.

Raw-milk enthusiasts have a different perspective. They insist that along with the bad pathogens, heat-treating milk destroys beneficial bacteria, proteins and enzymes that aid in digestion. Some people with a history of digestive-tract problems, such as Crohn's disease, swear by the curative powers of unpasteurized milk. Others praise its nutritional value and its ability to strengthen the immune system. "I have seen so many of my patients recover their health with raw milk that I perceive this as one of the most profoundly healthy foods you can consume," says Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician and author who rails against the medical establishment on his website, mercola.com.

You might think raw milk would be a tough sell after the Taco Bell and bagged-spinach E. coli scares. After all, even the healthiest grass-fed cows tromp around in mud and fecal matter and carry all manner of bacteria with them into the milking parlor. Between 1990 and 2004, U.S. health authorities traced 168 disease outbreaks to dairy products; nearly a third were linked to unpasteurized items, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. But in fact, demand for raw milk seems to be rising faster than cream in an unhomogenized gallon jug. Hebron's dairy co-op has no shortage of customers willing to pay a premium for milk that hasn't been processed. A California dairy producer estimates that 100,000 Californians drink raw milk every week.

All of which has created a simmering problem for health officials. While the U.S. has no laws against gulping milk straight from cows, the government's stance on controlling the sale of raw milk is far murkier. The Food and Drug Administration, which recently determined that it's safe to drink the milk of cloned cows, takes a tougher stand on unprocessed milk. It banned interstate sales of raw milk 20 years ago but left it up to individual states to decide what to do about commerce within their borders. The result is a hodgepodge of conflicting rules and loopholes big enough to drive a milk truck through. While 23 states, including Michigan, officially prohibit raw-milk sales for human consumption, the rest allow money to exchange hands under certain conditions. In California, raw dairy products are available in grocery stores, while Illinois consumers can buy them directly from farms if they bring their own containers. An increasingly popular arrangement designed to circumvent state restrictions is a so-called herd-sharing program, like Hebron's, which requires members to, in effect, lease a portion of a cow — for $20 a year, in his case — and sign an agreement opposing "all governmental standards for food, preparation, storage and safety." The $6.25-per-gal. charge is technically not a sale but compensation to cover board and transport costs.

Some raw advocates believe it's the emergence of these cow-sharing schemes in the past few years that has prompted state agriculture officials to crack down. Columbus, Ohio, attorney David G. Cox says he has represented six raw-dairy producers over the past year for alleged illegal sales, some of whom have been in business for decades without incident. "There seems to be an orchestrated effort to dry up the supply," he says. "I suspect that conventional dairy producers are concerned that if [raw milk] were widely available and people got sick, all milk would get a bad name and the whole industry would suffer."

What raw milk fans most resent is stepped-up efforts to crack down on a personal choice that wasn't doing anyone else any harm. "There are 65,000 child-porn websites," asks indignant co-op member Nancy Sanders, a pediatric nurse and mother of five from Des Plaines, Ill. "Why doesn't the government go after those?"

Meanwhile, farmer Hebron says he won't be spooked by Michigan authorities. Back in business a week after his goods were seized, he's become a cause celebre of the raw movement. After an Ann Arbor retailer he worked with was served a cease-and-desist order, a co-op member offered her nearby home as a new pickup site. Meanwhile, some of Hebron's clients in Michigan and Illinois have been flooding the fax machines of state agriculture officials to protest the treatment of the mild-mannered dairyman. In Feburary, the Amish farmer who supplies Hebron's co-op with raw milk received a warning letter from the FDA about potential interstate commerce violations. Hebron met with federal officials in Detroit on March 6th to defend the legality of herd-sharing arrangements, and is adamant about continuing his milk runs.

Recently, Hebron parked his truck in front of a North Side Chicago health-food store and began carrying crates filled with brown eggs and pasture-raised beef and pork into the shop for co-op members. He had to distribute the milk, however, out of the back of his truck — a rule the store's owner, Paula Campanio, reluctantly imposed after the raid. "I'm trying to be discreet," she says. "When I see a police car go by, I'm convinced they're coming for me." Demand from her customers for the milk is strong enough that she's willing to take the risk, but she's hoping that keeping the stuff out of her premises will make her a tad less culpable. Got raw milk? Shhhhh.

3. Area: schools phasing out fat in favor of more fiber, fruits and vegetables



Kirk Pinho

[log in to unmask]">March 21, 2007 –

Having students in public school districts eat healthy during the course of the school day is a top priority for local school district food service departments. In an effort to provide students nutritious foods, officials in some districts, including Huron Valley, say that their programs actually exceed U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines.

In 2004, President George W. Bush mandated that all school districts formulate wellness policies. In local school districts, committees have been working to draft — and in some cases, already have implemented — the policies, which involve foods available to students.

"This Wellness Committee is currently looking at all vending in the district," said Joan Steele, director of food services for the Huron Valley Schools.

The Oakland Intermediate School District (OISD) offers "a myriad" of services to local districts' food service programs, according to Mike Rangos, director of regional services for the OISD.

Mary Claya, an OISD certified trainer in serve-safe essentials, is available to advise school districts.

"She (advises) districts throughout the county," Rangos said. "She teaches a myriad of courses in school food service basics, sanitation and food safety, principles of food preparation, and a number of other things."

The only charge to the districts is that of a "very minimal" reimbursement for materials, according to Rangos.

In addition, Claya provides menu consultation, marketing techniques on how to provide good nutrition to students, and how to get students to choose healthy food offerings.

Claya is also the point-person for the countywide purchasing consortium which allows districts to jointly purchase food products at a reduced price.

According to Erik Peterson, director of public awareness at the Child Nutrition and Policy Center for the School Nutrition Association in Washington D.C., the federal government requires that over the course of a school week, menus must average 30 percent of calories (which includes sugars) from fat or less, and 10 percent or less from saturated fat.

"(The guidelines) also establish the standard for school lunches to provide one-third of the recommended daily allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories," Peterson said. "The 30 percent and 10 percent guidelines are averaged over the course of one week, so over five lunches."

Steele said Huron Valley doesn't have a nutritionist on staff. However, she has 25 years of training in food service management which helps the district provide nutritional options for students.

State-mandated nutrition reviews are required, and the district just completed one, according to Steele.

"We send our menus to be analyzed and broken down by nutrients, and see if we have too much sodium or too much fat, for example."

Efforts recently under taken in Huron Valley provide "nutrition in disguise," Steele said. For example, lots of whole grain foods which don't necessarily taste like whole grains are served to students.

The Huron Valley district is currently in the middle of a study and will eventually set guidelines and recommendations for foods sold through vending machines, school stores and fundraisers, according to Steele.

This school year, the district has provided more nutritional offerings for students. Now, all of the a la carte items for school lunches are under 14 grams of fat.

"We have no pop, no Hostess, no Little Debbie's in the food service program," Steele said. "Our beverages are bottled water, 100-percent juice, and 100-percent fruit slushes. That's what I mean by kind of 'nutrition in disguise.'"

Steele said the Huron Valley district was also the first in Oakland County to rid its buildings of pop during the school day.

The OISD provides Huron Valley with specialized services related to developing special menus for students who have food allergies or physical disabilities, as well as "general analyzing to make sure we are up to snuff."

For high school students, the district offers more choices in terms of sandwiches, salads, and vegetarian selections, according to Steele. At the elementary level, three daily options — including one vegetarian option — are offered at lunch.

"Our objective is the same (for all three educational levels)," Steele said. "(It is) to offer nutritious choices."

The district has been the recipient of USDA fresh fruits and vegetables grants and this year, thanks to $171,000 awarded by the federal government, Lakeland High School students can eat fresh fruits and vegetables during third period on the federal government's tab.

Robert Brady, director of food services for the Waterford School District, said the OISD gives the district nutritional advice. The district doesn't have a bona fide nutritionist on staff. However, a combined 40 years of experience among administrative staff members helps.

The food service directors of all 28 school districts meet on a regular basis through the OISD.

"We share input and information there," Brady said. "Also, as you know, the real resource these days is the Internet. There's so much good information regarding nutrition, and it's so readily-available. It's a big help."

Annual internal audits of the Waterford food program are conducted, and the state of Michigan performs food service reviews every few years, according to Brady.

Child nutrition guidelines are "pretty consistent" from kindergarten through the 12th-grade. However, Brady said as students move up into middle school and high school, portion sizes — especially in terms of protein — increase substantially. Carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and dairy components remain fairly stable through all three levels.

Last year, the Waterford district's food service department put together its wellness committee and the Board of Education approved goals.

"That's helping us to keep our eye on goals that we want to accomplish, in terms of lowering fat, increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables that we serve, and also providing time for physical education and recreation during the day for the kids, as well," Brady said.

The district is currently in the process of eliminating all trans fats from food offerings. It's working with suppliers and hopes to have trans fat phased out by August, according to Brady. In addition, by that time the district also hopes to have menu nutritional information and ingredient content posted on the district's web site.

"Food allergies are such a challenge for parents and students, so we are really hopeful that that's going to help them to participate in the program, and also know what's going on in the kitchens," Brady said.

Waterford Schools is also analyzing its snack food mixture, and where appropriate, healthier substitutions such as granola bars and popcorn can be made. Also, the district is now serving turkey hot dogs instead of regular hot dogs, and the chicken nuggets are baked instead of fried and have a higher proportion of white meat, which is lower in fat.

It's also becoming apparent that parents are encouraging their kids eat healthier, as evidenced by the increase in sales of salads and fresh fruits, according to Brady.

"Eating habits start at home, and when we see that, we know there are good things going on there," he said.

Lori Adkins, the nutrition supervisor and food service program director for West Bloomfield Schools, said the district offers mostly waters and juices as beverages, but there are some snack machines available after regular school hours.

"(The machines) have a variety of things based on our wellness policy," she said. "It has a healthy mix of different kinds of snacks."

Calling the OISD "an excellent resource" for the food service department, Adkins said the intermediate school district helps the department with purchasing by heading up the cooperative program for commodity and non-commodity food purchases. In addition, it also filters information from the School Nutrition Association and the federal and state government down to district staff, according to Adkins.

By state law, Adkins said, the district's food service program is reviewed every five years by the Michigan Department of Education, with the next review coming during the next school year. In addition, on site reviews are also performed.

According to Adkins, the district's food program follows what is required by the USDA.

From the elementary through high school levels, the number of calories increases with each educational tier. For elementary school buildings, the calorie count is about 650 calories per meal; for middle school students, that figure is "in the 700s," Adkins said; and in high school, it hovers between the high 700s and low 800s.

"Of course, it's a little bit different for a 17-year-old than it would be for a 7-year-old," she said.

Many changes involving nutrition have been taking place in the district. The district is taking an "eagle eye" look at the a la carte items it offers and has removed anything that had more than 300 calories per serving. The food service department is also going with a lot of baked snacks and promoting fresh fruit. Whole grain items are also being promoted, and next year the district is switching to a chicken patty that has whole grain breading.

"I think the trend is more fiber, more whole grain, and offering fresh fruits and vegetables," Adkins said.

The district also stopped serving pop a few years ago. The only beverages served are juices and teas out of the fountain machines, and machines in the cafeteria have been switched over to sports drinks, low-calorie beverages, and water.

Vendors for the West Bloomfield School District have been "very proactive," Adkins said.

"I know Coke and Pepsi have introduced smaller packaging sizes for their products," she said. "They backed a lot of their product offerings down to a 12-ounce product size, which is wonderful, and our snack vending (company) has done a very proactive job."

Kathy Yesh, food services director for the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, has worked in the district for 25 years, and her background is in dietetics and nutrition.

Student evaluations are used to gauge compatibility with the district's market, especially for new items.

"Our own goals are increasing fiber, fresh fruits, and vegetables, and reducing fat," Yesh said. "It's been a thing in our district for 10 years or more to get kids eating healthier. As new things become available, or new trends become available, we try to incorporate those into our program."

Like other districts, Walled Lake is attempting to maintain a core menu of foods which kids enjoy, but making the offerings as healthy as possible. The district is using turkey pepperoni and skim milk mozzarella cheese on the pizzas, and serves a reduced-fat chicken nugget with whole wheat breading. In addition, organic milk is offered.

"The a la carte items that we sell, as well as the snack items that we put in the vending machines, meet the guidelines established by Michigan Action for Healthy Kids," Yesh said.

It appears vendors are adhering to the district's focus on healthier foods.

"When we were in the change-over period, the vendors were cooperative, and they marked the healthier items at a lower price to kind of encourage the kids, which I do with our a la carte program, also," Yesh said.

Keith Elementary School was recently awarded the 2007 School of Outstanding Achievement for healthy activities, and encompassing all aspects of creating a healthy school environment, such as nutrition, physical activity, and healthy fund raising through the Count Your Steps program.

"We always have healthy choices available," said Keith Elementary Principal Suzanne Cowles.

Kirk Pinho is a staff writer for the Spinal Column Newsweekly




Vicki Morrone

Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist

Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Sustainable Food Systems

303 Natural Resources Bldg.

East Lansing, MI 48824


517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (fax)



[log in to unmask]" align=left hspace=12 v:shapes="_x0000_s1026">


If you would like to access a searchable archive of the all the previous Mich-Organic listserv postings copy this URL and paste in your browser address field http://list.msu.edu/archives/mich-organic.html