Knowing Your Roots

Posts tagged ‘USDA’

Behind the Scenes: Central Sands farmers improving biodiversity (and sustainability) on our farms!

Duane Blog 6

Wisconsin potato and vegetable growers have long looked at sustainability as a three legged stool orf responsibility.  One leg is social responsibility, while another is economic.  The third leg, which gets a lot of attention, is environmental responsibility.  These thoughts and practices are second nature to us, in part, because of our relationship with our core researchers at UW-Madison, USDA, Ag Experiment Systems and our County Extension Agents.  Another reason for the prevalence of these practices on our farms is that is makes good business sense, serving us in achieving both our short and long term goals.  Biodiversity is just one component of our environmental responsibility.

Biodiversity tells us the number and variety of different native species found within an ecosystem. This is important to each of us.  A diverse environment of native species compared to similar environments that are dominated by a few non-native and often weedy less desirable species, is more stable ecologically and provides many essential services to communities. These ecosystem services are not always easy to identify.  They include many valuable natural benefits such as: water filtration, maintenance of soil structure and health, habitat for birds and pollinating insects, alternative food sources to preserve beneficial insect predators and habitats for rare and endangered species.  We have all of these things at work in our diverse ecosystem landscape.   (more…)

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Thoughts for Food: Do you know where your food comes from?

med322050When you ask most people “do you know where your food comes from,” what do they say?  Probably “from the grocery store” is the typical flip answer.  Read the labels and all too often you find “produce of Chile” or “grown in Mexico” even “green beans from Kenya”!  We are spoiled in the US and have come to expect all of our fresh food to be available year round.  We do enjoy a truly global marketplace these days, but there is an increasing voice out there that is starting to ask for more details on where their food comes from, so that they can make choices based on broader criteria than what is on the shelf and how much it costs.  Most of us know that food comes from farms, and some know where those farms might be located, but only when there is a problem—or a food safety concern—do we really demand to know the details of who grew it, where it was grown and what practices were followed.  Now, thanks to the efforts of many people—from citizens to scientists—and new digital technologies, we are beginning to be able to “trace-back” where many of our food products grown in the United States come from.   (more…)

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