- It's been a good season for Georgia peanuts. Good weather conditions and steady rain have brought a large, tasty harvest to the region. In fact, the 6.1 billion pound harvest is nearly twice as large as last year's. But the large supply of peanuts is outstripping demand. Farmers are dependent on price supports from the government to avoid losing money on their harvest. On the plus side, consumers will likely see a price decrease in peanut butter, which had increased in price by 25% since 2011, in the coming year.
- In last Tuesday's election, California did not pass Proposition 37, which would have mandated labeling of genetically-modified ingredients on some food packaging. Tom Philpott has a lengthy piece in Mother Jones exploring the consequences of the Proposition's defeat. He wonders if the fall of Prop 37 indicates a loss for the food movement as a whole. The Proposition was fought heavily by corporations, which raised over $45 million for advertising and lobbying again the law. Supporters only managed to raise about $8 million.
- In October, McDonald's global sales fell by about 2%. This decrease represents the company's first same-store sales loss in 9 years. Company executies chalk the loss up to decreasing customer demand and the state of the global economy. They are hoping to use menu initiatives like the Dollar Menu and their Monopoly promotion to boost interest and sales. McDonald's operates over 35,000 restaurants across the world.
- Fonterra is the fourth-largest dairy company in the world. Based out of New Zealand, the co-operative dairy has 10,500 farmer-owners and brings in over $16 billion a year in revenue. The company made news this week by announcing that they are accepting investments from non-farmers for the first time. They are raising capital to keep the company competitive in the dairy market, and to combat sales losses in some countries due to health concerns about dairy.
- A scientist at Tokyo University has used advanced gene sequencing to identify ways to keep farmed fish healthier. Japan is a huge consumer of fish, but farmed fish can be highly susceptible to disease. Takashi Sakamoto has discovered gene "signposts" that indicate a specific fish's resistance to disease. Farmers can then use traditional breeding techniques to raise particularly hearty fish. This approach uses genetic technology without genetically-engineering fish, thereby avoiding the highly controversial topic of GE fish farming.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.