In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

A roundup of news clippings we're reading that affect the way we eat.

School Lunch Scandal, Chick-fil-A Cuts Antibiotics, and More in Food Policy This Week

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Photograph: kpaulus on Flickr

School Lunch Meat Supplier Temporarily Shut Down

Central Valley Meat Co. is a meat supplier for federal school breakfast and lunch programs. Last week, it was shut down for three days due to unsanitary factory conditions. The Haverford, CA-based company has a history of shutdowns and recalls. In October, the company recalled more than 89,000 pounds of beef that they feared contained small pieces of plastic. And in 2012, the factory shut down for a week after an animal rights group leaked videos of workers abusing animals in the facility. In 2011, Central Valley Meat Co. provided nearly 21 million pounds of beef for federal nutrition programs, nearly 16% of the programs' supply.

Dairy Farmers Struggle to Feed Animals Amidst California Drought

Farmers are starting to feel the impacts of California's ongoing drought, the worst since the state began recording droughts in 1849. The dairy and meat industries are feeling significant effects, particularly organic farmers, who are having trouble finding affordable organic feed for grass-fed or pastured animals. Consumers in California can expect more expensive organic meat and milk as temperatures continue to rise, though farmer are unlikely to see much profit this season.

Antibiotic-Free Chicken Gains Popularity in Meat Industry

Regulations to control antibiotic use in the meat industry have been proposed and stalled repeatedly in the last five years. But that doesn't mean consumers have backed down in their desire for antibiotic-free meat— and the industry is listening. Both Perdue and Tyson have come out with lines of antibiotic-free chicken. And recently, Chick-fil-A announced it would source only antibiotic-free chicken within five years. Right now, antibiotic-free meat only comprises 9% of the chicken industry. But insiders think this market segment is growing quickly. For more details on what it means for the industry to transition to antibiotic-free, check out this article from The Salt.

New Research Shows Economic Impact of Local Food Sales

Researchers at Penn State recently released data showing that small farms selling local through farmer's markets and CSAs can generate economic growth for their communities. This may seem like an insignificant finding. But local food advocates have long struggled to prove that shopping local can have a significant economic as well as environmental impact. This study shows that local farm sales have measurable boosting impact on overall agricultural sales, which led to economic growth within the community. That is to say that local food sales don't just replace other forms of agricultural sales—they can actually help grow an agricultural community's economy.

About the Author: Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her other work can be found at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter @leahjdouglas.

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