The next time you’re biting into a perfectly crispy on the outside, steaming hot on the inside french fry, you should know there’s currently a battle raging between potato farmers and the grocers who sell those spuds in all their various forms. There are even claims of espionage, carried out with satellites and aircraft flyovers. Exciting stuff! [More]
Driving safely and avoiding accidents isn’t just common sense — injuries hurt, car wrecks are bad — but also a way to make sure drivers keep their auto insurance premiums down. But according to figures released by a consumer group recently, insurance companies are in the habit of charging higher premium to safe, low- or moderate-income drivers than to richer people who were at fault for an accident. [More]
Recent immigration crackdowns in Georgia have left the agricultural sector with a labor shortage. A big one. An unscientific poll puts the gap as high as 11,000 workers, but plants still have to be harvested. The governor responded to farmers’ complaints with a new program that puts people on probation to work in the fields at minimum wage, with bonuses for high production. This seems like an ideal match: probationers have a higher unemployment rate than the general population, and farmers need people in the fields. It turns out, though, that hard work, hot weather, low pay, and inexperienced workers don’t make for a very bountiful harvest. [More]
Bank of America may have lost this year’s Worst Company In America tournament by the narrowest of margins, but the results of a new customer service satisfaction survey put BofA at the head of the class when it comes to irking consumers. [More]
Ranchers are discovering that one way to get more bang out of their land is to shrink the animals. The Guardian tracks down what looks to be the wave of the future — cows that have been bred to be smaller. The story says mini cows can produce three times more beef than regular-sized cows while using only a third of the land. [More]
In Florida, acres of delicious strawberries are starting to ripen, and… being left to rot and plowed under. Thanks to cold weather at just the right point of the winter growing season, berry crops are so bountiful that it’s more cost-efficient to let the berries rot than it is to pay anyone to pick them. [More]
The FDA has issued a new ruling that says egg producers must “test regularly for salmonella and buy chicks from suppliers who do the same,” and that eggs “will have to be refrigerated on the farm and during shipment” as well as by wholesalers and in the store. The rule is meant to cut down on the number of egg-related salmonella cases nationwide, which currently are around 142,000 a year. [Washington Post] (Photo: Andreas Kollegger)
Monsanto continues its attempts to hide the basic facts of food production from consumers, this time in Kansas. The Kansas Dairy Association, along with a suspicious “grassroots” dairy group that has the same public relations firm as Monsanto, has helped introduce a bill to the state Senate that would ban “growth hormone-free” milk labels. The bill’s supporters argue that growth hormone can’t be found in lab tests, and if a lab can’t verify it, consumers don’t need to be told about it.
Finding the freshest, healthiest, and tastiest produce at a farmer’s market requires asking farmers the right questions:
5. When was this picked? You ideally want fruit and vegetables that were picked one or two days before arriving at the market.
4. Can you recommend a recipe? Farmers usually have creative ideas for turning their produce into delicious meals. Don’t pretend you would know how to prepare Kohlrabi without asking.
To ask Burger King Corporation to pay a penny more a pound for tomatoes to increase workers’ wages is similar to asking shoppers to voluntarily pay a penny more per pound at the grocery store for tomatoes to increase workers’ wages. Both Burger King Corporation and grocery store shoppers have no business relationship with the workers and cannot get the extra penny to them.
Since they don’t want to seem, like, heartless or anything, Burger King has offered to work with the CIW to send human resources folks from BK down to the farm:
We somehow came across this commencement speech given by Odessa Piper, former owner of L’Etoile Restaurant, which she delivered to the graduating class of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It probably isn’t Consumerist in nature — no customer service horror stories, no corporate megalomania, no craven disregard for the well-being of consumers. It’s just a charming and passionate story about how a young woman managed to stick to her principles and, after years of hard work, finally make her green and farmer friendly business into a profitable, highly regarded restaurant.
You may have heard of Starbucks’ CAFE Practices, a program Starbucks is claiming is superior to fair trade. CAFE Practices is described on Starbucks’ website as “guidelines designed to help us work with coffee farmers to ensure high-quality coffee and promote equitable relationships with farmers, workers and communities, as well as protect the environment.”