Wednesday, June 08, 2011

USDA Spending $10 Million to Promote Farmers' Markets in Michelle Obama's 'Food Deserts'

The heading above is as it appears on the blurb below. It is very precisely worded. It omits any claim that there ARE any food deserts. It just refers to places that are claimed by Mrs Obama to be food deserts. The entire concept of food deserts is just another bit of Leftist mythology that had being dying out until Mrs O revived it.

In urban areas people can always buy food somewhere near where they live -- though not perhaps food approved of by the elites. Even fruit and vegetables are more available than is sometimes claimed. When a particular "food desert" is closely examined, it will usually be found to have small shops run by Koreans, Indians, Hispanics etc that do sell the fruits and vegetables that are in demand among their clientele.

Mrs O, however, seems to have transmogrified the concept of a food desert into the absence of a supermarket, showing a grasp of reality that is every bit as shallow as her husband's. I guess we shouldn't laugh. The idea that supermarkets are a source of fresh food is just supermarket propaganda. Some fruits and vegetables keep well in cold storage and apples (for instance) on sale in a supermarket can be a year or so old!

The U.S Agriculture Department is offering $10 million in grants -- twice as much as last year -- to promote farmer's markets, roadside stands and other healthy food outlets across the country.

The priority this year is to bring fresh food to people living in rural and urban "food deserts," a concept advanced by First Lady Michelle Obama. Food deserts are defined as areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food, particularly those composed of predominantly lower-income neighborhoods and communities.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced the availability of the taxpayer-funded farmers' market grants last Friday, at the opening of the 2011 USDA Farmer's Market in Washington.

The Farmers' Market Promotion Program [3] (FMPP) funds projects that "contribute to the economic and physical health of communities around the country," the USDA says. The goal is to “increase domestic consumption of agricultural commodities” by improving and expanding farmers markets, or creating new ones.

Merrigan singled out a small farmers' market in Cleveland, Mississippi, which is using an FMPP grant to develop a market on two donated acres.

"The project is also teaching students production skills and entrepreneurship, and providing community members with freezing, canning, and pickling techniques to preserve the harvest for year-round healthy eating," the USDA said. "Upgrades to market equipment and promotions supported by FMPP, along with increased production, have drawn in more vendors (up 57 percent), more customers (up 44 percent), and expanded the market season on both ends (spring and fall)."

Last year, Michelle Obama called on Congress to create a $400 million-a-year program to encourage the establishment of supermarkets in places she called “food deserts.” As previously reported, Mrs. Obama -- in a March 10, 2010 speech -- described food deserts as areas without a supermarket where "families wind up buying their groceries at the local gas station or convenience store, places that offer few, if any, healthy options.”

She gave the speech one month after launching her "Let's Move" campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States.

The Farmers Market Promotion Program was created during the George W. Bush administration, through a 2002 amendment to a 1976 law. But this year's focus on "food deserts" is new.

The USDA says a total of $14.5 million in grants was awarded for the Farmers Market Promotion Program between 2006 and 2009. Approximately $5 million was allocated for 81 grants in Fiscal Year 2010, while $10 million has been allocated for each of Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012.

The money is to be spent on the marketing and promotion of farmers markets; consumer education and outreach; equipment purchase; transportation and delivery; training farmers in business planning and record-keeping; or waste management and "green technologies."

The application process to obtain an FMPP grant "takes energy and organization," the USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service says. In fact, the guidelines explaining how to apply for an FMPP grant total 43 pages.


An apple a day keeps the doctor away... as long as you eat the peel

And if you are a mouse or a fruit fly

An apple a day really could keep the doctor away – as long as you don’t throw away the peel. The chemical behind the apple skin’s waxy shine is being credited with a host of health benefits from building muscle to keeping the lid on weight.

Ursolic acid also keeps cholesterol and blood sugar under control, meaning an apple a day could do wonders for all-round health.

Researcher Christopher Adams said: ‘Ursolic acid is an interesting natural compound. It’s part of a normal diet as a component of apple peels. ‘They always say that an apple a day keeps the doctor away…’

The importance of apple peel was discovered after Dr Adams, a U.S. expert in how hormones affect the body, set out to find a drug that stops muscles from wasting, keeping pensioners strong as they age and cutting their risk of hard-to-heal fractures.

He said: ‘Muscle wasting is a frequent companion of illness and ageing. ‘It prolongs hospitalisation, delays recoveries and in some cases prevents people from going back home. It isn’t well understood and there’s no medicine for it.’

In order to remedy the situation, Dr Adams, of the University of Iowa, studied the genetic changes that occur when muscles waste or atrophy. He checked a pool of 1,300 chemicals for one that would counter the changes – and hit on ursolic acid.

The researcher then supplemented a normal diet in mice with small amounts of the compound and subjected them to a battery of health tests. The creatures’ muscles got bigger and their grip became stronger.

The benefits didn’t end there. The mice fed the apple peel chemical had lower levels of cholesterol and other blood fats blamed for clogging up the arteries and damaging the heart, and had around a third less body fat.

It is thought that ursolic acid enhances the effects of insulin and insulin-like growth factor 1, two hormones key to muscle growth. It is particularly concentrated in apple peel but is also found in cranberries and prunes and in basil, oregano and thyme.Dr Adams said: ‘We know that if you eat a balanced diet like mom told us to eat you get this material. People who eat junk food don’t get this.’

He added that the goal is to establish whether apple peel is as good for humans as it is for mice – and work out how many apples we might need to help make muscles bulge and waistlines shrink.

If large amounts of ursolic acid are required, it is likely that people will have to take it in concentrated form, either as a supplement or a drug.

Reporting his findings in the journal Cell Metabolism, Dr Adams said: ‘Given the current lack of therapies for muscle atrophy, we speculate that ursolic acid might be investigated as a potential therapy for illness-related and age-related muscle atrophy.’ Obesity and diabetes might also be in its grasp, he added.

Other recent research has credited an apple a day with keeping the undertaker away – at least in flies. Fruit flies given an apple extract lived 10 per cent longer and found it easier to walk, climb and move about as they aged.

Researchers who questioned women about their diets found that those who regularly ate apples were around 20 per cent less likely to suffer heart attacks and strokes.


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