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#foodbeast Culture Fast Food Hit-Or-Miss News

“Potato Cartel” Forced Unsuspecting Americans To Pay Higher Prices For Fries

If you’ve ever eaten a potato in any form over the least decade—whether it’s French fried, baked, mashed, or roasted, then you’ve likely paid way too much, albeit unknowingly. Yes, those coveted fast food fries you’ve been eating multiple times a week should have cost you much less than you have been paying.

According to a study done by California State University—Northridge business law professor Melanie Williams, potato farmers across the United States from 2004-2012 formed a collective, limiting their yearly potato crop output, which indirectly raised the price of potato related food consumed by the general public.

Simply put, because America’s potato farmers decided to limit the land they would use to grow potatoes, the market price for their product would rise in accordance to the laws of supply & demand. That means those McDonald’s fries are more expensive because the people that sell their potatoes to McDonald’s is charging them more–the trickle down effect in perfect play here.

Just how much more expensive were we paying for potatoes? Williams’ research indicates that the wholesale price for our beloved spuds inflated between 24% to a ridiculous 49% between 2004-2012.

Because of certain exemptions granted by a federal law in the 1920s, agricultural associations such as the so-called “Potato Cartel” were allowed to control how much farmland they decide to use. Their decision to produce less hurts consumers by driving prices up. What’s more, the lack of regulation creates a legal grey area surrounding the practice and could haunt consumers again in the future.

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Technology

Japan Created The World’s First Robot Farm And Here’s What It Can Do

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Japan is really pushing forward with robotics. First, we got the pancake flipper, then the Sushi Robot and now a farm that’s fully operated by automatons will soon make its debut.

Tech Insider reports that Spread, a lettuce production company, will have a farm that only hires robots to harvest lettuce. About 30,000 heads of lettuce will be ready for shipment every day, reportedly. That’s nearly 11 million a year.

The machines, however, will be more like conveyor belts with arms attached than the cybernetic farmers we were picturing in our heads. Ah well, it’s probably for the best.

Scheduled to open in 2017, Spread’s Kameoka Plant will increase productivity. The robotic farm will also reduce labor costs by 50 percent, cut energy consumption by 30 percent and use 98 percent recycled water for the crops.

All these benefits will potentially lower costs for consumers, said a spokesperson for Spread.

Spread’s robotic farm is set to open sometime next year.

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Hit-Or-Miss

Amazing Flowering Tree Produces 40 Different Kinds of Fruit

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Welcome to the Garden of Eden, circa 2014.

Having grown up on a farm in Reading, Pa., New York artist Sam Van Aken has spent the past five years planting veritable Trees of Life all over the United States. Officially called Trees of 40 Fruit, these bountiful timbers are capable of growing forty different varieties of stone fruits including cherries, plums, apricots, and peaches, all on a single tree.

Working with the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Aken used a process called chip grafting to map the different fruits to different parts of the tree, depending on how they would bloom in relation to one another. According to Epicurious, each Tree of 40 Fruit looks normal through most of the year, but bloom in spring and summer to produce vibrantly pink-hued flowers and fruits.

So far, Aken has planted 16 Trees of 40 Fruit in public spaces like museums and community centers as well as private collections throughout the U.S. His ultimate goal is to plant a small orchard of them in an urban setting. Just watch out for snakes.

Picthx Epicurious

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Hit-Or-Miss

Pentagon Shaped Oranges are a Thing

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First Japan decided to make heart shaped watermelons now they’re producing pentagon shaped oranges. I’m beginning to think they’re not fans of round fruits.

These particular citrus fruits are known as “iyokan” or Japanese Summer Oranges and they don’t usually have five sides. Farmers have been trying to turn their pentagon orange dreams into reality for quite a few years and with the inevitable success of these pentafruits the farmers are already planning to sell a limited batches at local events.

The fruits achieve their five sided shape through the help of molds that are placed around the oranges while they’re young. As the fruit continues to grow, it takes on and maintains the shape of the form, in this case, a pentagon. Creating these specialty oranges does take up a lot of time, but how well they sell could determine if the farmers continue producing these five sided fruits.

H/T + PicThx That’s Nerdalicious

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Hit-Or-Miss

Elderly Farmer Ordered to Pay Monsanto $84,000 for Planting Unlabeled Monsanto Soybeans

Bizcourt-articleLarge

Pro tip: If you’re an elderly small-time soybean farmer, make sure you’re really, really careful not to piss off huge GMO-based companies like Monsanto. That’s a lesson that 76-year-old Indiana farmer Vernon Bowman probably wishes he’d learned before a lawsuit from Monsanto went all the way to the Supreme Court, where Bowman was ordered to pay Monsanto $84,000 in damages for planting patented soybeans.

The whole thing started with a single batch of Monsanto’s patented pesticide-resistant soybeans. Monsanto sells the soybeans to farmers with the agreement that second-generation seeds will be destroyed and not used for re-planting purposes, forcing farmers to buy a new batch of seed every year in exchange for hardier crops. Bowman raised a crop of Monsanto soybeans early in the growing season, but decided that he didn’t want to shell out for expensive seed to plant a risky second crop later in the season. Instead, Bowman purchased a load of unlabeled seed from a warehouse, hoping that some of the seeds would happen to contain the Monsanto gene. The crop was a success, so Bowman harvested the seeds and used them to plant subsequent crops. Monsanto viewed this as a violation of patent law and sued the pants off Bowman.

Now, after five years of costly soybean-based litigation, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Monsanto and Bowman owes Monsanto $84,000 in damages. That might not be a lot of money for Monsanto — especially since they control over 90% of the genetically modified seed market — but it’s a major blow to Bowman.

H/T NPR + PicThnx NYT

Categories
Technology

UK Dating Site ‘Muddy Matches’ is for Farmers Who Don’t Mind Getting Dirty

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Looks like lonely British farmers won’t have to rely on their livestock for companionship anymore — not with the growing success of dating site “Muddy Matches,” which caters exclusively to farmers who don’t mind getting a little dirty. The rustic dating service is the brainchild of Lucy and Emma Reeves, two English sisters who were less than satisfied with the dating pool in their local farming communities. They hatched the idea of a dating website focused solely on agriculturally-minded UK citizens in 2007, and now Muddy Matches is “the UK’s premier farmer dating site.”

In an interview with Modern Farmer, the sisters revealed that the site’s typical user:

1. Is up front about their hobbies and interests, “Loads of blokes will put up pictures of themselves with tractors and diggers [and] dogs first, then horses and cats, then livestock.”

2. Knows how to rock a fashionable farming look, “I wouldn’t be comfortable putting up a picture of myself in a tweed jacket on a normal dating site. It’s easier when you’re showing yourself to like-minded people.”

3. Is very technologically savvy, “I don’t know any farmer who isn’t online these days […] we have a lot of problems getting broadband in the countryside — but everyone’s connected.”

Sounds like a pool full of winning candidates to us. The only snag we see is the fact that the sisters who founded the site (aka the posterchildren for lovelorn rustics) don’t use their own dating service, “We both met our other halves on dating site . . . just not our own.” We really can’t imagine why.

H/T + PicThx to Modern Farmer 

Categories
Technology

Farming with Drones the Next Biggest U.S. Robot Market?

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Farmers are looking into the possibility of utilizing plane drones to spray crops, scan soil patterns and perform other tasks on American farms.

As the country’s contentious use of drones continues, the Department of Defense moves on to newer UAV models and the question of what to do with older versions arises. While NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly stated that the NYPD is exploring the option of drones, major farming companies have also shown an interest.

“A manned crop sprayer is flying 10 feet above his crops — how accurate is it? Any crop you spray that isn’t on your farm you have to pay for, and a remote-controlled ‘copter can be very precise,” says Chris Mailey, vice president of the drone promotion organization named AUVSI. “Spraying, watering — there’s a whole market for precision agriculture, and when you put that cost-benefit together, farmers will buy [drones].”

The possibility of drone farm use will inevitably depend on how manufacturers of these unmanned robots tailor pricing for farmers, the latter who have a laundry list of other expensive equipment needed to maintain their crops.

H/T + PicThx Animal