Talking about sugar in South Florida is like talking about politics and religion in polite company. Few people are without strong opinions about the sugarcane farms stretching across the eastern Everglades south of Lake Okeechobee. The industry is a mix of government price policies, environmental regulations, trade practices and the demand for food.
It's not been a good year for Florida's citrus industry. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that, for the second year running, the orange crop is expected to be almost 10 percent lower than the previous year.
The culprit is citrus greening, a disease that has devastated Florida's oranges and grapefruits, and has now begun to spread in Texas and California.
Click play to hear Tom Hudson host this episode of WLRN's ongoing radio and online series, The Sunshine Economy, airing Mondays at 9:00 a.m. on WLRN 91.3 FM.
Squeezed between South Florida's neighborhoods and the Everglades is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. Tomatoes, beans and avocados all sprout from the rocky South Florida soil along with one of the largest nursery industries growing trees, shrubs and other landscaping plants.
Agriculture generates a direct $700 million dollars a year in Miami-Dade County alone. The economic impact of the plowing, growing and picking of those crops is much larger.
Beef from cattle that have grazed only on pasture is in high demand — much to the surprise of many meat retailers, who didn't traditionally think of grass-fed beef as top-quality.
George Siemon, a founder of Organic Valley, the big organic food supplier, says the push for grass-fed beef started with activists who wanted to challenge a beef industry dominated by factory-scale feedlots. In those feedlots, cattle are fed a corn-heavy diet designed to make the animals gain weight as quickly as possible.
Miami-Dade County commissioners on Wednesday opened the door to more warehouses and offices west of Doral, agreeing to expand the Urban Development Boundary to include a 521 acre-chunk already surrounding by buildings.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 3:03 pm
From vacant lots to vertical "pinkhouses," urban farmers are scouring cities for spaces to grow food. But their options vary widely from place to place.
While farmers in post-industrial cities like Detroit and Cleveland are claiming unused land for cultivation, in New York and Chicago, land comes at a high premium. That's why farmers there are increasingly eyeing spaces that they might not have to wrestle from developers: rooftops that are already green.
With its pleasant climate, Florida has become home to more exotic and invasive species of plants and animals than any other state in the continental U.S. Some invasive species have been brought in deliberately, such as the Burmese python or the Cuban brown snail. But the majority of species are imported inadvertently as cargo.
Amanda Hodges, who heads the biosecurity research lab at the University of Florida, says that until recently, scientists saw about a dozen new bugs arrive in Florida each year.
Will stopping Mexican tomatoes at the border raise tomato prices prohibitively for American consumers?
An importers group predicted recently that if the 1996 tomato agreement with Mexico is terminated, tomatoes could rise to $5 a pound in American supermarkets. Florida growers now say that's a scare tactic by interest groups who favor Mexican imports. "Under no circumstances will this be true," said Edward Beckman, president of Certified Greenhouse Farmers.
Half of all tomatoes eaten in the U.S. come from Mexico, and tomato growers in Florida aren't happy about that. In fact, they're willing to risk a trade war to reverse the trend.
At JC Distributing In Nogales, Ariz., one misstep and you're likely to get knocked over by a pallet full of produce. Forklifts crisscross each other carrying peppers, squash and especially tomatoes from trucks backed into the warehouse loading dock.
"This is a Mexican truck being unloaded," says JC President Jaime Chamberlain. "He's just waiting for his paperwork to get back."
If you're one of those people who vigilantly checks the ingredient list of the things you buy at the grocery store, you may have already seen this: Some food products now contain something called "evaporated cane juice." It can be found in yogurt, fruit juices and lemonades.
So what exactly is evaporated cane juice? Well, it depends on whom you ask. We spoke with a few folks outside our local grocery store, and many of them were confused. Take a listen: