Crops rotting in the field: How the immigration debate is keeping food off the table

By Max Johnston

Farms across the Midwestern United States are being forced to shut down and in some cases leave crops rotting in the field because farmers can’t fill open jobs.

According to one story, asparagus growers in Michigan lost over a million pounds of product in 2013 alone, due to labor shortages.

Stephanie Mercier is a principal at Agricultural Perspectives, a Washington DC-based consulting firm. She says that immigration laws are preventing Midwestern farmers from filling jobs, and that’s keeping food off the table.

In the immigration debate, voices from southern states like California, Nevada and Texas are often the loudest. But Midwestern farmers also rely on immigrant labor and have entirely different labor needs.

The problem? No one seems to be listening.

We talked about Midwestern crops, President Trump’s immigration plan and much more.

Listen to that interview here.


Could Great Lakes fungi and Cheerios lead to cancer cure?

cheeriosBy Jack Nissen

A cure to childhood cancer may be hidden in fungus discovered at the bottom of the Great Lakes and nurtured on Cheerios.

While the breakfast cereal came from Walmart, the fungi were found in the Midwest’s own backyard: the bottom of the Great Lakes—which until recently have been hardly touched in the world of fungal research. Continue reading Could Great Lakes fungi and Cheerios lead to cancer cure?

Inland Valley Swamp Farming in Sierra Leone

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By Gloria Nzeka

In countries like Sierra Leone in Africa, there are essentially two seasons: the wet season and the dry season.

This makes farming difficult. But something called ‘Inland Valley Swamp Farming’ may help.

Reporter Gloria Nzeka caught up with Sahr Joseph Kaifineh from Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security to talk about IVS Farming.

Listen to that interview here.

Improving Stevia’s taste and production

By Gloria Nzeka

Most know Stevia as a sweetener for their coffee or tea, but there is a complex agricultural operation behind the tiny packets.

Michigan State University just received a 3 million dollar grant to improve the taste of Stevia and help farmers produce it in the US.

Reporter Gloria Nzeka caught up with Ryan Warner, a professor in The Department of Horticulture at MSU, to talk about Stevia and the University’s research.

Listen to that interview here.

Structural Racism Present in the US Food System

By Max Johnston

Critics argue that structural racism exists in the American criminal justice system, politics and education.

Rich Pirog, the director of The Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, says that the US food system has structural racism as well.

For the past two years, Pirog and his colleagues have collected articles, studies and journals for an annotated bibliography on the issue.

Pirog talked to The Food Fix about the origins of this structural racism, new efforts to address it and much more.

Listen to that interview here.