America could be facing a pickle shortage. Since the mid-2000s, a mildew has been destroying cucumber crops. Fewer farmers are growing cucumbers now because of the high amount of failed harvests. USDA records show pickling cucumber acreage has declined 25 percent between 2004 and 2015. Lina Quesada-Ocampo, vegetable pathologist at North Carolina State University told NPR: “This is the number one threat to the pickle industry.” Thankfully, vegetable breeder Michael Mazourek, a professor at Cornell University, is developing a cucumber variety resistant to mildew.
Read more (NPR)
As Australian farmer is converting whey from his family’s sheep’s milk cheesery into vodka. Ryan Hartshorn won Tasmania’s 2017 Young Innovator of the Year for his Hartshorn Distillery’s Sheep Whey Vodka, “believed to be the only vodka made from sheep whey in the world.”
Love letter to sauerkraut. A columnist for the Record Eagle in Michigan praises the fermented cabbage as having “a world of uses” outside of condiments, like used as an acid in dishes in the place of vinegar and lemon. Local MI producer The Brinery is listed as a favorite.
Organic is the fastest growing sector of the food industry, which is boding well for Hawthorne Valley Farm in New York. The 900-acre, organic farm is building a lacto-fermentation operation. Next: forming a fermenter’s guild to share research, best practices and educate the public.
Want to ramp up production? Look up! Silicon Valley startup Plenty Farms scored the largest ag-tech investment in history ($200 million in July) for their inventive farming warehouse. Produce grows upwards in towers under LED lamps.