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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Call for Applications: 2015 Richardson-Applebaum Scholarship Award

For Outstanding Research on Food Distribution and Marketing

The Food Distribution Research Society (FDRS) is pleased to accept applications for the 2015 Richardson-Applebaum Scholarship Award, which is awarded annually for outstanding student research in the area of food distribution and marketing. Broadly defined, this area encompasses all economic functions that occur between the farm gate and final consumer.

The competition is open to all graduate students with scholarly interest and career aspirations in the food distribution system who have completed the degree in 2014 or by May, 2015.

·         Cash stipends of:
o    $1,250 for the best PhD Dissertation
o    $750 for the best MS Thesis
o    $750 for the best MS Case Study or Research Paper
·         Complementary student membership to FDRS
·         Complementary conference registration fees and recognition at the 2015 FDRS Annual
Conference scheduled for October 9-14, 2015 in Philadelphia, PA. The recipients’ domestic travel expenses will also be paid by the society.
·         The PhD recipient is invited to present his/her research at the conference.

To apply submit the following electronically at

·         Cover letter
·         A brief synopsis of academic training, career interests, career goals and objectives, and a description of any food industry experience and/or research experience
·         Name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail of the applicant
·         A copy of the dissertation/thesis/case study
·         A letter of recommendation from the academic advisor

Please visit the FDRS website at: or contact FDRS’s Vice President for Education: Dr. Alba Collart at

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Member in the News: Ben Campbell

People Still Don’t Know the Difference Between “Organic” and “Local”


'Organic' vs 'local', the saga continues

Fresh produce is displayed at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market 
on March 27, 2014 in San Francisco. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images
Food Prices Expected To Rise Significantly In 2014
It’s no secret that the organic food market is ever-growing. Organic food hit $28.4 billion in sales last year, and the Nutrition Business Journal reports that organic food products will reach and estimated $35 billion in 2014. Yet despite the popularity of “local” and “organic,” Americans are still very confused about what those words mean, according to a recent study published in the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review.
A team of researchers surveyed consumers across the U.S. and Canada and discovered that 17% of the people they spoke with incorrectly believed that foods labelled “organic” were also grown locally. Another 23% falsely believe that local produce is grown organically. Researches also found that 40% of consumers think “organic” food is more nutritious than conventional food, while 29% believe that “local” products are more nutritious than their imported equivalents.
But when you scrutinize the laws governing what food companies can and cannot say on labels, it becomes obvious why consumers are so confused. Words like “all natural” and even “free range” are not easily (or often) policed, and many words used on so-called health foods have no legal definition enforceable by the Food and Drug Administration or the Federal Trade Commission.

So, what’s organic?
“Organic” is more straightforward, from a legal perspective, but most consumers likely do not know that. To be labelled organic, a producer must abide by a stringent set of government standards. The USDA qualifies produce as organic if no synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or genetically modified organisms (GMO) are used. Pest control and crop nutrients must be managed through natural physical, mechanical and biological controls. And when producing organic meat, eggs and dairy, for instance, farmers must provide non-GMO livestock with year-round outdoor access. They are also prohibited from using growth hormones or antibiotics. The U.S. and Canada follow fairly similar organic guidelines, said the study.

And what’s local?
“Local,” meanwhile, is murky. A 2010 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated that “though ‘local’ has a geographic connotation, there is no consensus on a definition in terms of the distance between production and consumption.” This despite a provision in the 2008 Farm Act, that stated, in part, that any food labeled “local” must be produced in the “locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product.”
To put the distance in perspective, a drive from Washington, D.C., to Boston is about 400 miles, which means “local” is not necessarily close-by. Many states have limited “local” to mean produced within the state, and some retailers and restaurants have their own definitions. Many farm-to-table restaurants, for example, only serve food from within a 100-mile radius.

And are they healthier?
For the health-conscious, organic food is probably better for you—but not necessarily because of traditional nutrition measures. A 2012 study conducted by Stanford’s Center for Health Policy concluded that organic produce is not more nutrition-dense than its generic counterparts. However, the research was widely panned for taking a narrow view of nutrition. Counterarguments insisted that food grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides—which is to say organic—are by definition healthier choices.

As for the 29% of consumer who believe local food is more nutritious, they may be right. Most nutrients begin to degrade the moment a fresh piece of produce is picked, so the sooner it gets to you the better. Many studies have shown that a peach or berry picked closer to ripeness is more nutritious than a fruit—organic or not—picked before or after its peak of ripeness.

The bottom line
Both organic and local are good healthy options, but knowing the difference is important—especially when you consider the cost that can be attached to both.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Member Blog: Jayson Lusk

Food Demand Survey (FooDS)

The latest edition of the Food Demand Survey (FooDS) is now out.

We saw falls in consumer willingness-to-pay (WTP) for beef and pork products this month, and a slight uptick in WTP for chicken.  Expected prices and spending patterns remained similar to last month.

Concern for all food issues rose, notably for bird flu and swine flu.  Consumers noticed fewer stories about GMOs in the news this month compared to last.

We also added three new ad hoc questions this month.

The first question asked: “Do you support or oppose the following government policies?”
86.5% of respondents support mandatory country of origin labels for meat. A large majority (82%) support mandatory labels on GMOs, but curiously about the same amount (80%) also support mandatory labels on foods containing DNA. The least popular policies were bans on transfats, bans on sales of marijuana, and a tax on sugared sodas. Only about 39% of respondents supported a sugared soda tax.

Secondly, participants were asked “Did you read any books about food and agriculture in the past year?”   Just over 16% of participants stated that they had read a book related to food and agriculture in the past year.  About 81% answered “No”, and 3% answered “I don’t know”.

Those who answered “Yes” were asked: “What is the title of the most recent book you read about food and agriculture?” The vast majority of responses were of the form “I don’t remember” or “cannot recall”. Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., and Omnivore’s Dilemma were each mentioned about three times. The Farmer’s Almanac and Skinny Bitch were mentioned twice. One respondent mentioned the bible.

View all of Jayson Lusk's Blog Posts on his site

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Call for papers: Re-assessing rural areas & Approaching the challenges for new “ruralities”

Global Growth Agendas: Regions, Institutions and Sustainability

May 24-27, 2015
Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza, Italy
Rural areas are at times assumed to be characterized by low distribution income and low levels of social and economic capital. This lagging condition was due to a multitude of constraints to development: poor economic potential, isolation, absence of agglomeration economies and creativity. In addition, many scholars thought that these areas were only reservoir of natural resources or specialized only in traditional agricultural activities. 
At present, these areas are facing severe pressure: urban sprawl and secondary and tertiary sectors restructuring promote their evident transformation into new territories with untraditional
In fact, these changes are not only economic, but also define social and environmental variations; at the same time, the reaction to these changes is not identical for all rural areas. 
“Rural” area is now a succession of full and empty spaces, marginal and rehabilitated areas, from the apparent concentration of population and economic activities or disorderly dispersion of settlements, sometimes abandoned. It has a variety of landscapes, such as small urban areas and cities, forests, farms, greenfield sites, concentrations of industrial crops. It has also a social structure and relationship that is not based on the most typical values of rural society and an economic structure based not only on agriculture. 
Rural areas are facing their traditional isolation, weakness and vulnerability in new ways. 
This session would like to invite to critically debate about all these changes. Assumptions concerning transformations on socio-cultural, environmental and economic realities will be analyzed in order to identify their impacts on rural characteristics and their possible resurgence and dynamism. In addition, government and promotion choices about these changes will be studied. The session tried to bring together papers from a range of discipline, such as regional and rural economics, environmental and social studies. 
If you need any information about it, please feel free to contact Valentina Cattivelli (chairman)
If you are interested in participating in the session should submit your abstract to the session
organizer. Once your abstract has been accepted you can then register for the conference here: