Local food and human health topped Friday¹s conference agenda

Local food and human health topped Friday’s conference agenda From press reports

Despite storm warnings March 2, all speakers and exhibitors were on hand for the 5th Annual Saving Rural America Conference at Louisville’s city coliseum.
Unexpected benefits of the lighter-than-hoped-for attendance were that everyone could hear the 5 panels on food quality and food policy.  
Presentation highlights include:  Alcorn’s Dr. Mattie Rasco discussing research on the health effects of pesticides (such as endocrine/hormonal disruption and decreases in neurodevelopment) and the nutritional benefits of fresh, whole foods grown in strong soils; County Extension Director Mike Skipper’s underlining of homegrown crops that help with chronic disease; the possible impact of genetic modification on the animals (including humans) that eat the altered proteins in corn, soybeans and other GM crops; grower production benefits and increasing market demand for free-range and grass-fed livestock and poultry; safety needs for fresh milk from local or home producers; and recent happenings in Mississippi food policy and farm to school activities.
Attendees enjoyed a homegrown, homemade soup of sausage (Sansing meats), collard greens (Thomas Coleman), beans (Louisiana grown) and mineral-rich bone broth (local beef and venison) plus delicious MSU butter on whole grain, sourdough French bread from Kelley Black and peach cobbler from the Red Onion Restaurant.  Left-over soup and bread were donated to a local care home and the detention facility.  
Three high school teams and a youth group exhibited on milk (2 exhibits), eggs and healthy food from strong soils.  The free-range egg exhibit done by  Health Science II class at the vocational center won with the most ‘quarter votes’.   
“A big thank you to Mrs. Penny Wells, teacher, and Mrs. Jean Harper, coordinator of the youth group,” stated organizers.
Sustainable agriculture network forming in Mississippi
At Louisville’s 5th Annual Saving Rural America Conference on March 2-3, attendees heard Daniel Doyle, Executive Director of Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of Mississippi, announce a new effort to link Mississippi farmers who grow, or want to grow, food using sustainable methods (organic or simply low-input natural).  
As demand for local and healthy food increases and costs of fertilizer and agricultural chemicals also increase, farmers will benefit from supportive interaction with each other.  Good food, and especially local grown food, is cooperative, not competitive.  The proposed Sustainable Agriculture Network will link growers for both learning and marketing purposes.  
The healing power of real food
Can fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and grass-fed meats be therapeutic for multiple sclerosis?  Why are Americans having an explosion of allergic reactions to the foods we eat and epidemic rises in obesity and chronic disease?  
Attendees at the 5th Annual Saving Rural America Conference saw 2 video clips that point toward the healing power of whole foods and concerns about how the U.S. food supply has changed in recent decades, especially since the mid-1990’s.
You can access these short videos online by searching for “Terry Wahls, MD, TEDxIowaCity” and “Robyn Obrien TEDxManhattan”.  
Conference attendees heard why understanding issues of food quality is the best support for returning small farmers and food producers to rural communities across America.