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Three New(ish) Resources: USDA Food Compass, Seedstock biz news & AGree news feed

March 20, 2012
by Melanie Cheng

Anyone in the industry knows the sustainable food movement is vast.  Hundreds of thousands of organizations, initiatives, businesses, nonprofits and individuals all play a part.  There’s no way to follow everything going on at any given time.

Luckily, three new resources have popped up in the past year that are helping to organize the mass influx of information:

USDA’s Food Compass

Part of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (KYF-KYF) initiative, the Food Compass is comprised of two main components: 1) a map of all the projects the USDA KYF-KYF has funded in the US, and 2) an 80-page PDF document that summarizes much of the online content with links to view videos, etc.  Oran Hesterman, CEO of the Fair Food Network, says the Food Compass highlights the many projects “that have potential to help shape our food system into one that is more economically viable for small and mid-size farmers and more ecologically sound for us all.”

The new Food Compass is visually quite pretty, although the info architecture is still pretty basic.  Nonetheless, it’s a great first step for the USDA to share more of its valuable information through handy, easy-to-use tools.

Seedstock

Seedstock is a quality news blog that focuses on food systems startups, entrepreneurship, technology, urban agriculture, news and research.  To me, what sets them apart is that they are (viable) business-minded and care about the accuracy of their writing.

For their coverage of FarmsReach‘s new direction, it was the first time in all our interviews that they actually checked the facts with other stakeholders working directly and indirectly with us, and they had us verify they understood the important details.  So many sustainable ag articles in national pubs, even in The New York Times, have gotten many basic facts wrong about how the industry works.  Seedstock’s attention to detail is a refreshing change.  Subscribe to their weekly news digest.  ps Its founder’s family has been farming and studying agriculture at Cornell since the early 1800s.

AGree

Slick and controversial, AGree is “a bold new initiative designed to tackle long-term agricultural, food and rural policy issues.”  It’s funded by some large foundations: Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation.

As Marion Nestle advises, “let’s wish the AGree leaders luck and give them a chance to see what they can do.”  For me, I think they’re a valuable news compiler across many sources – mainly re: policy but sometimes outside of that.  You can subscribe to the news feed from their Issues page.

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