Local food generates both widespread interest and economic activity around Wisconsin. Many residents purchase food at farmers' markets, receive community-supported agriculture shares and/or grow their own produce in personal and community gardens. Restaurants and grocery stores are increasingly sourcing homegrown foods as well, and marketing them to consumers seeking local flavors. Scientists and educators are likewise turning their attention to the concept of local food, exploring its benefits and challenges — and Wisconsinites' complex attitudes about it.More
Overt expressions of hatred along lines of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, sexuality and gender identity surged across the United States during the campaign and following the election of President Donald Trump. While American society has long grappled with discrimination and systemic disparities, attacks on immigrants, Muslims and others have emboldened organized hate groups and bigoted individuals. Wisconsinites have experienced the reemergence of public hate in a variety of forms, in places around the state. Amid this wave of incidents, various educators, elected officials and community groups have continued to push for tolerance and communication in a state that has a long history of immigration and continues to grow more diverse.More
Rural Wisconsin faces a broad array of economic challenges. Many communities are experiencing a decrease in population and struggling to retain young people and attract newcomers. As the workforce ages, additional factors including limited infrastructure, agricultural and manufacturing business woes, and the dictates of distance and cost can combine to frustrate entrepreneurial and job opportunities. At the same time, the distinct attributes of rural areas can encourage economic development, and both public and private efforts to revitalize individual communities and broader regions are being pursued around the state. One particularly notable element is access to broadband internet, which is sparse in many rural areas but has the potential to be transformational for both work and lifestyle. Rural Wisconsin's economy is changing, but its future course has yet to be charted.More
Brown marmorated stink bug
The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive species in the United States, arriving from Asia in the late 1990s. It has damaged tens of millions of dollars of apples and other crops in eastern states, and struck Michigan in the 2015 growing season. Wisconsin might be next. The insect hasn't yet started preying on crops here, but it has established a breeding population in the state, and it's known to eat many of the things Wisconsin farmers grow — especially apples. However, entomologists are researching the bug's behavior and how to control it.More
A holiday dinner staple across the United States, cranberries are one of Wisconsin's signature agricultural products. The state's cranberry industry produces over half the world's supply of this tart and tiny fruit, generating nearly $1 billion in annual revenue. Wisconsin currently exports 35 percent of its cranberry yield, which has grown tenfold since the beginning of the 20th century. But an uptick in international production and abundant harvests in recent years have added financial stress on Wisconsin's producers, and falling cranberry prices have forced some growers out of the industry. At the same time, scientists are experimenting to expand the variety of cranberries available, and the industry is exploring new markets abroad.More