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A look at bamboo and labeling for fish products

January 20th, 2010 1 comment

Labeling for catfish and seafood products is a no-brainer.
The Mississippi Legislature this year is likely to debate a bill that would require Mississippi restaurants to notify customers of the country of origin of their seafood.
Steve Bosarge of Pascagoula, a commission member and shrimper, said the menu labeling requirement would help shrimpers expand the market for their catch.
It wasn’t so long ago that we were talking about country of origin labeling for catfish not produced in the United States.
We should require restaurants to either have a sign posted stating that the catfish or seafood served there is U.S. farm-raised catfish or, if the restaurant serves imported catfish, it must state on its menu which country the catfish was grown and processed in.
There have been growing concerns over the last couple of years about catfish imported from China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The poor water quality where catfish are grown prompts growers in those countires to use antibiotics in production, but some of those drugs are not approved for use in the United States.
Growers in the United States follow stricter standards than catfish producers in Asia, Whittington said, and U.S. consumers should know what they’re getting when they eat catfish at a restaurant. Grocery stores already are required to label catfish products with country of origin, and we believe that no less should be expected of Mississippi restaurants.
Mississippi catfish growers have taken a huge financial hit from the import of catfish products, according to statistics from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Any bill for labeling protects not only consumers but producers by forcing restaurants to let customers know where they are getting their product.
The bamboo state?
It appears bamboo fields could start popping up all across Mississippi, beginning this spring.
Just a year or so ago, Ed Johnson at the Delta Economic Development Center was touting bamboo as a possible source of income in the Delta.
In a recent conversation with Johnson, he believes the first plants could be in the ground in 8 to 12 weeks.
There are literally thousands of products that can be made from bamboo and while the United States can’t compete with fart east countries on labor costs, Mississippi can win on fuel and shipping costs.
The main markets for bamboo are:
•  Hard goods – flooring, cabinetry, fencing
• Pulp and paper
• Textiles – clothing, bedding, towels
• Bio-mass – bamboo could make an excellent candidate for fuels due to it’s low moisture content, and low ash/chlorine contents.
• Carbon credit opportunities – moso bamboo is the largest carbon sequestering plant in the world
• Eco-tourism – where folks could tour groves of 75 feet tall grasses?
There is still a lot of work to do. However, what appeared to many to be a pipe dream just 15 months ago looks like it is going to become a reality.

Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at ross.reily@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1018.

Avatar takes over as The Blind Side drops to No. 3 at the box office

December 22nd, 2009 Comments off

The new smash hit Avatar is No. 1 at the box office this week.

Amazingly enough, however, two of the top three and three of the top six movies still have strong Mississippi connections.

At No. 2 is The Princess and the Frog. One of the main characters uses the voice of a Jackson girl, Elizabeth Dampier. This isn’t the first professional work for the St. Richard Catholic School student. However, this is her biggest work to this point. We can only hope this is the tip of the iceberg for her.

The Princess and the Frog made more than $12 million last week.

At No. 3 and still chugging along is The Blind Side. The story of former Ole Miss offensive lineman and current Baltimore Raven left tackle Michael Oher has become an international sensation. It is truly inspirational.

It made more than $10 million last week.

At No. 6 is Invictus with Mississippi’s Morgan Freeman, who plays South African president Nelson Mandela.

Freeman, already with an Academy Award to his credit, is getting that Oscar buzz again for this movie with Matt Damon that is labeled as one of the most inspirational films of the decade.

Invictus made more than $4 million last week.

But Avatar, with more than $77 million in box office sales, is the new heavyweight champ.

Avatar, according to reviews, takes us to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where the hero fights to save the alien world he has learned to call home. Sounds like a great action thilller.

Regardless of your choice, if you want to see a movie during the holidays, it appears there will be a good one to check out.

The rest of the top 10 includes:

No. 4: Did You Hear About The Morgans ($6.6 million);

No. 5: The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($4.4 million) ;

No. 6: Invictus ($4.2 million);

No. 7: Disney’s A Christmas Carol ($3.4 million);

No. 8: Up In The Air ($3.2 million);

No. 9: Brothers ($2.8 million);

No. 10: Old Dogs ($2.3 million).

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.