Why Is the FDA Inspecting So Little Imported Seafood?

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/fda-barely-inspects-imported-seafood

By Mon Oct. 22, 2012

If you eat a lot of fish, likely as not you’re eating something that was raised on a farm and hauled in from thousands of miles away. According to NOAA, we import about 86 percent of the seafood we consume, about half of which comes from from aquaculture. And just because you find it in a gleaming supermarket fish case or on a well-presented restaurant plate doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.

Over at BusinessWeek, there’s a pretty startling piece on the sanitary conditions on some of those farms. In Vietnam, farmed shrimp bound for the US market are kept fresh with heaps of ice made from tap water that teems with pathogenic bacteria, BusinessWeek reports. Tilapia in China’s fish farms, meanwhile, literally feed on pig manure—even though it contains salmonella and makes the tilapia “more susceptible to disease.” Why use hog shit as feed? Simple—it’s cheap, and China’s tilapia farms operate under intense pressure to slash costs and produce as much cheap tilapia as possible.

And, as Wired‘s Maryn McKenna showed in a post earlier this year, harmful bacteria like salmonella aren’t the only potential health problem associated with Asia’s fish and shrimp farms. There’s also the threat of residues from the chemicals farm operators use to control those pathogens. Like US meat farmers, Asia’s shrimp farmers rely heavily on antibiotics, traces of which can stay in the shrimp. And many of the antibiotics in use on Asia’s fish farms are banned for use in the US for public-health reasons.

Now, you might think that the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with overseeing the safety of the food supply, is protecting us from potential harm from these products. The agency is certainly aware of the problem. Testifying before Congress in 2008, then FDA deputy director of food safety Don Kraemer put it like this:

As the aquaculture industry continues to grow, concern about the use of unapproved drugs and unsafe chemicals in aquaculture operations has increased significantly. There is clear scientific evidence that the use of unapproved antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals, such as malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet, can result in the presence of residues in the edible portions of aquacultured seafood.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/fda-barely-inspects-imported-seafood

Of course Monsanto says it’s safe

From  Food and Water Watch:  http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/of-course-monsanto-says-its-safe/

By Tim Schwab
October 18th, 2012

If you’ve been paying attention to the news about food lately, you’ve probably read about the now infamous “Seralini study,” in which University of Caen (France) molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Seralini demonstrated major health issues associated with eating Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) corn and the herbicide used in conjunction with it, RoundUp.

Widely covered by the media, most reports have tried to portray Seralini as a strident, ideologically driven researcher who willfully designed a study to produce a result showing that GE food is bad. Many science journalists criticized Seralini for having an anti-GE bias, for taking research money from a foundation that is anti-GE, and for not disclosing every piece of data to the public.

But this attack coverage seems grossly disproportionate given the realities around funding and bias in agricultural research. Science journalists seldom, if ever, cover the opposite angle: that industry has funded much of the scientific literature we have about the safety of GE foods. These industry-funded studies aren’t science as much as they are public relations, always concluding that GE is safe and good. And in our broken regulatory system for these controversial new foods, these industry studies are also what regulators use to approve new genetically engineered crops for our food supply.

Indeed, the strain of corn that Seralini studied, NK603, has been shown in the scientific literature to be safe—in studies done by Monsanto.  The company has produced at least seven studies about NK603 – all of them positive – in four peer-reviewed journals.   More shocking, at least three of these peer-reviewed journals openly advertise their corporate sponsors from the food industry, like Archer Daniel Midlands and Pioneer.One of these, the Journal of Animal Science is run by the American Society of Animal Science, which counts biotech companies BASF and Monsanto, as gold and silver sponsors. Most of the Monsanto studies include co-authors from public universities, whose names add credibility.

Does anyone honestly think that Monsanto is going to fund research about its products that casts them in an unfavorable light, then publish these findings in a journal over which it has financial influence for all to see?

Continue reading at:  http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/of-course-monsanto-says-its-safe/

Scenes of ‘Dust Bowl Days’ Return As Oklahoma Storm Causes Highway Pileup

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19

Year of high temps and record drought portends climate future for once fertile croplands

Common Dreams staff
Published on Friday, October 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

Dramatic video footage and eye witness accounts from Oklahoma on Thursday tell the story of a scene right out of the Depression-era ‘Dust Bowl days’ as a massive wind-swept cloud of ‘reddish-brown’ dirt made visibility impossible on a stretch of Interstate-35 between Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo.

The mid-western states have experienced some of the highest temperatures on record this year and a severe drought has devastated corn crops and turned once thriving fields to brown. Scientists make direct connections between these trends and the growing impact of climate change fueled by human-caused global warming.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Jodi Palmer, a dispatcher with the Kay County Sheriff’s Office, told the Associated Press. “In this area alone, the dirt is blowing because we’ve been in a drought. I think from the drought everything’s so dry and the wind is high.”

“You have the perfect combination of extended drought in that area … and we have the extremely strong winds,” said Gary McManus, the Oklahoma associate state climatologist, also speaking with AP.

“Also, the timing is bad because a lot of those farm fields are bare. The soil is so dry, it’s like powder. Basically what you have is a whole bunch of topsoil waiting for the wind to blow it away. It’s no different from the 1930s than it is now.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/19

Posted in Climate Change, Ecology, Environment, Food. Tags: , . Comments Off

The Risky Business of Eating in America

From Other Words:  http://www.otherwords.org/articles/the_risky_business_of_eating_in_america

By Jill Richardson
October 17, 2012

Long before human beings decoded the human genome or split the atom, they discovered that arsenic is very good at killing things. The ancient Romans prized it as a murder weapon because it could be mixed into food or drink without altering its color, taste, or smell. Plus, a tiny dose kills without fail.

What the Romans didn’t know about arsenic, and what scientists didn’t discover until the 20th century, is that a form of it — inorganic arsenic — causes cancer. And in 1999, the National Academy of Sciences found that the amount of arsenic legally allowed in U.S. drinking water posed serious cancer risks.

Since then, the U.S. government slashed the amount allowed in drinking water from 50 micrograms per liter to just 10. The potent carcinogenicity of arsenic was what Donald Rumsfeld might call an “unknown unknown” for most of human history. So was the fact that Americans can consume dangerous amounts of inorganic arsenic in one of our most common foods: rice.

Consumer Reports dropped that bombshell on the nation in September, recommending that adults limit rice consumption to just two servings per week if they wish to reduce their cancer risk from inorganic arsenic. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration didn’t go so far as to recommend Americans limit their rice intake. But the agency did say that “consumers should continue to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of grains.” They also published their own data on arsenic in rice. It was consistent with the findings of Consumer Reports.

How did such a healthy food — often one of the first solid foods parents spoon into their babies’ mouths — suddenly become a deadly, cancer-causing agent? For one thing, rice is the only major crop grown under water. That allows it to absorb arsenic more easily than other crops. And though some arsenic will always occur naturally in soil and water, humans have added a whole lot more.

Continue reading at:  http://www.otherwords.org/articles/the_risky_business_of_eating_in_america

Battle Brewing Over Labeling of Genetically Modified Food

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/science/dispute-over-labeling-of-genetically-modified-food.html/

By and
Published: May 24, 2012

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — On a recent sunny morning at the Big Y grocery here, Cynthia LaPier parked her cart in the cereal aisle. With a glance over her shoulder and a quick check of the ingredients, she plastered several boxes with hand-designed stickers from a roll in her purse. “Warning,” they read. “May Contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).”

For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger. But as Americans ask more pointed questions about what they are eating, popular suspicions about the health and environmental effects of biotechnology are fueling a movement to require that food from genetically modified crops be labeled, if not eliminated.

Labeling bills have been proposed in more than a dozen states over the last year, and an appeal to the Food and Drug Administration last fall to mandate labels nationally drew more than a million signatures. There is an iPhone app: ShopNoGMO.

The most closely watched labeling effort is a proposed ballot initiative in California that cleared a crucial hurdle this month, setting the stage for a probable November vote that could influence not just food packaging but the future of American agriculture.

Tens of millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the election showdown. It pits consumer groups and the organic food industry, both of which support mandatory labeling, against more conventional farmers, agricultural biotechnology companies like Monsanto and many of the nation’s best-known food brands like Kellogg’s and Kraft.

The heightened stakes have added fuel to a long-simmering debate over the merits of genetically engineered crops, which many scientists and farmers believe could be useful in meeting the world’s rapidly expanding food needs.

Supporters of labeling argue that consumers have a right to know when food has been modified with genes from another species, which they say is fundamentally different from the selective breeding process used in nearly all crops.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/25/science/dispute-over-labeling-of-genetically-modified-food.html/

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Under Industry Pressure, USDA Works to Speed Approval of Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Crops

From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/under-industry-pressure-usda-works-speed-approval-monsantos-genetically-engineered-crops/1323453319

by: Mike Ludwig
Monday 12 December 2011

For years, biotech agriculture opponents have accused regulators of working too closely with big biotech firms when deregulating genetically engineered (GE) crops. Now, their worst fears could be coming true: under a new two-year pilot program at the USDA, regulators are training the world’s biggest biotech firms, including Monsanto, BASF and Syngenta, to conduct environmental reviews of their own transgenic seed products as part of the government’s deregulation process.

This would eliminate a critical level of oversight for the production of GE crops. Regulators are also testing new cost-sharing agreements that allow biotech firms to help pay private contractors to prepare mandatory environmental statements on GE plants the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering deregulating.

The USDA launched the pilot project in April and, in November, the USDA announced vague plans to “streamline” the deregulation petition process for GE organisms. A USDA spokesperson said the streamlining effort is not part of the pilot project, but both efforts appear to address a backlog of pending GE crop deregulation petitions that has angered big biotech firms seeking to rollout new products.

Documents obtained by Truthout under a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that biotech companies, lawmakers and industry groups have put mounting pressure on the USDA in recent years to speed up the petition process, limit environmental impact assessments and approve more GE crops. One group went as far as sending USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack a timeline of GE soybean development that reads like a deregulation wish list. [Click here and here to download and read some of the documents released to Truthout.]

Continue reading at:    http://www.truth-out.org/under-industry-pressure-usda-works-speed-approval-monsantos-genetically-engineered-crops/1323453319

Home Sweet Home: The New American Localism

From NPR: http://www.npr.org/2011/12/13/143538472/home-sweet-home-the-new-american-localism?sc=fb&cc=f

by
December 13, 2011

You can talk about the global village, a mobile society and the World Wide Web all you want, but many in our country seem to be turning toward a New American Localism.

These days, we are local folks and our focus is local. We are doing everything locally: food, finance, news, charity. And maybe for good reasons.

“One bedrock thing that is going on,” says Brad Edmondson, founder of ePodunk and former editor of American Demographics magazine, is that “because of aging and the recession, people aren’t moving around as much.”

The U.S. Census Bureau backs him up with a news release — based on a recent report — titled “Mover Rate Reaches Record Low.” The bureau found that only 11.6 percent of Americans changed their living spaces between 2010 and 2011. That is the lowest rate on record since the Current Population Survey of the United States began tracking geographical mobility in 1948. In 1985, for instance, the changed-residence rate was 20.2 percent.

“With homeowner mobility at an all-time low, more people are putting down roots and getting to know their neighbors,” Edmondson says. “At the same time a lot of households have seen sharp declines in discretionary income. They are looking for ways to relax that don’t cost as much, and they are substituting cooperation for cash.”

The new version of the popular bumper sticker “Support Your Local Sheriff” could become “Support Your Local Everything.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.npr.org/2011/12/13/143538472/home-sweet-home-the-new-american-localism?sc=fb&cc=f

Posted in Anti-Globalization, Food, Hard Times, Labor. Tags: . Comments Off

Profits Before Environment

From The New York Times: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/profits-before-environment/?ref=opinion

By Mark Bittman
August 30, 2011

I wasn’t surprised when the administration of George W. Bush sacrificed the environment for corporate profits. But when the same thing happens under a Democratic administration, it’s depressing. With little or no public input, policies that benefit corporations regardless of the consequences continue to be enacted.

No wonder an April 2010 poll from the Pew Research Center found that about only 20 percent of Americans have faith in the government (it’s one thing upon which the left and right and maybe even the center agree). But maybe this is nothing new: as Glenda Farrell, as Genevieve “Gen” Larkin, put it in “Gold Diggers of 1937,” “It’s so hard to be good under the capitalistic system.”

But is anyone in power even trying? Last winter, the Department of Agriculture deregulated Monsanto’s genetically modified alfalfa, despite concerns about cross-pollination of non-genetically modified crops. It then defied a court order banning the planting of genetically modified sugar beets pending completion of an environmental impact study.

Monsanto engineers these plants and makes Roundup, the herbicide they resist. But Roundup-ready crops don’t increase long-term yields, a host of farmers are now dealing with “superweeds” and there is worry about superbugs, nearly all courtesy of Monsanto. In fact, this system doesn’t contribute to much of anything except Monsanto’s bottom line. Yet Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack gave Monsanto the nod, perhaps yielding to pressure from the White House.

The United States exerts that same kind of pressure abroad. WikiLeaks cables show that U.S. “biotechnology outreach programs” have promoted genetically modified crops in Africa, Asia and South America; they’ve also revealed that diplomats schemed to retaliate against any European Union countries that oppose those crops.

Continue reading at:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/30/profits-before-environment/?ref=opinion

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3 Pillars Of A Food Revolution

From Cross Currents: http://www.countercurrents.org/lappe210810.htm

By Anna Lappé

21 August, 2010
YES! Magazine

http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/3-pillars-of-a-food-revolution

As marketers learn to fake climate-friendly food, how do we spot the real thing? Anna Lappé says it’s a question of values.

A few years ago, I stumbled on a United Nations study that transformed how I think about the climate crisis. In the report, researchers pegged greenhouse gases from the livestock sector at 18 percent of total global emissions. Combine this with other aspects of our food chain—from agricultural chemical production to agribusiness driven deforestation to food waste rotting in landfills—and food and agriculture sector is responsible for nearly one third of the planet’s manmade emissions. Move over Hummer; it’s time to say hello to the hamburger.

It doesn’t take high-level math to realize if we’re serious about averting the climate crisis, we need to add the food chain to our conversation. (Of course, we should be talking about agriculture’s impact on the environment for a host of other reasons, too. Agriculture is the world’s single largest user of land and water, using up 70 percent of the world’s freshwater resources every year. Agriculture is also responsible for widespread air and water pollution and agricultural chemical runoff that causes aquatic dead zones around the world. At last count, there are more than 400, including one in the Gulf of Mexico that swells every year to a size three times larger than the BP oil spill.

So what can we do? Thankfully, we’re learning every day about the power of sustainable food systems to help reduce emissions from the food chain and mitigate the climate crisis.

Now, the “food system” may sound (and feel) like an abstract concept that has nothing to do with the sandwich sitting on your desk for lunch, but it’s all related. And that sandwich you’re about to eat connects you to the livelihoods and fates of farmers and food workers around the world. It also connects you to the climate.

We can, with every food choice we make, align ourselves with a “climate-friendly diet” by choosing to eat sustainably raised food and steer clear of feedlot meat and industrial dairy, for instance. A climate-friendly diet also means going for fresh, whole, real foods, not the processed victuals so typical in our supermarkets, and limiting food packaging and food waste. But a climate-friendly food system means more than just our following a “green” checklist; it means considering the values underpinning this kind of food system, foremost among them ecology, community, and fairness.

That values “frame” is critical, now more than ever. As the food industry catches on that more and more of us care about the climate impacts of our food and that we’re asking more questions about the provenance of what we eat, they’ve stepped up their green marketing messages. McDonald’s recently launched an “Endangered Species” Happy Meal, “to engage kids in a fun and informative way about protecting the environment,” explains project partner Conservation International. A far cry from their GM partnership several years back, which launched the Hummer Happy Meal and ended only after 42 million toy Hummers had been given away. Earlier this year, Sara Lee unleashed with much fanfare a new line of “Earth Grains” bread that promotes “innovative farming practices that promote sustainable land use” as part of what the company calls its “Plot to Save the Earth.”

This new wave of food industry marketing is creating a green-tinged fog for some of us who are trying to sort out what’s truly green and what’s just spin. But, I believe, if we frame a climate-friendly system in core values, we can see more easily through the fog. By shifting the conversation to core values, it’s much harder for the message to be co-opted, no matter the savvy of the marketers.

1. Ecology

Ecology, from the Greek oikos, for house or dwelling, and logia, for the study of, draws attention to the relationships between living things and their environment. Coined in the 1870s, the term took root in the United States in the 1960s as environmentalists strove for a way of emphasizing the importance of these relationships. As we struggle to understand the role that food plays in the climate crisis (both its power to harm and to heal), the value of agroecology is key to our understanding.

Perhaps the clearest case for the need for agroecological systems was expressed in a ground-breaking study released in April 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa by a consortium of more than 400 scientists from around the world. The report—with the tongue-twistingly long name the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development—stressed in no uncertain terms the importance of agroecology and small-scale farming and the need for sustainable management of livestock, forest, and fisheries. The IAASTD, as it is known, urges a transition to “biological substitutes for agrochemicals” and “reducing the dependency of the agricultural sector on fossil fuels” to foster a healthy food system and one that will help us mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

Understanding ecology allows us to poke holes in the quick-fix solutions to climate change we’re hearing from agribusiness, like Monsanto’s promotion of genetically engineering seeds to withstand drought. (The company’s recent ad campaign—“How can we squeeze more from a raindrop?”—seems to be in every magazine I’ve picked up lately.) But as Molly Anderson, an expert on agroecology and an author of the IAASTD says: “Climate change is not something you can engineer a gene into a plant for. Climate change is a really complex set of processes. We don’t need a single super gene or a super variety that somehow will be a silver bullet approach to climate change. It’s a technological engineering approach to a biological problem.”

When we talk about our ecological food values, we’re focusing on the importance of interconnections and of the complexity of a truly sustainable food system. As agroecological farmers like to remind us, sustainable food is not just defined by the absence of chemicals—it’s about the creation of a healthy ecosystem, especially healthy, carbon-rich soils.

2. Community

Once a week, my one-year old daughter and I stroll the twelve blocks from our apartment to a towering church in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood to gather our fruit and vegetable “share.” My daughter has had her first taste of raspberries, green beans, basil, plums, peaches, summer squash, and more, thanks to the Green Thumb Farm. As “shareholders” in this community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm, we invested at the beginning of the growing season—along with 222 other families—and we all benefit from it weekly. We also share the risk. With the mercury at record highs this summer, the tomatoes have been thriving. Says farmer Bill Halsey of Green Thumb Farm: “Maybe the best of the century, if not longer!” But the lettuce? For the first time in fifteen years: Nada.

Today, advocates say there are between 3,000 and 4,000 CSA programs connecting families directly with farmers across the country. (In the latest agriculture census [pdf], the USDA estimates there are even more: 12,549). Of course, CSAs are just one piece in a patchwork of solutions to reknit regional foodsheds, but more importantly they exemplify the value of community that undergirds a climate-friendly food system. The relationship between farmer Bill and us eaters upends a fundamental principle of the market: that producers and consumers are necessarily opponents.

I got another taste of this profound shift when I traveled to South Korea a few years ago. While there I met with leaders in the consumer cooperative movement. I thought our local Park Slope Food Coop was impressive with more than 14,000 members. Try 150,000. That’s the membership of just one of several consumer coops I met with.

When I sat down with Seong Hee Kim, a leader of the Hansalim coop, he described its programs connecting farmers with consumers: summer camps on farms for city kids, workshops on sustainable food production, investments in bakeries stocked with local food. The core business of the co-op is the direct sale of hundreds of food items, the prices of which are mostly decided at their annual meeting. When the farmers’ reps and consumer reps sit down together, the conversation always ends in a fight—just not the kind of fight you might imagine. Rice is the most contentious, Kim explains: Without fail, the consumers insist they should support the farmers by paying more than the market price for the rice. The farmers insist that, no, consumers should actually pay less than the market price, since the cost of production is lower than what the market charges.

“And then, they get into a big argument!” said Kim, laughing.

How did Hansalim achieve this shift—from producers and consumers seeing themselves as competitors to seeing themselves as on the same team? The answer, Kim explained, has to do with values—community values. “Our producers see themselves as responsible for the health and well-being of the consumers. And the consumers, they know the farmers and see very clearly how they’re responsible for their well-being,” he said.

3. Fairness

Fairness in the food chain means ensuring that all the workers, farmers, food producers—everyone along the food chain—is treated fairly and gets a fair wage. It also means ensuring all consumers, no matter where they live or what tax bracket they’re in, have access to affordable healthy food.

In 2006, consumer behemoth Walmart, and the nation’s largest grocer, made headlines when it announced its move into organic foods: “Wal-Mart Eyes Organic Foods,” declared The New York Times. Within a year, some of the country’s biggest organic food providers were on board, including the farmer-owned co-op Organic Valley. But as the co-op’s Walmart business grew, it began to short its other customers—and the co-op’s board and CEO, George Siemon, started questioning their decision. Said Siemon in an Inc. Magazine article: “All of a sudden it hit us: What are we doing? [... We're] treating everybody poorly, and damaging our reputation. We need to decide what’s most important.” Siemon’s biggest concern was that Walmart would become the coop’s biggest customer, causing Organic Valley to lower its labor and production standards to meet Walmart’s demand for lower prices. For Siemon, the decision to break away from Walmart was clear: “Eventually, Wal-Mart could consume so much milk that the co-op could become beholden to one client and vulnerable to pressure to lower prices—violating its fundamental mission of providing fair prices to farmers.” And so Organic Valley walked away, returning its focus to the mainstay of its business since the mid-1980s: natural foods stores across the country.

Plus, no matter how much Walmart says it’s benefitting the planet and farmers by purchasing organic foods—and the origins and true sustainability of those items have been rigorously questioned—we can remain critical of the company’s flagrant disregard for workers’ rights. Walmart recently admitted to failing to pay overtime, vacation, and other wages totaling $86 million to 232,000 California workers. A host of other class action lawsuits are pending.

An Organic Peach and the Climate Crisis

By considering the values of ecology, community, and fairness as a lens through which to understand the connections between food and climate, we can perceive the need to go beyond our plate. We aren’t going to bring these values to life solely by filling our (reusable) shopping bags with real food from farmers we know and workers who were paid a good wage, though that is certainly a good start.

Once we better understand and embrace these three values in relation to the food system, we can see clear ways work to protect—and advance—them. One powerful way to do that is through policy, such as promoting access to healthy foods and making it easier for everyone to connect to farmers. We can see, too, the power of developing uniform, and trusted, product standards such as the organic certification. And finally, we can see the role the government should play in regulating marketing through bodies like the Federal Communication Commission, which has historically created limits to fraudulent green claims on products.

With historic floods devastating as many as 20 million people in Pakistan, a chunk of glacier four times the size of Manhattan breaking free from Greenland, and temperatures from Moscow to New York City hitting historic highs and leaving us all roasted, more and more people are starting to feel the direct impact of what may very well be the signs of climate chaos to come.

In order to get back to the level of greenhouse gas emissions we need to be to stabilize the climate, every sector must play a role. Now, nearly five years after I read that United Nations report about livestock and the climate crisis, it’s ever more visible the role that food systems plays, not only in exacerbating the crisis, but also in helping address it.

Now, I know, with stakes so high, suggesting that a local, organic peach can make a difference might feel laughably inconsequential—but if choosing a local peach is a tasty reminder of our growing, unified, powerful vision for shifting our food system toward a more sustainable model, then it might not be so inconsequential after all.

Anna Lappé adapted this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions, from a speech she gave for National Cooperative Grocers Association. Anna is the author of Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and co-author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and Hope’s Edge. She is a founding principal of the Small Planet Institute.

YES! Magazine encourages you to make free use of this article by taking these easy steps. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

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‘Gender bending’ chemical in food tins may cut male fertility

Wonderfully stupid Benny Hill phrasing aside (gender bending) I found this interesting article in The Daily Mail

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1300402/Gender-bending-chemical-food-tins-cut-male-fertility.html

By David Derbyshire
Last updated at 10:34 AM on 5th August 2010

A ‘gender bending’ chemical in food and drinks containers could be behind rising male infertility, scientists say.

Men with high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in their bodies are more likely to have low sperm counts, according to a study.

BPA is widely used to harden plastics and is found in baby bottles, CD cases, plastic knives and forks and the lining of food and drink cans.

The chemical mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen and interferes with the way hormones are processed by the body.

Although some animal studies have shown it is safe, others have linked it to breast cancer, liver damage, obesity, diabetes and fertility problems.

Experts estimate BPA is detectable in more than 90 per cent of people.

Behind the Shady World of Marketing Junk Food to Children

From Alternet

By Jill Richardson, AlterNet
Posted on March 23, 2010, Printed on March 23, 2010

http://www.alternet.org/story/146093/

Seven-year-old Marley loves Happy Meals from McDonald’s. She used to get Chicken McNuggets, but now she chooses a cheeseburger to go with her fries and Sprite. Her father, Patrick, is a chef, trained at the Culinary Institute of America, but Marley prefers McDonald’s to his cooking. After a trip to McDonald’s, Marley eagerly surfs onto McWorld.com, where she can enter a code from her meal to get a “behind-the-scenes look at iCarly,” a kids’ TV show (boys can use their code for a Star Wars promotion).

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/146093/behind_the_shady_world_of_marketing_junk_food_to_children

Get them hooked young.

Have Fat Acceptance Activists attack Michelle Obama because of her concerns regarding childhood obesity.

The selling is a constant barrage of advertising of food so out of touch with real food that it shouldn’t even be considered food but rather a product composed of sugars, fats and salt aimed at tickling the compulsive eating centers in the brain and addicting us.

Tina and I watched the Tony Bourdain Show last night.  It was in Provence, where good food is an obsession.  Food that is real food and not the product of a laboratory filled with High Fructose Corn Syrup.

As a virtual slave in the new servant economy I am a whore who peddles the junk food and am responsible for a whole crew of people that I send out to do the same.  What is worst is that we read the ingredients and know what nutritional nightmares we are foisting off on people.  Although too often when we get a good product, one that is organic and without a lot of unpronounceable chemicals in the ingredients, reduced sodium and low in sugars and fats the junk food junkies loudly proclaim, “Healthy…  Then it can’t possibly taste any good.”

These companies are like smack pushers peddling narcotics getting people hooked on crap when infants.

So hooked that they turn up their noses at some of the best food in the world, reject it for a 1200 calorie burger, 750 calorie fries topped off with a 1000 calorie shake.  Then they wonder why they are fat.

Changing habits starts with admitting you have a problem.  Unlike booze and drugs we all still have to eat so going cold turkey will at best work for a month or so and then you die.  We have to continue to eat and in the process wean ourselves from the junk food.  First to go is the huge servings of meat.  A deck of playing cards is a portion size.  If I’m going to eat that small a portion I can afford to look for organic grass fed rather than BGH fueled and corn fed.

More vegetarian meals even though lacto-ova can be tricky and just as full of fats as a meat based meal.

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Food Porn

Okay I admit it, we watch the food channel, especially “Iron Chef America” but also other food shows that are ostensibly about cooking but are in fact advertisements for food that is very expensive in terms of both money and health.

If one listens to certain sectors of the media, anorexia and bulimia are the the worst of all problematic relationships that we can have with food.  We even have whole organizations devoted to fat acceptance that will trash anyone who dares to speak as disparagingly of obese women as very thin women regularly are spoken about.

Even women who work out intensely and are able to run marathons and hold their own in the weight room are suspect as being too obsessed with thinness.

Yet as women become fatter and less physically fit they are devalued.  It is almost a way of keeping physical health and attractiveness at a premium.

In fact it is one of those perks that goes with wealth as healthy food often costs more than the crap they sell in the glossy TV ads for fast and not so fast restaurant chains.  Food BTW that never looks as good in real life as it does when shot with all the special lighting and food stylist magic.

I work with food and marketing it.  I feel guilty sometimes when reading the ingredients and specifications like sugar content, fat content and sodium.

I am obese.  As I quit drugs, smoking and booze I ate.  Moving to suburbia where one drives instead of walking or taking public transit and walk added too the problem.  I’m older working out is harder.

I’m not alone obesity is epidemic, especially among Americans in the working classes.  Economic uncertainty and job related stress  play a role as does working long hours and it being just so easy to go out to eat.

It becomes a vicious cycle with every meal having far more calories than are healthy and we eat them because of childhood messages regarding cleaning our plates.  We regard food as love and acceptance, a protection from need and scarcity.  The psychic dread of hunger.

Food become an affordable reward.  The extra 800 calorie dessert on top of the 1800 calorie meal.

Perhaps I need to broaden the sorts of issues I write about on this blog because the personal truly is political and having had an association with a trans-prefixed word is only part of the problem.  We live in a rapidly changing world where countries like Greece are faced with going into default.  A world where globalization is destroying the standard of living for working people in the developed nations by moving our jobs to place where people work almost for nothing.

The movie “Food, Inc.” really got me thinking about the amount of cruelty that goes into consuming so much meat.  Perhaps eating less meat and the idea of being more of a flexitarian will help us become healthier as well as lessen the animal abuse.  I see grass feed cattle in the fields near where we live and that seems a better approach than the factory farming of the feed lots.

I’m on a diet because I do not have health care and obesity contributes to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.  My knees and feet hurt and it limits my life.  What I am not on is some sort of fad diet.  Rather I am eating less, particularly less meat and sugar and more vegetables as well as hitting the exercise bike for ten minutes a day.

Getting back down to a weight where I am healthy and fit will require changing patterns and becoming aware of how corporations get you addicted to eating all this crap with all their food porn.

Many of the changes are not all that severe.  A good pizza doesn’t have a pound of cheese product on it and a pound of high fat meats like pepperoni, salami and sausage.  It has  real cheese,  sauce and a few pieces of other things.  One of my favorite pizzas is the vegetarian.

Over the next few months I’m going to introduce some new topics like food issues.  After all how long can one talk about the “evil transgenders” or even the nasty “classic transsexuals” before the subject grows trite and boring.

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