Jenny’s Food & Ag Update August 1, 2018


  • Food apartheid: the root of the problem with America’s groceries (The Guardian)                                                      Food justice activist Karen Washington wants to us to move away from the term ‘food desert’, which doesn’t take into account the systemic racism permeating America’s food system
  • What’s Worse Than Palm Oil for the Environment? Other Vegetable Oils, IUCN Study Finds (EcoWatch)
  • Rural Americans’ struggles against factory farm pollution find traction in court (The Conversation)
  • UK imports salad from US, Spain and Poland as heat wave hits crops (The Guardian)                                Wholesale prices soar by more than 30% and farmers have to renegotiate with supermarkets
  • Foreign beef can legally be labeled “{Product of U.S.A.” It’s killing America’s grass fed industry. (New Food Economy)
  • Crops Are Dying. Forests Are Burning. This Summer’s Heat Wave Has Fueled Natural Disasters Around the World. (Mother Jones)
  • Trump’s USDA announces $12 billion in farmer relief from his tariffs. But What are we going to do with all these soybeans? (New Food Economy)
  • What’s in America’s freezer? (New Food Economy)                                                                                  America has millions of pounds of frozen meat and produce in cold storage. As tariffs threaten to curb international trade, those coffers are about to get a lot more crowded. Here’s a look at what they hold right now.


Farming, Farmers, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • The Farm Group that’s Part of Rural America’s Crisis (Civil Eats)                                                                                        With a massive budget from its insurance activities and its policy emphasis on industrial-scale farming, the Iowa Farm Bureau isn’t helping rural communities.
  • Struggling Farmers Turn Excess Milk Into Cheese And Yogurt For the Hungry (NPR)
  • Farmers hit hard by Trump’s policies on trade, immigration (CBS News)
    • Want to understand the border crisis? Look to American corn policy (New Food Economy)
    • Trump’s EU Deal Wont Do a Thing to Help Soybean Farmers (Mother Jones)                                                The union represents a relatively tiny market for our soy. And that’s not all.
  • Skyscrapers Full of Lettuce Promise an Eco-Friendly Alternative to Outdoor Farming. There’s Just One Problem. (Mother Jones)


Seeds & Cultivars

  • Squash Is a Mediocre Vegetable. It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way. (Mother Jones)                                                      Meet the chef whose recipe starts with a seed.
  • A Brief History of the Feral Blackberry (Yes!)                                                                                           The Himalayan blackberry was introduced to North America as a food crop. Like a Gremlin doused with water, it escaped its confinement and became almost impossible to eradicate.


Food and Culture

  • 14,000 – Year – Old Piece of Bread Rewrites the History Of Baking and Farming (NPR)
    • Archaeobotanical evidence reveals the origins of bread 14,400 years ago in northeastern Jordan (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA)
  • Dara Cooper Is Reclaiming Black Foodways (Civil Eats)                                                                                            The co-founder of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance seeks community based solutions to address racial equity, food sovereignty, and land injustice.
  • Organic reach: Food sovereignty moves to the web (High Country News)                                                                    Colonial contact brought foreign food and disease to tribal nations. Now, a digital generation is reconnecting with tradition.
  • A Community of Slave Descendants Is Protecting Unique Food Traditions from Rising Seas (Yes!)                      One chef is raising the profile of Gullah/Geechee cuisine to help maintain the Nation’s cultural identity.


Hunger, Food Access & Security, Obesity, Malnutrition, and Nutrition

  • Hundreds of Farmers Markets May Stop Accepting Food Stamps (Huffington Post)                                                       An administrative screw-up could keep thousands of low-income Americans from buying healthy food with WNAP benefits.
  • Disaster SNAP: Food Stamp Program Has Special Role After Fires, Floods (Huffington Post)                    The nutrition program that has been a contentious part of this year’s farm bill isn’t just for low-income Americans. It also kicks in when families housing, jobs or possessions during natural disasters.
  • In Alaska, Changes to SNAP Could Spell Disaster (Civil Eats)                                                                                                In a state where 14 percent of the population rely on food stamps, it’s cheaper for a family to buy a 12-pack of soda than a gallon of milk.
  • Thirteen years after Katrina, one year after the flood, New Orleans’s food pantries struggle to stay afloat (New Food Economy)


Gleaning, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • How Luxury Hotels and Restaurants in Developing Countries Fight Food Waste (NPR)
  • More Recycling Won’t Solve Plastic Pollution (Scientific American)                                                                      It’s a lie that wasteful consumers cause the problem and changing our individual habit can fix it.


Healthy/Food Safety

  • Not Just An Apple A Day: California Doctors Start Prescribing Medically Tailored Meals (WBUR)
    • With Culinary Medicine, Doctors Are Finally Learning About Food (Huffington Post)                                      It picks up where basic (and brief) med school nutrition education leaves off, and it’s making doctors better at their jobs.
  • Conceptual Change Model(ing) the way for future food safety education (Food Safety News)
  • At Least 4 More States Report Infections Linked to Tainted McDonald’s Salads (NTDTV)
  • Dozens of Salads And Wraps May Contain A Fecal Parasite, USDA Warns (Huffington Post)                        The beef, pork, and poultry items were recently sold at stores like Kroger, Trader Joe’s, and Walgreens.
  • Put The Honey Smacks Down, CDC Warns After Salmonella Outbreak (Huffington Post)                              100 people have fallen ill after eating the popular Kellogg’s cereal.
  • Ritz and Goldfish Crackers Recalled Due to Possibly Contaminated Whey Powder (Modern Farmer)


Food Fraud/Scandals/Weird/Funny

  • What Can We Do About Fish Fraud? (Medium)                                                                                    Greed and laziness got us here – there’s a better way forward
  • Former Starkist SVP Stephen Hodge pleads guilty to price-fixing charge (Under Current News)
  • Three chicken producers that control 90 percent of the market are accused of price-fixing – again (New Food Economy)


Children & School Food



  • While Richest Enjoy ‘Yachts That Have Tiny Yachts Inside,’ Estimated 400,000 People in US Suffering Under ‘Modern Slavery’ (Common Dreams)                          “This is truly staggering statistic and demonstrates just how substantial this issue is globally.”
  • Two amputations a week: the cost of working in a US meat plant (The Guardian)                                                                As unions warn of serious injuries, plans to take speed limits off the lines at pig plants are causing anxiety
  • I’ve Worked for Tips for 60 Years. DC Council Should Listen to the Voters Who Want to Raise My Wages (Truthout)                                                                                            Even with tips, a minimum wage of $3.89 isn’t enough to live on.



  • Honeybees Finding It Harder to Eat At America’s Bee Hot Spot (NTDTV)
    • Study: Past role and future outlook of the Conservation Reserve Program for supporting honey bees in the Great Pains (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)



  • As Milk Production Cools in Summer, Farmers Try to Help Cows Take the Heat (NPR)
    • Sunscreen for cows: UK farmers struggle to cope with heat wave (The Guardian)                        Traditional farming shows its benefits as stone barns and hedgerows provide cattle with relief from the heat


Business, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • WeWork will no longer serve meat at events or expense meal with it (The Guardian)                                          The workspace company gave environmental reasons for banning meat from all budgets, including their upcoming festival
  • Emissions Impossible: How Big Meat and Dairy Are Heating Up the Planet (Common Dreams)              Together, the world’s top five meat and dairy corporations are now responsible for more annual greenhouse gas emissions than Exxon, Shell or BP
  • Report: Emissions impossible: How big meat and dairy are heating up the planet (GRAIN)
  • Walmart to sell Japanese supermarket unit Seiyu (Nikkei Asian Review)                                                            US giant reviews global strategy as it takes on Amazon
  • Why Is Ice Cream So Expensive? Here’s What the Artisanal Kind Requires. (Huffington Post)
    • Living lean on premium ice cream (New Food Economy)                                                                                  How Van Leeuwen built a mini-empire on self-indulgence and self-restraint
  • Chicken mega-farms are how we’ll feed the UK, says poultry industry head (The Guardian)                    British consumers eat chicken twice a week. Are large farms the only way forward?
  • Aviva Paley is Cooking Up Second Chances with Kitchens for Good (Civil Eats)                                                    This changemaker oversees job training, hunger relief, and food recue programs for a social enterprise kitchen that teaches everything from ‘knife skills to life skills.’
  • SNAP is a Boon to Urban and Rural Economies. Proposed Farm Bill Changes Could Cripple Them. (Civil Eats)                                                                                Changes to the SNAP program in the House version of the farm bill could lead to a crippling economic domino effect that often starts at the local grocery store.


Food Fraud/Scandals/Weird


Water & Our Oceans

  • Flint’s Water-Related Death Toll Keeps Rising (Truthout)
    • Watchdog (Inspector General) Blasts EPA’s Response to Flint Water Crisis in Blistering Report (Mother Jones)
    • Report: Management Weaknesses Delayed Response to Flint Water Crisis (EPA Inspector General)  Supervisors in the Region 5 office are singled out for their inaction.
  • This Blue Collar Hamptons Town Has Dealt With 4 Tainted Water Crises In 2 Years (Huffington Post)                    A toxic chemical tainted one water well. Then another. Then another. Now black sediment spews from the taps.
  • Don’t Drink the Water: DC Warns Thousands of Contamination Risk (NBC Washington)                                    The advisory sparked fear and confusion among some city residents, who asked why they learned of the problem on social media and from news reports rather than from DC Water or the city government
  • The amazing return of the starfish: species triumphs over melting disease (The Guardian)                                      After a mysterious ‘mass mortality event’ turned ochre stars to goo, experts say rapid evolution may have saved the creatures.
  • Researchers Mapped “Marine Wilderness” for the First Time Ever – And the Outcome Is Bleak (Mother Jones)                                                                                        Only 13 percent of the ocean, at the most, can be considered “wilderness.”


Government/Regulation/Policy/Farm Bill

  • White House Threatened to Economically Cripple Ecuador for Promoting Breastfeeding (Vanity Fair)        Mustn’t upset Big Baby Food!
  • Infant Formula Makers Sweetened Mother’s Milk Of Politics With $60 Million In Lobbying Funds (Huffington Post)
  • Trump Puts Corporate Profits Over Babies’ Health (Truthout)
  • Trump’s “Plan” to Appease Farmers With $12 Billion Amounts to “Gold Crutches” (Mother Jones)      According to many GOP legislators, farmers, and farm groups.
  • USDA Rolls Out Trade Aid (Progressive Farmer)                                                                                    Trump Administration details one time aid programs to help farmers facing tariff pains
  • Trump’s $12 Billion Bailout Is a “Very Pricey Bandage Over a Deeper Wound” (Modern Farmer)
  • Trump Boasted To Farers He Opened European Market. Europe: No, He Didn’t (Huffington Post)                Other than soybeans, agricultural products are off the table, the European Commission says.
  • FDA Is About To Ban Almond Milk From Being Called ‘Milk’ (Huffington Post)
    • Sorry, Scott Gottlieb: FDA shouldn’t be allowed to redefine “milk,” no matter what the dairy lobby wants (New Food Economy)                                                          The FDA chief knows consumers can tell cow’s milk from soymilk. A look at agency history suggests the new on words is about catering to industry interests.
  • Cow or Cashew? (Progressive Farmer)      FDA Commissioner details agency’s plans for labeling dairy, plant based foods
  • Trump’s new plan to consolidate federal food safety efforts won’t work. Here’s why (The Conversation)
  • CDC Just Retracted Its Farmer Suicide Data. That Could Be Terrible News for Farmers. (Mother Jones)  The numbers “might be inaccurate” as a result of coding errors.
  • Trump’s USDA Is Killing Rules That Organic Food Makers Want (Bloomberg)                                                  The organic industry has sought out government oversight to reassure consumers. Now some worry that deregulation could chip away at that confidence.
  • House Republicans Pass Hostile ‘Empty Oceans Act’ (EcoWatch)                                                                                         For the last 40 years, the Magnuson-Stevens Act has been our nation’s primary defense against overfishing.
  • House Republicans Vote To Gut Lauded Law That Saved America’s Fisheries (Huffington Post)        Meanwhile the Trump administration is eyeing whether to open marine national monuments to commercial fishing.
  • How Big Soda Strong-Armed California Into Banning Soda Taxes (Mother Jones)                                                        The beverage industry forced the state assembly into a “last-minute, quid pro quo deal.”
  • Mandatory labels with simple disclosures reduced fears of GE foods in Vermont (The Conversation)
  • Welcome to Tampa, Where Feral Chickens Are High on the Pecking Order (Mother Jones)                        A city ordinance protects the free-ranging fowl – for better or worse.
  • A Texas lawsuit hinges on this question: What, exactly, are “pickles”? (New Food Economy)
  • Feds get a little queasy over new Seattle policy to disclose active investigations (Food Safety News)
  • Young and Beginning Farmers: Don’t Abandon Us in the Farm Bill (Civil Eats) Congress seeks to pass a unified version of the farm bill, some programs that support new farmers are at risk.
  • This farm bill deregulates the rich and policies the poor (High Country News)


GMOs/CRISPR/Cloning/Synthetic Biology

  • Organic Consumers Association: Whole Foods Fails Consumers Again by Delaying GMO Labeling (AlterNet)                                                                                          The company’s GMO labeling promise is more about saving face than about real transparency.
  • Impossible Burger and the Road to Consumer Distrust (EcoWatch)                                                              For anyone who wonders why consumers aren’t inspired to trust the GMO industry, consider the bizarre statement from Impossible Food Chief Communications Officer…



  • Opening arguments begin in lawsuit over Roundup weed killer (abc7)                                                          Opening statements began in superior court in San Francisco on Monday in the trial for the first of thousands of lawsuits against Monsanto alleging its weed killer product Roundup causes cancer.
  • Organic Consumers Association: Landmark New Study Is Best Hope for Ridding World of Monsato’s Dangerous Weedkiller (AlterNet)                                                                        A major study has found that the EPA’s ‘safe’ levels of Roundup weedkiller is food aren’t so safe after all.
  • Bayer Bought Monsanto and Is Now Stuck With Its Biggest Headache (Mother Jones)                                    A blockbuster herbicide (dicamba) is still causing trouble across farm country.
  • New Dicamba Drift Estimate: 1.1 Million Acres Damaged Already in 2018 (EcoWatch)
    • Reports From Dicamba’s Drift Across America (Modern Farmer)
    • When Drift Hits Home (Progressive Farmer)                                                                              Dicamba moves beyond bean fields and into the public eye
  • Is The ‘Dirty Dozen’ Food List Really So Dirty After All? (Huffington Post)
    • Study: Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues from Commodities Alleged to Contain the Highest Contamination Levels (Journal of Toxicology)
    • USDA Maximum Residue Limits (MRL) Database
  • Where have all our insects gone? (The Guardian)                                                                                          There is a crisis in the countryside – and a massive decline in insect numbers could have significant consequences for the environment