Jenny’s Food & Ag Update for March 19, 2019


  • Reporting on rural America: Pamela Dempsey talks about what’s missing (Food & Environmental Reporting Network)
  • CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers) launches new project: “Roadmap to an Organic California” (Organic Report)
  • In New Orleans, Graison Gill Upends a Flour Industry 200 Years in the Making (Food & Wine)
  • Regenerative agriculture could save soil, water, and the climate. Here’s how the US government actively discourage it. (The New Food Economy)
  • How the vegan food trend made a star of the pungent jackfruit (The Guardian)                                                    The easy to grow crop has the potential to be much more than just a fashionable alternative to meat in the west
  • Oyster mushrooms helped clean up after California’s wildfires. Why is it so hard to make a business case for “mycoremediaiton?” (The New Food Economy)
    • Mushrooms Clean Up Toxic Mess, Including Plastic. So Why Aren’t They Used More? (Yes!)                                                    Proponents say this natural alternative to wildfire cleanup is potentially cheaper.
  • Your fancy new brunch place is probably colonialist, and you’re a colonizer (NBC News)    Gentrification is just the latest iteration of colonization. But now it comes with Egg Benedict and bottomless mimosas.
  • Here’s what we know about that “zombie deer” disease everyone’s fretting over (The New Food Economy)
  • An invasive, elusive 20-pound rodent threatens California agriculture (Food & Environment Reporting Network)
  • Serotonin and the Garden of Good Eating (Yes!)                                                                                          The day I joined my community garden marked not just the beginning of my healing, but also the start of my family’s suburban homesteading journey.
  • Detroit man suing three women he says called police on him for ‘gardening while black’ (The Hill)
  • Seaweed Straw “Looks, Feels, and Acts Like Plastic,” Says Startup (Nation of Change)


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • Why Are So Many Farmers Markets Failing? Because The Market Is Saturated (NPR)                                                      As with CSAs and the proliferation of meal delivery businesses has competition threatening our farmers markets.
  • I’ve been a farmworker all my life. Here’s why you should buy organic food (The Sacramento Bee)
  • European farms could grow green and still be able to feed population (The Guardian)                  Research shows loss in yields could be offset by reorienting diets away from grain-fed meat
  • New Report Puts Farmers Back in Charge of Organic Certification (The Cornucopia Institute)  USDA Has “Willfully Failed” on Congressional Mandate to Prevent Fraud
  • Nepalese Rice Farmers Boost Yields By Sowing Fewer Plants and Cutting Water (NPR)
  • Monsanto loses millions of dollars after Indian farmers switch to indigenous seeds (Nation of Change)        Monsanto claims that the genetically modified cotton seeds they sell are superior. So why are so many people trying to switch?


Land and Soil

  • By Reconnecting With Soil, We Heal the Planet and Ourselves (Civil Eats)                                                                Leah Penniman writes that Black people in the US have had a sacred relationship with soil that far surpasses enslavement and sharecropping.
  • How to Turn Dirt Into Soil (Yes!)              Simple steps for cultivating a revolution in your backyard.



  • World’s food supply under ‘severe threat’ from loss of biodiversity (The Guardian)                  Plants, insects and organisms crucial to food production in steep decline, says UN
  • ‘Terrifying’: Rapid Loss of Biodiversity Placing Global Food Supplies at Risk of ‘Irreversible Collapse’ (Common Dreams)                                                                              “This should be at the top of every news bulletin and every government agenda around the world.”
  • Italy May Need to Import Olive Oil After Extreme Weather Decimates Local Crops (Smithsonian)
  • Climate Change Takes A Bite Out of Global Fisheries, Study Finds (Huffington Post)                                                      New research shows fish populations have declined by as much as 35 percent in some areas due to ocean warming.
  • The Ocean Is Running Out of Breath, Scientists Warn (Scientific American)                  Widespread and sometimes drastic marine oxygen declines are stressing sensitive species – a trend that will continue with climate change
  • Rare Sunfish Washes up on Santa Barbara County Beach, Marking 1st Sighting in Northern Hemisphere (KTLA5)


Plants, Seeds & Cultivars

  • Monsanto chooses Puerto Rico as regional site for seed production (The San Diego Union-Tribune)


Water & Our Oceans

  • Lake Erie just won the same legal rights as people (Vox)                                                                                          Ohio voters passed groundbreaking legislation that allows citizens to sue on behalf of the lake when it’s being polluted.
  • New Study Ties Spike in Hospitalizations for Genital, Skin, and Urinary Ailments to Fracking in Pennsylvania (Common Dreams)
  • Drone footage shows extent of oil spill near St. Lazare, Manitoba (CBC)                                                                            Train carrying crude oil derailed early Saturday morning in western Manitoba
  • Most US coal plants are contaminating groundwater with toxins, analysis finds (The Guardian)                            Of 265 power plants that monitor groundwater, 242 report unsafe levels of at least one pollutant derived from coal ash.
  • Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Drinking Water Leaves Military Families Reeling (MSN)
  • An invasive black carp with human-like molars is threatening the Mississippi River Basin (The New Food Economy)
  • Australia approves dumping of 1 million tons of sludge near Great Barrier Reef (Independent)                Ditching of industrial waste treats world heritage waters ‘like rubbish tip’, critics say
  • This Project Aimed To Be A Model For Saving Farms And Fish In California. It Failed. (Huffington Post)        But a separate effort by a cattleman nearby shows how a ranch can thrive in a water-scarce future.
  • Sustainable oceans cannot be achieved without human rights (The Danish Institute for Human Rights)


Food Culture & History

  • Mexico’s First Mixe Fulbright Scholar Is Working to Improve the Lives of Indigenous Farmers (Remezcla)
  • Must See Documentary Features Chefs You Should Know Leading “Kitchen Culture” Revolution [Trailer] (Women You Should Know)
  • Everything I Know About Health Food I Learned from My Mom’s Hippie Cookbooks (Bon Appetit)                  Grain bowls, kombucha, and other ways we’re eating like it’s 1977.
  • The Latest Diet Trend Is Not Dieting (The Atlantic)                                                                              “Intuitive eating” encourages people to eat whatever they want. It might be great advice.
  • A slave taught Jack Daniel how to make whisky. She’s made telling his story her life’s work. (Tennessean)


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

  • This City Made Access to Food a Right of Citizenship (Yes!)                                                                                                  A city in Brazil recruited local farmers to help do something US cities have yet to do: End Hunger
  • Food for the homeless: How startup projects are helping feed vulnerable people (Independent)        There’s an ever-burgeoning number of food schemes aiming to help Britain’s 320,000 homeless people.
  • Here’s Why You Don’t Feel Full After Eating Junk Food (Huffington Post)                                                You can eat an entire sleeve of Oreos or a bag of Hot Cheetos and still not feel satiated. It’s because your body knows things your brain doesn’t.
  • So we have a nutrition crisis that is killing people in every country. Now What? (Medium)


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • Why Southeast Asia Is Flooded With Trash From America And Other Wealthy Nations (Huffington Post)                                                                      Capitalism, greed and inequality have created a crisis in the global recycling system.
  • Is This the End of Recycling? (The Atlantic)                                                                              Americans are consuming more and more stuff. Now that other countries won’t take our papers and plastics, they’re ending up in the trash.
  • ‘Plastic Is Lethal’: Groundbreaking Report Reveals Health Risks at Every Stage in Plastics Life Cycle (EcoWatch)
    • Study: Plastic & Health: The Hidden Cost of a Plastic Planet (Center for International Environmental Law)
  • Vanuatu Has One Of The World’s Strictest Plastic Bans. It’s About To Get Tougher. (Huffington Post)  The measure, meant to curtail ocean pollution, outlaws products that get thrown away after a single use.
  • Grocery bags and takeout containers aren’t enough. It’s time to phase out all single – use plastic (LA Times)
  • Oregon Bottle Deposit System Hits 90 Percent Redemption Rate (NPR)                                                                      Oregon’s bottle deposit system is recycling more containers than ever before despite major disruptions in global recycling markets.
  • New warnings on plastic’s health risks as fracking industry promotes new ‘plastic belt’ build-out (Nation of Change)                                                                                           And that’s the heart of the problem – the rush to make plastics from cheap fracked shale gas in America hasn’t been driving more polluting plants out of business, it’s been adding to the world’s new plastic production.
  • Report: Plastic & Health: The Hidden Cost Of A Plastic Planet (Center for Environmental Law)
  • The Quest to Turn Food Waste into Road Salt (Modern Farmer)                                                                                        From cheese brine to beet juice, these local – sourced environmentally-friendly de-icers are turning waste into safe driving.


Healthy Food & Food Safety

  • Sugary drink consumption in Berkeley down more than 50% since introduction of soda tax (Berkeleyside)
  • New York City banned trans fats a decade before the rest of the country. A new study finds eaters are healthier for it (The New Food Economy)
  • The Surprising Benefits of Serving Prisoners Better Food (Mother Jones)                                                                  Inmates around the country are striking over dismal meals.
  • 150,000+ Pounds of Boston Market Meals Recalled After Customers Find Plastic and Glass (EcoWatch)
  • You Shouldn’t Microwave Food In Plastic Containers, Or Put Them In The Dishwasher, Says New Research (Tech Times)
    • American Academy of Pediatrics Says Some Common Food Additives Pose Health Risk to Children (American Academy of Pediatrics)


Food Fraud, Scandals, Weird & Funny

  • The Fish On Your Plate May Not Be What Ordered (Huffington Post)                                                                                    A new investigation finds that one-fifth of US seafood tested is mislabeled.
  • Report: Casting a Wider Net: More Action Needed to Stop Seafood Fraud in the United States (Oceana)
  • Full Load of Beer Spills Out After Semi Overturns Under 10 Freeway in West Covina (CBS Los Angeles)
  • Lincoln The Goat Elected Mayor Of Small Vermont Town (Huffington Post)                                                She beat out cats, dogs and a gerbil named Crystal to become mayor of Fair Haven.


Children & School Food

  • Arkansas legislator proposes cutting lunch funding from struggling schools to improve reading skills (fox4kc)
  • Instead of snacks, a vending machine at this elementary school is filled with books (CNN)

Labor, Unions & Coops

  • State of Working America Wages 2018 (Economic Policy Institute)
    • Whopping 62 percent of jobs don’t support middle-class life after accounting for cost of living (USA Today)
  • New Jersey lawmakers want a $15 minimum wage, but not for farmworkers (The New Food Economy)
  • Whole Food reportedly cuts worker hours to make up for its new $15 an hour wage (Fast Company)          After Amazon raised its company-wide wage floor to $15 last year, workers at Whole Foods are seeing their hours slashed.
  • Saru Jayaraman a relentless advocate for marginalized restaurant workers (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Can an LA Ordinance Give Workers  Schedule Stability? (Capital and Main)                                                                        A UCLA study found that 845 percent of the city of Los Angeles’ 147,000 retail employees lack fixed schedules.
  • Workers At Three Sonic Locations Quit After Owner Slashes Minimum Wage To $4 Plus Tips (Labor 411)


Pollinators & Insects

  • Bees face yet another lethal threat in dicamba, a drift-prone weedkiller (Food & Environmental Reporting Network)
  • Massive Loss Of Thousands Of Hive Afflicts Orchard Growers And Beekeepers (NPR)


Animals, Fish & Seafood

  • No-deal Brexit ‘could bring return of low-welfare egg imports’ (The Guardian)                                                Farming and industry groups seek government assurances for consumers and UK farmers
  • Sea cucumbers are being eaten to death (Food & Environmental Reporting Network)                                            The marine animals are pricey status foods in China, fueling disastrous overfishing


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • Trader Joe’s Will Cut 1 Million Pounds of Plastic From Its Stores! (Greenpeace)
    • Trader Joe’s Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics Nationwide Following Customer Petition (EcoWatch)
  • How America’s food giants swallowed the family farms (The Guardian)                                                            Across the Midwest, the rise of factory farming is destroying rural communities. And the massive corporations behind the devastation are now eyeing a post-Brexit UK market
  • Kona Coffee Growers Sue Walmart, Amazon, Costco, and More for Selling Fake Kona (Modern Farmer)    Kona coffee has long been among the most expensive and prized coffees in the world.
  • We Tried The New Grocery Delivery Service That Helps You Skip Plastic (Huffington Post)                                      The Wally Shop delivers fresh produce and dry goods in cloth bags and glass jars
  • McDonald’s Hands Out Free Roald Dahl Books To Encourage Children To Read More (Independent)    The fast food giants will hand out 800,000 free books as party of the initiative
  • Plotted From A Prison Cot, Wrongly Accused Man Whips Smoothie Dream Into Reality (NPR)
  • To Revive Rural America, We Must Fix Our Broken Food System (The American Conservative)              America’s agricultural system has become extractive, and more and more of the profits are flowing to a few.
  • Rural America I Reeling. What’s the Remedy? (Common Dreams)                                                            While the US government has prioritized the bailout of Wall Street with public monies, it has marginalized distressed rural communities and failed to provide the necessary funds, expertise and assistance to help revitalize them
  • Trump’s Trade War Costs US More Than $3 Billion A Month, Economists Say (Huffington Post)
  • New Life for an Old Mill Town in Rural North Carolina (Yes!)                                                                                            A grassroots co-op turns small individual investments into bigger returns.


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

  • The Pentagon Blew $22 Million of Taxpayer Money on Lobster Tail Last  Tail Last Year (Munchies)
  • Trump Trade War Triggering $1.9 Billion Plunge In Farm Exports: USDA (Huffington Post)                              Soybean exports to China have fallen more than 90 percent.
  • Trump Repeals OSHA Safety Standards (ucommblog)                                                                                        The new rule will hide accident and injury reports allowing bad bosses to continue unsafe practices
  • Nearly 1.4 Million Puerto Ricans Facing ‘Dangerous’ Food Stamp Cuts as Trump and Congress Fail to Act (Common Dreams)                                                                                          “The fact that we’ve had to reduce benefits to those that need it the most is alarming. Puerto Ricans are being treated unequally and that is unfair.”
  • Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Legislation to Fix Nation’s Crumbling Water Infrastructure (Common Dreams)                                                                                          “Safe, clean, affordable drinking water is a human rights issue,” says one lawmaker. “There is not a human being who can live on this earth without water and we are treating it as if it’s a luxury.”
  • USDA has paid out $7.7 billion to help farmers hit by Trump’s tariffs (NBC News)                              “Under the trade dispute, soybean exports to China alone have plummeted 22 million tonnes, or over 90 percent,” said the USDA
  • The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) renews call for USDA oversite of livestock gene editing (Global Meat News)
  • Arizona House Republicans Vote To Allow Sub-Minimum Wage For Younger Workers (Labor 411)
  • Arkansas approves expanded dicamba use, dismissing scientific and public concerns (The New Food Economy)
    • Arkansas Tried to Restrict the Use of This Controversial Pesticide. Monsanto Fought Back and Won. (Mother Jones)                                                                              Dicamba drift has damaged millions of dollars worth of crops, as well as wildflowers that honeybees rely on to produce honey.
  • California must abandon 535,000 acres of prized farmland to meet water conservation goals (The New Food Economy)
  • Tennessee: No food for you: Conservatives vote against providing lunch to students with a meal debt (Real Facts Tennessee)                                                                            Republicans voted 4-2 to defeat The Tennessee Hunger-Free Student Act – a bill with three measures to ensure students can eat school lunches and not be punished when parents fail to pay meal fees or a meal debt.
  • Baltimore files lawsuit demanding Monsanto pay to clean up PCB chemicals in city waterways (Baltimore Sun)
  • More Cities Ban Cashless Businesses, New York Wants to Follow (City Lab)                                                                  Some New Yorkers believe cash-free businesses violate civil rights and want to join cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington in banning them.


Non-Governmental Organizations


GMOs, CRISPR, Cloning & Synthetic Biology

  • How Bt brinjal hurt the farmers (Down To Earth)                                                                                        New report says three-fourth of farmers who took up cultivation abandoned it in the next round
  • Report: Adoption & abandoning of Bt brinjal cultivation: Farmer’s Experience Survey (UBINIG)                                                                                      On farm Trials on Bt brinjal Varieties during 2014-15
  • Here Come the Frankenfish: Critics Warn GE Salmon Import Approval Puts Consumers and Fisheries at ‘Serious Risk’ (Common Dreams)                                    Consumer advocates charge the move “runs counter to sound science and market demand.”
  • Silicon Valley Startups backed by celebrities like Bill Gates are using gene-editing too Crispr to make meat without farms – and to disrupt a $200 billion industry (Business Insider)
  • Forget Growing Weed – Make Yeast Spit Out CBD and THC Instead (Wired)                                                            We all knew this was coming, bioengineered cannabinoids…
  • Rising High: GM Yeast Generates Known and Novel Marijuana Compounds (Scientific American)
  • New “Speed Cloning” Could Help Genetically Engineer Disease-Resistant Crops Even Faster (Modern Farmer) what are the unintended consequences?


Food Science, Technology & Nanotechnology

  • Is the world ready for lab-grown meat? (The Guardian)
    • Study: A Survey of Consumer Perception of Plant-Based and Clean Meat in USA, India, and China (Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems)
  • Is lab-grown meat actually worse for the environment? (Vox)                                                                                                A new study raises uncomfortable questions.
  • Study: Climate Impacts of Cultured Meat and Beef Cattle (Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems)
  • A pioneering retinal scan could diagnose “zombie deer” on the spot – if only scientists could fund it (The New Food Economy)
  • Strawberry farmers: Come with Harvest CROO if you want to live (The New Food Economy)



  • Buy organic food to help curb global insect collapse, say scientists (The Guardian)                                                      Urging political action on pesticide use is another way to help stem ‘collapse of nature’
  • The herbicide glyphosate persists in wild, edible plants says UNBC professor (Prince George Citizen)