Jenny’s Food & Ag Update August 21, 2019


  • Activist blacksmith teaches gun violence survivors to melt down guns and turn them into farm implements (boingboing)
  • Is The Movement To Eat Less Meat Actually Making A Difference? (Huffington Post)                  Americans are eating less meat and more plant-based foods these days. Here’s how it’s affecting the environment.
  • Can Chefs Learn to Love Cooking Without Fire? (Mother Jones)                                                                                                  A push to electrify buildings suggests the end is nigh for gas ranges.
  • The secret History of Why Soda Companies Switched From Sugar to Hight-Fructose Corn Syrup (Mother Jones)                                                                                        Nixon, Reagan, and a Midwestern Machiavelli all figure.
  • Being Born on a Farm Could Be Key for a Strong Immune System (modern farm)                                                            The scoop is in the poop, according to a recent study.
  • Iraq’s burning problem: the strange fires destroying crops an livelihoods (The Guardian)                              Fires in northern Iraq have reduced a potentially bumper harvest to ashes. The government blames mischance – but is something more sinister afoot?


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • The Bright Side of the Current Farm Crisis: An Opportunity For Change (In These Times)
  • Indiana Farmers Union Joins Fight Against Noxious 8,000-Hog Agribusiness Operation (Huffington Post)  The state’s Right to Farm laws protect massive agribusiness at the expense of the community and family farms, the lawsuit argues.
  • This US heartland has been flooded for five months. Does anyone care? (The Guardian)                                    About half a million acres of land in the rural Yazoo backwater area in Mississippi is underwater, a devastating blow for a poor region where agriculture is the economy’s lifeblood
  • American farmer: Trump ‘took away all of our markets’ (Yahoo Finance)
    • China is sourcing more of its farm goods from other countries, ant that’s a bad sign for the US (Business Insider)
  • Putting pigs in the shade: the radical farming system banking on trees (The Guardian)
  • Imperfect science of intensive farming (The Guardian)                                                                                                    … It was science that gave us DDT, thalidomide and lead in petrol; and science told us it would be find to give antibiotics prophylactically to intensively reared livestock…
  • Inside The Tiny Country Where Robots Grow The Food (Huffington Post)                                                   The wave of machines taking over farms in the Netherlands has helped propel its rise to the world’s second-biggest good exporter after the U.S.


Land and Soil



  • Climate change’s deadliest effects are unfolding under the sea (grist)
    • Global Warming is Pushing Pacific Salmon to the Brink, Federal Scientists Warn (Inside Climate News)
    • Record high temperatures in Alaska have sent salmon into cardiac arrest (AlterNet)
  • World Must Protect Land To Avoid Climate Disaster, New UN Report Warns (Huffington Post)            Averting catastrophic warming requires rapid, global change to land use and food production, the assessment says.
  • Drastic Changes to Food Production and Consumption Needed to Save Planet From Catastrophic Warming, IPCC Reveals (Common Dreams)
  • We must change food production to save the world, says leaked report (The Guardian)
  • Report: Climate Change and Land (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)                                          An IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems
  • Tree-damaging pests pose ‘devastating’ threat to 40% of US forests (The Guardian)                                  About 450 overseas pests have been introduced to US forests, a climate crisis resource, due to international trade and travel
  • A Time of Reckoning in the Central Valley (Bay Nature)                                                                                    Climate change is upending agriculture and land use in California’s Central Valley


Plants, Seeds & Cultivars

  • Gorgeous Portraits of America’s Wild (and Surprisingly Delicious) Edible Plants (Mother Jones)        Photographer Jimmy Fike spent 12 years chronicling and feasting upon 140 varieties.
  • We Ignore Thousands of Threatened Plant Species at Our Own Peril (Truthout)                                                      More than 20 percent of the world’s known plant species are threatened with extinction.
  • Devastating Banana Fungus Arrives in Colombia, Threatening The Fruit’s Future (NPR)
  • The world faces a dwindling supply of this crucial resource need to grow food (AlterNet)                  Phosphate…


Water & Our Oceans

  • ‘Biggest Crisis No One Is Talking About’: Quarter of Humanity Faces ‘Extremely High Water Stress’ Intensified by Climate Emergency (Common Dreams)
    • 17 Countries, Home to One-Quarter of the World’s Population, Face Extremely High Water Stress (World Resource Institute)
  • Bottled water distributions begin as lead water poisoning crisis erupts in Newark, New Jersey (World Socialist Web Site)
  • 9 Foods That Are Making the Drought Even Worse (Huffington Post)                                                                                 It takes more than 1,500 gallons of water to make a chocolate bar…
  • Pennsylvania is Discharging Radioactive Fracking Waste Into Rivers As Landfill Leachate, Impacting the Chesapeake Bay & Ohio River Watersheds (Public Herald)
  • ‘It’s Raining Plastic’: Researchers Find Microscopic Fiber in Colorado Rain Samples (EcoWatch)
  • Beavers on the coast are helping salmon bounce back. Here’s How. (National Geographic)                            The arrival of beaver dams in the Pacific Northwest’s Elwha River delta may surprising benefits.


Food Culture & History

  • 100 Years Ago, Farmers and Socialists Established the Country’s First Modern Public Bank (In These Times)
  • Don’t trash the best part of the melon (Salon)                                                                                        When you throw out your honeydew and cantaloupe seeds, you’re missing the best part


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

  • Huge New Survey Finds That Sugary Soda Taxes Work (modern farmer)
    • Study: Impact of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes on purchases and dietary intake: Systematic review and meta-analysis (World Obesity)


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • 7 Ways to Stop Wasting Food, Save Money and Save the Planet (Global Citizen)                                                 Around a third of food is wasted globally.
  • We’re leaving so much food on farms to just in the fields (Fast Company)                                                                 Most of the reports you hear about food waste don’t even include the amount that’s left behind on farms, but new research shows it’s a lot.
  • Research: On-farm food loss in northern and central California: Results of field survey measurements (Resources, Conservation and Recycling)
  • What Grocery Stores Won’t Tell You About Plastic (Huffington Post)                                                                          Huge companies like Walmart could slash single-use plastics – if they really wanted to.
  • The bowls at Chipotle and Sweetgreen are supposed to be compostable. They contain cancer-linked “forever chemicals.” (The New Food Economy)                             Testing by The New Food Economy reveals an industry secret: All fiber bowls contain PFAS,  a troubling class of chemicals with no known half-life, even when they’re certified compostable. It gets worse from there.


Healthy Food & Food Safety

  • New York City Is Giving Out Prescriptions For Free Fruits And Vegetables (Huffington Post)                         For people with low access to healthy food and high blood pressure, it’s free money for groceries.
  • The Best Probiotics (The Atlantic)                   An apple contains about 100 million bacteria – a more diverse range than any  dietary supplement.
  • An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples? (Frontiers In Microbiology)
  • Leafy Greens With Listeria Sold at Major Supermarkets (Consumer Reports)                                  Consumer Reports found the bacteria in prewashed and unbagged products. Here’s how to stay safe when eating greens.
  • Scientists say many UTIs are caused by E. coli in food – when will the government believe them? (The New Food Economy)                                                                                      And why are we allowing contaminated foods into consumer food system?


Food Fraud, Scandals, Weird & Funny

  • Seafood company president pleads guilty to mislabeling millions of dollars worth of crab meat (The New Food Economy)
  • People Keep Stealing Industrial Hemp, Which Will Not Get Them High (modern farmer)                                  They’re in for a major disappointment if they try to smoke it.
  • Racoon Caught Inside High School Vending Machine, Lurking Among Snacks (Huffington Post)                  The little guy was freed from the machine after the snack caper gone wrong.


Children & School Food

  • Exploring Farm to Head Start Across Minnesota: Lessons from IATP’s Farm to Head Start (Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy)
  • Why does participation in the federal summer meal program keep dropping? (The New Food Economy)      Only one in seven kids eligible for free summer lunch actually gets one, a new report finds.
  • Report: Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation: Summer Nutrition Status Report 2019 (Food Research & Action Center)
  • 500,000 Children Could Loose Free School Lunch Under Trump Administration’s SNAP Plan (Eater)              The Department of Agriculture conveniently left out its own estimated impact on schoolchildren in its formal proposal to overhaul food stamps


Labor, Unions & Coops

  • Nestle admits slavery in Thailand while fighting child labor lawsuit in Ivory Coast (The Guardian)          The company has won plaudits for its admission of forced labor in the Thai seafood industry but much of the supply chain remains hidden.
  • The restaurant industry is turning to prisons to find workers (The New Food Economy)                                                  A new $4.5 million grant to the National Restaurant Association will go toward training inmates on front-of-house and kitchen skills.
  • Why It’s Immigrants Who Pack Your Meat (The Atlantic)                                                                                      What Trump has called an “invasion” was actually a recruitment drive.
  • ‘On the Clock’ is a horrifying look at low-wage work in America (Houston Chronicle)
  • The restaurant industry has a mental health crisis (The Outline)                                                                                  Servers, line cooks, and dishwashers all over America are struggling to find help in an industry that often exacerbates the problem.
  • Mass ICE Raids in Mississippi After Workers Fought For Better Conditions Leave Kids Without Parents (Democracy Now)
    • ICE raids seven Mississippi chicken plants, in the largest single state action in agency history (The New Food Economy)
    •  “We Had a Future We Built Here” (Slate)                                                                                      The ICE raids devastated the immigrant community in Morton, Mississippi. Then came a mass firing.
  • Mississippi ICE raids hit food processing plants; 680 workers arrested (MSN)
  • Here’s why the aftermath of ICE raid is devastating – and not just for immigrants (AlterNet)



  • 58 arrested and fined outside American Airlines HQ in catering workers protest (Dallas News)


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • Australia’s First Rescued-Food Supermarket Opens (Broadsheet)                                                                                          Base on OzHarvest’s “take what you need, give if you can” model.
  • Is the US chicken industry cheating its farmers? (The Guardian)                                                                                  Leaked documents reveal remarkable power US poultry industry holds over farmers struggling to stay afloat on thin margins
  • Following weeks of controversy, GrubHub announces restaurant friendly reforms (The New Food Economy)                                                                                          The company says it will set up a system to transfer web domains to restaurant owners, and will also improve the policy for its controversial phone charges.
  • Meatpacking giant Tyson wants fewer government inspectors. The USDA is listening (MSN)                  Tyson, one of the country’s largest meatpakers, is petitioning the Trump administration to reduce the number of government inspectors at a Kansas beef plant – a proposal that has raised alarms among some consumer and food safety advocates, who fear the changes could jeopardize public health.
  • Tyson want fewer government inspectors in one of its beef plants. Food safety advocates are raising alarms. (NBC News)                                                              Consumer advocates warn that the changes could threaten food safety by keeping red flags out of the sight of expert inspectors.
  • Impossible Foods, Impossible Claims (Medium)                                                                                            The company has courted ethical foodies, but how sustainable is this meat alternative?
  • An Inside Look At How Monsanto, PR Firm And A Reporter Giver Readers A Warped View Of Science (Huffington Post)                                                                                      Dogged for years by bad press, Monsanto hit reboot with Ketchum.
  • Revealed: how Monsanto “intelligence center’ targeted journalists and activists (The Guardian)  Internal documents show how the company worked to discredit critics and investigated singer Neil Young
  • Now Earning 278 Times More Than Average Worker, New Study Shows CEO Pay Has Grown More Than 1,000% Since 1978 (Common Dreams)                               “Corporate greed is eviscerating the working class.”
  • Report: CEO compensation has grown 940% since 1978 (Economic Policy Institute)                    Typical worker compensation has risen only 12% during that time


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

  • European Regulators Praised for Declaring There Is ‘No Safe Exposure Level’ for Pesticide Tied to Brain Damage in Children (Common Dreams)                                    Advocates celebrating the announcement noted that, by contrast, “the Trump administration is kowtowing to chemical agribusiness.”
  • Trump’s Policies Are Putting Our Food Supply at Risk (Truthout)
    • The Climate Crisis Is ‘a Perfect Storm’ Headed for the World’s Food Supply (EcoWatch)
    • America’s Farmers, Reeling From Floods, Face a New Problem: No Water (NYT)                                      The breach of an irrigation canal left more than 100,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska and Wyoming without water at a critical point in the growing cycle.
  • Bipartisan bill on food expiration labels could cut many tons of food waste (The New Food Economy)
  • Midwest farmers going broke at record rates thanks to Trump’s trade war (Salon)                                    Bankruptcies have doubled in the biggest farm states, with falling prices and the trade war largely to blame
  • Farmers Reel After Sonny Perdue Mocks Them As ‘Whiners’ Amid Trade War Bankruptcies (Huffington Post)
  • Minnesota farmer tears up while telling CNN how Trump’s ‘very scary’ trade war has harmed her family (AlterNet)
  • Nearly 100 percent of Trump funds designed to help farmers went to white farmers (grist)
    • Majority of Trump’s Trade Aide Went to Biggest Farms, Study Finds (Bloomberg)
    • Trump’s big farmer grift: He’s giving millions to the rich wile starving the poor (AlterNet)
  • The Golfer In Chief Is Also the Goatherd In Chief, Saving Him Tens of Thousands (Huffington Post)    Trump owns eight goats and farms 113 acres of hay at his New Jersey golf resort, slashing his property tax bill by some $88,000 a year.
  • Top Scientist Quits USDA, Says Trump Admin Tried to Bury Study Linking Climate and Nutrition (EcoWatch)
  • Visa Program Leave Cultural Exchange Workers Vulnerable to Exploitation (Capital and Main)  Participants in the US Summer Work Travel program have been victims of wage theft, harassment and even human trafficking.
  • With Ridiculous Timing, USDA Suspends Its Honey Bee Monitoring Program (modern farmer)
  • EPA Wants to triple level of rocket fuel chemical allowed in drinking water (Think Progress)
    • Vintage EPA photos reveal what US water ways looked like before pollution was regulated (Business Insider)
  • Biotechnology Oversight Gest and Early Make-Over by Trump’s White House and USDA: Part 1 – The Executive Order (NC State University)
    • Biotechnology Oversight an Early Make Over by Trump’s White House and USDA: Part 2 – The USDA-APHIS  Rule (NC State University)
  • USDA to biotech: Call your own compliance (Institute For Agriculture and Trade Policy)
  • Rep. Ilham Omar Introduces Zero Waste Act as Part of Green New Deal (Democracy Now)
  • Impossible Foods Nabs FDA Approval to Sell in Grocery stores in September (Eater)
  • Tony Evers order new farm rules to limit nitrate pollution in drinking water (Kenosha News)
  • Trump defends a pesticide linked to developmental disorders. California will ban it (LA Times)
  • Minneapolis becomes the first major American city to ban new drive-through windows (The New Food Economy)                                                                                        Citing the climate benefits of taking cars off the road, the city council says no new facilities can be built.
  • New York City Is Giving Out Prescriptions For Free Fruits And Vegetables (Huffington Post)                        For people with lower access to healthy food and high blood pressure, it’s free money for groceries.


Pollinators & Insects

  • Morgan Freeman Converted His 124-Acre Ranch Into A Giant Honeybee Sanctuary To Save The Bees (Forbes)


Animals, Fish & Sea Animals


GMOs, CRISPR, Cloning & Synthetic Biology

  • FDA finds a surprise in gene-edited cattle: antibiotic resistant, non-bovine DNA (New Food Economy)
  • Dairy Ice Cream, No Cow Needed: Egg And Milk Proteins Are Made Without Animals (NPR)



  • Insect ‘apocalypse’ in US driven by 50x increase in toxic pesticides (National Geographic)                                                                Bees, butterflies, and other insects are under attack by the very plants they feed on as US agriculture continues to use chemicals known to kill.
  • A New Study Reveals Just How a Bee’s World Has Become (Mother Jones)                                            Here’s what happened when farmers started using a new class of insecticides.
  •  ‘Alarming’ Explosion of Toxic Pesticide Use Causing Insect Apocalypse in United States: Study (Common Dreams)                                                                                  “Insect abundance has declined 45 percent. This is a global crisis – we must ban neonics to save the bees!
  • Toxic Pesticides Are Driving Insect ‘Apocalypse’ in the US, Study Warns (Smithsonian)
  • An assessment of acute insecticide toxicity loading (AITL) of chemical pesticides used on agricultural land in the United States (PLOS One)
  • ‘Catastrophe’ as France’s bird population collapses due to pesticides (The Guardian)
  • Glyphosate Should Be Phased Out Worldwide. Devastating Health Impacts (Global Research)
  • Corporations can legally put carcinogens in our food without warning labels. Here’s why (Salon)
  • After Poisoning Downs 24 Students In Port Dickson, Malaysia: PANAP Calls For Pesticide-Free Buffer Zones Around Schools (Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific)
  • US Annually Uses 388 Million Pounds of Potentially Fatal Pesticides Banned in the EU, China and Brazil (EcoWatch)


Education & Training

  • UK Charity’s Prison Restaurant Programme Does Reduce Reoffending (Eater)                                                The Clink operates restaurants in four UK prisons