Jenny’s Food & Ag Update September 15, 2019


  • Going Home With Wendell Berry (The New Yorker)                                                                                            The writer and farmer on local knowledge, embracing limits, and the exploitation of rural America.
  • A Shared Place (The Nation)              Wendell Berry’s lifelong dissent
  • Why Growing Food is The Single Most Impactful Thing You Can Do in a Corrupt Political System (Realfarmacy)
  • Store It: Interactive storage guide – how to keep your food fresh for as long as possible (
  • Inmates have turned the Maine State Prison grounds into a lush garden (Bangor Daily News)
  • Literal Sh*t Storm: Warnings of Major Manure Threat as Hurricane Dorian Barrels Toward North Carolina Factory Farms (Common Dreams)                                            “The heavy rainfall could flood poorly located factory farms, spreading untold tons of hog, chicken, and turkey waste along the coastal plain.”
  • The Best Place for Harvesting Solar Energy Is Not Where I Expected It to Be (Mother Jones)                And the same land can produce loads of food and electricity simultaneously.
  • Phosphate fertilizer ‘crisis’ threatens world food supply (The Guardian)                                                                      Use of essential rock phosphate has soared, but scientists fear it could run out within a few decades
  • Why the UK Is Wary of American “Chlorinated Chicken” (modern farmer)                                                                            The US government is looking to change this attitude.


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • Farmers Needs a Bill of Rights (Common Dreams)                                                                                        Besides a fair income, just like other workers, the Farmers Bill of Rights seeks to guarantee farmers fair and open markets that are not dominated by a handful of corporations.
  • 15% of American Farms Don’t Have Access to the Internet (modern farmer)                                              Believe it or not, this is an improvement.
  • Farmers at the Iowa State Fair Say They’re Backing Trump’s Trade War (Mother Jones)
  • Another Toll Of Donald Trump’s Trade War: Farmer Suicides (Huffington Post)                                         Mounting financial stress is linked to grim tally in rural America.
  • The World’s Largest Urban Farm Is Set to Open in Paris (modern farmer)                                                                            The urban farm trend continues to grow. Literally, and in multiple ways.
  • Young dairy farmers continue Marin – Sonoma ranching tradition, stick to organic milk (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • The Dirt on Dirt Capital (modern farmer)       It’s a for-profit company that seems willing to take on more risks than other lending institutions.
  • Farmers Union Vice President Says Farmers Have ‘Pretty Much Lost All Our Markets Since Trump Took Over’ (Newsweek)
  • National Farmers Union Head Scorches Trump: He’s Offended ‘Pretty Much Every Ally’ On Earth (Huffington Post)
  • California crab fishermen are testing “ropeless” gear to save whales – and themselves (The New Food Economy)


Land and Soil

  • How Did African-American Farmers Lose 90 percent of Their Land? (modern farmer)                                              A combination of obscure legal mechanisms and racist institutions enabled – and continues to enable developers to weasel it away.



  • Who’s Burning the Amazon? Rampant Capitalism (Wired)                                                                                         Market forces and the administration of Jair Bolsonaro are supercharging the deforestation that’s imperiling the world’s biggest tropical rainforest.
  • Record hot summer burned the first fruit of my apple tree – and left a bad taste in my mouth (The Guardian)
  • North Carolina Braces for Another Flood of Hog Poop (Mother Jones)                                                                                    For the third time in four years, a hurricane threatens on of the country’s epicenters of pig and poultry farming.


Plants, Seeds & Cultivars

  • What’s the Difference Between Heirloom, Beefsteak, Plum, Cherry, and Grape Tomatoes? (Eater)            And one more question: Why are grocery store tomatoes so bad?
  • This Apple Might Be the Most Anticipated Piece of Produce in History (Mother Jones)                                        Get ready for Cosmic Crisp mania.
  • The Nation’s First Hemp Seed Bank Will Be in New York (modern farmer)                                                                            The CBD market thanks you.
  • Almost All American Strawberries Are Grown With Toxic Chemicals (The Atlantic)                                      For a century, the industry has used fumigants to farm berries year-round.


Water & Our Oceans

  • States cut water use as Colorado River runs low. That’s actually good news. (grist)
    • Wellspring of Resilience: How Do We Provide Water Security in an Uncertain World? (The Nature Conservancy)
  • How to address America’s lead crisis and provide safe drinking water for all (The Conversation)
  • This is our “Chernobyl”: Frontline’s “Flint’s Deadly Water” exposes shocking Legionnaires’ crisis (Salon)
    • Months after dire warning, Flint spills 2 million gallons of raw sewage into river (Michigan Live)
  • High levels of arsenic found in bottled water sold at Walmart, Target, Whole Foods (CBS17)
  • Nestlé Plans to Plunder 1.1M Gallons a Day from Florida Natural Springs (EcoWatch)
  • The Frightening Spread of Toxic Algae (The New Republic)
    • Toxic Algae warning for Sacramento area waters. Keep an eye on your dogs (Sacramento Bee)
    • Mississippi Beaches Have Been Vacant For 2 Months As Toxic Algae Bloom Lurks Offshore (Huffington Post)
    • ‘It can kill you in seconds’: the deadly algae on Brittany’s beaches (The Guardian)                            Activists say stinking sludge is linked to nitrates in fertilizers from intensive farming
  • Researchers Have Identified How Naval Sonar Is Killing and Beaching Whales (Sea Voice News)
    • So Many Dead Whales Are Washing Up On The West Coast That NOAA Is Pleading For Help (Huffington Post)
  • Collapse of kelp forest imperils North Coast ocean ecosystem (The Press Democrat)


Food Culture & History

  • My Life Spent in Mexico City’s Food Markets (City Lab)                                                                                            The relationship between the writer and her food merchants is a familial on extending through generations, and beyond the hunt for that one perfect taco.
  • How Asian Americans Use Kitchen Gardens To Reclaim Their Heritage (Huffington Post)                      Growing produce that’s common in Asia has become a radical act of cultural preservation.
  • Super Sad True Chef Story (Eater)                The French brigade system and ritual of staging had defined what it means to train as a fine dining chef for more than a century – and it broke me after a week.
  • The Human Cost of Viral Food Crazes (Rolling Stone)                                                                                                 A Popeyes chicken sandwich has driven people to sue the chain and even hold up stores at gunpoint. What the hell is going on?
  • Chipotle I Smothering Mexican American Burrito Culture (Mother Jones)                                                            And I don’t mean with a delicious green chile sauce.
  • Radical Roots: Harvesting legacies from Vermont’s back-to-the-land movemenet. (The Progressive)


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

  • Thousands of Silicon Valley College Students Struggle with Homelessness, Hunger (San Jose Inside)
  • In Santa Cruz, Clandestine Food Bank Draws 100s Of Farmworkers (Patch)                            Farmworker families afraid of getting assistance from food banks due to recent immigration raids now participate in secret food handouts.
  • Fewer Households Are Going Hungry. But Cuts In Food Aid Loom (NPR)
    • Wisconsin, Texas, Washington among state to be hit hardest by Trump’s new food stamp restrictions (The New Food Economy)                                                              New analysis shows that seniors and residents of some states will suffer the most from a proposal to redefine SNAP eligibility.
  • The Story Behind José Andrés Nonprofit Serving Hurricane Dorian Victims (Eater)
    • Celebrity chef José Andrés prepared to serve tens of thousands of meals to Dorian victims (abc7NY)
    • Chef José Andrés hopes to serve at least 10,000 meals to people in the Bahamas (CNN)
  • After Hurricane Dorian, Celebrity cruise ship in Bahamas reroutes to deliver food, aid (NBC News)                                                                            The Celebrity Equinox’s kitchen staff is preparing 10,000 meals, with guests even pitching in to help in the aftermath of the hurricane.
  • Schools in England Are Increasingly Hosting Food Banks to Pupils and Families (Global Citizen)                      Schools are becoming a “fourth emergency service,” a head teachers’ leader said.
  • Climate Crisis Leaves More Than 2 Million People in Somalia Facing Severe Hunger (Global Citizen)
    • Nearly 2.3 Million Zambians Face Starvations as a Result of Low Rainfall (Global Citizen)
  • The “eat less meat” movement is growing. Does it distort science? (The New Food Economy)
  • A new nutrition group aims to erase the link between value and massive portions (Quartz)                            Extra large is the problem. The trick is convincing Americans to think about food in a new way> Extra large isn’t extra good.


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • The City Has Food to Share. Do You Know Where to Find It? (City Lab)                                                                                   A New York – based design duo proposes a “forage beacon” that makes it clear when food – like fruit, nuts, and vegetables – is ripe and safe to eat in the city.
  • Plastic food packaging was most common beach trash in 2018 (National Geographic)
  • Italy passes law to send unsold food to charities instead of dumpsters (Global Citizen)
  • This Canadian Worm Farm Turns Office Waste Into Plant Food (modern farmer)                                                 Waste not, want not – these worms do the work for you.
  • German Study: Alarming Levels of Dangerous Plastics in Children’s Bodies (Common Dreams)    Children from poorer families had more plastic residue in their bodies than those from higher-income homes.
  • Marine plastic pollution hides a neurological toxin in our food (msn)
    • Today’s special: Grilled salmon laced with plastic (Food & Environment Reporting Network)          We used to think microplastics stayed in a fish’s guts. Chilled new research suggests the tiny particles migrate into its flesh.
  • Worms fail to thrive in soil containing microplastics – study (The Guardian)                                                            Finding could have implications for farming – as worms are vital part of farmland ecosystem


Healthy Food & Food Safety

  • Organic food health benefits have been hard to assess, but that could change (The Conversation)
    • Is Organic Produce Superior In Taste And Nutrition? (Huffington Post)                                    “Organic food is more nutritious than non-organic food, but not in the way that you might think.” As or taste, it’s a mixed bag.
  • The Benefits of Bacteria in Organic Apples (modern farmer)                                                                                               A new study shows there is more “good” bacteria in organic apples.
  • How One Boston Hospital Is Feeding Patients Through Its Rooftop Farm (modern farmer)
  • It doesn’t matter if it’s sugary or diet: study links all soda to an early death (Omaha World Herald)
    • Study: Association Between Soft Drink Consumption and Mortality in 10 European Countries (Journal of the American Medical Association)
  • Tyson Issues Fourth Recall of the Year For Having Non-Food Material in Its Chicken (modern farmer)    How come stuff keeps ending up in frozen chicken products?
  • Some Fish Are Still Full of Mercury, for a Worry Reason (The Atlantic)                                                          Emissions of mercury have declined, but levels in fish could still increase thanks to overfishing and a changing climate.
  • Outbreak linked to imported papayas that distributor refused to recall is over (Food Safety News)
    • Papayas Keep Making People Sick (modern farmer)                                                                                    There have been eight significant outbreaks of Salmonella connected to the fruit.
  • Two Major Brands Recall Flour Because of E. Coli Concerns (Consumer Reports)                                       Check the labels on your 5-pound bags from King Arthur and Pillsbury


Food Fraud, Scandals, Weird & Funny

  • In the largest prosecution of organic fraud in US history, Iowa grain seller sentenced to 10 year in prison (The New Food Economy)
  • StarKist tuna company ordered to pay $100M for price-fixing conspiracy (The Hill)
  • Maurice the noisy rooster can keep crowing, court rules (The Guardian)                                                                French judge ruffles feathers by rejecting complaint about bird’s dawn squawking


Children & School Food

  • “Going to bed hungry’: the harrowing reality of poor children living in DC (The Guardian)                          New study shows kids in the District of Columbia are the most underprivileged in the country, facing daily threats of homelessness and food insecurity
  • Ohio boy had lunch taken away at school due to negative balance on his birthday (10TV WBNS)


Labor, Unions & Coops

  • Restaurant Owners Should Embrace – and Pay Above – the $15 Minimum Wage (eater)                                        Dirty Candy chef-owner Amanda Cohen on the necessary shift higher wages can bring
  • Low Wages, Sexual Harassment and Unreliable Tips. This Is Life in America’s Booming Service Industry (Time)
    • Judge calls for retrial in French Laundry pregnancy discrimination case (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Migrant farmworkers deserve respect – and a path to citizenship (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Hands that feed us (The New Food Economy)                                                                           Immigrant food workers, in their own words.
  • Chasing Blueberries: The Uncertainty Of Life As A Maine Berry Picker (Huffington Post)                           Migrant workers face a number of challenges as the industry turns to mechanization and faces fluctuating weather patterns.
  • Why It’s Immigrants Who Pack Your Meat (The Atlantic)                                                                                      What Trump has called an “invasion” was actually a corporate recruitment drive.
  • “You Cannot Hire American Here’: Employers on Why They Hire Undocumented Workers (KQED)
  • Worker Sues Whole Foods After Getting Bitten by a Black Widow Spider in the Produce Cooler (Vice)  There are bad days at work, there are really bad days at work, and then there’s a day that Richard Highsmith had, deadly arachnid included.
  • She blew the whistle on Koch Foods. This little-known visa kept her from being deported by ICE (The New Food Economy)
  • Spot Coffee workers vote to form a union; campaign called ‘groundbreaking’ (The Buffalo News)
  • Why labor in America is once again a growing force to be reckoned with (AlterNet)
    • The Next Wave of Labor Unrest Could Be in Grocery Stores (In These Times)                                                           It already is on the West Coast
  • How Central American migrants helped revive the US labor movement (The New Food Economy)



  • How Grocery Stores Became A Cultural Flashpoint In The Gun Debate (Huffington Post)


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • The Magical Staying Power Of The New York City Dollar Pizza Slice (Huffington Post)
  • Yogurt Billionaire’s Solution to World Refugee Crisis: Hire Them (Bloomberg)                                           Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant who used a small business loan to build a best-selling yogurt brand in the US, has a plan to solve the world’s growing refugee crisis: Give them jobs.
  • Faced With Soaring Costs of Private Insurance, Poll Shows 58% of Small Business Owners Support Medicare for All (Common Dreams)                                                            “Medicare for All is the only solution to our healthcare cost crisis that will offer relief to workers and small businesses alike.”
    • Whole Foods is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers (Business Insider)
  • In ‘Disgusting’ Move, Jeff Bezos Abruptly Cuts Health Benefits for Nearly 2,000 Part-Time Whole Foods Workers (Common Dreams)
  • In Nebraska, fight over Costco chicken farms escalates (FERN’s AG Insider)
  • LA’s First Cannabis Restaurant Had to Split Into Two Businesses to Comply With State Law (Eater)                It’s tricky for cannabis consumption lounges to operate in California, but Lowell Café found a way                                                                                        
  • DoorDash is still pocketing workers’ tips, almost a month after it promised to stop (Vox)
    • It is illegal for employers to steal employee tips. US Dpt. of Labor Fact Sheet #15, Requirements #4
  • Supermarket chain forced to spend more than $4 million on ozone-depleting chemical leaks (The New Food Economy)                                                                                        Winn-Dixie’s parent company is fourth major supermarket chain to settle with the Department of Justice for violations of the Clean Air Act.
  • How companies are trying to de-rainforest their supply chains at the Amazon burns (Fast Company)          Beef and leather and soy markets are the root cause of the destruction of the Amazon. Can companies make changes to their supply chains that will save what is left?
  • Thailand’s big retailers will stop handing out plastic bags in January 2020 (eNViro30)
  • Sainsbury’s firs UK supermarket to remove plastic bags for loos fruit, vegetables and bakery items (eNViro30)
  • This Infographic Shows How Only 10 Companies Own All The World’s Food Brands (The Hearty Soul)
  • Truckers voted for Trump in droves. Now they say his trade war is ‘killing’ their ability to make a living. (Business Insider)
  • Tyson Sued For Pretending It’s a Responsible, Ethical Company (modern farmer)                                                      Two groups are angry at Tyson for its feints towards positive environmental practices.
  • Wendy’s Billionaire Owner Spurns Farmworkers While Profiting Off Pension Funds (Truthout)
  • The Restaurant of Mistaken Orders: A Tokyo Restaurant Where All the Servers Are People Living with Dementia (Open Culture)
  • ‘It smells like a decomposing body’: North Carolina’s polluting pig farms (The Guardian)
    • For years, complaints about North Carolina’s hog pollution vanished in state bureaucracy (Food & Environment Reporting Network)                                                              Now officials are posting the complaints online. What changed?
  • Monsanto Emails Show Employees Wanted to “Beat the Shit” Out of Concerned Moms (Truthout)
    • Monsanto Doctor Wanted to ‘Beat the Sh*t Out of’ Group of Mothers: Emails (Common Dreams)       One advocate said the emails revealed “the utter contempt that Monsanto has for public health and for consumers, including mother who only want to protect their kids’ health.”


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

Because ‘A World Without Insects Is Not Worth Living In,’ Germany Announces Plan to Ban Glyphosate (Common Dreams)                                                                                                “What we need is more humming and buzzing.” 

  • Germany to Ban Glyphosate From End of 2023 (EcoWatch)
  • Brexiteers promised a dawn for UK farming, not agricultural Armageddon (The Guardian)                                    A new report sounds the death knell for Britain’s farms in the event of no deal. It’s not the vision our farmers were sold
  • Activists commend Museveni (President of Uganda) for second rejection of GMO bill (Enviro News Nigeria)                                                                                            On Tuesday August 27, 2019, Museveni for the second time declined to sign a controversial genetic engineering regulation bill into law, citing safety and security concerns.
  • Almost every country in the world agrees deal to cut plastic pollution – except US (Independent)  ‘Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action,’ says UN leader
  • Much “Foreign Aid” Is Taxpayer-Funded Plundering of the Global South (Truthout)
  • A cynical way to make poor people disappear (Politico)                                                                                  The Trump administration is redefining poverty in order to reduce safety net benefits for low-income Americans.
  • Trump’s EPA Said This Bee-Killing Insecticide is Safe, Now Beekeepers are suing (Earth Justice)      Sulfoxaflor is toxic for insects already dealing global pollinator collapse
  • EPA Approval of Controversial Pesticide Causes Concerns for Bees and Birds (Audubon)              Sulfoaflor, seen as a replacement for bee-killing chemicals known as neonics, might be just as dangerous.
  • White House officials are balking at the ballooning cost of Trump’s botched farm bailout: report (AlterNet)
  • The 4-month-long tomato trade dispute with Mexico is ending, but at what cost to eaters? (The New Food Economy)
    • US Consumers Saved (Barely) From a Bleak Winter of Expensive Tomatoes (Eater)                  But the quality of the fruit could get worse
  • Hidden Trump Report Reveals Water Plan Will Harm Endangered Whales and Salmon (EcoWatch)                    It’s become a familiar story with the Trump administration: Scientists write a report that shows the administration’s policies will cause environmental damage, then the administration buries the report and fires the scientists.
  • 5 takeaways from the financial records of a controversial dairy-promoting nonprofit (checkoff) that gets its money from farmers (Journal Sentinel)
    • A nonprofit that’s supposed to promote dairy pays its leader millions – while the farmers who fund it are going out of business (journal sentinel)                      Dairy Management Inc. spends $160 million a year from farmers’ milk checks on promotions and partnerships, but sales continue to fall.
  • USDA’s research employees were just offered drastically reduced buyouts (The New Food Economy)
  • How Ohio’s Chamber of Commerce Killed an anti-pollution bill of rights (The New Food Economy)
  • 70 US Mayors Issue Scathing Letter Demanding Trump USDA Call Off Effort to Strip Food Stamps From 3 Million People (Common Dreams)                                 “Executive action should not be used to hurt individuals, families, and communities.”
  • Montreal wants to ban use of herbicide glyphosate, calling it a public health issue (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)                                                                                   ‘Failing to act would be irresponsible’
  • Bill aims to ban sale of foie gras in New York restaurants over ‘cruel’ process (The Guardian)                          If bill passes, anyone violating the law could be liable to a $1,000 fine, up to 1 year in jail or both


Pollinators & Insects

  • Why have 500m bees died in Brazil in the past three months? (The Guardian)                                                      The likely culprit of the sudden deaths? The loosening of pesticide restrictions
  • Bees Are Dropping Dead in Brazil and Sending a Message to Humans (Bloomberg)
  • Bolsonaro Greenlights New Pesticides While Environmentalists Mourn 500 Million Dead Bees in Brazil (EcoWatch)
  • The Importance of Having Insects (Bay Nature)                                                                                                A number of sensational new papers warn of a global insect die-off. Has the apocalypse arrived in California?
  • Study: More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas (PLOS One)
  • Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)
  • Status changes in the wild bees of north-eastern North America over 125 years revealed through museum specimens (Wiley)
  • The Insect Apocalypse Is Here (NYT)
  • California’s most famous butterfly nearing death spiral (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Return of long-lost bees creating a lot of Presidio buzz (San Francisco Chronicle)


Animals, Fish & Sea Animals

  • Drug-Resistant Salmonella Linked to Overuse of Antibiotics in Cattle Farming (EcoWatch)
  • More Than 1,000 Salmon Return To Penobscot River For The First Time Since 2011 (Maine Public)


GMOs, CRISPR, Cloning & Synthetic Biology

  • Bill Gates Donates $15 Million to Campaign Pushing GMOs on Small Farmers Around the World (Organic Consumers Association)
  • Treadmill of Magic Seeds and Broken Promises: Dismantling the Myth of Bt Cotton Success in India (Counter Punch)
  • Dairy Ice Cream, No Cow Needed: These Egg And Milk Proteins Are Made Without Animals (NPR)


Food Science, Technology & Nanotechnology

  • The Epstein funded MIT lab has an ambitious project that purports to revolutionize agriculture. Insiders say it’s mostly smoke and mirrors. (Business Insider)



A Big New Study Finds Bee-Killing Pesticides Aren’t Even Worth it for Soybean Farmers (Mother Jones)                 The science suggests the chemicals cripple a whole host of pollinators – and offer very little economic benefit.

  • Not Just the Bees, First-of-Its-Kinds Study Shows Neonics May Be Killing Birds Too (Common Dreams)
  • Nebraska could soon be at center of national legal battle over Roundup (Omaha World Harold)
  • Popular pesticide (imidacloprid) throws off birds’ feeding and migration schedules (PBS)            Delays during migration can imperil birds’ chances of successful breading season.
  • Bolsonaro greenlights new pesticides even as advocates mourn half billion dead bees in Brazil (Nation of Change)