Jenny’s Food & Ag Update November 15, 2019

  • A champion of the unplugged, earth-conscious life, Wendell Berry is Still ahead of us (Vox)                       The writer and farmer’s impassioned arguments on farming, technology, and the urban-rural divide have taken on a new urgency.
  • Organic Food Hurts the Earth? Sorry, But It’s More Complicated (In These Times)
  • The Battle for the Future of Food in Africa (Common Dreams)                                                                                     Certain policies, strongly promoted by the Gates Foundation, open Africa to the multinational seed companies in the name of modernization, but they undermine climate resilience and food security for Africa’s small-scale farmers.
  • Iowa’s farmers – and American eaters need a national discussion on transforming US agriculture (The Conversation)
  • Flour power: meet the bread heads baking a better loaf (The Guardian)                                                                     The days of mass – produced pappy white British supermarket loaf may be numbered. Meet the bread heads revolutionizing the way we eat.
  • Belgian Jewish baker Launches Europe’s firs mass-produced cannabis bread (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
  • Japanese Scientists’ Discovery Could Prevent Tractor Tipping (Modern Farmer) What do a tractor and a bouncing ball have in common? More than you would think.
  • Sikhs step up to help feed those taking shelter from Kincaid Fire (Manteca Ripon Bulletin)
  • A Coffee Crisis Is Brewing And It Could Make Your Morning Joe Less Tasty (Huffington Post)
  • The Problem Isn’t Wheat. It’s What We’ve Done to It (Heated)                                                                                            The industrial food system is breaking our bodies – and our land
  • PG&E wants to seize private vineyard property for liquid natural gas plant in Calistoga (Napa Valley Register)
  • Biodegradable Coffee Cups Embedded With Seeds Grow Into Trees When Thrown Away (Off Grid Info)


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • The Key to Saving Family Farms Is in the Soil (yes!)                                                                                   Farmers adopting regenerative agricultural practices across the Midwest are restoring the health of the soil and of their rural economies.
    • Regenerative, Organic Agriculture is Essential to Fighting Climate Change (In These Times)
  • Millions of apples left to rot as European pickers abandon Britain (The London Economic)
    • Shortage of fruit pickers leaves 50 million rotting in UK orchards amid fears Brussels sprouts, cabbages, and kale could also be affected (Daily Mail)               A third of growers say they have been forced to leave 100 tons of fruit unpicked. This because of a labor shortfall in part fueled by current Brexit uncertainty. The shortage of pickers and packers is also hitting vegetable growers ahead of the Christmas period
  • Biodiversity and Animal Welfare are Paramount for these Second-Generation North Caroline Farmers (Civil Eats)
  • ‘I’m standing right here in the middle of climate change’: How USDA is failing farmers (Politico)        The $144 billion Agriculture Department spends less than 1 percent of its budget helping farmers adapt to increasingly extreme weather.


Land and Soil

  • How urban agriculture can improve food security (The Conversation)
    • In Detroit, A New Type of Agricultural Neighborhood Has Emerged (Yes)                                                 The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative is focusing on food insecurity and community investment.
    • Urban Farms Are Supposed To Solve Our Food Woes. The Reality Is Not So Simple. (Huffington Post)
  • The Great Land Robbery (The Atlantic) The shameful story of how 1 million have been ripped from their farms
    • One Million Black Families in the South Have Lost Their Farms (Equal Justice Initiative)
  • Study finds fungi, not plant matter, responsible for most carbon sequestration in northern forests (



  • This Ancient Fruit Holds Secrets for How to Farm in Climate Change (Mother Jones)
  • Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago (The Guardian)                                On 5 November 1965 climate scientists summarized the risks associated with rising carbon pollution in a report for Lydon Baines Johnson
  • Indigenous farming practices failing as climate change disrupts seasons (National Geographic)   Farmers around the world rely on millennia-old wisdom to guide their planting. Scrambled weather and seasons are forcing them into uncharted territory.


Plants, Seeds & Cultivars

  • This Ancient Fruit hold Secrets for How Farm in Climate Change (Mother Jones)                                                  Respect your elder-berries.
  • A Holistic (Possible) Solution to the Palm Oil Problem in Indonesia (Modern Farmer)
    • Could This Tree Be An Eco-Friendly Way To Wean Indonesian Farmers Off Palm Oil? (NPR)
  • The Cosmic Crisp Is Trying To Become America’s Most Popular Apple (Huffington Post)                                           A crisp new apple variety is coming soon to supermarkets and farmers markets. And millions dollars are spent to persuade you to buy it.


Water & Our Oceans

  • Keystone pipeline leaks oil in northeastern North Dakota (Star Tribune)
    • ‘It Happens Over and Over and Over and Over’: Keystone Pipeline Leaks (at Least) 383,000 Gallons of Crude Oil in North Dakota (Common Dreams)
  • This Wisconsin Town Is Desperately Fighting For Its Drinking Water (Huffington Post)                                    The tiny town of Saratoga is locked in a battle over a new mega-dairy that residents fear will contaminate their drinking water.
  • The number of Flint’s students with special needs has increased by 56% since the water crisis, according to report (Metro Times)
  • The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles (The Guardian)
    • Nestlé wants Florida’s drinking water for free, leaving us high and dry (Miami Herald)
  • Carnival slapped with a $20 million fine after it was caught dumping trash into the ocean, again (Business Insider)


Food Culture & History

  • The Native Musician and Poet Revitalizing Indigenous Food Sovereignty (Civil Eats)
  • Gullah Geechee: distinct US culture risks losing island home to climate crisis (The Guardian)                  Fierce storms and rising seas are causing existential angst for communities in Alaska, Arizona and other states on the front line of the climate crisis
  • Resisting GMOs and Preserving Indigenous Culture in Rural Mexico (Yes!)                                                 Thanks to a union of land cooperatives, people in Puebla have food sovereignty and education in Nahuatl instead of mega – projects and a Walmart.
  • How to say “coffee” or “tea depends on ancient trade routs (Popular Science)


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

  • ‘One of the biggest, baddest things we did’: Black Panthers’ free breakfasts, 50 year on (The Guardian)     The party’s program to feed kids, launched in 1969, became a national phenomenon. This weekend, former members joined a celebration in the party’s birthplace
  • The Number of Australians in Need of Food Relief Spikes 22% in a Year: Report (Global Citizen)
  • The New Face of Hunger (National Geographic)                                                         Millions of working Americans don’t know where their next meal is coming from…
  • To solve the hidden epidemic teen hunger, we should listen to teens who experience it. (The Conversation)
  • California families at risk for hunger – while a third of crops left to rot on farms (The Fresno Bee)
    • Study: On-farm food loss in northern and central California: Results of field survey measurements (Resources, Conservation and Recycling)
  • By 2025, 43 million children under the age of fie will be overweight (The New Food Economy)           A new UNICEF report highlights dietary challenges facing children around the world. A key takeaway? Industrial ag and climate change are compounding malnutrition.


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • Greenpeace Report Offers Vision of ‘Smart Supermarkets’ and a future Free of Single-Use Plastics (Common Dreams)                                                                                            “This report should serve as a model for retailers to follow, and show that it is possible to end our throwaway culture for the sake of our oceans, waterways, and communities.”
    • Report: The Smart Supermarket: How retailers can innovate beyond single use plastics and packaging (Greenpeace)
  • Taco Bell Recalls 2.3 Million Pounds of Beef After Finding Metal Fragments (Huffington Post)
  • Coca-Cola Named Most Polluting Brand in Global Audit of Plastic Waste (The Intercept)
    • Report Details How Giants Like Coca-Cola Are Trashing the Planet With Plastics While Pushing ‘False Solutions’ (Common Dreams)
    • Report: The Brand Audit Report 2019 (Break Free From Plastic)
  • The Problem With America’s Bulk Food Bins (Eater) To truly reduce waste, bulk food must be more than just one isle in the grocery store


Healthy Food & Food Safety

  • Food is medicine, why isn’t it taught at medical schools? (The New Food Economy)
    • Report: Doctoring Our Diet: Policy Tools to Include Nutrition in US Medical Training (Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic)
    • Food as medicine: Massachusetts bill would give Medicaid recipients fresh food and grocery money (The New Food Economy)
  • Why is celery powder so controversial? (New Food Economy)                                                                                             It’s bill as an organic, natural way to cure meats without artificial nitrites, but scientists and advocacy groups argue it’s no safer or healthier.
  • There Are 2,000 Untested Chemicals In Packaged Foods – and It’s Legal (Truthout)
  • Rotten Chicken Sickens Homeless As Shelter Staff Laugh: Report (Patch, Brooklyn, NY)                                         Six Fort Green shelter residents ended up vomiting after the city served expired chicken salad with a double label, The Daily News reports.
  • Bugs, mold and unwashed hands: Rampant safety violations in nursing home kitchens endanger residents (The New Food Economy)
  • Salmonella Linked to Ground Beef Leaves 8 Hospitalized, 1 Dead (Consumer Reports)
  • Salmon recalled in 23 states because of danger of botulism poisoning (Food Safety News)


Food Fraud, Scandals, Weird & Funny

  • Tyson settles with government over fraudulent inspection records (The New Food Economy)            After the company found video of USDA inspectors faking a meat plant inspection, the meat giant was forced to throw out 8,000 hot carcasses.
  • AB InBev, Bud Light’s parent company, is accusing MillerCoors of stealing its beer recipes (The New Food Economy)
  • It’s Harvest Time for Apple Thieves (Modern Farmer)                                                                                 These brazen crimes can wipe out a farm’s annual harvest.
    • Thief Stole 50,000 Apples by Just Shaking the Trees Really hard, Orchard Owner Says (Vice)


Children & School Food

  • San Francisco Unified School District going back to basics with school lunches made from scratch (San Francisco Examiner)                                                                             Upgraded culinary center could serve as model for expanded inhouse food production.
  • Universal free lunch is linked to better test scores in New York City, new report finds (Chalkbeat)
  • ‘Every Child Deserves to Eat’: Sander and Omar Bill Would Provide Universal Free Public School Lunches (Common Dreams)                                                                                              “I one of the wealthiest countries in the world, no child should be turned away from a meal if they cannot afford it,” said Rep. Ilhan Omar.
  • Nearly 1 million kids will lose automatic free lunch eligibility under USDA’s proposed SNAP changes (The New Food Economy)                                                                                          Doing so will save the agency $90 million annually, but could significantly impact child nutrition.
  • New Jersey school district proposes banning students with lunch debt from field trips, prom (The Hill)


Labor, Unions & Coops

  • Nestlé 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
  • BAT (British American Tobacco) faces landmark legal case over Malawi familie’s poverty wages (The Guardian)
  • American Farming Runs on Exploitation (The New Republic)                                                                                    Climate change isn’t the only reality the USDA’s been slow to grapple with.
    • The Farmworkers Who Pick Your Food Don’t Get Paid Overtime (Civil Eats)                 Washington could be the third state to require overtime pay, leveling the playing field nationwide for ‘second-class workers.’
  • Raising the minimum wage in restaurants could be a win for everyone (The Conversation)                 Critics would have you believe that upping the minimum wage in restaurants will lead to massive layoffs and closures. But since raising the minimum wage to US$15 per hour nearly a year ago the restaurant industry in New York City has thrived.
  • The American System of Tipping Makes No Sense (The Atlantic)                                                                                                  If you want to understand how meritocracy acts as a cover for inequality, look no further than our broken understanding of gratuity.
  • A minimum wage worker needs 2.5 full-time jobs to afford a one bedroom apartment in most of the US (Business Insider)
  • New Report: Workers At Farms That Supply Whole Foods “Are Often Overworked and Poorly Treated” (Labor 411)
  • Working nights to pack California strawberries, working days to graduate from school (The Guardian)
  • Long sought by the restaurant industry, legal tip pooling is imminent (The New Food Economy)           LA, San Francisco, Portland, and Vegas: Your tips could soon be shared with kitchen staff.
  • Should State (California) Fund Growers’ Barracks for Guest Workers? (Capital & Main)                                   As the number of H-2A guest workers mushrooms, California labor contractors and growers are packing farmworkers into motels and houses in working class neighborhoods.
  • Unions file lawsuit challenging plan to permit faster line speed in hog slaughterhouses (The New Food Economy)
  • Cheerios Picket Line Averted: After Strike Threat, General Mills Workers Win Tentative Agreement (In These Times)



  • Climate Change Protester Dressed as Broccoli Gets Arrested, Becomes a Hero (Vice)                                         On Sunday, the suit-and-tie wearing, floret-headed gentleman was handcuffed by three officers during an Extinction Rebellion protest.


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • Tesco to cut plastic waste with reusable tins and tubs in 2020 initiative with Loop (eNViro30)
  • Kellogg agrees to stop marketing sugary cereals as “healthy” (The New Food Economy)                                                 A $31 million settlement in a California lawsuit will force Kellogg to significantly change its marketing.
  • McDonald’s CEO Steps Down After Relationship With Employee (Huffington Post)                                                       In an email to employees, former president and CEO Steve Easterbnrook acknowledged a relationship with an employee and said it was a mistake.
  • Monsanto wins $7.7b lawsuit in Brazil – but farmers’ fight to stop its ‘amoral’ royalty system will continue (The Conversation)                                                                                 Soybean farmers in Brazil sued Monsanto for a royalty collection system that they say violates their planting rights.
  • ‘Get Big Or Get Out’ Farming Has Left Kansas Towns Struggling For Survival (KCUR)
  • Trump Trade War: Farmers Are Going To ‘Lose Farms That They’ve Had In Their Families For Generations,’ Says Land O’Lakes CEO (Newsweek)
  • Dairy farmers are in crisis – and it could change Wisconsin forever (Journal Sentinel)
  • Blaming dairy farm downturn, Associated Milk Producers shuts down Iowa plant (Des Moines Register)
  • The US city preparing itself for the collapse of capitalism (The Guardian)                                                               From a festival that helps artists trade work for healthcare to a regional micro-currency, Kingston (NY) is trying to build an inclusive and self-sufficient local ecosystem


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

  • Thailand bans use of paraquat and other toxic farm chemicals (Associated Press)                                   Thailand’s government has agreed to ban the use of paraquat and glyphosate and the insecticide chlorpyrifos, all widely regarded as dangerous to human health, starting December 1.
  • Chinese Regulations Are Pushing American Pork Producers to Remove Feed Additives (Modern Farmer) Chinese rules are stricter than American rules, in some respects.
    • JBS USA to produce pork without growth drug banned by China, seeking more exports (Reuters)
  • The Money Farmers: How Oligarchs and Populists Milk the EU for Millions (NYT)                                       The European Union spends $65 billion a year subsidizing agriculture. But a chunk of that money emboldens strongmen, enriches politicians and finances corrupt dealing.
  • Trump’s Japan Deal Another Win for Global Meat Companies (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)
  • Family Farmers Call for End to US Obstruction on Agroecology at United Nations (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)                                                                                   Groups demand support for pro-science, pro-environment farming solutions
  • Feds clear path for hemp farming; Montana lead the nation in crop production (Missoula Current)           The US Department of Agriculture issued its interim final rule on hemp production in America, clearing the way for farmers to cultivate what could be a highly lucrative – or highly speculative – new crop.
  • Endangered Species Act (ESA) “Biological Opinion” for SF Bay-Delta Restore the Delta Responds (Restore the Delta)                                                                                             “… the Trump Administration intends for follow through on its promise to maximize exports from the Delta San Joaquin valley agribusiness and southern California. These opinions however have the smell of manipulated science, an Orwellian finding that ‘fish don’t need water.”
  • Government restrictions on labeling products as ‘meat’ aren’t likely to help anyone (The Conversation)
  • Top US Toxicologist Was Barred From Saying PFAS Cause Disease In Humans. She’s Saying It Now. (The Intercept)
  • FDA approves genetically modified cotton for human consumption (The New Food Economy) Most cotton plants contain a toxin that makes them inedible for humans and most animals. A tweak in its biology could turn the crop int a worth protein source.
  • Digging into the Farm Debate: Reviving Supply Management for the 21st Century (Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy)
  • Trump Turns Back the Clock in America’s Meat Plants (The New Republic)                                                                   More than a century after Upton Sinclair’s gruesome “The Jungle,” the president is loosening rules that protect workers and consumers alike.
  • Farmers Union: Farm Workforce Modernization Act an Important Step Towards a Stable Agricultural Workforce
  • Costa Rica Has Banned Styrofoam – A Major Wing for the Environment (Global Citizen)                        Fines for using styrofoam range from about $760 to $7,600.
  • Briefing Paper: Shell Game Diverts Millions of Farm Tax Dollars to Kansas Lobbying Group, Threatening Bee Checkoff Program (Organization for Competitive Markets)
  • In Iowa, Politicians Protect The Meat Industry By Making Animal Rights Activists Criminals (The Intercept)


Pollinators & Insects

  • Bee population recovering due to regenerative farming, producers say (Global News Canada)
  • New England power line corridors harbor rare bees and wild things (The Conversation)
  • Biodiversity boosts crop pollinators and pest controllers, study finds (Mongabay)
    • Study: A global synthesis reveals biodiversity -mediated benefits for crop production (Science Advances)
  • Our Vanishing World: Insects (Nation of Change)                                                                                         Just one critical and largely ignored variable in this rush to extinction is our decimation of the world insect population denying us an ever-expanding range of ecological services.


Animals, Fish, Fresh Water & Sea Animals

  • ‘The smell will knock you off your feet’: mass mussel die-off baffle scientists (The Guardian)                       Mussels, the backbone of the river ecosystem because they control silt levels and filter water, are facing a mysterious affliction
  • Hundreds of spawning salmon killed in Squamish river; BC Hydro admits responsibility (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)                                                                                                Fish on their way to lay thousands of eggs become trapped in isolated pools in the riverbed


GMOs, CRISPR, Cloning & Synthetic Biology



  • Glyphosate Worse Than We Could Imagine. “It’s Everywhere” (Global Research)                                  Glyphosate residues have been found in tap water, orange juice, children’s urine, breast milk, chips, snacks, beer, cereals, eggs, oatmeal, wheat products, and most conventional foods tested. It’s everywhere, in brief.
  • ‘Landmark New Research’ Links Neonics With Collapse of Fisheries (Common Dreams)                          Just awful, what gruesome harm we inflicting on the environment.”
    • Research Links Pesticide Harmful to Bees With Collapse of Fisheries (Truthout)
    • Japanese Fisheries Collapsed Due to Pesticides, New Research Says (EcoWatch)
    • Fishery collapse ‘confirms Silent Spring pesticide prophecy (The Guardian)                                       Common pesticides found to starve fish ‘astoundingly fast’ by killing aquatic insects
  • US Annually Uses 388 Million Pounds of Potentially Fatal Pesticides Banned in the EU, China and Brazil (EcoWatch)
  • Fracking Study Shows Toxic Chemical Exposure 2,000 Feet From Drilling Sites (EcoWatch)
  • Report on Pesticides in Fruits and Vegetables Adds to Growing Public Health Concerns (EcoWatch)


Education & Training