Jenny’s Food & Ag Update April 2, 2020


  • The Whole-Grain Grail: A Sandwich Bread With Mass Appeal (NYT)                                                                  Bakers around the country have joined forces to make a soft, sliced, affordable bread with whole wheat. Their only obstacle? Every other loaf in America.
  • UN under fire over choice of ‘corporate puppet’ as envoy to key food summit (The Guardian)                                      Organization accused of kowtowing to big business by appointing former Rwandan agriculture minister with links to agro-industry
  • Industry warns of empty shelves as Canadian National rail blockade reaches ninth day (Toronto City News)
  • Canadian Antitrust Enforcers Investigating Big Ag for Stifling Startup (Food and Power)
  • Here’s What Happens To Nature When Humans Get Out Of The Way (Huffington Post)                                       From an irradiated nuclear zone to an overfished reef, nature springs back to life without people. And therein lies a plan to save the planet.
  • There Is A Difference Between ‘Natural – Organic – Biodynamic’ and ‘Sustainability’ (Forbes)
  • 15 Stunning Photos That Prove You Have No Clue How Food Is Grown (Sweet & Savory)
  • The West’s top three oil and gas producing states reported 8 spills a day in 2019 (Medium)
  • Types of Cooking Salt, Ranked From Most Processed To Least Processed (Huffington Post)


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • Wild Roots: On a Vermont Farm, Renewal for a Man and His Land (Yale Environment 360)                                             After a tough transition from the military to civilian life, Jon Turner found solace in working in the soil. On his 10-acre hillside farm, h aims to keep it all in balance – garden plots, fruit trees, geese, and goats – and to leave a legacy for those who come after him.
  • Floating Farms Point the Way to Alternative Food Ecosystems (Wired)                                                                                Thirty-four heifers aboard a stable in Rotterdam harbor show that cow buoys could provide a creative way to boost food security.


Land and Soil

  • Revealed: salmonella, toxic chemical and plastic found in sewage spread on farmland (Unearthed, Greenpeace)
  • Study finds staggering economic benefit from protecting wetlands (Nation of Change)                                     For example, in Florida, the loss of just 3% of wetland coverage resulted in $480 million in property damage during just one hurricane.



  • First-ever compendium of indigenous technologies provides a powerful toolkit for climate-resilient design (Harvard University Graduate School of Design)
  • What US Farming Can Do to Stop Climate Change (Yes!)                                                                                          The landscape of farmland, pasture, ranges, and forests could sequester carbon on a massive scale by 2030. Here’s the math.
  • Focus on Food Would Help Solve Climate Change, Says Study (State of the Planet)
    • Study: Climate change responses benefit from a global food system approach (Nature)          A food system framework breaks down entrenched sectoral categories and existing adaptation and mitigation silos, presenting novel ways of assessing enabling integrated climate change solution from production to consumption.
  • As Climate Changes, Colombia’s Small Coffee Farmers Pay the Price (Yale Environment 360)                              Hundreds of Colombia’s small coffee growers have stopped cultivating the bean in the face of low prices and reduced harvests linked to a shifting climate. As farmers struggle, the nation’s scientists are seeking to develop new varieties that will flourish in a changing environment.
  • Inside Australia’s climate emergency: the lost harvest (The Guardian)                                                                             Australia is known for its fresh food and great wine – but that could change as the weather becomes hotter, drier and more unpredictable. One wine maker is racing to adapt.


Plants, Seeds & Cultivars

  • How This Arctic ‘Doomsday Vault’ Could Save Us From a Global Food Crisis (Huffington Post)                        The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is welcoming new seeds from around the world, including the Cherokee Nation.
  • With New Perennial Grain, a Step Forward for Eco-Friendly Agriculture (Yale Environment 360)                          A cereals and beer are now being made with a new variety of perennial grain known as kernza. Proponent say this marks a significant advance for a new agriculture the borrows from the wild prairie and could help ensure sustainable food production in a warming world.
  • Indigenous Maize: Who Owns the Right to Mexico’s ‘Wonder’ Plant? (Yale Environment 360)                        A nitrogen-fixing maize grown in an indigenous region of Mexico has the ability to fertilize itself, recent research show. Now, as a global company and US scientists work to replicate this trait in other corn varieties, will the village where the maize originated share fairly in the profits?
  • As Warm Winters Mess With Nut Trees’ Sex Lives, Farmers Help Them ‘Netflix And Chill’ (NPR)


Water & Our Oceans

  • Great Lakes Scientists say, “If We Lose The EPA, We Lose Lake Erie” (Great Lakes Now)
  • Why human waste is allowed to flow into the James River: ‘We’re not a third world country’ (WTVR)                      Richmond has 25 spots where untreated feces flows in the river when rain overwhelms the sewer.
  • ‘About Damn Time’: Detroit Pauses Water Shutoffs Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (Common Dreams)
    • Detroit suspends water shutoffs over Covid-19 fears (The Guardian)                                                                    Service to be temporarily restored to thousands of households disconnected due to unpaid bills amid public health outcry
  • Lawless Ocean: The Link Between Human Rights Abuses and Overfishing (Yale Environment 360)        The high seas remain an often-dystopian real where the scant laws that do exist are frequently ignored. This has led to overfishing, illegal dumping, and other environmental abuses that are closely linked to human rights violations aboard thousands of vessels.
  • Nearly All Coral Reefs Will Disappear Over the Next 20 Years, Scientists Say (Forbs)


Food Culture & History

  • Pine nuts, the climate crisis, tribal culture, and your ‘chic’ salad (Nevada Current)
  • Scrapple fries a now a thing and you can get them in Philadelphia (Lancaster Online)


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

  • This Chef’s Dream Was Built On SNAP (James Beard Foundation)                                                                                          How training to feed others left Elle Simone Scott food insecure
  • ‘I Think People Will Starve.’ Experts Are Worried About the Hundreds of Thousands Who Could Lose Food Stamps Come April (Time)
  • Survey finds nearly 40 percent of college students are food insecure (The Counter)
  • Researchers find a western-style diet can impair brain function (The Guardian)                                                               After a week on a high saturated fat, high added sugar diet, volunteers scored worse on memory tests


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • Is It Really Possible To Go ‘Plastic Free’? This Town Is Showing The World How (Huffington Post)
  • Just a Tiny Fraction of America’s Plastic Can Actually Be Recycled, Report Finds (Yale Environment 360)
    • US companies use misleading “recyclable” labels on hundreds of plastic products (Greenpeace)         New review of American’s domestic recycling system reveals much plastic packaging is not recyclable
  • Report: Circular Claims Fall Flat: Comprehensive US Survey of Plastics Recyclability (Greenpeace)
  • Hemp: The Natural Response to Plastic Pollution (PSNet)                                                                                                       Everything plastic can be made from hemp
  • How Big Oil and Big Soda kept a global environmental calamity a secret for decades (Rolling Stone)
    • The Plastics Pipeline: A Surge of Production Is on the Way (Yale Environment 360)                                     A world awash in plastic will soon see even more, as a host of new petrochemical plants – their ethane feedstock supplied by the fracking boom – come online. Major oil companies, facing the prospect of reduced demand for their fuels, are ramping up their plastics output.
  • More Plastic Is On the Way: What It Means for Climate Change (State of the Planet)                                                 With the recent fracking boom causing low gas prices, fossil fuel companies are seeking other ways to bolster their profits – by making more plastic…
  • Coke and Pepsi sued for creating a plastic pollution ‘nuisance’ (The Guardian)                                                                  California environmental group says much of the tons of plastic in the oceans can be traced back to the 10 companies they are suing
  • Coke and Pepsi Are Getting Sued for Lying About Recycling (Vice)                                                                                            “At this rate, plastic is set to outweigh fish in the ocean by 2050,” the complaint reads.
  • Cruise ships dumped more than 3 million pounds of trash in Juneau (land fill)  last year (KTOO)


Healthy Food & Food Safety

  • Scientists say lax regulation of chemicals in food packaging endangers human health (The FERN)


Scandals, Food Fraud, Weird & Funny

  • Fish, sausage, even honey: Food fraud is hidden in plain sight (The Conversation)
  • Food fraud: 6 of the most commonly faked products and how to avoid them (Global News)                                Olive Oil, Parmesan Cheese, Seafood, Honey, Coffee, Saffron


Children & School Food

  • As Coronavirus Closes Schools, USDA Offers Limited Help to Kids Who Rely on School Meals (Civil Eats)
  • Trump USDA Commemorates National School Breakfast Week by Declaring Potatoes and Fruit (Union of Concerned Scientists)


Labor, Unions & Coops

  • The US Has No Decent Paid Sick Leave Policy. This Bill Attempts to Change That. (Mother Jones)
    • As coronavirus spreads, the people that prepare your food probably don’t have paid sick leave (The Washington Post)
  • ‘Grotesque Level of Greed’: Owned by the World’s Richest Man Jeff Bezos, Whole Foods Wants Workers to Pay for Colleagues’ Sick Leave During Coronavirus Pandemic (Common Dreams)                                                                                                     “Absolute bullshit. With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe.”
  • Workers Laid Off Over Coronavirus Look For A Lifeline (Huffington Post)                                                                The newly jobless are applying for unemployment benefits and wondering about their health care. “it just keeps getting worse,” one worker said.
  • Farmworkers Step Up Pressure on Wendy’s Shareholders to Protect Workers’ Rights (Truthout)
  • Black Olive Garden Hostess Speaks Out After Her Manager Complied with Customer’s Request for a Non-Black Server (Atlanta Black Star)
  • Starbucks offers ‘catastrophe pay’ to employees affected by the coronavirus (Fast Company)
  • Trader Joe’s is giving employees additional paid sick time to ensure they stay home when ill during coronavirus outbreak, and it’s a brilliant business strategy (Business Insider)
  • Instacart Is Losing Its Argument That Contractors Aren’t Employees (Mother Jones)                                            Gig companies are losing the battle in court.
  • drivers become the first home grocery delivery workers to unionize (North West Labor Press)
  • Target raised wages. Then it cut workers’ hours and doubled their workload (The Guardian)
  • The Next Big Grocery Strike Is Knocking on Safeway and Giant’s Door (In These Times)
  • Founder of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods transfers business to employees (The Oregonian)
  • Cooperative Consolidation: Why Diary Farmers of America Should Not Be Allowed to Purchase Dean Foods (Organization for Competitive Markets)



  • Hospitality workers derail New Orleans Coronavirus news update (4WWL)                                                              “We work sick, you get sick” the protesters chant as Cantrell approached the podium.


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • Missouri Farmer Win $265 Million Verdict Against Monsanto (Sierra Club)
    • ‘Victory for farmers’ as jury awards grower $265 million in damages from drift of Monsanto dicamba (Nation of Change)                                                                                 “This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg.”
  • Revealed: Monsanto’s secret funding for weedkiller studies (The Guardian)                                                                      The research, used to help avoid a ban, claimed ‘severe impacts’ on farming glyphosate was outlawed
  • Kellogg’s bans palm oil to save Orangutans after Brit sisters get 700k signatures (Mirror)
  • Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plants in Chattanooga hit with civil penalties for odor (Chattanooga Times)
  • ‘I can’t get above water’: how America’s chicken giant Perdue controls farmers (The Guardian)                          Corporate control is a curse for farmers like Rudy Howell who are burdened with debt and have no alternative buyers
  • How Amazon Uses Lending to Control Small Businesses (American Prospect)                                                           The nature of the Amazon marketplace makes it virtually impossible for third-party sellers to borrow from private banks. Amazon’s own lending unit has filled the gap.
  • Le Bernardin, Daniel, and Other Top New York Restaurants Temporarily Close (NYC)                                      Others are likely to follow as owners’ worries shift from canceled reservations to survival.
  • Personalization or Price Discrimination (Food and Power)                                                                                       Could you and your neighbor pay different prices for the same jar of peanut butter one day?
  • Why Burger King Is Forcing Everyone to Watch a Moldy Whopper Rot (Vice)                                                           In the 45-second commercial, a burger is assembled in the most photogenic way possible, and they left to rot for the next four weeks.


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

  • Farmers and Nonprofits Sue Trump’s USDA Over Organic Soil-Less Loophole (Center For Food Safety)
  • Trump’s Tariffs Intensified a Farm Crisis. His Latest Plan Would Make It Even Worse. (Mother Jones)  “Year after year, his budget has failed to address the very real economic challenges facing rural communities.”
  • Trump’s tariffs are killing family companies like mine and costing jobs (AlterNet)
  • The Trump Labor Board Is Making It Harder For Fast-Food Workers To Unionize (Huffington Post)   The new “joint employer” rule is another treat for companies like McDonald’s that have been battling union organizing.
  • Trump Serves Up Another Happy Meal For The Fast-Food Industry (Huffington Post)                                              A new regulation will make it harder for workers to sue big brands over wage claims.
  • Here’s how a new labor rule could make things tougher for millions of employees (CNN)
  • Trump gives politically connected farmers more water, at expense of everyone else (LA Times)
    • Westlands “Permanent” Water Contracts Illegal and heading to Court (Restore The Delta)
  • 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.
  • We’re Eating Sick Animals and Getting Deadly Diseases Because the USDA Won’t Uphold Basic Welfare Standards in Slaughterhouses (One Green Planet)
  • After three years, USDA releases previously hidden animal cruelty records (The Counter)
  • President’s 2021 Budget Would Cut Food Assistance for Millions and Radically Restructure SNAP (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)
    • Trump Just Claimed He’s Weaning People Off Food Stamps. In Truth He’s Kicking Them Off. (Mother Jones)                                                                                                          Here are the facts.
  • What Would It Take to Get More Farmers Fighting Climate Change? (Mothers Jones)                                      A new bill sponsored by Rep. Chellie Pingree would enlist growers to help slow global warming by using their soil to sponge up carbon dioxide.
  • 6 Ways the Agricultural Resilience Act Equips Farmers to Fight the Climate Crisis with Science (Union of Concerned Scientists)
  • Checkoff Program Reform Legislation Filed in US House of Representatives (Organization for Competitive Markets)
  • Why is Trump trying to kill a small agency with a big impact on public safety? (Nation of Change)              Many Americans probably have never heard of the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. But they’re safer because of it.
  • ‘Without water we can’t grow anything’: can small farms survive California’s landmark water law? (The Guardian)                                                                                           For the first time in history, the state is regulating the groundwater that fuels its massive agriculture industry. Now the smallest farms face the biggest threat
  • Lawmakers Open Groundwater Fight Against Bottled Water Companies (PEW Trust)
    • Washington state takes bold step to restrict companies from bottling local water (The Guardian)   State senate passes bill to ban new permits for water bottling operations, calling process ‘detrimental to public welfare’
  • New York: plastic bag ban takes effect to address ‘environmental blights’ (The Guardian)


Pollinators & Insects

  • Study: The Bee Community of Cannabis sativa and Corresponding Effects of Landscape Composition (Environmental Entomology)
  • Just 29,000 Western Monarch Butterflies Are Left in California. That’s down from Millions (KQED)


Animals, Fish, Fresh Water & Marine Animals

  • Factory farm chicken horror as animals bred to full size in 35 days – ‘not worth living’ (Express UK)                British shoppers re being warned against eating factory farm chicken after animals were found to be bred to become full size in just 35 days.
  • Gulf of Alaska Fishery to Close for the First Time Ever: No More Cod: Salmon All but Gone: Millions of Small Sea Birds Died Since 2015 (Global Research)
    • So Long, Seafood! Ocean Acidification Projected to Slam Alaska Fisheries (Newsweek)                             From 2014



  • Revealed: The pesticide giants making billions on toxic and bee-harming chemicals (Unearthed, Greenpeace)
    • 5 biggest pesticide companies are making billions from ‘highly hazardous’ chemicals, investigation finds (Nation of Change)                                                                                         The researchers found that the sale of these highly hazardous pesticides (JJPs), disproportionately occurred in poorer nations, which often have fewer regulations that industrialized nations.
  • Demand for animal feed is driving the hazardous pesticide industry, data reveals (Unearthed, Greenpeace)


GMOs, CRISPR, Cloning & Synthetic Biology


Food Science, Technology & Nanotechnology

  • Meet Odd.Bot – The Weed-Pulling Robot That Uses No Chemicals (Intelligent Living)