Jenny’s Food & Ag Update May 2, 2020


  • The first map of America’s food supply chain in mind-boggling (Fast Company)                                                  Most of our food is moved across great distances – and through many different forms of transit – before it reaches our plates.
  • The Coronavirus Reveals the ‘Invisible Inequalities’ In Our Food System (Huffington Post)                                          Professor Marion Nestle offers a sobering assessment: “That the food systems is failing is a given.”
  • Nation’s Leading Public Health Organization Urges Halt to All New and Expanding CAFOs (Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future)
  • Nature Scores a Big Win Against Fracking in a Small Pennsylvania Town (Rolling Stone)                                                  After a seven-year battle, Grant Township fought off a permit for an injection well. “Fights like ours should mushroom all around Pennsylvania,” says town supervisor
  • Seattle restaurants are keeping hospital staff fed – and picking up the tab (crosscut)                                                          Cooking up excess food also keeps workers paid during coronavirus closures.
  • Coronavirus: Food Hub to offer direct sales to public in Mendocino and Lake County (Ukiah Daily Journal)
  • ‘Buy more fruits and vegetables’: LA’s produce wholesalers are seeing a 90% drop in sales (LA Times)
  • Every Bay Area Grocery Store with a ‘Senior Hour’ (FunCheapSF)                                                                                                Safeway, Whole Foods, Rainbow Grocery and more give seniors the morning to themselves
  • Stores designate shopping time for senior vulnerable amid coronavirus: Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and more (USA Today)
  • Grocers across Canada offering special hour for seniors and immunocompromised Canadians (Eat North)                                                                                                These grocers aim to better serve the elderly and immunocompromised shoppers with new hours
  • Most Farmers’ Markets to Remain Open as Essential Services During Lockdown Period (sfist)                      During the upcoming shelter-in-place period, it appears that, like grocery stores, most or all the Bay Area’s farmers’ markets will keep running on their usual schedules in San Francisco and elsewhere, albeit with some extra protocols in place.
  • Trying to avoid grocery stores? Farmers markets offer calmer, more socially-distant shopping (SFGate)
  • Gates Foundation is spearheading the neoliberal plunder of African agriculture (The Ecologist)
  • Study: Ag One: Recolonization of Agriculture (Navdanya International)                                                                 Bill Gates who became a billionaire through the deregulation of corporate globalization is now leading the recolonization of Indian and African agriculture. The report unveils the real motives of Bill Gates.
  • Baker Carves Delectable Designs Into the Crust of Her Artisanal Loaves of Bread (My Modern Met)


Farmers, Farming, Ranching, Herding, Fishing & Production

  • ‘No supervisors, no bosses’: Upending farm labor by owning the land (Crosscut)                                                              Tired of mistreated and not being able to afford the food they harvested, two Bellingham farmworkers left corporate agriculture to start their own berry cooperative.
  • Farmers in Puerto Rico are Growing a Culture of Social Justice and Climate Resilience (Civil Eats)                     After Hurricane Maria, hundreds of young farmers, many women, have established bold approaches to agriculture – and their ideas are resonating beyond the island.
  • An Airbnb For Farmland Hits A Snag, A Farmers Raise Data Privacy Concerns (NPR)


Land and Soil

  • Can ‘Carbon Smart’ Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight? (Yale Environment 360)




Plants, Seeds & Cultivars

  • Tanzania farmers are facing heavy prison sentences if they continue their traditional seed exchange (MO)


Water & Our Oceans

  • Ganga river water becomes fit for drinking in Haridwar, Rishikesh during India’s lockdown (Times of India)
  • A Movement Grows to Help Farmers Reduce Pollution and Turn a Profit (Yale Environment 360)                            More than 100,000 miles of US rivers and streams are polluted by nitrogen, and phosphorus, much of it from agricultural runoff. In Pennsylvania, an innovative program is showing farmers how to plant cash crops in buffer zones…
  • Newark’s Lead Crisis Isn’t Over: “People Are Still Drinking Water That They Shouldn’t” (The Intercept)


Food Culture & History

  • ‘Boulangeries Are Helping Us Make It Through’: In France, Bakeries Remain Essential (NPR)
  • Frederick Douglass On How Slave Owners Used Food As A Weapon of Control (NPR)


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

  • Amid the coronavirus crisis, mutual aid networks erupt across the country (Waging Nonviolence)                            As the government response to the pandemic falters, mutual aid projects – a staple of social movements for decades – are rising up to meet people’s basic needs
  • Strategic starvation in the Secure Housing Unit (SHU) at Wabash Valley (San Francisco Bayview)
  • NYC offers free meals to all New Yorkers amid economic fallout from coronavirus (NY Daily News)
  • FEMA approves California’s plan to deliver meals to isolated seniors during coronavirus pandemic (KTVU)
  • How to Safely Feed Seniors During a Pandemic (Civil Eats)                                                                                          The challenge is striking a balance between food security coronavirus prevention, especially among the vulnerable populations.
  • Low-Income Seniors at Mission SRO Go Hungry After Food Pantry Stops Delivering (sfist)
  • Meals on Wheels Is Already Feeling the Symptoms of Coronavirus (Mother Jones)                                      “We’re doing the best we can with the scant information.”
  • In the poorest county, in America’s poorest state, a virus hits home: ‘Hunger is rampant’ (The Guardian)                                                                                                In county were every child qualifies for free school meals, a superintendent embarks on a project – driving 6,000 meals a day
  • San Francisco restaurant owner comforts with her cooking, delivers free meals to those in need (KTVU2)
  • Men In Kilts offering free grocery delivery for seniors, mobility-challenged (My Comox Valley Now)
  • Cabazon Band of Mission Indians donates over 10K pounds of perishable goods to FIND Food Bank (Indo, CA) (KESQ)
  • San Francisco-Marin Food Bank arrives at SF public schools – and so do the hungry (Mission Local)
  • Food Banks Will Need $1.4 Billion Over Six Months, Feeding America Says (Food Bank News)
    • ‘A perfect storm’: US facing hunger crisis as demand for food banks soars (The Guardian)
    • Food banks face shortages of volunteers; many Bay Area pantries close as coronavirus spreads (Cal Matters)
  • ‘Unforgettable’ Footage of Endless Line of Cars at Food Banks a Stark Illustration of Coronavirus Crisis in US (Common Dreams)                                                                                                 “It is outrageous that in the richest country in the history of the world, people are going hungry,” said Bernie Sanders, who called for more urgent relief from Congress.
  • Photos: Vehicles line up before dawn as locals seek aid from the San Antonio Food Bank (My San Antonio)
  • Revealed: food bank shortages expected to hit Washington state by mid-April (The Guardian)
  • Winnipeg chef gathers ingredients from closed restaurants to create meals for people in need (Eat North)
  • Big-hearted strangers turn Little Free Libraries into Little Free Pantries (Literary Hub)


Gleaning, Foraging, Reuse, Recycling, Composting & Waste

  • Idaho farm gave away potatoes for free so they wouldn’t got to waste (KTVB7)                                                            Cranney Farms in Oakley has thousands of potatoes they were expecting to sell. Instead of dumping them, they gave them away.
  • MCO: Sabah (Malaysia) farmer distributing vegetables for free rather than letting them go to waste (New Straits Times)
  • Dumped milk, smashed eggs and plowed vegetables: Coronavirus pandemic leaves staggering amount of food waste (Chicago Tribune)
    • California dairies dump milk, crops may be left to wither as coronavirus pandemic disrupts food system (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • “Truly helpless”: Farmers devastated by coronavirus pandemic (CBS News)                                                               … Dairy farmers in Pennsylvania are pouring milk down the drain because of dried-up demand from closed restaurants and schools, while others stand by helplessly as their crops rot in the field.
  • Dumped Milk, Smashed Eggs, Plowed Vegetables: Food Waste of the Pandemic (NYT)                                       With restaurants, hotels and schools closed, many of the nation’s largest farms are destroying millions of pounds of fresh goods that they can no longer sell.
  • ‘It’s catastrophic.’ Coronavirus forces Florida farmers to scrap food they can’t sell (Miami Herald)
  • Coronavirus claims an unexpected victim: Florida vegetables (NBC Montana)
  • Dairy farmers forced to dump milk because of coronavirus related closures (Food Dive)
    • Dairy farmers forced to dump milk because of coronavirus related closures (Food Dive)
    • Wisconsin dairy farmer dumps 56K pounds of milk: ‘no one’s buying it’(abc7news)
    • Perry County (PA) dairy farmers asked to dump thousands of pounds of milk amid Covid-19 outbreak (abc27 News)
    • Coronavirus is forcing some Idaho to dump thousands of gallons of milk – a day (Idaho Statesman)
  • Chicken company to cull birds as processing capacity plummets (Food, Agriculture and the Environment)


Healthy Food & Food Safety

  • Healthy Eating Is Key To Well-Being. So Why Is Hospital Food Often So Bad? (Huffington Post)                        From Maine to California, hospitals are tackling a lingering contradiction: Their food can be a hinderance to their patients’ health.
  • What banned substances might be hiding in your groceries? (The Guardian)                                                                        If you live in the US, your grocery store is full of substances banned in Europe. Use our handy tool to find out what they are and how to avoid them


Scandals, Food Fraud, Weird & Funny


Children & School Food

  • Coronavirus and Poverty: A Mother Skips Meals So Her Children Can Eat (NYT)                                                          Americans with tight financial resources have fewer options as they navigate coronavirus closures and layoffs.
  • With class cancelled due to coronavirus, public schools are inventing meal-delivery operations on the fly (The Counter)


Labor, Unions & Coops

  • At 90, Dolores Huerta Is Not Done Inspiring Labor Activists (Zora)                                                                              She always believed she could do more for farmworkers by organizing a union to fix income inequality
  • ‘Now Make It national’: Vermont and Minnesota Classify Grocery Store Staff as Emergency Personnel (Common Dreams)                                                                                                  “If your job is so ‘essential’ that you can’t get off for a killer global pandemic, you deserve $15 an hour and a union.”
  • ‘They Are Saving Our Lives’: Demand Grows for Grocery Store Employees, Other Frontline Workers to Receive Hazard Pay Amid Coronavirus Outbreak (Common Dreams)                                                                                          “Crewmembers are terrified knowing their job is putting them on the frontlines of a global pandemic.”
  • Grocers should show ‘human kindness’ and pay older workers to stay home, senator writes (The Sacramento Bee)
  • Kroger Expands Coronavirus Paid Leave Policy, Gives Bonuses After Backlash (Huffington Post)                      The supermarket chain previously provided every associate with $25 on their loyalty cards to “show how much Kroger appreciates and acknowledges you.”
  • “Without These Workers, Everything Ceases to Exist”: How Coronavirus Is Coming for Your Produce (Mother Jones)                                                                                                  US consulates in Mexico are closed indefinitely, stranding a labor source that American farms rely on.
  • Farm Workers Are Still in the Fields as Pandemic Spreads (LA Magazine)
  • Farmworkers on both side of the US – Mexico border lack protective gear and run a major risk of illness advocates said (Reuters)
  • Despite threat of fines, jail time, price gouging still rampant in California farmworker communities (Food, Agriculture and the Environment)
  • Immigrant farmworkers feed us despite the coronavirus pandemic. They deserve better (The Sacramento Bee)
    • What Happens if America’s 2.5 Million Farmworkers Get Sick? (NYT)                                                                        Their cramped living and working conditions threaten their health and the nation’s food supply.
  • Farmworkers face coronavirus risk: ‘You can’t pick strawberries over Zoom’ (LA Times)
  • Migrant Farmworkers Feed America – And They’re At High Risk For A Coronavirus Outbreak (Portside)
  • Farmworkers pick our food. Shouldn’t we care about their health and coronavirus exposure? (The Sacramento Bee)
  • Migrant Workers Are Essential Workers and Must Be Included in Coronavirus Relief (Trutout)
    • America’s Farmworkers – Now ‘Essential,’ but Denied the Just-Enacted Benefits (American Prospect)
    • “Essential” Immigrant Farmworkers Struggle to Feed Themselves During Coronavirus (Open Democracy)                                                                                              Immigrant farmworkers have long been essential to the United States. But they have never been recognized, respected or properly rewarded for their labour
  • I Harvest Your Food. Why Isn’t My Health ‘Essential’? (NYT)
  • Pre-existing conditions, no sick leave and health insurance put farm workers at increased coronavirus risk (The Counter)
  • Unsung Heroes: Mexican Laborers Still Working Hard In The Fields, Providing Our Food (Latin Live)
  • Farm workers still on the job during shelter in place (KION 546)
  • As the agricultural season ramps up in a pandemic, worker safety protocols follow. (Monterey County Weekly)
  • Central California Mexican restaurants deliver burritos to hundreds of farm workers amid COVID-19 pandemic (abc7)
    • Mexican Restaurants Deliver Food To Hundreds of Farmworkers Laboring in the Fields (Latin Live)
  • Hospital Food Workers and Janitors Are Stuck In a “Death Trap” (In These Times)                                                            “I’m jeopardizing myself coming here every day. I love my work but just give me the tools I need to do my job.
  • I’m A Fast-Food Worker. Each Day I Come In, I May Be Signing My Own Death Certificate. (Huffington Post)  “Why, in industries like mine, are minimum,-wage workers the only ones forced to keep exposing themselves to the danger of the pandemic?”
  • The coronavirus has laid bare restaurant workers’ ‘tip to mouth’ existence (Food & Environment Reporting Network)
  • Hundreds of US Meat Workers Have Now Tested Positive for Virus (Bloomberg)
    • One of the largest pork processing facilities in the US is closing until further notice (CNN)                            One of the country’s largest pork processing facilities is closing until further notice as employees fall ill with Covid-19.
  • Hazelton (PA) meat-packing plant closes with 130 workers testing positive for COVID-19. Union leader at Souderton Plant died last Friday. (Penn Live)
  • More meat plants close as employee coronavirus outbreaks grow (Food Dive)
  • JBS tells 6,000 beef workers to self-quarantine (Food, Agriculture and Environment)
  • Tyson confirms 2 employees from Columbus Junction plant died due to COVID-19 (KCCI 8 Des Moines)
  • North Carolina Prisoners Still Working in Chicken Plants, Despite Coronavirus Fears (The Marshall Project)
  • Guy Fieri Is Partnering On A Relief Fund To Give $500 Directly To Laid Off Restaurant Workers (Delish)
  • Harvard, Boasting $40 Billion Endowment, Lays Off Dining Hall Workers Due to Coronavirus (The Washington Free Beacon)                                                                                              Country’s richest university cuts costs as pandemic sweeps country
  • Orlando Airport Chili’s asks servers to come in and clean, then fires them (Orlando Weekly)



  • Fast Foods Workers at 50 Restaurants Across California Are Going on Strike (Vice)                                                Hundreds of workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Domino’s, and more chains will walk off the job to demand coronavirus protections.


Business, Entrepreneurship, Social Enterprise & Our Economy

  • Every Grocery Store Should Be Handling the Pandemic Like This Texas Chain (Vice)                                                      Whole Foods, local grocery chains, and probably the federal government could take a page from HEB’s emergency preparedness book.
  • Safeway, Sobeys and Thrifty Foods to add InFarm hydroponic systems to select stores (eatnorth)
  • ‘I can’t see them struggle’: Spokane steakhouse owner distributes meals to laid-off staff (The Spokesman Review)
  • Texas Roadhouse And Hilton CEO Forego Salary For The Year To Pay Workers (The Intellectualist)
    • Texas Roadhouse CEO gives salary to pay employees during coronavirus pandemic (Austin 360)
  • Why the oldest restaurant in San Francisco refuses to lay off a single employee (SFGate)
  • How a San Francisco restaurant reinvented itself to survive in the age of COVID-19 (SF Gate)
  • Bay Area restaurants and nonprofits are feeding hospital workers. Here’s how you can help (SFGate)
  • Shutdown: Your favorite restaurant might not reopen. Here’s what could prevent that (The Sacramento Bee)
  • Restaurant owners appreciate landlord’s advice to ‘pay employees’ instead of rent (KAIT8)
  • Why Are Insurance Companies Denying Restaurant Claims in Wake of Pandemic? (Eater)                                    As government mandates force restaurants to close their dining rooms, operators learn insurance won’t help
  • Jose Andres Is Closing His DC – Area Restaurants, Setting Up Community Kitchens (NBC Washington)    Jose Andres is a chef and the founder of the World Central Kitchen, a non-profit that provides meals to victims of natural disasters
  • Chef Jose Andres’s Nonprofit Provides Meals For Docked Cruise Ship (sfist)                                                                       International celebrity chef Jose Andres is cementing his reputation for responding to national disasters…
  • With restaurants closed, a bacon backup is building in Minnesota and hog prices are plunging (Star Tribune)                                                                                                                                 About two-thirds of bacon sales happened in restaurants and hog farmers are suddenly losing significant revenue.
  • “The rise of the ghost kitchen” could change the restaurant delivery game (The Counter)
  • Collegetown Bagels announces “pay-what-you-can” initiative at City Center Location (Ithaca Times)
  • Coronavirus Has Broken America’s Food Supply (The American Prospect)                                                                        Because commercial and consumer supply chains are different and cannot easily be transferred, enormous amounts of food are going to waste – and it could get worse.
  • Economic fallout from coronavirus is also hitting farmers (Star Tribune)                                                                      Dairy prices also suffering, could get worse is schools close, lowering demand.
  • As coronavirus affects the economy, Washington farm industry faces potential threat from logistics problems (The Spokesman Review)


Government, Regulation, Policy & Farm Bill

  • Essential workers like nurses and grocery store employees would get a $25,000 raise for working through the pandemic under a new plan from Senate Democrats (Business Insider)
  • House Democrats introduce plan to pay Americans $2,000 a month until economy recovers from COVID-19 (Business Insider)
  • Trump sued for allowing meals-on-wheels & homeless shelters to discriminate against LGBTQ people (LGBTQ Nation)
  • Food and Drug Administration pauses routine food inspections for the indefinite future (The Counter)  What could possibly go wrong?
  • Food Safety Groups Warn of Looming Zoonotic Pandemic, Blast USDA’s New Slaughter Plant Regulation (Common Dreams)                                                                                                      “Self-regulation when it comes to animal movement, slaughter, and meat inspection is bad news.”
  • US restricts visas for farmworkers, raising concerns about food supply (NBC News)                                  “This could have a very serious impact on the flow of fresh fruits and vegetables to American stores,” the head of a farmers group said.
  • The Trump administration issued a new rule that blocks guaranteed paid sick leave for 75% of American workers (Business Insider)
  • With Nation Distracted by Public Health and Economic Crises, Trump Moves to Allow GMO Crops in Wildlife Refuges (Common Dreams)                                                                              “Only the Trump administration would aggressively promote the use of crops genetically engineered for pesticide tolerance on wildlife refuges.”
  • Trump Accused of Exploiting Coronavirus Pandemic to Advance ‘Truly Disgraceful’ Union Busting Effort (Common Dreams)                                                                                              “This action reveals in stark terms just how determined the administration is to roll back the rights and benefits of federal employees.”
  • Senate Dems propose big pay hike for frontline anti-pandemic workers (People’s World)
  • Senator Booker Is Right about Factory Farming (National Review)                                                                            We should pass legislation to end it
  • Victoria (BC) Assigns Park Staff To Start Growing Food For Residents (Huffington Post)
  • California Governor Gavin Newsom signs executive order to give relief to food industry workers (CBS News)
    • Coronavirus: Newsom announces $125M fund for undocumented immigrants amid coronavirus emergency (abc7)                                                                              Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday $125 million in disaster relief assistance for working Californians that will provide financial support to undocumented immigrants impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • LA passes ordinance to reserve grocery shopping times for the elderly and disabled (LA Times)


Pollinators & Insects

  • Second wave of locusts in east Africa said to be 20 times worse (The Guardian)                                                              UN warns of ‘alarming and unprecedented threat’ to food security and livelihoods in the region


Animals, Fish, Fresh Water & Marine Animals

  • Factory farms create the perfect conditions to spread viral infections like COVID-19 (Nation of Change)                                                                                              An alarming 75 percent of new or merging diseases start in animals.



  • Trump’s EPA is being sued for hiding information about new chemicals (Nation of Change)                              Several environmental organizations join together to hold the EPA accountable and prove the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) is being ignored.
  • Are plastic containers safe for our food? (The Guardian)                                                                                              The industry says its containers are safe but some experts point to a lack of data and warn that plastic and heat aren’t a good mix.
  • Monsanto documents predicted damage to US farms (Nation of Change)                                                                              Dozens of US farms have joined together to sue Monsanto (now Bayer) and BASF in order to hold them accountable for damage of millions of acres of farmland and crops
  • Revealed: Monsanto predicted crop system would damage US farms (The Guardian)                                            Internal documents describe how to profit from farmer losses and desire to oppose some independent testing


GMOs, CRISPR, Cloning & Synthetic Biology

  • GM Bt Corn Causes Organ Damage and Altered Blood Chemistry, and Threatened Male Fertility (GMO Science)
  • Crisper gene-editing will change the way Americans eat – here’s what’s coming (The Guardian)                            The technology will be labeled and subject to stringent health and environment review in the EU, but not in the US, where produce could be radically changed


Food Science, Technology & Nanotechnology

  • ‘I was all my food like crazy’: scientists voice concern about nanoparticles (The Guardian)                            US foods are increasingly full of nano-scale additives, even as researchers raise