Food News You Can Use

November 8, 2011

These weekly news roundups will now be published every Tuesday rather than every Monday. Check back each week– or subscribe to our RSS feed– to stay in the loop!

  • How to Start a School Garden in Less than Two Weeks, without “Donations” from Sludge-Slingers: Pattie Baker writes about how she worked with a middle school P.E. teacher and a local parks director to get school kids gardening in record time (FoodShed Planet, 11/6).
  • “Why the Most Important Fish We Need to Save Is One You’ve Never Heard Of”: “Menhaden might be the most important fish you’ve never heard of. As far back as the 1860s, the U.S. caught more tons of menhaden than any other fish — and in many years, more menhaden than the combined commercial catch of all other finned fish put together. You don’t hear about them because they don’t show up in fish markets or on dinner menus. Rather, they go into animal feed, cosmetics, health food supplements, linoleum, lubricants, margarine, soap, insecticide, and paint. . . . Just as Michael Pollan makes the case that Americans eat mostly corn, eating it indirectly in processed foods and corn-fed animal products, more than a century ago, ichthyologist G. Brown Goode said that people who dine on Atlantic saltwater fish eat ‘nothing but menhaden.’” (AlterNet, 11/6)
  • Agriculture that Looks Like War: A transcript of a speech by Vandana Shiva published in The Age (11/4) reads: “The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools. And nowhere is this more vivid than in the metaphors and methods on which industrial, agricultural and food production is based. Factories that produced poisons and explosives to kill people during wars were transformed into factories producing agri-chemicals after the wars. The year 1984 woke me up to the fact that something was terribly wrong with the way food was produced. With the violence in Punjab and the disaster in Bhopal, agriculture looked like war.”
  • “Greenhouse Gases Higher Than Worst Case Scenario”AP reports, via Reader Supported News (11/4), that “the global output of heat-trapping carbon dioxide has jumped by a record amount, according to the US department of energy, a sign of how feeble the world’s efforts are at slowing man-made global warming. The figures for 2010 mean that levels of greenhouse gases are higher than the worst case scenario outlined by climate experts just four years ago.”
  • Rep. Pingree (D-ME) Urges Politicians to Use the Farm Bill to Help Local Food Economies: Rep. Pingree, who has been a small farmer on an island off the coast of Maine and the National President and CEO of Common Cause, writes that “the family farms that formed the backbone of our communities are becoming few and far between. I believe that the solutions to many of these problems lie in the revival of local agriculture and bringing back the local and regional food systems that were once the foundation of our agricultural economy” (Roll Call, 11/3).
  • “Memo to Congress: No Secret Farm Bill”The Nation‘s Mark Hertsgaard writes (11/2) that “Congress is attempting to write the nation’s next farm bill in secrecy—sneaking it into law as part of the deficit reduction package to be produced by the ‘supercommittee.’ . . . Writing the bill in secret and sneaking it into law would not only pre-empt citizen involvement and violate democratic norms, observes In Defense of Food author Michael Pollan; it would also squelch the prospects for reform. ‘So now what happens to an important proposal like The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree and Senator Sherrod Brown?’ Pollan asked in an e-mail interview with The Nation. ‘Does it even get a hearing? The writing of agricultural policy in America has never been a shining example of democracy at work; now, it threatens to devolve into a travesty.’”
  • “Rural Farmers Unite to Feed Wall Street Protestors”WNYC Radio airs a story (11/2) on “how rural farmers, an unemployed chef and a protestor named Heather are getting 1,000 dinners served at Occupy Wall Street every night”:

  • “Why Is the State Department Using Our Money to Pimp for Monsanto?”: Jill Richardson writes (AlterNet, 10/31), ”People in India are up in arms about eggplant. Not just any eggplant — the fight, which is also raging in the Philippines, is over Monsanto’s Bt eggplant. Even as increasing scientific evidence concludes that biotechnology and its arsenal of genetically modified crops may be doing more harm than good, companies like Monsanto are still pushing them hard and they are getting help from the U.S.”
  • “Cornucopia Institute Responds to Mischa Popoff’s Organic Attack”: The Cornucopia Institute responds (Eat Drink Better, 11/2) to Mischa Popoff’s attack on organics by saying, “The author misses few opportunities to impugn the integrity of the organic label, or USDA oversight, while simultaneously defending biotechnology and the industrial agriculture system that organics seeks to replace. . . . Popoff is a conservative ideologue, a global warming denier, an ardent critic of hybrid automobiles, and has suggested that the American mortgage crisis that precipitated the financial meltdown was caused by ‘overregulation.’ . . . ‘Popoff calling the $30 billion organic industry a “socialist movement,”‘ says Cornucopia’s Kastel, ‘is akin to the fascist leaders in Germany, during the 1920s and ‘30s, referring to their movement as the National Socialist party. It’s Orwellian doublespeak.  Nowhere in the food industry have entrepreneurs and investors realized greater financial reward, with virtually no governmental funding, than in meeting the higher standards consumers are seeking by paying a premium for organic food.’” More on Popoff’s background can be found here.

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