Antibiotics are becoming dangerously impotent, resulting in two million infections and 23,000 deaths each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But what happens when we lose these drugs altogether? Reporter Maryn McKenna explores the dramatic implications of that question for the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN) in its first collaboration with Medium.com in a piece out today called “Imagining the Post-antibiotics Future.” Read more
In the latest report by the Food & Environment Reporting Network in partnership with The American Prospect, reporter Paul Greenberg, author of the New York Times bestseller Four Fish, tells the story of how the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico is the result of decades-long U.S. agricultural practices and investigates some of the promising solutions to fixing its future. Read more
In the latest report by the Food & Environment Reporting Network, out today in May/June issue of Eating Well magazine, looks at the growing issue of antibiotic resistance due to the routine use of antibiotics in livestock production. Reporter Barry Estabrook, author of the New York Times bestselling book Tomatoland, details how livestock are fed a diet laced with low “sub-therapeutic” doses of antibiotics, not to cure illness, but to make the animals grow faster and survive cramped living conditions. Read more
In his latest book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, author and journalist Michael Pollan investigates the lost art of cooking, apprenticing himself to bread bakers, fermentos, pitt masters, and others to learn how to take back the kitchen. We sat down to chat with Pollan about why cooking is empowering, how to feed your superorganism, and to get his thoughts on the current state of the food movement. Read more
In the Pacific, eight island nations have recently come together to protect the world’s last healthy tuna populations from the perils of the lawless sea, the first agreement of its kind, reports Shannon Service in the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN)’s latest story, “The Saudi Arabia of Sashimi,” for Slate. Read more
In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying, according to the latest report by Food & Environment Reporting Network. Elizabeth Royte wrote the cover story, “What the Frack Is in our Food,” for the December 17, 2012, issue of The Nation magazine.
“In Pennsylvania, the oil and gas industry is already on a tear—drilling thousands of feet into ancient seabeds, then repeatedly fracturing (or ‘fracking’) these wells with millions of gallons of highly pressurized, chemically laced water, which shatters the surrounding shale and releases fossil fuels,” Royte writes. “New York, meanwhile, is on its own natural-resource tear, with hundreds of newly opened breweries, wineries, organic dairies and pastured livestock operations—all of them capitalizing on the metropolitan area’s hunger to localize its diet. But there’s growing evidence that these two impulses, toward energy and food independence, may be at odds with each other.”
The story, the first in-depth look at the potential impact of fracking on food, cites the first and only peer-reviewed report, published earlier this year, suggesting a possible link between fracking and illness in food animals. It includes 24 case studies of farmers in shale-gas states whose livestock have experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. Read more
A seventh of the world’s population experiences hunger every day. There are two ways people have argued to solve this problem: intensify agriculture using industrial practices which have not proven themselves over the long term, or diversify agriculture using methods that have sustained us over thousands of years. Big chemical and seed companies–which have made millions in the last half-century–would like us to keep following the former model, while more and more people are voting with their forks for the latter.
Now, the Real Food Media Project, a collaboration between author Anna Lappé and Corporate Accountability International, has debuted Food MythBusters, a campaign to provide videos and resources debunking the yarns Big Ag players spin about our food system–beginning with their myth about how we should feed the world.
Watch the debut video here: Read more
In the latest report by the Food & Environment Reporting Network, “As Common as Dirt,” produced in collaboration with The American Prospect magazine, reporter Tracie McMillan investigates how farm labor contracting–a ubiquitous, but relatively unknown, practice–often blatantly disregards labor laws governing wages, safety and health. She writes that it could be the most insidious source of abuse faced by farmworkers.
“Known in some circles as ‘custom harvesters,’ farm-labor contractors offer produce growers a ready workforce, but they also give these growers the ability to distance themselves from the people who pick their crops,” McMillan reports. “These contractors control the flow of money between farmer and worker as well as all the paperwork. They track hours worked, crops harvested, and wages paid and take responsibility for everything related to labor, from verifying immigration status to providing workers’ compensation.”
McMillan, who spent several months on this investigative report, tells the story of 75-year-old Ignacio Villalobos, a California farmworker since childhood, who brought suit earlier this year against former employer Juan Muñoz Farm Labor Contractor. The suit alleges that the contractor routinely altered payment documents to undercount hours worked, failed to pay minimum wage or overtime, failed to provide safe or sanitary working conditions, and housed the workers in unsafe and unsanitary living quarters. Read more