Last week, the European Commission announced its position against the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid insecticides, urging nations within the European Union (EU) to impose a two-year suspension on their use. Great news for bees across the pond.
But here in the U.S., policymakers aren’t stepping up. EPA officials are continuing to ignore the emerging body of science that point to pesticides, and especially neonicotinoid insecticides, as a critical factor in bee declines. What’s worse, the agency is poised to approve yet another bee-harming pesticide. Read More
At the farmers market, you can meet the farmer who grew your carrots, talk to them about their growing practices, and feel confident that your food dollars are going directly to the farm. But the path coffee travels from farm to cup is much more mysterious. How can you feel good about the businesses you’re supporting with your coffee dollars and ensure that farmers thousands of miles away are receiving their fair share? Read More
I grew up in a small town, population 15000 if you counted every cow in the valley. Every morning I’d hear my dad walk in the kitchen, pour his first cup of coffee and turn on the radio. Paul Harvey’s voice wafted into my bedroom regularly, and along with that smell of fresh brewed Folgers, became a thread in the fabric of my childhood. I didn’t know anything about Paul Harvey’s politics, but I loved the way he owned a pregnant pause.
On Sunday, Harvey’s voice was featured on a Super Bowl ad for Dodge Ram trucks featuring imagery of farmers. The audio was condensed from a 1978 speech Harvey made to the Future Farmers of America. I grew up in a rural town, my dad was born on a farm, and he and my mom opened a buffalo ranch when he retired from his career as a university professor. About the time my parents returned to a life on the land, I started working for FoodHub, a project of the nonprofit Ecotrust, which is a platform dedicated to connecting small and medium farmers with chefs, schools and other wholesale food buyers in their area. As a food system reformer and marketing professional, I had a visceral reaction to the ad. Read More
The Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) has been working in full force since last year in preparation for the anti-whistleblower Ag Gag bills expected (unfortunately) to be introduced in the new legislative session. Bills in Wyoming, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Arkansas and Indiana have all been filed or introduced so far in 2013.
For an overview of the 2012 Ag Gag saga, refer to FIC’s info page.
FIC collaborates with many coalition groups who oppose the legislation, which typically criminalize the individuals who expose wrongdoing rather than the perpetrators of it! Wyoming’s bill – which was introduced mere weeks after undercover video footage revealed inhumane handling of pigs at a Tyson Foods supplier in the state – threatens agriculture whistleblowers with jail time and a fine if they use a recording device on the facility’s premises. Read More
My partner and I have had the amazing pleasure of taking our documentary series about sustainable food around the world. We posted our announcement here on Civil Eats a few months back, but now we’ve actually had a chance to hit the road and wanted to share one of our recent highlights with you.
New York Times columnist Roger Cohen says that organic food is elitist, and assumes that the only people who demand healthy, pesticide-free food are well-off Whole Foods shoppers. Well, I don’t know how else to put it: he’s wrong.
All across the country—in Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Oakland, Milwaukee, and New York, just to name a few—residents of low-income neighborhoods have rallied to get healthy food into their communities. There are hundreds of nonprofits dedicated to building organic gardens in peoples’ backyards, teaching inner-city kids how to cook nutritious meals, or boosting fresh produce in corner stores.
In Oregon, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO), has been a pioneer of food justice. For over 15 years, the association’s Interfaith Food & Farms Partnership (IFFP) has helped churches, synagogues, Muslim community centers, and Hindu temples source healthy, organic food from local farms. Read More
At a number of farmers markets in California, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) signs are a familiar sight, assuring shoppers that the farm’s practices meet national organic standards. This year, CCOF celebrates its 40th anniversary, having grown from a small grassroots coalition of farmers to the largest organic certifier in the United States.
“A small group of people who are committed to making things better can do an amazing amount,” says Grant Brians of Heirloom Organic Gardens, who currently sits on CCOF’s board and is the only original CCOF member remaining. Other founding members include Jerry Thomas, who started Thomas Farm in 1971, and Warren Weber (pictured above on a horse-drawn plow) of Star Route Farms, the oldest continuously certified organic grower in California.
Organic standards have come a long way since the 1970s, thanks to the efforts of such pioneering farmers. Read More
The Food and Drug Administration recently announced two sweeping programs for protecting Americans from contamination in our food. Every year tens of thousands of Americans get sick from the presence of Salmonella, E.coli, and other bacteria in the food we eat. These new programs will help prevent some of the contamination from happening in the first place.
This is a welcome departure for an agency better known for paralysis than prevention. Perhaps this bold New Year’s announcement means the FDA is kicking off a new focus on shielding Americans from harm. Or perhaps the agency will simply fall back into its familiar pattern of delay. Read More
They’ll tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case perhaps you should make an exception. In A Girl and Her Pig: Recipes and Stories, April Bloomfield delivers exactly what the book’s cover implies – a straightforward approach to food from a working class Birmingham girl who found her niche.
As a child in England, Bloomfield wanted to be a Policewoman, but circumstances conspired as they so often do and she followed her sister into cooking school. Unlike her sister, though, Bloomfield found her way into the profession and on to New York, where her no-nonsense take on real food has won her accolades piled upon accolades. Read More
If there is one topic that Americans are generally confused about it’s nutrition. Although the word simply means the materials necessary in the form of food to support life, our cultural understanding of it has shifted dramatically—with various industries co-opting the word and changing its meaning. Michael Pollan calls this “nutritionism” in his book In Defense of Food. “No idea could be more sympathetic to manufacturers of processed foods,” he writes. “Nutritionism supplies the ultimate justification for processing food by implying that with a judicious application of food science, fake foods can be made even more nutritious than the real thing.”
Convincing people of the healthfulness of these new foods—processed foods that have been refined, stripped, and altered, with synthetic vitamins, added whole grains, or antioxidants put back in—requires experts to help convey this message. In addition to the billions of dollars spent on advertising directly for food products, Big Food companies also recruit America’s nutrition professionals to spread their gospel. This is the topic of public health lawyer, Michele Simon’s new report which details “the food industry’s deep infiltration of the nation’s top nutrition organization.” Read More