Our present system of food production and distribution is built on a range of practices that are unsustainable as we near the tipping points of climate change, ecosystem collapse, and rising obesity levels. It privileges these unsustainable practices by redistributing the costs of their damaging impacts from the private sector to the public sector. Moving towards a more globally sustainable food system is critical. In sustainable food circles, there’s a new concept that is becoming increasingly important when discussing these issues: The True Cost Accounting.
After a tense, two-day delay, the Kauai County Council finally voted 5-2 on Saturday to override Mayor Bernard Carvalho’s veto of a bill that seeks to regulate the biotech industry on the Hawai‘ian island. A tumultuous month after the council initially approved it, Bill 2491 is finally law.
When I first met Nancy and Cindy Prebilich–two sisters in Northern California struggling to hold onto their 5th-generation family ranch after the sudden death of their parents–their story inspired me because it reminded me so much of my mom. When I was a kid, my mom would tell me stories about her own mother and her grandparents, who came from Norway in the 1860s to farm in Badger, Iowa, a small town of 300.
Lawmakers in Kauai today will decide the fate of a hotly debated bill that would require agri-biotech companies to disclose details about the pesticides they are using as well as the genetically modified crops they are growing on the Hawai‘ian island. Following the recent demise of Washington State’s GMO labeling initiative, Bill 2491 has turned Kauai into the latest battleground in the fight over genetically modified crops.
While public health advocates have sung the praises of tap water for years, Coca-Cola has been focusing on its own covert assault on the affordable, healthful, and refreshing beverage. Unbeknownst to many in the nutrition and public health world, the soft drink giant launched a “Cap the Tap” program–aimed at restaurants–in 2010, described in the following manner on the Coke Solutions Web site:
Growing up in a small town in northern Michigan, I learned that big, important things happen in other places. Sitcoms and movies did not take place near our cornfields or cherry orchards. The news was always about other places, unless it was about people losing their jobs. Being successful meant leaving town.
With the disappointing results now in from I-522, the initiative in Washington State that would have required labeling of genetically-engineered food (aka GMOs), the looming question is, what’s next? At least for the junk food lobby, that answer in painfully clear: stop this state-level movement at any cost. In today’s New York Times, Stephanie Strom reports on the dirty details contained in industry documents that I obtained from the Washington State attorney general’s office in the wake of a lawsuit brought against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for illegally concealing donors to the No on 522 campaign.
If you drive southeast of Palm Springs through the Eastern Coachella Valley, it’s easy to get a little overwhelmed by the date palm trees. They grow as tall as 70 feet, and they’re everywhere, filling thousands of acres. Dates aren’t native to the Coachella Valley, but they’ve given this region an identity and became a top crop.