A few years ago, Sanjay Rawal was driving past a farm in Immokalee, Florida and he saw a group of migrant farmworkers toiling away in the fields. Later that evening, he drove by the same field to find the same group still hard at work. Meanwhile, the farm managers were eating at a separate facility nearby. “The segregation of these two communities shocked me. Almost next door to one another were these two eating facilities–one for whites one for ‘coloreds’. The ‘coloreds’ in this case weren’t African Americans, but farmworkers. It could’ve been 1911, not 2011.”
When it comes to nutrition and public health, the U.S. can learn a lot from Latin America. Over the past year, Mexico, Brazil, and several other countries in South and Central America have passed some very progressive policies, often placing public health interests above those of the food industry. This is particularly impressive given the expensive politicking the food industry has engaged in in Latin America against public health policies. Here are five recent efforts we should all be watching:
While the nation’s underpaid fast food workers have been making themselves and their demands very visible in recent years, a group of cooks and food servers in one of San Francisco’s most prominent Chinese restaurants have also been quietly charting a course to a better work environment.
Today, a group of employees at Yank Sing joins the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) and several Bay Area legal groups to announce a historic $4 million dollar settlement and workplace agreement with the restaurant’s owners. Yes, you read that right: $4 million. According to the State Labor Commissioner’s office, this is the largest monetary wage settlement they have helped secure from a restaurant of this size.
Conventional farming usually gets a bad climate rap. That’s because, in one way or another, food production accounts for up to a third of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Some seep directly from agricultural soils, but others stem from transportation, farm machinery, and the substantial carbon footprints of synthetic fertilizers and other inputs. These indirect emissions add to the environmental impacts of staple crops like corn and wheat, oft-vilified grains that feed much of the world’s population.
But a new paper, published today in the journal Nature Communications, offers a slice of good news. The study found that a combination of a few basic farming practices boosted wheat production and put heaps of carbon back into the soil–more than enough to compensate for the GHGs emitted in the process of growing it.
All rice and rice products are not created equal, according to a new study released today by Consumer Reports. Some types of rice, and some rice grown in specific regions, contain much higher levels of inorganic arsenic (IA) than others.
There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence to suggest that cooking at home is better for our health. It’s also well known that eating convenience food is associated with poorer nutrition, obesity, and other metabolic diseases. Food experts, ranging from NYU professor Marion Nestle to author Michael Pollan and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, have long argued that homemade meals belong at the center of a healthy diet.
Urban farmers in New York City face many obstacles—from high winds, to lack of space, extreme temperatures, and more. But now, there’s a line of seeds made just for them. Zach Pickens of Rooftop Ready Seeds, a small NYC start-up, has been cultivating, packaging, and selling seeds bred specifically for New York urban farms for the past four years.
Just because the elections are over doesn’t mean there isn’t news to cover–food news, that is. See this week’s stories below.
1. How a National Food Policy Could Save Millions of American Lives (Washington Post)
Food movement powerhouses Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Ricardo Salvador, and Olivier de Schutter have proposed a simple idea: The U.S. government should adopt a comprehensive food policy that protects public health, workers’ rights, the environment, and farm animals.
Fleet Farming uses volunteers to tend organic vegetable gardens in private yards. The produce is then collected and brought to local farmers’ markets and restaurants via pedal-power and the entirety of this mini food system is located within a 10-mile roundtrip bike path near downtown Orlando.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ve probably heard about the human microbiome.
Research into the galaxy of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that–when we’re healthy–live in symbiotic balance in and on our bodies has become one of the most intriguing fields of scientific study. But it turns out that plants have a microbiome too—and it’s just as important and exciting as ours.