All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Chocolate Changing, Fair Trade Slipping, and Trans-Atlantic Trade

Hershey's kisses

Get caught up on some of the top food news of this week.

1. Food Waste Is Becoming Serious Economic and Environmental Issue, Report Says (New York Times)

Just in case we didn’t already know that food waste was a huge international problem, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released a daunting report this week that turns up the volume on the message. Read More

How Emulsifiers Are Messing with Our Guts (and Making Us Fat)

Shutterstock.

Scan the fine print on almost any processed food in the grocery store and you’re likely to find emulsifiers: Ingredients such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” all of which keep ingredientsoften oils and fatsfrom separating. They are also used to improve the texture and shelf-life of many foods found in supermarkets, from ice cream and baked goods, to salad dressings, veggie burgers, non-dairy milks, and hamburger patties.

Now, a new study released today in the journal Nature suggests these ingredients may also be contributing to the rising incidence of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease by interfering with microbes in the gastrointestinal tract, known asgut microbio.” Read More

Meet The Group Everyone in the Food Movement Should Be Watching

AFBF representative Mary Kay Thatcher, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and a Monsanto representative discuss "Innovation, Biotechnology, and Big Data” at a recent forum. Photo courtesy of USDA.

After a recent national gathering, delegates discussed their emphatic opposition to federal firearm registration, argued against attempts to address climate change through cap and trade, and decried the so-called “war against Christmas.” Attendees went home with a “lobbyist bible” that defined marriage between a man and woman, called for national voter identification, and demanded the repeal of “Obamacare.” Read More

Alternative Produce Labels: Faux Organic or Just as Good?

Rainbow Chard Serenity Valley Farm

Last fall, after wondering for years about whether I should buy produce from farmers who claim that they are “organic, but not certified,” I dug into some big questions about certification. That process led me to explore many other seemingly respectable food labels that—while much less popular than organic—seemed to offer a similar, if slightly different level of transparency between eaters and farmers. Read More

Warning: After Reading This, You May Never Eat Shrimp from Thailand Again

Unidentified workers on a  shrimp farm in Samutprakran, Thailand. (think4photop / Shutterstock.com)

I vowed never to touch another Thai-farmed shrimp after attending a panel discussion recently at the SeaWeb Seafood Summit in New Orleans.

Steve Trent, the executive director of Britain’s Environmental Justice Foundation, described a multi-billion-dollar industry with a financial model that would not be viable without slave labor. “It’s the most horrific situation I have seen in more than 25 years of monitoring human rights abuses around the world,” he said. Read More

Seeding the Demand for Ancient Grains

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Eastern Washington is commodity wheat country; over 2 million acres of the grain grow in the state each year. Although researchers and farmers continue to explore alternative crops, today’s soft white wheat is remarkably easy and cheap to grow in this arid region.

Over a decade ago, however, two small Washington farms began embracing diverse varieties of wheat, growing hulled ancestors including spelt, emmer, and einkorn, collectively called farro. It’s often difficult to create demand for an unfamiliar crop—and these two farms took different, yet equally successful, approaches. Read More