When I heard that Elanco–the global pharmaceutical company behind recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), an artificial growth hormone, and various antibiotics used on livestock farms–was reaching out to dietitians to educate them about farming, my red flag went up.
Michael Bloomberg’s controversial public health campaigns against Big Tobacco, Big Food, and Big Gulps gave late night comics a lot of fodder, but you can’t mock the metrics. The former New York City Mayor’s policies saved lives and money. And when New Yorkers try new solutions to old problems, every one else watches.
The city is a hotbed of innovative collaborations between government, philanthropy and the private sector. And when these public-private partnerships achieve their goals, the ripple effect is massive.
Too busy watching the World Cup to catch up on food news? We’ve got your back this week.
1. Groups are Paying Big Money to Stop NY Lawmakers from Passing a GMO-Labeling Law (New York Daily News)
The new documentary, Resistance opens with the story of Jessie Beam, who contracted an antibiotic-resistant strain of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in his early teens. The infection presented as run-of-the-mill soreness and fever at first, but his condition soon deteriorated until ultimately he fell into a coma. Beam survived the infection but has lasting mobility and health limitations. And he’s not alone.
The film presents other stories similar to his: An active older man loses the use of his legs after contracting a staph infection while surfing. A young family loses their 18-month old son to an antibiotic-resistant infection within 24 hours. Rather than seeming trite or emotionally manipulative, these stories underline the real danger of antibiotic-resistant bacteria: Infection can happen to anyone no matter how old or how healthy.
When Mishka Henner’s infamous feedlot photos made the internet rounds last year, they caught most viewers off guard. Filled with what looked like colorful pools of ink, smeared across beige canvasses, their captions made it clear that the black flea-sized dots in the photos were in fact cows, and the “ink” was liquid manure collecting alongside giant feedlots or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
When Will Potter, the author, TED fellow, and journalist behind the blog Green Is The New Red, saw the images, he didn’t just feel nauseous, shake his head, and click on something else. He wondered, what else could we learn about CAFOs by documenting them from above?
It’s spring, the first season of the first year at Alewife Farm in upstate New York’s pastoral Duchess county. Owner and head farmer Tyler Dennis coaxes weeds–miniscule dandelions and tiny bunches of grass–from a neat, compost-dusted bed.
Last week he made his first sale, 1,000 pounds of pea tendrils destined for kitchens in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, via the curated community supported agriculture (CSA) company Quinciple. The sale was a relief for Dennis and proof that his fledgling effort to reform an “unsustainable” food system could compete with established operations in the Hudson Valley. But more than cash flow, it was validation.
Food news doesn’t take a summer break. Get caught up here with our weekly round up:
1. Lobbyists Loom Behind The Scenes Of School Nutrition Fight (NPR’s The Salt)
In the ongoing battle over healthier school meal rules in the House Agriculture Appropriations Bill, several news outlets have pointed to the Big Food dollars behind the School Nutrition Association (SNA)–the group that has been advocating for waivers that would allow schools to opt out of the new rules.
A lawyer and a farmer walk into a field…
While this scenario may sound like the intro to a bad joke, Rachel Armstrong wants you to imagine a world where lawyers and farmers aren’t such strange bedfellows. In an agricultural sector that rarely goes out of its way to support small and mid-size farmers, attorneys can be strong allies by helping food producers navigate the legal system. These kinds of relationships, Armstrong says, can create the foundation for a healthy network of viable farm businesses for the long-term.
To get to Zenger Farm in the outer reaches of Southeast Portland, Oregon, you must pass mini-marts, gas stations, auto repair shops, a strip club, and several busy lanes of traffic. This isn’t the Portlandia that most people know.
The nearby Lents neighborhood, nicknamed “Felony Flats,” is a gritty area with no Main Street to speak of, fewer resources, and higher unemployment rates than most of Portland. And although the city has been working to revitalize the area, rebuilding streets and adding bike lanes, the results have been slow and subtle.