When it comes to marketing to children, the food industry has long argued that it should regulate itself. In fact, 12 of the largest food companies in the world–including Coca-Cola, Kraft, Mars, McDonalds, and Nestlé—belong to a coalition that years ago established the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), a voluntary effort by the leading food and beverage companies to rein in their marketing of unhealthy foods and drinks to kids.
Just before this past Earth Day, dozens of volunteers worked with longtime members of the Hattie Carthan Community Garden in central Brooklyn to clean beds, spread mulch, and pour concrete. The garden has been a fixture in the area for decades, but just six years ago, the abandoned half-acre lot next to it was overgrown with trees and filled with trash. Today that lot is home to a children’s garden, two chicken coops, and the Hattie Carthan Community Market in the summer. There’s also educational programming for all ages and the Hattie Carthan Urban Agriculture Corps, a paid summer apprentice program for local teenagers.
The next time you sit down to eat, consider the fact that children may have harvested or helped produce the food on your plate. In fact, hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 16 work on U.S. farms every year. In 2012, it was nearly 260,000, a number some experts believe to be an undercount.
Quietly, Vermont has become a cultural, economic, and political force. Its public education system is consistently among the nation’s best. Vermonters weathered the Great Recession better than their counterparts in other states; the state’s unemployment rate is currently around 4 percent and dropping. Then there’s the catch-all distinction of being one of the top places in the country to live for overall quality of life.
Update: A month after this story ran, Ben and Jerry’s agreed to negotiate with Migrant Justice.
In 2009, José Obeth Santiz Cruz, a 20 year-old farmworker from Chiapas, Mexico, had a fatal accident on a small dairy farm in Vermont. Cruz was working on his knees near a gutter scraper–a conveyor belt that pushes manure into a pit–when his clothing got caught, and he was strangled.
Food Industry Has Achieved Only Baby Steps to Improve Nutritional Quality of Foods Advertised to Children on TV (American Journal of Preventive Medicine)
Back in the wilds of 2006, a number of the world’s most influential food and beverage companies got together and promised to shift their kiddy TV advertising to include healthier food. Now, a group of social scientists has evaluated the changes they made only to find that this self-regulatory program hasn’t had a noticeable effect on the nutritional value of foods marketed to children. According to a study released today in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 80 percent of foods advertised to kids under 12 are classified in the poorest nutritional category, as specified by U.S. Department of Health and Human services guidelines (think highly processed and full of sugar and salt).
A farmer in Missouri is helping Chipotle take its “food with integrity” commitment one step further—to organic. Steve McKaskle, owner of McKaskle Family Farm, the only organic rice farm in Missouri, supplies a growing number of Chipotle restaurants in his region with organic long grain white and brown rice.
This is the third in a series of four excerpts from The Color of Food: Stories of Race, Resilience, and Farming. Read more about the book and the author here, then check out the first and second posts.
When I visited North Carolina, I heard a lot about Tahz Walker and Cristina Rivera-Chapman of Tierra Negra Farms, who are well known among young food-movement activists and urban gardeners in New York City. So as I pull up the long driveway to the land they are renting outside of Durham, I am excited to finally meet them.
Last fall, at the peak of the contentious, expensive fight over Oregon’s ballot measure to label genetically engineered foods, about 100 people gathered at Portland’s Warner Pacific College for an unusual forum on the topic. Held in the Christian college’s chapel, the event put aside the familiar debates over health and the environment to take up a less-discussed, less earthly issue: What does God think of GMOs?
Not every writer can speak to both seasoned experts and curious newcomers, but that is precisely what Barry Estabrook can do well. In his 2011 book, Tomatoland, Estabrook took a deep dive in the modern tomato industry, shining a light on labor abuse in Florida, and the work of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. In addition to telling a riveting and complex story full of pesticides poisoning, escape from slavery, and tense court cases, Estabrook helped bring attention to one of the most important American labor struggles of the last few decades.