Here’s what caught our eye this week in food news:

1. Beating Monsanto in the Food Fight: Oregon Counties Vote to Ban GMO Crops (The Nation)

Josephine County and Jackson County, Oregon overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to prohibit the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE) crops in the counties. Farmers in the area grow both sugar beets and alfalfa, two crops that are said to be susceptible to contamination from the pollen of nearby GE plants. The bans were voted in by a two-to-one margin. As The Center for Food Safety put it in their blog: “In the absence of any meaningful government mandated restrictions to control contamination, bans such as those in Jackson and Josephine County are the only way for farmers to protect their crops from contamination.” Read more

Dan and Isabelle sit patiently on the folding metal chairs in the tastefully decorated waiting room of Seattle’s Ballard Food Bank. Intelligent, soft-spoken, and in his late 50s, Dan is a chronically underemployed architectural draftsman who barely managed to eke out three days of temporary work over the past week. His unemployment benefits have long since evaporated and he’s thinking about applying for food stamps, although he cringes as the words leave his mouth. With his shrunken income dedicated to keeping a roof over his head, he and Isabelle are two among 1,200 or so neighborhood residents who will request a shopping cart-full of food this week at the food bank. Read more

Access to fresh, nutritious, affordable food is one of the most important factors in quality of life, personal well-being, and the overall health of a community. Areas in which there is limited access to wholesome food—often called “food deserts”—are starting to receive the attention they desperately need. Earlier this year, the Obama administration launched the $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative, but change is slow to come and requires action at the local level.

The Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores, a coalition of more than 30 community, faith, and labor leaders, is taking that action in Los Angeles. Sounding the alarm, they just released the first-ever Grocery Chain Scorecard. The report issues grades to grocery chains on three key areas: Food access, store quality, and job quality. Read more