All the News That's Fit to Eat: Russia's Locavore Experiment, a 'Natural' Settlement, and 'Sustainable' Beef | Civil Eats

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Russia’s Locavore Experiment, a ‘Natural’ Settlement, and ‘Sustainable’ Beef

We’re pretty sure you’re all as busy as we are, but take a break and get caught up here with this week’s food news.

1. 250,000 Farmworkers Protected from Deportation by Obama’s Executive Order (Politics of the Plate)

“The United States became a more food secure nation last night after President Obama issued an order that would prevent deportation of up to five million immigrant workers—including at least 250,000 who are toil in the fields to feed us,” writes Barry Estabrook on his site, where he includes United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez’s comments from a press release: “The President’s action will allow at least 250,000 of America’s current professional farm workers who feed our nation to apply for temporary legal status and work permits. Farm workers who have lived in the United States for five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents, pass a criminal background check, pay all of their taxes, and pay a fee will be able to work and live in the United States without fear of deportation.” We agree with Barry that it’s fitting that Obama issued his order the day before the national release of Food Chains, which we review today.

2. Advocates Challenge ‘Sustainable Beef’ Principles (various)

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) met in Sao Paulo Brazil earlier this month to set forth a definition of “sustainable beef.” This week, 23 groups, including Friends of the Earth, Animal Welfare Approved, Consumer Reports, Food Chain Workers Alliance, Slow Food USA, Food and Water Watch, and Healthy Food Action sent a letter criticizing the principles and criteria. According to these groups, the GRSB “failed to address misuse of antibiotics or establish meaningful standards for workers’ rights, animal welfare, or environmental performance.” The principles [PDF] set out criteria that sound reasonable, but lack teeth, they say. The “criteria lack specific measurable performance standards, guidelines and verification methods, making industry commitments to the Global Roundtable principles questionable at best and leaving the door wide open to greenwashing,” says Friends of the Earth’s Kari Hamerschlag.

3. General Mills in Settlement Over ‘100% Natural’ Claim (Wall Street Journal)

General Mills, Inc. agreed to keep the phrase “100% Natural” off its Nature Valley brand of granola bars as part of a legal settlement in just the latest in a much larger debate about what deserves to be called “natural.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) sued the company in 2012 for including genetically modified and processed ingredients in the Nature Valley product line. CSPI says the agreement might help “nudge the marketplace, otherwise awash in varyingly flimsy ‘natural’ claims, in the right direction.”

4. Organic Farms Become a Winner in Putin’s Feud With the West (New York Times)

The largest experiment in re-localizing might just be taking place in Russia as you read this. Last August, Vladimir V. Putin imposed sweeping food sanctions barring all beef, pork, fish, fruit, vegetables, and dairy products from the West. As a result, food retailers in the company are scrambling to find local replacements and while there’s no way they can re-build the local infrastructure in time to fully replace the calories needed by the whole population, some small-scale and organic producers have far more demand than they can accommodate.

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5. How Well Has California Legislature Tackled Food and Farm Issues? (Inside Scoop SF)

The new California Food Policy Council released a report [PDF] this week tracking 15 bills that made it through the California legislature this year, pinpointing the ones that impact the state’s food system most. At the top of the list is the creation of a new the Office of Farm and Fork, as well as laws affecting food stamps, farmers markets, and bees. The Policy Council is facilitated by nonprofit organization Roots of Change and shows promise as a solid force for positive change in the California food system.

6. Turns Out, the Future of Food Lies in These Old Seeds (Take Part)

Kristin Ohlson author of the The Soil Will Save Us takes a deep dive into the world of organic and heirloom seed production.

7. Reverend Billy Hosting and Organic Thanksgiving Dinner at Monsanto HQ (Treehugger)

Known for his anti-consumerist antics, Reverend Billy is inviting the general pubic to join him for a Thanksgiving meal potluck and march to the main Monsanto office (which will likely be closed for the holiday, but we get the idea). They’ll also be performing selections from their latest show, titled Monsanto Is the Devil, dressed as pilgrims and honeybees. If you’re planning to be in St. Louis on Thursday, you can RSVP at Rev. Billy’s website.

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We’ll be taking next Friday off for the Thanksgiving holiday, but see you the first Friday in December!

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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