The Bite Blog


Food Mythbusters: Coming to a City Near You on Food Day, October 24th

Topics:
Food Industry News & Trends,Hunger & Food Crisis

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012, 2:22 PM

It’s a tired old refrain you’ve probably heard before: “Industrial agriculture is the only way to feed the world.” Even if you shop at your weekly farmers market, and love your local kale and carrots, maybe you also secretly worry: Are you cursing people to more hunger around the world for your organic proclivities?

Well, folks, the research is in. Study after study is showing the opposite is true: we can onlyensure a well-fed world if we start shifting away from an agricultural system dependent on fossil fuels, mined minerals, and lots of water—all of which will only get more costly as they run out. Some of the most esteemed global institutions have documented that the best way to fight hunger—and grow food abundantly—is to go for organic and ecological production methods and get people eating whole, real food again.

So if we have scientific consensus, why don’t we have more public consciousness? You can find the answer in the marketing budgets of Big Ag. Thanks to well-funded, multi-decade communications campaigns by the very corporations profiting from chemical agriculture, many of us are still in the dark about the true costs of industrial agriculture and the true potential of sustainable agriculture.

Thanks to these efforts, we are inundated with messaging that we need their products—chemicals, fertilizer, genetically engineered seeds—to ensure the world is fed. We hear it all the time.

We hear the grain trader, ADM, is supermarket to the world—while the company’s price-fixing scandals were so outrageous they became fodder for a Matt Damon, Hollywood film.

We hear Monsanto is going to “squeeze more food from a raindrop”—that its genetically engineered crops will help farmers deal with extreme drought—even though no genetically engineered drought-tolerant seeds have been commercialized.

We hear pharmaceutical behemoth, Bayer, is “helping to feed a hungry planet” while at the same time it’s one of the biggest distributors of antibiotics to the livestock industry, leading to a public health crisis of antibiotic resistance. And it’s the maker of a toxic pesticide, now covering nearly 90 percent of all U.S. corn seeds, and a likely culprit in  colony collapse disorder—the fancy name for the disappearance of bees. It doesn’t take a PhD in agronomy to know that pollinators like bees are an essential part of being able to feed the world.

I don’t know about you, but I’m increasingly frustrated by all this spin: by the ad campaigns, the trade-group public relations machines, the lobbying, the front groups—the myth-making. And, while I don’t have $817 million (that’s what Monsanto spent on advertising in just one year), I do have some powerful allies—great food, farming and labor groups who share my frustration and want to do something about it. So together, we’re launching Food MythBusters: a one-stop shop to get your burning questions about food answered through short films, Q&As with experts and links to essential research.

Our first film takes on the myth that we need industrial agriculture to feed the world. We offered sneak peeks at SXSW Eco in Austin and will have previews with partners in Baltimore,Philadelphia and Boston… all building up to a national launch on Food Day, October 24th.

We’re inviting you – yes you – to help join us in spreading the word about the potential for sustainable food, farming and the exciting work springing to life across the country to remake our food system. This will ensure more and more of us have access to good, healthy, sustainably raised food.

Please join us by screening our first film wherever you are—on college campuses, in church basements, at CSA pickups and family rooms. We hope screenings will stimulate conversation, educate more about the real story of our food and compel people to get involved in transforming our food system—in their communities and across the country.

Visit www.foodmyths.org to see a teaser trailer and download a step-by-step toolkit for organizing a screening—it’s not too late. Or tune in on October 24 to our facebook event to watch a livecast. Contact JGordon@StopCorporateAbuse.org if you’d like more information about how to join the many groups around the country hosting a screening on Food Day, or any day this fall.  Together, we can take back the story of our food from the marketing machine of Big Agriculture.

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The Food Movement Must Occupy Wall Street

Topics:
Biotechnology,Food Policy & Politics,Hunger & Food Crisis,Local Food

Saturday, October 29th, 2011, 10:08 AM

by Kristin Wartman, Food Writer
The Food Movement Must Occupy Wall Street
If you are paying attention to Occupy Wall Street–and by now most people are–the anti-corporate message is coming through loud and clear. Most participants at the events now spreading across the country say they are no longer willing to let powerful corporate interests determine the course of their lives. These Americans realize that a participatory democracy is essential.
As it stands today, 75 percent of the population are obese or overweight and many are chronically ill with diet-related diseases. They are also largely dependent on an increasingly unhealthful and contaminated food supply that is heavily controlled by corporate interests. It’s obvious that this is our moment to drive a very important point home: Upending corporate control of the food supply is a fundamental change that must occur if the “99 percent” are to be healthy participants in a true democracy.
This could be a catalyzing moment for the food movement with a real chance for average Americans to see and hear the connection between corporate control of the food supply and our nation’s health crisis. Indeed, the declaration of Occupy Wall Street addresses issues the food movement has been working on for years. The declaration states, “They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.”
Author and activist Naomi Klein has been an outspoken advocate and participant in Occupy Wall Street. When asked how it connects to the food movement she said, “The protest is about the corporate takeover of democracy of our lives in every way. The food movement is inherently anti-corporate and it is inherently about rebuilding a real economy.” She continued, “The food movement is where a lot of the leadership is. Occupy Wall Street is not just about banking legislation. The food movement is paving the way for what needs to happen in manufacturing and I think it’s all connected.”
Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University agrees. “Of course Occupy Wall Street connects to the food movement,” she said. “If we had a healthier financial system, we might be able to fund better food assistance, universal school meals, a rational and effective food safety system, and production agriculture that promotes sustainability and affordable food that is healthier for people and the planet. The food movement needs to be there and its voices heard.”
While powerful players like Goldman Sachs and Fannie Mae were on the lips of nearly every American after the 2008 financial crisis, the names of industrial agriculture corporations remain largely unknown. But consider how much power they wield. Take Monsanto as an example. When Monsanto began selling its genetically modified Roundup Ready soybeans in 1996 only two percent of soybeans in the U.S. contained their patented gene. By 2008, over 90 percent of soybeans in the U.S. contained Monsanto’s gene. This is especially alarming given that soybeans account for the largest source of protein feed and the second largest source of vegetable oil in the world. According to the USDA, in 2008-09, the farm value of soybean production was $29.6 billion, the second highest among U.S. produced crops — and soy is ubiquitous in processed foods. It ends up in the meat, milk, eggs, and farmed fish many Americans consume (as a result of it being in animal feed) as well as thousands upon thousands of packaged foods usually in the form of soy protein isolate, soy isoflavones, textured vegetable protein, and soy oils. Soy accounts for a fifth of the calories in the American diet.
Monsanto has also produced genetically modified seeds for corn, canola, and cotton with many more products being developed including seeds for sugar beets and alfalfa. (To see how ferociously Monsanto protects its patented seeds watch the Oscar-nominated documentary Food, Inc.) As for corn, the highest valued U.S. produced crop, 93 percent of it is genetically engineered. Physicist and internationally renowned activist Dr. Vandana Shiva points out that the notion that genetically engineered food will improve the food supply and improve nutrition is a myth. “These are illusions that are being marketed in order for people to hand over the power to decide what to eat to a handful of corporations,” she said in an interview on her Website.
Another corporation with broad reach and control over the foods we eat is Cargill, which rivals Monsanto in its control of the food supply. It is the largest privately held corporation in the nation, owning Cargill Pork and Cargill Beef, the second largest beef producer in North America. According to Anna Lappe’s book Diet for a Hot Planet, Cargill also owns dozens of subsidiary businesses, is one of the largest commercial cattle feeders in the U.S., the world’s biggest processor, marketer, and distributor of grains, oilseeds, and other agricultural commodities, and controls 80 percent of the European market for soybean crushing with a similar share for animal feed manufacturing.
If you eat any processed or packaged food, or anything from a typical restaurant or café, you can guarantee that Monsanto or Cargill played a role in those foods somewhere along the line. As Dr. Shiva points out in much of her work, these companies contribute to the toxification of our food supply. It’s not only the lack of nutritional value in many of these highly processed foods, but also the actual toxins that are added to genetically engineered foods. Bees, butterflies, cattle and other animals have been dying as a result of these crops, so how are they affecting humans? (You can listen to Dr. Shiva discuss this here).
If America’s health crisis is any indication, corporate control of the food supply is taking the ultimate toll. American children born in 2000 are the first generation not expected to outlive their parents as one in three is likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime, with those rates even higher for black and Latino children. The corporate monopolies over the food supply and the government’s role in facilitating corporate control translates into control over the health of the American population.
Occupy Wall Street illustrates a basic tenet of democracy; we must participate for it to function properly. We must also participate in our food system to develop local food economies that function with our interests in mind. Our first steps must be learning and teaching others about where our food comes from and how to access healthy food. We must also boycott companies like Monsanto and Cargill whose sole interest is profit, not our health or protecting the environment.
Writer, activist, and academic Raj Patel said that while Wall Street is certainly behind many problems with the food system, there is an even deeper connection between the two. “At its best, the food movement is about learning to see the politics in our everyday lives and then to take a stand against injustice,” he said. “That’s what Occupy Wall Street is doing–creating a space to learn, demand, exchange and organize.”
Occupy Wall Street understands that the corporations cannot be allowed to control our political systems. Similarly, when corporations control the food supply we are left with an unsafe and unregulated food supply and a population in the midst of a dire health crisis as a result of corporate carelessness and greed.
This post originally appeared on Civil Eats

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Corporate Accountability Int’l Turns Up the Heat on McDonald’s

Topics:
Food Industry News & Trends,Hunger & Food Crisis

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011, 3:34 PM

Yesterday, October 24th, was the first annual Food Day, and people across the U.S. are taking action to promote healthy, affordable and sustainably produced food. In recognition of Food Day, Corporate Accountability International members and activists are turning up the heat on McDonald’s to end its harmful marketing of junk food to kids.
Will you celebrate Food Day by “>sending a photo petition to McDonald’s?
Already more than 1,600 health professionals across North America have signed an open letter calling on McDonald’s to stop inundating children with marketing for its unhealthy brand. After all, the nation’s leading pediatricians and a growing body of scientific evidence indicate that reducing junk food marketing to kids could spare the health of millions of children.
But, while McDonald’s has responded with changes to its kids’ meals, they have done nothing to rein in a $400 million plus annual global marketing budget.
“>Submit a photo petition and show McDonald’s that you stand with health professionals in calling for real change.
CAI will deliver your photos and your concerns directly to McDonald’s executives and franchise owners in the weeks ahead.
Don’t have a camera? Don’t worry!“> Click here to email McDonald’s CEO Jim Skinner and call on McDonald’s to stop marketing to kids.

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Food Day is here.

Topics:
Food Industry News & Trends,Food Policy & Politics,Hunger & Food Crisis,Local Food,Organic Food & Farming

Monday, October 24th, 2011, 9:36 AM

After months of organizing by countless people, there will be more than 2,000 events from coast to coast—ranging from small house parties to massive festivals — for Food Day. Local governments are seizing the opportunity to announce new food policy initiatives. The National Archives will be hosting a Food Day Open House just feet from our country’s most important founding documents. There will be an “Eat In” in Times Square, with guests like Morgan Spurlock, Mario Batali, and Marion Nestle, and with a meal prepared by Ellie Krieger of the Food Network.
But more important, Food Day is poised to inspire hundreds of thousands if not millions of Americans to change their diets for the better, and to push for improved food policies.
If you are already planning to participate in a Food Day event, this is what I ask you to do: Please take still photos of your event, tag them with “Food Day” on Flickr and join our Flickr group. And, if you can take a short video of your Food Day event, please upload them to YouTube and tag them with the words “Food Day.” The Food Day staff will favorite these videos so they show up on the Food Day YouTube Channel. You can also collect signatures for the Food Day petition asking Congress for better food policies.
If you haven’t found a Food Day event near you, visit FoodDay.org use the map or type in your zip code. (Be patient as events take time to load in the map—a lot of people are visiting right now!) And of course you can keep up with Food Day by liking it on Facebook, following CSPI on Twitter, or by using the #FoodDay hashtag to participate in the national conversation.
Food Day continues to get great publicity, such as these articles in The Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Minneapolis Tribune, and the Portland Oregonian or in the Atlantic. You may have also seen this TV spot-featuring Morgan Spurlock-from our friends at the Cooking Channel, or this one from our friends at the wellness cable channel Veria Living.

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Happy World Food Day Sunday, 10/16

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 11:40 AM

In honor of World Food Day, American Jewish World Service, Oxfam Action Corps NYC, The Hunger Project’s Young Professionals Committee, and Union Theological Seminary are hosting a film screening at 4 pm on Sunday, October 16 in the James Memorial Chapel at Union Theological Seminary.
The film, “Hunger in a World of Plenty,” addresses why, in world that has enough resources to feed 12 billion people, nearly one billion people are chronically hungry. Following what will be the United States premiere of the film, Vice President for Africa Programs Dr. Idrissa Dicko (The Hunger Project), Director of Education and Community Engagement Stephanie Ives (American Jewish World Service) and Senior Campaigns Advisor Rohit Malpani (Oxfam America) will discuss topics addressed in the film and ways in which attendees can take action on a local level. After the film and discussion, guests can sample tastings of recipes prepared for Oxfam America on the occasion of World Food Day by noted chefs Giada De Laurentiis, Mark Bittman, José Andrés, and the Mennonite Central Committee.
RSVP is requested at http://worldfooddaynyc.eventbrite.com/. Doors open at 3:30 pm.
This event is cosponsored by Bread for the World, the Brooklyn Food Coalition, Buddhist Global Relief, DIG (Development in Gardening), FeelGood Columbia University, the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Special Interest Group of the Greater New York Dietetic Association, the International Youth Council, Small Planet Institute, United Methodist Committee on Relief, and WhyHunger.

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The Nation: What Next for the Global Food Movement?

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011, 11:46 AM

http://www.thenation.com/issue/october-3-2011
The Food Movement: Its Power and Possibilities
by Frances Moore Lappé
Forty years after food activism took off around the globe, corporatism is stronger than ever. But so is the grassroots push for control over our work, land, and seeds.
Why Hunger Is Still With Us
by Raj Patel
A truly democratic food system will need to rewrite the rules of our financial system.
Resisting the Corporate Theft of Seeds
by Vandana Shiva
The biggest threat we face is the control of seed and food moving into a few corporate hands.
It’s Not Just About Food
by Eric Schlosser
Food is a good place to start to make change—but it’s only a start.
How Change Is Going to Come in the Food System
by Michael Pollan
As the food movement has discovered, winning over the media, or even the president, is not enough.
The Production Conundrum
by Samuel Fromartz
As Zambia’s experience shows, solving hunger is not just about growing more food. (Subscribers Only)
Walmart’s Fresh Food Makeover
by Bridget Huber
Can the retailer known for its poverty wages solve the problem of urban “food deserts”?
Farm Bill 101
by Daniel Imhoff
As Congress gears up to reauthorize the farm bill next year, the stakes are high. (Subscribers Only)
Who Says Food Is a Human Right?
by Anna Lappé
Olivier De Schutter, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, makes the case in this Q&A.
Venezuela’s Radical Food Experiment
by Paula Crossfield
Seeking “food sovereignty,” Hugo Chávez puts oil wealth toward a local, sustainable food system.

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Three Strikes You’re Out: The Attack on Organic Food and Why It’s Wrong

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis,Organic Food & Farming

Monday, August 29th, 2011, 11:54 AM

News flash: the chairman of the board of one of the largest food companies in the world—whose tripling in profits from 2009 to nearly $43 billion in 2010 was generating from selling mainly processed foods produced with inputs from industrial, chemical farms—is “skeptical” of organic food, reports FastCompany.com.
Don’t you think someone who made $10.7 million in 2010 from a company whose profit primarily depends on chemical agriculture might have a bias in the matter? Yes, it would be understandable to think Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman of the Board of Nestlé, might. It also might be understandable to want to know what others, those without such a financial interest in the food status quo, think about the viability of non-industrial agriculture. But in the FastCompany.com article, like other press that pooh-poohs organic farming, those who disagree, if they’re mentioned at all, are portrayed as marginal or unqualified to speak to the issue.
In FastCompany.com, the other side is represented by unnamed (and unquoted) “nutrition professors and some food scientists.” No offense to nutrition professors and food scientists, but what if you had, instead, learned that the viability, efficiency, and safety of industrial agriculture is being questioned not only by professors and some food scientists but by countless agronomists, food security experts, economists, epidemiologists, public health experts all around the world? What if instead of “nutrition professors and some food scientists,” you heard about the numerous peer-reviewed and meta-studies that contradict Brabeck-Letmathe’s claims.
You’d be more informed, that’s for sure, and you might just begin to see the spin behind Brabeck-Letmathe’s messaging. He has three main talking points to defend fossil fuel-, chemical-, and water-intensive industrial agriculture. Brabeck-Letmathe raises each with strategic discipline: First, he claims that organic farming is a luxury; secondly, that it doesn’t produce food that’s any better for you; and finally (and much worse) that organic food can kill you.
This three-part spin-doctoring should start sounding familiar. I’ve been hearing it reported by uncritical media for more than a decade, dating all the way back to a 20/20 episode with John Stossel in 2000 and to the op-ed pages of one of Canada’s top newspapers, the Globe and Mail. In 2008 Brabeck-Letmathe told the paper, “We cannot feed the world on organic products.” That same year he delivered the same line to the Financial Times. Today, he tells FastCompany.com: “There’s no way you can support life on earth if you go straight from farm to table.”
Yet, numerous studies on the efficiency and future viability of industrial agriculture—especially in an increasingly resource-constrained and climate-unstable planet—keep proving the opposite is true: we cannot support life on earth unless we shift away from industrial agriculture systems.
Consider that in the United States alone, 27 percent of our nation’s farmland is dependent on fossil water from the Olglalla aquifer and we’re depleting it at a rate so fast that in a few decades there could be none left.
Or, consider that chemical runoff from industrial farms throughout the Midwest, especially synthetic fertilizer, creates a Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico every year that kills off aquatic life on the ocean floor and can grow to the size of New Jersey.
Or, consider that one of the three macronutrients industrial farmers rely on for fertilizer, phosphorus—found in the phosphate-bearing rock mainly in Morocco, China, South Africa, Jordan, and the United States—is increasingly rare. Some experts suggest we’ve already passed peak phosphorus; we will find it increasingly difficult to mine for the stuff. And, every ton that we do secure produces five tons of radioactive waste. Today, the U.S. is home to more than one billion tons of this waste now stored in 70 locations, some towering as high as a 20-story building and some as large as 720 football fields.
Meanwhile, studies have found that ecological farming practices, of which organic agriculture is one, can significantly improve water usage efficiency and eliminate farmers’ dependence on petroleum-based chemicals and synthetic fertilizer ingredients, including phosphorus.
And what to make of Brabeck-Letmathe’s second talking point: “From a nutritional point of view studies show no nutritional difference from bio [or organic] to other foods.”
We certainly need more studies assessing the nutritional differences between food items, but research is already turning up positive results—for organic foods. We already know, for instance, that studies of children’s consumption of organic versus conventional foods found those eating organic foods had lower detectable pesticide metabolites. We also know that last year’s President’s Cancer Panel noted that many chemicals used on industrial farms are known or suspected carcinogenic or disrupt our hormone systems, mimicking testosterone or estrogen. The Panel’s recommendation? Stay away from foods raised with pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics. Without calling it by name, the panel was saying: Be safer, go organic.
Finally, Brabeck-Letmathe adds the zinger: Not only is organic food not more nutritious: “it’s more dangerous.” Organic foods in Europe are “often fertilized with livestock manure,” he says, “and people don’t always realize they need to wash it thoroughly.”
More than ten years ago, Dennis Avery, from the Hudson Institute-funded Center for Global Food Issues, made the same attack on 20/20. Avery warned then that organic produce is likely infested with “nasty strains of bacteria” because it is “fertilized with manure.” A wide-eyed Barbara Walters asked, “I’ve been buying organic food. It is more expensive. But it isn’t dangerous?”
Yes, to the typical consumer—and FastCompany.com reader or 20/20 viewer—fertilizing crops with manure probably sounds gross. But Brabeck-Letmathe and Avery conveniently neglect to mention a few things: First, while some organic farmers do use manure as fertilizer, they must do so following strict guidelines so that potentially dangerous bacteria—the kind that has Brabeck-Letmathe so worried—are naturally eliminated. Plus, manure is not the only source of fertilizer for organic farmers. In fact, it’s not even the preferred source. Many organic farmers use no manure at all, preferring instead nitrogen-fixing crops like legumes that naturally pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and make it bioavailable in the soil. Often called green manure, the organic farmer integrates these fertility methods with many others.
These two also neglect to mention that industrial farms also fertilize fields with manure, only without any regulation or oversight. And then, there’s sewage sludge. Industrial farmers can use it; organic ones cannot. (By the way, Avery’s misstatements on 20/20 were eventually retracted by producers online. But I wonder how many people saw the televised episode and how many read the retraction?)
In the FastCompany.com article with Brabeck-Letmathe trotting out this tripartite critique of organic food, he concludes by saying that the demand for organic food has hit a peak. “It will stay the same… I don’t think it will grow much more than it is.”
Need I remind you who you’re listening to? The Chairman of the Board of Nestlé, a man who makes millions of dollars a year selling the world on Nestlé products, including everything from Cinnamon Toast Crunch to Butterfinger and Laffy Taffy and increasingly prepared and frozen foods. In other words, someone with a stake in ensuring that few of us turn to real, whole, organic foods or, even, cook for ourselves anymore. (As the U.S. Chairman and CEO of the company said recently, he was “feeling good about its focus on frozen foods” since, “cooking has become a lost art in the United States.”)
Maybe what we hear in FastCompany.com is a note of Brabeck-Letmathe’s defensiveness? After all, the growth of the movement of food producers allied with consumers who are rejecting short-sighted industrial agriculture, choosing to cook real food, and connecting in direct relationship with farmers means one thing to Nestlé: Loss of market share.
And while Brabeck-Letmathe would like you to believe that demand for organic food is coming just from “elite, wealthier” consumers in the U.S. and E.U.—and, indeed, leveling off here, he couldn’t be more wrong. The movement of eaters choosing organic foods and of food producers embracing agroecological practices is not just gaining ground in the U.S. and the E.U., but all around the world, from the foothills of the Himalayas to the plains of Central Brazil and the outskirts of Seoul, South Korea. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. For a man like Brabeck-Letmathe, that must be scary stuff.

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Hundreds of Activists Take Over Gov. Brown’s Facebook Wall

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis,Organic Food & Farming

Thursday, August 25th, 2011, 4:38 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2011
CONTACTS:
Paul Towers, Organizing and Media Director at Pesticide Action Network, ptowers@panna.org, 916-216-1082
Sarah Parsons, Senior Organizer at Change.org, sarah@change.org, 860-402-0516
***PRESS RELEASE***
HUNDREDS OF ACTIVISTS TAKE OVER GOV. BROWN’S FACEBOOK WALL
750+ activists use social media to tell the California governor to ban the use of the cancer-causing pesticide methyl iodide
SACRAMENTO, CA – Hundreds of people have bombarded California Governor Jerry Brown’s Facebook and Twitter accounts urging him to immediately ban the use of the cancer-causing pesticide, methyl iodide. More than 750 people have written on California Governor Jerry Brown’s Facebook wall and tweeted at him over the past 48 hours, with more messages being sent every hour.
The news comes as activists staged mock fumigations on the steps of the Capitol in Sacramento and delivered a Change.org petition with more than 30,000 signatures to the Brown administration.
Methyl iodide – a pesticide linked to cancers, kidney problems, thyroid disease, late-term miscarriages, and other health problems – was approved for use in California by the Schwarzenegger administration in December of 2010 despite widespread opposition. After outcry from the environmental, science, and farm worker communities, Gov. Brown promised to “take a fresh look” at the approval of methyl iodide in March of 2011. Four California farms have obtained permits to use methyl iodide permits, but Gov. Brown still has made no commitment to discontinue the use of the pesticide in the state.
“The impressive outpouring of support from concerned citizens underscores the concerns of independent scientists – that methyl iodide is too toxic and too uncontrollable to be used near farm workers and neighboring communities,” said Paul Towers, Organizing and Media Director at Pesticide Action Network (PAN), an environmental non-profit. “With peak fumigation season fast-approaching, the Governor needs to take swift action to prohibit the use of the cancer-causing chemical.”
The outpouring of social media messages came as the result of a social media day of action organized by PAN and Change.org, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. The organizations urged people to tweet and post on Gov. Brown’s Facebook page on August 23, and messages continue to be sent today.
“The response to this social media day of action exceeded all of our expectations,” said Sarah Parsons, Senior Organizer at Change.org. “It was amazing to see Gov. Brown’s constituents completely take over his Facebook wall with their anti-methyl iodide messages.”
Many people shared very personal stories highlighting their desire for the governor to take action immediately.
“Governor Brown, please keep California’s strawberry fields and communities safe from the cancer-causing pesticide, methyl iodide,” wrote Huntington Beach, CA. resident, Jennifer Ford. “As a farmers’ market manager and health coach, it’s key that we keep chemicals out of our amazing locally grown food as much as possible.”
To view Governor Brown’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/jerrybrown?sk=wall&filter=1#!/jerrybrown?sk=wall&filter=1
To view Governor Brown’s Twitter handle:

http://twitter.com/#!/search/%40JerryBrownGov

To view the latest signatures on the methyl iodide campaign on Change.org: http://www.change.org/petitions/fumigation-season-is-here-we-need-action…
Journalists interested in contacting the Brown administration should try:
Gil Duran, Press Secretary
Gil.Duran@gov.ca.gov, 916-445-2841
Evan Westrup, Deputy Press Secretary
Evan.Westrup@gov.ca.gov, 916-445-2841
Elizabeth Ashford, Deputy Press Secretary
Elizabeth.Ashford@gov.ca.gov, 916-445-2841
Christopher Reardon, Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation
creardon@cdpr.ca.gov, 916-445-4000

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Green crush: A jug of organic wine, a loaf of local bread, and thou

Topics:
Blog,Food Policy & Politics,Hunger & Food Crisis,Local Food

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011, 10:05 PM

New York City, my home for the past 15 years, can be gritty and grimy. Its characteristic summertime smell of sweltering trash is a far cry from fragrant flowers and fresh cut grass, but I love this place in all its smelliness and crowded-subway glory.
I especially love it for the hope that springs up — like the relentless green that grows in cracks in the concrete — in our community food projects, urban farms, and community gardens across all five boroughs.
I love it for the creativity here — not just the latest off-Broadway musical, but in the creativity and commitment of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who work every day to make sure that everyone has access to good, healthy food.
So for my Grist-inspired dare, I decided to bare a little love: For one week, starting July 25, I’ll be sending out poems to a selection of our city’s greatest food heroes: to the amazing projects, city efforts, local businesses, and community-based organizations devoted to transforming our food system.
My little missives will be tokens of thanks to those who get their hands dirty for us, who pick our lettuce and pluck our plums, and who work behind the scenes to advocate for better food policy, access to healthy foods for all, and fairness for food workers.
Through haiku, limericks, sonnets, and free verse, each of my various communiqués will be reminders for all of us to thank those who work tirelessly every day to heal our terribly broken food system, bringing some of those flowers, green space, and good food to a city — and a country — that desperately needs it.
So stay tuned in to Grist… and find out who gets a little love. You can show a little love to Grist, with a donation.
My first love letter was to What’s On Your Plate?, the captivating journey of two intrepid friends who set out to learn the truth behind the food on their plates. Along the way, they discover how communities can work together to ensure more of us have access to healthy, fresh food. It’s a great film and an inspiring project. Learn more at whatsonyourplateproject.org.

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Food, Democracy & Resilience

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis

Monday, June 27th, 2011, 8:30 AM

Food, Democracy & Resilience, a special event featuring:
· Nic Paget-Clarke, who will present his new book And the Echo Follows and engage us in an inspiring discussion of what we can learn from social movements around the world
· Carlos Marentes of the Via Campesina global farmers movement
· Jorge Valero, Venezuelan Ambassador to the United Nations
Come hear stories and see vivid images from around the world demonstrating how communities are resisting predominant models of agriculture and trade and forging their own alternatives based on their particular cultural and ecological contexts. Learn how all of these stories and experiences weave together to form a vibrant global movement for food sovereignty—and how we are all part of it.
When: Monday, June 27th, 6:30-8:30 PM
Where: Wollman Hall at The New School (66 West 11th St, between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan)
This event is free and open to the public. Reception and book signing to follow.
Check out the Facebook page for this event at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173010229427647.
About the book: And the Echo Follows brings the concept of food sovereignty to life by sharing the stories, insights, and images of the people who are putting it into practice every day. We hear from Maori activists in New Zealand who are resisting further colonization in the form of biopiracy of their native flora and fauna, indigenous knowledge, and even their own DNA. We hear frompeasant leaders of Mali who are making up for the failure of the government to regulate agricultural prices through innovative selling cooperatives andreserves. We hear from community leaders of Venezuela and Bolivia, where for the first time, peasants and indigenous peoples are at the helm of a process of social transformation based on participatory democracy. These stories, together with vivid images and historical context, form a fascinating web of interconnections and commonalities that Nic Paget-Clarke has masterfully woven together in this work. And the Echo Follows is a timely arrival for those who are yearning to tackle food issues in their broader political context. For more information on the book, visit the publisher’s page and the Facebook page.

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Join an upcoming Food Sovereignty Tour to Bolivia, France or Mexico with Food First & Global Exchange

Topics:
Blog,Food Policy & Politics,Hunger & Food Crisis,Take a Bite News & Events

Monday, June 6th, 2011, 9:29 AM

Food First has been traveling the world for 35 years, working in solidarity with our international allies to end the injustices that cause hunger. Now we invite you to join us, and help build the global movement for food sovereignty. Brought to you by Food First in partnership with Global Exchange, Food Sovereignty Tours facilitate life-changing cultural exchanges with the farmers, activists, policymakers, and consumers fighting for justice, democracy and sustainability in the food system.
Explore your global food system…
BOLIVIA: Food Sovereignty & Climate Change
August 6 – 21, 2011
Bolivia is one of the countries least responsible for global climate change—yet it is one of the most exposed to its effects. Luckily, Andean farmers have a long history of coping with climate variability. By drawing on this ancestral knowledge and collaborating with agricultural NGOs, they are working to adapt their farming and herding systems to the new climate realities. On this tour you will gain rare access to rural communities, local NGOs, producers’ associations and social movements working for food and climate justice in Bolivia. You will also visit some of the most spectacular landscapes in South America. Click here for more details.
Registration closes June 10th!
FRANCE: Food Sovereignty & Artisan Production Sept 15 – 25, 2011
France is known the world over for its rich culinary traditions and agrarian history, rooted in the specificity of place—a concept the French call “terroir.” Despite the strong push for industrial agriculture in the twentieth century, many small producers retain their commitment to sustainable food production. And French consumers, with a high awareness of the hazards of industrial and GM food, are creating powerful alliances with farmers to create healthy food systems. This tour of central France—Loire Valley and Auvergne regions—will connect you to French rural life and to the energetic French movement for food sovereignty. Click here for more details.
MEXICO: Conserving Oaxaca’s Food & Agriculture Heritage
December 20 – 27, 2011
The holidays are a special time to visit Oaxaca, especially to experience its renowned food culture. As part of our Food Sovereignty delegation to Oaxaca, you will have the opportunity to experience Christmas in Oaxaca, as well as the “Night of the Radishes,” a unique festival celebrating food, farming and creativity. On this tour, you will learn first-hand about the threats to rural livelihoods such as environmental degradation, out-migration and contamination of native seeds by imported GMOs. You will also learn how peasant organizations are working to strengthen local food systems, while playing an important role in the global food sovereignty movement. Click here for more details.
For more information about Food Sovereignty Tours contact Tanya at tkerssen@foodfirst.org or by phone (510) 654-4400 ext. 223
Please pass this information along to your friends, students, colleagues, include info about the program in your newsletters, or on your events calendar and help us spread the word!
Visit www.foodsovereigntytours.org for more details

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What’s NPR’s Beef with Organic?

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis,Organic Food & Farming

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011, 9:35 PM

Down in Washington DC today, Eric Schlosser, Georgetown University, Washington Post, GRACE, and a number of others helped pull together an amazing conversation about the Future of Food–from a riveting talk by Prince Charles (and yes, his accent does sound princely) to a no-holds barred Marion Nestle and tough questions to Secty Vilsarck, the conference was feisty and insightful. So I found it particularly ironic that while I got dinner on the table I heard an NPR Marketplace segment that trotted out all the tired myths we’ve heard from the chemical-oil-biotech industrial ag players and sympathizers about why sustainable farming can’t feed the world, without any complexity.
As I wrote on the NPR website…
I was highly disappointed that this segment presented a contested position—sustainable farming cannot feed the world—as fact, when there is a growing global consensus that the opposite is true: it is naïve to believe we can feed the future by relying on the resource-extractive, energy-intensive, water-abusing methods of industrial agriculture.
It was interesting that this piece would air the same day as the forward-thinking “Future of Food” conference organized by the Washington Post and Georgetown University, Eric Schlosser, and others.
Many speakers at that conference presented very different takes on the best way to feed a growing, and hungry, planet.
Perhaps most relevant to this story were the presentations by Prince Charles and the scientist Dr. Hans Herren, who called upon us to take heed of the recommendations of the hugely important, but underreported, IAASTD Report.
The groundbreaking study brought together 400 experts who worked for 4 1/2 years to explore the most efficient, productive, and sustainable strategy for feeding the world. The conclusion—quite the opposite of the one reached by those quoted in this segment—stated in no uncertain terms that we must move away from chemical- and fossil-dependent agriculture, which by the way includes biotech.
Business as usual is not an option, was the radical consensus. Instead, small-scale and mid-scale agroecological farming holds our best hope for feeding the world safe, healthy food, all without undermining our natural capital.
I expect solid reporting from NPR, and I assume you expect it from yourselves, but I am afraid this segment failed to meet your own standards.

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Society Notebook: Hungry for Change

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis

Monday, April 25th, 2011, 9:37 PM

With local, organic and sustainably produced food all the rage, the big food processors and factory farm associations are running scared. This is the message author Anna Lappe brought to Space Gallery in Portland on April 15 as part of the venue’s annual Food+Farm series. Read the full article here.

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“Why Nature Needs Rights” Event with Vandana Shiva

Topics:
Blog,Hunger & Food Crisis,Take a Bite News & Events

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011, 9:40 PM

On April 21st, David Harvey will moderate a very important conversation with Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Cormac Cullinan and Pablo Solonand – co-authors of the new book, The Rights of Nature. The authors will discuss how to transform our relationship with the environment to address climate change and related problems like natural disasters.

Event details:
Why Nature Needs Rights
April 21
06:30PM – 08:30PM
City University of New York (CUNY)
365 Fifth Ave at 34th St
New York, NY

$6/$10/$15/ free for Brecht Forum Subscribers

To learn more about the event (and to RSVP) click here.

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The Battle for Biodiversity: Monsanto and Farmers Clash

Topics:
Blog,Food Policy & Politics,Hunger & Food Crisis

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011, 5:49 AM

Two weeks ago, Monsanto announced the latest genetically engineered crop it hopes to bring to market: a soybean rejiggered to resist the herbicide dicamba. Read the rest of the article here.

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