December 9, 2013
Overfishing in the Persian Gulf. In an unprecedented study, University of British Columbia researchers used Google Earth to catch Persian Gulf nations underreporting their haul—by almost 30,000 tons. Google Earth identified weirs, the structures used to trap massive catches of fish, including young fish that have yet to spawn. Study author Dalal Al-Abdulrazzak said these catches “could have dire consequences for fisheries’ stock in the long term.”
NAFTA and aquaculture. In British Columbia, a diverse group of stakeholders concerned about the health of the wild salmon fishery has filed a complaint against the Canadian federal government for its fish-farming practices, and it’s using the Fisheries Act Read More >
November 27, 2013
Thanksgiving is upon us! This time of year comes with requirements: taking stock of what you’re thankful for and…well…naps. When asked what really made your year, perhaps you’ll resemble this poll of Americans and say family and health. Seeing the feast on your plate, you’ll add a thankful nod to the favorites: turkey, stuffing, and (maybe) pumpkin pie.
Okay, guys. That sounds pretty good. But as you pass food between hands, you’re forgetting some hands. Actually, 20 million sets of hands. Read More >
November 26, 2013
Two years ago I wrote an impassioned post about the ideological issues of feeding the hungry with food known to be contaminated with the endocrine disrupting chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA). And because it’s the holiday season, I’d love to tell you about all the progress that has been made. But I’m sorry to say that we’re not much better off. Since this time, there has been no action by the U.S. government to ban the use of BPA from canned food. Meanwhile, there has been a growing need for food assistance programs that use this non-perishable food source. Although canned food has been completely replaced by alternative foods in my house, the thoughtful responses to my original post reminded me that canned food is an integral part of the emergency food system, not to be replaced any time soon. It also should not have to be replaced. Canned food can be an affordable, nutritious source of food. Here’s what we know so far. Read More >
November 25, 2013
Corner store in Baltimore / M. MILLI
Also contributing to this story is Wei-ting Chen, a CLF-Lerner Fellow who is earning her doctorate in the Department of Sociology.
We appreciate The Washington Post’s ongoing effort to highlight the challenges associated with the food stamp program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP). However, we find that Eli Saslow’s recent article on SNAP ignores widely available research on this important safety net program and in doing so leads to a shallow analysis that perpetuates an unfair and undue stigma among program recipients. We are particularly troubled by how Mr. Saslow frames the article, the last in a series of five, questioning whether SNAP “fuels” unhealthy personal decision making and leads to poor health experienced by many of its recipients – and correspondingly if the recent growth in the program can be tied to rising rates of diet-related disease. Frankly, these questions reveal just how far Mr. Saslow has missed the boat in his narrative. Read More >
November 22, 2013
Final push for the farm bill? It appears that the farm bill might get completed before the end of the year; we are hopeful. As you’re thinking about food over the next week, perhaps you’ll take a few moments to contact your senator or representative and urge them to protect the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program in the farm bill. Certain industries are pushing to have canned, frozen, and dried fruits and vegetables included in the program, but we think that the “fresh” (as opposed to canned or frozen) requirement helps more farms sell directly to schools. This program provides fresh fruit and vegetables to thousands of low-income children across the nation, and it is often the only fresh fruit or vegetable they eat that day.
More on SNAP. Here’s another great Nicholas Kristof column, “Prudence or Cruelty?” In it, he discusses the proposed cuts to SNAP, the problem with farm Read More >
November 21, 2013
President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) into law in January 2011, which provided the FDA with additional regulatory tools to protect the nation’s food supply. Fruits and vegetables are some of the foods in need of protection, and the agency published a proposed rule earlier this year that would require farms to adopt new practices for growing produce. CLF appreciates FDA’s significant work in developing the rule, but we also have important concerns with its content.
Problems with the proposed rule
The FSMA is a recognition by Congress that produce can be a major contributor to foodborne illness. Read More >
November 18, 2013
Harvesting. It’s one of the most fun and rewarding tasks to do on the farm. Cutting a large bunch of celery three months after it was started from seed is satisfying. However, every hour spent harvesting is time we are not seeding, planting or farm planning, so the harvest must happen efficiently. Many farmers calculate the dollar amount they harvest per hour to assess their pace and the net value of certain crops. Plants must also be handled with care, not just to ensure the quality and safety of the product, but also to protect the remaining portion of the plant that will hopefully re-grow to yield multiple harvests.
At Cylburn, we harvest our vegetables every Friday for sale at the year-round Waverly Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. We sell through the Farm Alliance of Baltimore City, a network of urban farms in Baltimore that runs a collective market stand. Read More >
November 15, 2013
Too much, too little. The Washington Post ran this sobering story about quality over quantity in the “food stamp diet.” This piece follows families in South Texas as they try to eat on a food stamp budget and find that even with an excess of low- or no-nutrition calories, they still go hungry. Here’s what the reporter has to say about the Rio Grande Valley: “For one of the first times anywhere in the United States, children in South Texas have a projected life span that is a few years shorter than that of their parents.” The article raises good questions about whether and how government should be involved in managing the options of items available for purchase with SNAP dollars. Is restricting the use of SNAP to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages and the kinds of junk food described in this article similar to banning smoking in public places? Or, as some anti-hunger advocates argue, is it applying paternalistic and disempowering pressure on the poor? Read More >
November 12, 2013
It’s been a few weeks since my last blog in which I waxed poetic about how wonderful and amazing soil is. I concluded by taking a soil test in my lower field and sending it off to the University of Massachusetts soil testing laboratory in Amherst. The results are not good.
I quote: “Both Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) levels are extremely high in this soil. Over fertilization can lead to insect problems and plant nutritional disorders. DO NOT [it said in capital letters] add additional P and K.” Read More >