July 24, 2014
Raychel at Maryland Leadership Workshops, 2014.
I distinctly remember the first time I was introduced to the concept of a food system and all of its incredible complexities. It was overwhelming to realize that such an everyday component of our lives was connected to nearly every major social and environmental issue of today. It was equally invigorating to realize that by effecting positive change in this realm, we could potentially tackle so many problems at once.
My exposure to such thinking came about the summer before college, when, Read More >
July 21, 2014
Recently Mexico drastically restricted TV ads for soda.
Limits on Mexican soda ads. According to this BBC News story, Mexico has just moved to restrict the airing of television ads selling soda. The ads will not be permitted on weekday afternoons and most of the day on weekends. According to the story, 70 percent of adults and 30 percent of children in Mexico are obese or overweight, and Mexicans are also the world’s heaviest consumers of sugary drinks, at 163 liters per year. If only Pepsico and Coca Cola would follow this example and practice good citizenship in the interests of America’s children, who now average about 8 percent of their daily calories from sugar sweetened beverages. Read More >
July 17, 2014
Romano pole beans reach for the ceiling at the CLF Aquaponics Project
For many farmers, summer is the time of peak production and abundant harvests, but at the CLF Aquaponics Project our harvests peak mid-spring and start to decline as summer approaches. Farming is a learning process; and higher pest pressure coupled with hot temperatures in our hoophouse has made finding ideal summer crops a challenge.
Leafy greens and herbs are naturally some of the best crops for an aquaponics system, because they thrive in a nitrogen-rich environment. However, many of these greens prefer cooler weather, and as the temperatures in the greenhouse climb past 100 degrees Fahrenheit, even heat-tolerant chard gives up. We’ve found that many of summer’s star crops in the field, such as squash, tomatoes, beans and okra, simply do not produce well in our aquaponics system. The reason for this likely lies in the fact that these fruit-producing crops require high levels of potassium and phosphorous in comparison with leafy greens to encourage reproductive growth. Read More >
July 8, 2014
A recent pesticide study out of California is notable not just for its findings but also because of what it says about the importance of pesticide reporting for public health. The study found that women living near fields where organophosphate pesticides were sprayed during their pregnancy were 60 percent more likely to have children with autism spectrum disorders.
This study – and others like it – Read More >
July 7, 2014
I was lucky enough to catch a screening of Fed Up when it was in theaters and was pleased to see that the film specifically targets sugar and the industries that profit from adding sugar to processed food and beverages. In public health circles, I’ve heard that sentiment echoed quite often: focusing on sugar is the key to many of our public health problems and is the new tobacco in terms of the enormity of the threat to public health. Read More >
July 3, 2014
Big Pharma says it’s fully cooperating with FDA’s Guidance 213.
Voluntary reduction of antibiotic use? The FDA has announced triumphantly that all 26 of the animal drug manufacturers that fall under the agency’s policy for phasing out the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth in livestock have committed to moving forward with the government’s approach outlined in voluntary Guidance #213. As we’ve noted before, Guidance #213 does not require that sales data be made public, so in essence the American public has no way of knowing if the problem of antibiotic misuse in food animals is getting better. What we need is a formal mechanism for evaluating Read More >
June 25, 2014
Good Food Gathering, June 2014
While 22.9% of Baltimore City’s population is food insecure, excess crops can be found rotting on farms throughout Baltimore County. The need is clearly demonstrated, and so is the waste, but there are plenty of people and groups trying to help. Some of these people met at the Franciscan Center on June 12 to discuss how to supply nutritious foods to those in need.
This Good Food Gathering was the third in a series of four conducted by the Baltimore Food and Faith Project. The first two meetings Read More >
June 20, 2014
Bacteria in squid. In response to this Washington Post article about antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in squid, CLF-Lerner Fellow Patrick Baron and I published a letter to the editor. The original article should have done a better job explaining that the bacteria found is pretty dire stuff: a common foodborne bacteria was found to be resistant to carbapenem antibiotics, which are a “last resort” drug for antibiotic resistant infections in human medicine—and to be carrying new resistance genes not seen before in the U.S. food system. If those genes start spreading around the food system and associated communities of bacteria, we could quickly start seeing a much higher prevalence of carbapenem-resistant human pathogens, including E. coli strains causing UTIs that suddenly cannot be treated by even our most powerful and critical antibiotics. Read More >
June 16, 2014
To understand what’s at stake with a forthcoming trade treaty, we can take a look at a tale from Down Under. The story of Philip Morris Asia Limited v. The Commonwealth of Australia begins in 1993, when the governments of Australia and Hong Kong signed a trade agreement. Fast forward to 2011, when Australia passed the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act, a groundbreaking public health measure that requires all cigarettes to be sold in dull, brown packages, with no company logos. It was the world’s first legislation to remove branding from cigarette boxes. Philip Morris’s response was to calculate the law’s impact on profits and sue for damages. The arbitration with Philip Morris is ongoing. Read More >
June 10, 2014
I finally made it out to see Fed Up this weekend. Slightly after the media hype has passed, but still pretty early for me since I rarely make it out to the movies. I followed a lot of the initial discussions about Fed Up on Twitter and they were already raising a lot of red flags for me. Unfortunately, the movie pretty much lived up to my concerns.
The movie obviously has a lot of positives, the most important in my opinion being the focus on advertising. I completely agree that Read More >