September 22, 2014
September 19, 2014
Meatless fiasco. Twelve days ago, on September 7, the Austin American-Statesman published an alarmist op-ed by the Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, Todd Staples. In the op-ed, Mr. Staples bemoaned that some Texas school districts had adopted Meatless Mondays for some of their campuses. The Commissioner wrote that the districts were “irresponsible,” and that he was “very concerned” about this “activist movement” that would force an “agenda-driven diet” and their lifestyles onto unwitting pupils. Controversy ensued, and now it seems that Mr. Staples has been hoisted by his own petard. Yesterday he announced Read More >
September 16, 2014
A Reuters story, published yesterday, broke some news about the poultry industry, its dangerous misuse of antibiotics, and the mistruths propagated by industry leaders. Unfortunately, what the reporters uncovered is not that surprising—but it is alarming. Read the article, “Documents reveal how poultry firms systematically feed antibiotics to flocks,” to find out exactly what the reporters’ analysis of “feed tickets” reveals—in short, a notable discrepancy between what the poultry companies tell consumers they are feeding their chickens and what the documents indicate. Feed tickets are documents created by the feed mills that produce chicken feed to the chicken company’s specs; the tickets list names and amounts Read More >
September 11, 2014
The names “alaria,” “dulse,” “kelp,” and “laver” may not mean much now, but a growing cadre of aquatic farmers and chefs in New England are trying to change that. These types of edible seaweed (or sea vegetables) are revered by cooks for the jolt of salty goodness they bring to soups and salads, and by health food advocates who dig the high levels of minerals in seaweed.
September 10, 2014
Perdue, the nation’s third largest poultry integrator, announced some important changes to its antibiotic use regimen this past Wednesday. I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage of their move in the news, which is encouraging, but a critical look raises suspicions about some of their claims. Let’s take a look at the Good, the Ambiguous and the Ugly of Perdue’s new policies.
No caveats are needed when describing Perdue’s move to eliminate the injections of eggs with gentamicin. In industrial poultry production, this drug has an extensive history of use in hatcheries, even in birds that will be eventually certified as USDA Organic (the Organic regs turn a blind eye on antibiotic use prior to the second day of life). Their choice to end this practice is one that should be praised. Read More >
September 9, 2014
“Wow, this is good,” said one nine-year-old girl to another. “I thought I wasn’t going to like that stuff.”
The other little girl nodded in agreement. When they asked, “What is this stuff?” I told them, “Healthy snacks” and thanked them.
Then I enjoyed watching them eat the samples of healthy snacks I’d prepared: apples sprinkled with cinnamon, vanilla yogurt with sliced bananas, celery spread with peanut butter and raisins (ants on a log). I told them that the apples with cinnamon is like eating pie without crust, the yogurt and banana was pudding with fruit, and ants on a log made celery taste good—and that these snacks were better for them than candy, chips, cookies, and soda.
I was participating in a back-to-school event for schoolchildren and their families, and my assignment was to help low-income children and their parents with ideas for healthier snacking. I had been invited by a community group that knew about the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future through its Eat Right Live Well campaign at the Food Depot supermarket in Southwest Baltimore. Read More >
September 5, 2014
Saturated fat is complex. In June, TIME Magazine published “Eat Butter,” which highlighted research suggesting that we humans have been worrying too much about the fat in our diets. (As I did in June, I refer to you to our colleague Marion Nestle’s response to that study.) And now a major study from Tulane and the Bloomberg School of Public Health (Dean Michael Klag is a co-author) is pointing to a similar conclusion: that following a low-carbohydrate diet contributes to more weight loss and fewer cardiovascular risks than following a low-fat diet. That study has made news, including this story in The New York Times. The original Read More >
September 4, 2014
Across the U.S., Canada, and Tribal/First Nations, at many levels of government, food policy work is happening—and making progress.
The Food Policy Networks Project at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has been keeping tabs on some of the great work being done and can now make all those documents, websites, studies, and contact information available for all. The two new features include a database of policies, how-to guides, case studies and more, as well as a directory of food policy councils (FPCs) in the U.S., Canada, and First Nations. Read More >
August 22, 2014
Mutant fish in Susquehanna. In this story, Al Jazeera America reports on what’s happening to male smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River, a major feeder of the Chesapeake Bay. In June the US Geological Survey reported it had found intersex fish—males with female eggs in their testes. In addition, the fish have open sores on their bodies, a sign of immunosuppression. The USGS report says that fertilization chemicals Read More >
August 18, 2014
Every aquaponics practitioner shares the same fear: that one morning all the fish will be floating on the water’s surface. Although tilapia is one of the hardiest species raised in aquaculture, they still depend on well-managed water quality. Here are some lessons we have learned at the CLF Aquaponics Project.
Monitor Your Water Chemistry
Aquaponics is a living system that depends on a series of chemical and biological cycles and physical treatment of waste (i.e., filtration and sedimentation) to maintain healthy water. We regularly test for several parameters: pH (daily), ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and alkalinity (weekly). With the help of bacteria, ammonia from the fish waste is converted into nitrite and then nitrate. Ammonia and nitrite are both highly toxic to fish, and we monitor these levels to ensure that they are Read More >