April 28, 2016
The USDA Organic aquaculture standards are grinding slowly through government agency approvals, and are currently in review at the Office of Management and Budget, as reported by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. Read more at their website.
Until the U.S. sorts out organic aquaculture standards and labeling, consumers must rely on third-party labels. One such group, GLOBAL GAP, just released a new consumer label for certified farmed seafood. Read more at The Fish Site. Read More >
April 5, 2016
Horses graze in the distance and ducks honk as Erik Andrus and I squish along the muddy path behind his house in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. Andrus’ dog, Dante, trots happily beside us. The scene is quintessentially pastoral.
Yet surprisingly little grows here. When he bought the 110-acre property 10 years ago, Andrus, who also owns a bakery, tried to grow barley and wheat. The soils quickly proved too rocky and wet for these dryland crops. But Andrus was reluctant to call it quits. “Local grains are a key component of real agricultural sustainability,” he says. Read More >
March 25, 2016
I was first introduced to labor rights in the food industry after watching the documentary Food Chain$. The film, which was screened in Baltimore, exposes the plight of Immokalee tomato pickers, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and their goal of raising wages by a penny a pound for tomatoes picked in Florida. They were successful in convincing most retailers and wholesalers to meet their demands, and CIW received national attention when the Obama Administration issued them a Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. These high-profile campaigns are raising awareness among consumers and challenging food companies to discuss labor rights. Read More >
March 23, 2016
An astounding 23 million farmed Atlantic salmon have died in Chile due to an algal bloom. About nine percent of salmon farms in southern Chile were affected, at a cost of about $800 million U.S. Chile is a major salmon exporter to the U.S. El Niño conditions have led to unusually warmer ocean waters that allow algae to multiply. Read more at Reuters.
In the past few months we have posted several stories about net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Recently, three Michigan state agencies have publicly stated opposition to net-pen farms in Lake Michigan because of environmental risks, and potential adverse effects on tourism and recreational fishing. Read more at the Detroit Free Press. Read More >
March 4, 2016
This blogpost is co-authored by Claire Fitch, Robert Martin, and Keeve Nachman.
Antibiotic resistance is a major public health crisis. Continued misuse of antibiotics will result in these lifesaving drugs no longer being effective in treating even the most routine infections. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide support for the need for immediate action to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics. Each year, at least two million Americans develop these infections, and of those, 23,000 die from them. Antibiotic-resistant infections are more costly to treat, can require lengthier hospital stays, and are more likely to require invasive procedures like surgery. Read More >
March 3, 2016
Frank Hu, February 26, 2016 at CLF.
Every five years USDA and HHS hammer out a revised set of recommendations for how Americans should eat. The process, resulting in the Dietary Guidelines, is supposed to be transparent, accessible and systematic. But there is a black box in the process, says Dr. Frank Hu.
Dr. Hu is a member of the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) and a professor on the faculty of both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. On February 26, he offered some insight into the process at the invitation of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, addressing students, faculty and staff at the Bloomberg School. Read More >
February 26, 2016
Aquaculture and Fisheries Policy
This month NOAA released a draft proposal for new seafood traceability requirements for 13 species to stem imports of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish. While the plan is a good first step, our colleague Beth Lowell of Oceana would like to see the plan go further by adding three components in the final rule: “1) it needs to apply to all seafood; 2) products need to be traced throughout the entire supply chain to final point of sale; and 3) if there is a phase-in implementation process, there must be a concrete timeline to expand the rule to all species and extend traceability from boat to plate in the final rule.” Read more: The Hill and Food Safety News.
Read More >
February 22, 2016
At the risk of dating myself, I’ll invoke the movie Chinatown, in which detective Jake Gittes uncovers a grand-scale conspiracy involving the control of water in Los Angeles, a city suffering with drought. The corruption is so thick that there’s no hope of cutting through it. The famous line? “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”
If Roman Polanski were to make a movie about the grand-scale conspiracy controlling what foods are purchased for hospitals, schools, and prisons … well, he wouldn’t. But if he did, our detective would uncover the near-nefariousness of the forces controlling what students eat for lunch, for example, or what hospital cafeterias serve. The movie—and let’s just give it the working title Aramark, as in “Forget it, Jake. It’s Aramark”—would introduce us to the seamy world in which food service companies like Sodexo, Aramark, and Compass Group use a byzantine system Read More >
February 12, 2016
“How should we structure our council?” That’s a question frequently uttered by people working with food policy councils (FPCs) And, as with so many questions out there, there is not a clear and easy answer. Decisions like this depends on many factors such as the mission and goals for the group, who is involved, what resources are available, policy objectives and the culture of the group. Deciding the structure will be one of several decisions you make in the process of organizing. Your structure might also be influenced by your relationship with government. By clarifying the mission and goals for the council, you attract members to get involved. Having a clear structure helps members understand their role of the council in making decisions about food policy. Read More >
February 4, 2016
In a hotel outside Washington, D.C., just days before winter storm Jonas smothered the mid-Atlantic in snow, author Simran Sethi presented an idea that may have surprised her audience. She was speaking to scientists, government officials, and policy wonks—and her message was to ditch the data. Or rather, don’t only present data. Tell stories.
In particular, she challenged us to tell stories about the foods we love most, and how they might not be around much longer if we continue to eat, live, and legislate in unsustainable ways. Read More >