June 14, 2013
Food policy initiatives at Baltimore's Food Depot
First drought, then rain. Recently, our nation saw one of its worst droughts in history, but that’s ended with torrential rains this spring in the Midwest farm belt. Unfortunately, the rains have flooded acres of corn and soybean plants, washed countless tons of prime topsoil down chocolate-colored rivers, and farmers are worried about their harvests. Because these crops feed livestock, the rains could result in higher prices for meat in the near future.
Dust Bowl re-dux? In the 1930s, southeastern Colorado was devastated by the Dust Bowl, and now there are once again fierce dust storms rolling across the state’s Eastern Plains. According to this Denver Post story, farmers and ranchers are praying for rain. The photos alone are worth the click-through to the article.
USDA and climate change. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition provides good coverage of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s speech at the National Press Club, Read More >
June 10, 2013
At Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, the lunchboxes tell the tale. Doritos are on the decline. Skittles are on the outs. And ditto for the instant soup formerly known as Cup O’ Noodles.
Over the course of the 2012–2013 school year, teacher Christina Soares Heffner has integrated lessons about the food system into her 7th and 8th adolescent community, and her students have taken these lessons to heart—or perhaps to their stomachs. Read More >
June 7, 2013
More news on Monsanto wheat
The farm bill—making waves. The not-yet-final farm bill is continuing to get attention and finally garner some outrage. Both Mark Bittman and Paul Krugman from the New York Times have written columns about the disgraceful cuts to the SNAP program and the farm bill mechanisms that support the wealthy. A Truthout story highlights some other terrible aspects of the bills that are on the table: feigning ignorance about climate change, the Monsanto Protection Act, and a price minimum for sugar that’s expected to spur the use of sugar substitutes such as high-fructose corn syrup. Read More >
May 31, 2013
Smithfield has merged with Shanghui
Wal-Mart breaking our bank? The Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce released a new report about what the low wages at Wal-Mart cost Americans. According to the report, one Wal-Mart store alone costs taxpayers $1 million every year in higher usage of public-assistance programs by Wal-Mart employees and their dependents. Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), the senior Democrat on the committee, is the author of H.R. 1010, a bill that would raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.00 per hour in three steps. You can follow him on Twitter Read More >
May 29, 2013
Senator Ben Cardin (D–Md.)
On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the Baltimore Sun ran this letter to the editor, authored by CLF director Bob Lawrence:
Recently, The Sun drew attention to the rise of poverty and hunger in our region (“Poor people in Balto.’s suburbs outnumber those in city,” May 21) while Maryland’s senators turned their backs on those who need help buying food. I was saddened and disappointed by the failure of U.S. Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin to do the right thing for our at-risk neighbors and friends. Our senators voted against the farm bill amendment that would have restored the $4 billion in cuts to the food stamp program, or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and help strengthen our fraying safety net. Read More >
May 24, 2013
Tornado, Oklahoma City, May 12, 1896
Food stamp funding. This week the Senate has been amending the farm bill, and already there has been heartbreak. I’m very disappointed that both Senator Barbara Mikulski (D–MD) and Senator Ben Cardin (D–MD) voted against the amendment sponsored by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D–NY), which would have restored the $4 billion in cuts to SNAP. For a list of all the Democratic senators who voted for and against the bill, consult this story from the Daily Kos. You can send your thoughts via Twitter to @SenatorBarb and @SenatorCardin. [Update: On Tuesday, May 28, 2013, the Baltimore Sun ran this letter to the editor.]
The farm bill at large. Developments continue, and as always, the best resource I can recommend for updates is the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. You may follow them on Twitter via @sustainableag. Also, one of our research assistants, Karina Christiansen, has written a very helpful blogpost about what to expect.
Tornadoes and climate change—yes or no? Andrew Revkin has made a thorough contribution Read More >
May 23, 2013
Can supply meet demand?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) held a forum on sustainable diets earlier this month, with the goal of incorporating environmental sustainability in federal dietary guidelines. Seafood is sometimes overlooked in sustainable food system discussions, so I was pleased to see it included in the forum’s agenda. Ultimately, many critical issues were left unaddressed, especially regarding aquaculture, or farmed seafood. Read More >
May 22, 2013
How are environment and nutrition connected?
Environment and nutrition, ecology and health. They’re all connected. And getting people to talk seriously about those connections is an urgent priority.
The Institute of Medicine hosted a landmark event earlier this month co-hosted by its Food Forum and Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research and Medicine, two seemingly disparate groups. The workshop, “Sustainable Diets: Food for Healthy People and a Healthy Planet” sought to break down these silos that too often exist Read More >
May 21, 2013
Will we get a farm bill in September?
After failing to pass a farm bill in the 112th Congress and burying a nine-month extension in the “fiscal cliff” tax bill that the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) deemed a “disaster for farmers,” the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are again taking up the task of crafting this complex and cumbersome piece of legislation. We take a quick look at where the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill are, and what they may hold for public health. Read More >
May 17, 2013
Movement on the farm bill this week
Monsanto victorious. On Monday the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Monsanto in a trial that seems to have had patent law at its heart. The court found for Monsanto and against farmer Vernon Bowman, who’d discovered a way to grow “Roundup Ready” crops from his own seeds rather than purchasing them—at exorbitant cost—from Monsanto. Monsanto is already spinning this as a great validation of GMOs when it is actually a patent decision. Nonetheless, the implications of the decision are for greater monopoly control of GMOs and greater seed prices for farmers, already up over 300 percent in the last few years. Read More >