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Leo Horrigan, MHS

Leo Horrigan, MHS

CLF Correspondent

Center for a Livable Future

Marylanders take note: Calif. research shows power of pesticide reporting

spraying pesticideA 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 >

Fast-food workers strike a blow against inequality

Protesters find Ronald McDonald guilty of providing low wages and poor working conditions in a “trial” outside a McDonald’s in Seoul, South Korea. /

Protesters find Ronald McDonald guilty of providing low wages and poor working conditions in a “trial” outside a McDonald’s in Seoul, South Korea. /

The fast-food workers’ uprising that began 18 months ago has expanded to become a global salvo against inequality, with workers striking in 33 countries on May 15. Fast-food CEOs are paid 1,200 times as much as workers in that industry. That’s more than four times the amount of CEO-to-worker inequality in the U.S. economy as a whole, which already has an outrageous level of pay disparity.

It is easy to see pay disparity as an issue of economic fairness, but less intuitive to see it as a health issue. But, countries that have more economic inequality have been shown to have worse health outcomes and Read More >

New book hammers home a historical truth: Rachel Carson didn’t act alone

RCarson-SistersRobert K. Musil has done us a service by illuminating a historical thread that encompasses Rachel Carson’s intellectual and moral inheritance as well as her legacy. In his new book, Rachel Carson and her Sisters: Extraordinary Women Who Have Shaped America’s Environment, the “sisters” do not merely orbit around Carson but join her in a constellation of environmental advocates with scientific expertise.

Musil will deliver the keynote address at an event called “Distinguished Women in Environmental Health Sciences,” to be held Friday from noon to 5 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The event is co-sponsored by The Center for a Livable Future Polly Walker Ecology Fund and the Department of Environmental Health Sciences Grand Rounds.

Musil’s talk will open the event, followed by a luncheon held, appropriately, in the Anna Baetjer Room Read More >

Italian entrepreneur drives the extra mile for local organic cause

Le Colombaie Bio - Siena, Italy

This is a “misery loves company” story. Among U.S. food system junkies a common lament is that there aren’t enough local small-scale producers to match the burgeoning demand for food of this ilk. Nor enough transport infrastructure to support all things small and beautiful. Nor enough coordination among the parts as regional food systems struggle to emerge.

And so on…

During my family’s Tuscan wanderings last week we met a young artful Italian Read More >

Westminster HS students don’t duck responsibility for their food

Teacher Ruth Chamelin with students

Various elements of the food system are coming together – in a microcosmic way – on the campus of Westminster High School.

Twenty-three students in an animal care and management class spent two months raising 10 Pekin ducks from tiny chicks to roughly eight-pound adults, and then cooked them and ate them on Thursday.  Their teacher, Ruth Chamelin, was one of the beneficiaries of CLF’s Teaching the Food System Grants for Educators program.  Read More >

Sustainable farming models can inspire you this Earth Week

Out to Pasture airs on MPT, Tuesday, 9:30pm

Earth Day is coming up on Monday, but Earth Week is already upon us, and there are myriad ways to get your “green” on locally.  The Center for a Livable Future has a hand in a couple of them, namely Chesapeake Bay Week at Maryland Public Television (MPT) and Baltimore Green Week, and in both cases we are highlighting more sustainable ways of producing food.

1.  FILM SCREENING: Out to Pasture: The Future of Farming? Read More >

Want to make food more affordable? Boost workers’ buying power

It is a pet peeve of mine that all discussions of affordable food seem to focus exclusively on one side of the issue—the price of food. All such discussions ignore the flip side of this coin—the buying power of consumers.

In a country where there is actually a category of people known as “the working poor” (about 7 percent of the labor force), we are long overdue for addressing the other side of the affordability coin. The most appropriate group to lead this movement is the working poor themselves— Read More >

State agencies sometimes send mixed messages to recreational anglers

How well advised are anglers?

Each state has an agency that advises people not to consume certain recreationally caught fish, because of health concerns. Each state also has an agency that aims to prevent certain species from being overfished. Unfortunately, in many cases these two agencies are sending mixed messages to the public.

According to a study authored by David Love, PhD, and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, in many states these two types of government agency (one concerned with environmental resource management and the other with health) need to increase their collaboration in order to avoid one agency giving the go-ahead to catch a certain species while another agency warns that same species is not safe to eat. Read More >

Md. Farm Bureau’s stance on pesticide bill seems out of step with national organization

The Maryland Farm Bureau’s opposition to a pesticide reporting bill in Maryland seems out of step with policy statements made by the national organization with which it is affiliated, the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The goal of the Maryland bill is pretty straightforward:  Create a centralized database of pesticide use in the state so researchers can study the effects of these chemicals on human health and the environment.  It seems like a difficult proposition to quibble with, because farmers already collect this information, and compliance would involve no additional costs for farmers (notwithstanding the Maryland Farm Bureau’s false statements to the contrary). Read More >