January 9, 2015
New nutrition adviser for White House. Replacing Sam Kass as the director of the Let’s Move! campaign is Deb Eschmeyer, a nutrition and local food advocate. Politico reports on the appointment. She is a co-founder of Food Corps, an AmeriCorps service program that places 182 members into schools in 16 states and D.C. to work on food and nutrition issues, including school gardens, cooking classes and revamped school lunch menus.
Trade agreement toxicity. Here’s more reportage, this time from The Guardian, about the potentially toxic effects of the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, known as TTIP. It’s also known as TAFTA, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, which sounds quite a bit like NAFTA, doesn’t it? We’ve reported on concerns that TAFTA would result in the EU being pressured by U.S. livestock producers to condone antibiotic misuse; this article address similar concerns about pesticide regulations. Of course, the major agricultural chemical manufacturers such as Dupont, Syngenta, and Monsanto think TAFTA is a great idea because it would “reduce barriers to trade.” There is also real worry that TAFTA would have the same kind of devastating impact on small-scale farmers throughout Central America that NAFTA had on Mexican maize producers, driving even more people off the land and exacerbating the flow of illegal migrants to the U.S.
Food garbage in Seattle. As of January 1, Seattle residents may no longer put food garbage in their trash cans. Concurrently, recycling and composting operations will increase. There’s a little wiggle room for residents—if food waste comprises less than 10 percent of their trash, they won’t get fined. And the fines, at this point, are $1 per violation. Cities with similar measures include Portland, San Francisco, Vancouver, and New York. Here’s the story from The Seattle Times. Maybe this will spur the kind of large-scale composting and urban agriculture that Will Allen’s project, Growing Power, has so successfully developed in Milwaukee.
GMOs can’t feed the world. Here’s an editorial by CLF friend Anna Lappé, in Al Jazeera, in which she calls B.S. on the World Food Prize and claims by the likes of Monsanto that seed engineering is the answer to feeding 7 billion. As she points out, most of the crops produced from GMO seeds end up in the bellies of livestock or in our cars’ gas tanks. It seems likely that the biggest increases from GMO crops are seen in pesticide and herbicide use—no surprise, given that the manufacturers of the seeds also manufacture the pesticides and herbicides.
Raising the barn. When farmers like Carole Morison of Birds Eye View Farm in Pocomoke City, Maryland, make the transition from conventional growing to more humane, sustainable methods, we are quick to applaud them and hold them up as models. The truth, though, is that it’s expensive to fight the giants. Next week, Carole is launching a crowd-funding campaign on Barnraiser in order to expand her business and serve as a model for other farmers brave enough to make the transition. When her campaign begins, we’ll send out information about it over social media.
Free online food system course. The Coursera class that I co-teach with Keeve Nachman, “An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health” begins on January 20. This year, we’ll include lectures by CLF staff and faculty including Jillian Fry, Brent Kim, and Roni Neff. This is our third year offering the course, and almost 6,000 students are enrolled so far.
TEDx Manhattan. It’s two months away, but I wanted to mention that TEDx Manhattan will take place on Saturday, March 7, 2015. The theme is “Changing the Way We Eat.” The event takes place, as the name suggests, in New York City; if you’re interested in hosting a viewing party, click here.
RIP Brother Dave Andrews. I’m saddened to report that our friend and colleague Brother David Andrews passed away on Monday at the age of 70, while receiving dialysis treatment. We had the pleasure of getting to know Brother Dave when we worked with the Pew Commission to create the Pew Report on Industrial Farm Animal Production, and we continued to stay in touch over the years, as our passions and interests overlapped. Brother Dave was a passionate advocate for justice for the small farmer, rural communities, and sustainable agriculture. His gentle spirit coupled with a dogged commitment to those who are true stewards of the land gave him an important voice in the discourse on food security. Here’s an obituary written by his order, and excerpt from it: “A truth-speaker, he fearlessly and eloquently voiced concerns about our relationship to the earth and to each other, challenging the complacent, the powerful, and the short-sighted profit-makers.” The CLF family will miss Brother Dave greatly.
Image: Christopher Dombres. Source: Flickr