cost-of-food
From: “Brad Wilson” <fireweed@netins.net>
 
Subject: [COMFOOD: ] The Farm Subsidy Paradigm Dividing Us
Reply-To: “Brad Wilson” <fireweed@netins.net>Our movement continues to have a huge challenge in countering the divide and conquer strategies of agribusiness, at least from the perspective of the “farm justice” (family farm, farmers-in-the-middle) sector.

Our typical failure to successfully overcome this challenge is dramatically illustrated by contrasting videos and other materials, such as the following.  On one side, see the new report and video from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

An Apple a Day …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Fxm3h8I90I

On the other side, see my video review, which builds upon the UCS video, (as a teachable moment,) to give a simple pictorial tutorial of the farm bill, in terms of the other, radically different paradigm.

Review: ‘An Apple a Day:’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQkeDza3bM0&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLA1E706EFA90D1767

Paradigm change is tough, mind-wrenching.  Don’t expect resolution through just one viewing!

Brad Wilson
Fireweed Farm, Iowa CCI, NFFC, Via Campesina

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http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/09/the-michael-moore-of-the-grade-school-lunchroom/?hp

May 9, 2013, 4:39 pm NY TIMES: By INDRANI SEN

Guerrilla filmmakers often face crackdowns by the powers that be, and Zachary Maxwell is no exception.

His hidden-camera documentary was almost derailed last year when he was caught filming without permission by a fearsome enforcer – the lunchroom monitor in his school cafeteria.

“She sent me to my teacher, and my teacher told me to delete everything,” said Zachary, who is now 11.

Zachary pretended to delete the day’s shots. After that lapse in production security, he said, “I fired my lookouts.”

What his teacher didn’t know, though, was that Zachary had six months of footage shot surreptitiously in the cafeteria, forming the spine of his 20-minute movie “Yuck: A 4th Grader’s Short Documentary About School Lunch.”

Next month, the film (watch trailer), which has been playing the festival circuit, will be screened at the Manhattan Film Festival.

Like many things in the life of a fourth grader, Zachary’s movie started as a dispute with his parents. He told them that he wanted to start packing his own lunch, but they were skeptical. Lunch is free at his school, P.S. 130 Hernando De Soto in Little Italy, and his parents liked the look of the Department of Education’s online menus, which describe delicious meals, full of whole grains and fresh vegetables, some even designed by celebrity chefs.

“I told them that’s not what they were actually serving me,” Zachary said. “But I don’t think they believed me.”

So he smuggled in a camera in his sweatshirt pocket the next day and filmed lunch.

“When I came back home and showed them the footage, they were like, ugh!” he said.

Soon, Zachary and his father, a lawyer and video hobbyist, were cutting together the footage he brought home every day. (In the film, Zachary goes by the name Zachary Maxwell, though Maxwell is his middle name. His family asked that their last name be withheld because of Zachary’s age.)

In the film, Zachary, who is not above cheesy costumes and goofy special effects, makes a point that is under the radar of most conversations about the quality of school lunches: that despite the Education Department’s efforts to improve nutrition, there is a disconnect between the wholesome meals described on school menus and the soggy, deep-fried nuggets frequently dished up in the lunchrooms.

The film offers no shortage of examples. On a day advertising “cheesy lasagna rolls with tomato basil sauce, roasted spinach with garlic and herbs,” for instance, Zachary is handed a plastic-wrapped grilled cheese sandwich on an otherwise bare plastic foam tray.

A “Pasta Party” is described as “zesty Italian meatballs with tomato-basil sauce, whole grain pasta, Parmesan cheese and roasted capri vegetables.” Meatballs and pasta show up on the tray, if none too zesty-looking, but the vegetables are nowhere to be seen.

Salads devised by the Food Network chefs Rachael Ray and Ellie Krieger are similarly plagued by missing ingredients. On the day Ms. Ray’s “Yum-O! Marinated Tomato Salad” is listed, Zachary is served a slice of pizza accompanied by a wisp of lettuce.

Ms. Krieger’s “Tri-color Salad” is a no-show on one day it is promised, and on another, it lacks its cauliflower, broccoli and red peppers. The shreds of lettuce and slice of cucumber could still be described as tri-color, Zachary points out, if you count “green, light green and brown.”

Indeed, among the 75 lunches that Zachary recorded – chosen randomly, he swears – he found the menus to be “substantially” accurate, with two or more of the advertised menu items served, only 51 percent of the time. The menus were “totally” accurate, with all of the advertised items served, only 16 percent of the time. And by Zachary’s count, 28 percent of the lunches he recorded were built around either pizza or cheese sticks.

A spokeswoman for the Education Department, Marge Feinberg, said in an e-mail that vegetables and fruit were served daily and she suggested that Zachary must have chosen not to take the vegetables served in his cafeteria.

“It would not be the first time a youngster would find a way to get out of eating vegetables,” she wrote. Zachary responded that he always took every item he was offered.

Until this past September, Ms. Feinberg said, schools did have some freedom to deviate from the systemwide lunch menus. New federal regulations for the current school year set stricter guidelines for what elements need to be on each child’s plate.

On Monday, Zachary thought he was in trouble again when he was sent to the principal’s office and found two men in black suits waiting for him.

They turned out to be representatives from the Education Department’s Office of School Food, he said, who complimented him on his movie, asked for feedback on some new menu choices, and took him on a tour of the cafeteria kitchen.

There, Zachary met one of his school’s cooks, and got some insight into her thinking.

“She wants us to be happy,” he reported. “So she cooks what she thinks the kids will like.”

Then he sat down for lunch with the officials. The adults ate the cafeteria lunch of chicken nuggets, carrots and salad.

Zachary had pork and vegetable dumplings – brought from home.

Kid’s State Dinner: The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge

A healthy, delicious kids’ lunch recipe

The Prize:

A trip to Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner”

Boosting brain power and energy are just two of the reasons kids and parents alike should eat a healthy lunch every day.

That’s why First Lady Michelle Obama, the USDA, the U.S. Department of Education, and Epicurious have joined together again for the second Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.

Children 8 to 12 and their parents (or legal guardians) are invited to create and enter their best original lunch recipes inspired by MyPlate, the USDA’s user-friendly guide to healthy eating. One winner from each of the 50 states and U.S. Territories will be awarded a trip to Washington, D.C., and the opportunity to attend the Kids’ “State Dinner,” hosted by Mrs. Obama at the White House this summer. These lucky finalists might also have their recipes served at the event!

 

Wake up, WORLD!

By  NYTIMES
Published: April 6, 2013

Every beekeeper, small or large, hobbyist or commercial, knows that honeybees are in trouble. Over the past decade, bee colonies have been dying in increasing numbers. Last year was especially bad. Perhaps as many as half the hives kept by commercial beekeepers died in 2012. The loss has created a crisis among fruit and vegetable growers, who depend on bees to pollinate their crops.

Last year, researchers identified a virus as a major cause of the die-off; the latest suspect is a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are used to protect common agricultural seeds, including corn. The insecticides are systemic, which means they persist throughout the life of the plant. Scientists have demonstrated that exposure to these chemicals damages bees’ brain function, including their ability to home in on the hive.

In mid-March, environmental groups and beekeepers sued the Environmental Protection Agency to persuade it to withdraw its approval of two of the most widely used neonicotinoids. The manufacturers of these chemicals — notably Syngenta and Bayer CropScience — have claimed again and again that they are safe. And it is true that bees face other stresses. Even so, beekeepers managed to keep their hives relatively healthy before the increased use of neonicotinoids began in 2005.

Bees are essential to modern agriculture. There is no replacing them, no substitute of any meaningful kind. The E.P.A. has sent a team to central California — where more than 1.6 million hives are needed every spring — for “discussions.” That is not remotely good enough. The agency must conduct an immediate analysis of neonicotinoids. The manufacturers’ bland assurances seem empty in the face of this long-term die-off of these beneficial creatures.

Listen UP

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

 

From Saccharin to GE Seed, Report Profiles Monsanto’s History Peddling Chemicals for Food, Agriculture, War

 

SAN FRANCISCO—From its beginnings as a small chemical company in 1901, Monsanto has grown into the largest biotechnology seed company in the world with net sales of $11.8 billion, 404 facilities in 66 countries across six continents and products grown on over 282 million acres worldwide. Today, the consumer advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch released its report, Monsanto: A Corporate Profile.  

“There is a growing movement of people around the country who want to take on Monsanto’s undue influence over lawmakers, regulators and the food supply,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book Foodopoly. “People need to know about Monsanto’s history as a heavy industrial chemical manufacturer; a reality at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey.”

“At the end of March, the American public saw first hand the unjustifiable power that Monsanto holds over our elected officials when an unprecedented rider, dubbed the ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ was tacked onto the spending bill to fund the federal government,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! “This is an outrageous interference with our courts and separation of powers and we cannot sit back and allow our elected officials to continue to take orders from Monsanto at the expense of family farmers and consumers.” 

The report offers a timeline of milestones in the company’s history including chemical disasters, mergers and acquisitions, and the first genetically modified plant cell.

“Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides,” said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association. “Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply.”

The report concludes with recommended actions for the federal government to take to temper Monsanto’s anticompetitive practices and control over agricultural research and government policies. It also suggests steps that regulators should take to better protect consumers and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of GE crops.

“Even though you won’t find the Monsanto brand on a food or beverage container at your local grocery store, the company holds vast power over our food supply,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety. “This power is largely responsible for something else we cannot find on our grocery store shelves — labels on genetically engineered food. Not only has Monsanto’s and other agribusinesses’ efforts prevented the labeling of GE foods, but they spend millions to block grassroots efforts like California’s Prop 37 in order to keep consumers in the dark.”

“Last November, Monsanto alone spent more than $8 million to drown out the voices of Californians who wanted the right to know whether or not their food is genetically engineered,” said Pamm Larry, a leader of the national grassroots movement to label GE foods and Proposition 37’s initial instigator. “Now Washington is bracing for the industry’s deluge of misleading advertising to defeat I-522. The best way to combat this confusion and doubt is through telling the truth and educating consumers on how labeling will empower them to make informed choices about the food they feed their families and loosen the stranglehold that corporations like Monsanto have over our food supply.”

“The chemical pesticide industry, with Monsanto leading the way, took over U.S. seed industry and engineered bacterial genes into food crops with the primary purpose of selling more weed killer that contaminates our food, water and bodies,” said David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps and leader in GE food labeling campaigns across the country. “Just like the citizens of Europe, Japan and China, Americans deserve the right to opt out of the genetically engineered food science experiment.”  

Monsanto: A Corporate Profile can be downloaded here: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/reports/monsanto-a-corporate-profile/

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

Contact: Anna Ghosh, aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org, 415-293-9905