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

Legislation Would Phase Out Non-therapeutic Use of Antibiotics for Farm Animals

From: “The Humane Society of the United States” <awest@humanesociety.org>
Date: June 27, 2013 3:42:09 PM EDT
Subject: [COMFOOD: ] Sen. Feinstein Introduces Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act
Reply-To: “The Humane Society of the United States” <awest@humanesociety.org>
                                                                                                                                   
 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sen. Feinstein and Bipartisan Cosponsors Introduce
Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act
Legislation Would Phase Out Non-therapeutic Use of Antibiotics for Farm Animals
WASHINGTON (June 27, 2013) – To preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics for treating sick people and animals, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act, which would phase out the routine non-therapeutic use of these drugs in farm animals. With antibiotics routinely laced into the feed and water to promote growth and to keep animals alive in unhealthy and inhumane conditions on industrial factory farms, animal agriculture accounts for more than 70 percent of total sales of medically important antibiotics in the United States.
Sen. Feinstein was joined by a bipartisan group of cosponsors – Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Jack Reed, D-R.I., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association praised the legislators for their action.
Michael Blackwell, DVM, MPH, an HSVMA Leadership Council member and former deputy director for the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said: “We commend Senator Feinstein and the cosponsors of this important legislation for working to rein in the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. We cannot afford to continue the reckless practices that jeopardize the viability of these precious tools for human and animal health.”
More than 450 organizations representing agricultural, health, environmental, animal protection, hunger, labor, religious and other concerns endorse federal legislation to phase out the overuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Additionally, 125 individual veterinary professionals have signed a petition sponsored by the HSVMA, which reads:
“We, the undersigned licensed veterinary professionals, support…federal legislation that would phase out the routine non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. Antibiotic overuse is a common practice in animal agriculture to compensate for overcrowded, stressful and unsanitary conditions on factory farms. Profligate use of these drugs threatens to ruin the effectiveness of antibiotics for treating sick animals and people. As medical professionals, we support efforts to restrict such non-judicious uses of antibiotics in order to protect animal and human health.”
In March, Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., introduced similar legislation in the House, the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), H.R. 1150.
 Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org
Subscribe to Wayne Pacelle’s blog, A Humane Nation. Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your Apple or Android device by searching for our “Humane TV” app.
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We’re there for all animals, across America and around the world. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — on the Web at humanesociety.org.
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association was formed as a home for veterinary professionals who want to join together to speak out for animals, engage in direct care programs for animals in need, and educate the public and others in the profession about animal welfare issues. The HSVMA is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. www.hsvma.org
If you would rather not receive future communications from Humane Society of the United States, let us know by clicking here.
Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037 United States

The Rebellion of the Canadian Church Ladies

By Andy Fisher for  CIVILEATS:

Freedom 90: The Rebellion of the Canadian Church Ladies

By  on May 23, 2013

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What if the little old ladies who run the neighborhood church food pantry rebelled? What if they said “we’re 70 years old, we’ve been feeding people for 20 years, and hell if we want to do it for another 20?” What if they demanded that the government reduce the incidence of poverty so that food pantries don’t need to exist in the first place?

Hard to imagine? Well, that’s exactly what has happened in the province of Ontario. With the support of an experienced community organizer, volunteers from emergency meal programs, and food banks (what we call a food pantry in the U.S.) have decided to form a “union.” They’re calling it Freedom 90, a spoof on the “Freedom 55” financial planning advertisements that promise the good life to Canadians who work hard and invest their savings wisely, so they can retire by 55.

Tongue in cheek, yet deadly serious, these volunteers want to “retire” by the time they hit 90. They are tired of the perpetual emergency of having to provide free food boxes every week for the past two decades, but are compelled to continue because of the need they see in their communities.

The union charter states that “poverty is being ‘re-branded’ as ‘hunger’ to mask its cause: inadequate incomes, which are due to low wages, precarious work, and social assistance levels too low to provide adequate housing and food.” It holds that every resident of the province has “the right to health and dignity, including enough income to pay the rent and buy food.”

A “separate and segregated food system for people with low incomes” is undignified, humiliating, unsustainable and inefficient, in their opinion. Clarifying their position on the emergency food system, they add:

“We’re not advocating the closing of food banks, rather we want to make food banks obsolete — unnecessary…. Food banks are not bad, but charity has real limitations. Food Banks are addressing a gap in society and it is the gap that we need to close to remove the need for people to rely on food banks in the first place….”

The idea for the union came out of a five-year old campaign to reduce poverty in Ontario, the Put Food in the Budget campaign. The primary goal of the campaign was to gain an immediate $100 per month increase in social assistance checks, to reduce hunger, and to act as a down payment toward poverty reduction.

The union launched in May 2012 on a wing and a prayer, and has since enrolled 100 members. Knowing that humor can be a very effective organizing tool, their Web site lays out three demands, and is a call for forward-thinking public policy:

1) Lay us off! The Government of Ontario must ensure that social assistance and minimum wage levels are sufficient for everyone to have adequate housing and to buy their own food.

2) Mandatory retirement by the age of 90! Many of us have been volunteering for 20 years and there is no end in sight. The Freedom 90 Union demands the Government of Ontario take urgent action to end poverty and make food banks and emergency meal programs unnecessary.

3) Freeze our wages! Or double them! It doesn’t matter because we are unpaid volunteers.

They even have an anthem, a modified version of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave your Lover” renamed “50 Ways to Close the Food Bank.”

And uniquely in this discussion, after the launch of the Freedom 90 union in 2012, campaign organizers explored integrating emergency food recipients into the union, bringing together both parties as equals. Interestingly, both volunteers and recipients identified the same problems with food banking. When asked to contemplate the possibility that they would be continue to be involved–either as volunteer or recipient–for the long term, it was “like the ceiling fell in. It was like this horrible terrible feeling of oh my god, could that really happen?”

It is commonly believed that charity separates the giver from the recipient. Yet, in this case, both food pantry volunteers and recipients share the same recognition that the charitable food system is unsustainable and undignified, and that the only exit is through the government taking a larger role in ensuring the public’s right to an adequate living.

Both volunteer and recipient know that the charitable food system enables corporations to keep wages low and profits high. They both know that the charitable food system enables the government to tamp down its expenditures on safety net programs, thus minimizing taxes on the middle class and wealthy. This same system has failed both giver and receiver, yet it continues to grow, in part perpetuated by these entrenched interests, and in part because it preys upon the volunteers’ compassion and the recipients’ desperation.

Maybe the Canadian church ladies are like the proverbial canary in the coalmine, an indicator of a dangerous and unhealthy situation. They are showing us that it is high time that we reverse course across North America and make charitable food obsolete in our communities–for their freedom, but more importantly for the health and dignity of the poor who have come to depend on charity for survival.

from Wellcome Collection

Wellcome Collection - Gastronomic Evening - Exploring the Deliciousness of Insects
TUESDAY 30 APRIL & WEDNESDAY 1 MAY, 19.30–22.00
£50 | BOOK NOW
Join us for a gastronomic evening of insect appreciation with world-renowned culinary research institute Nordic Food Lab. Meet Head of Culinary Research and Development Ben Reade and Director Michael Bom Frøst, and insect ambassador and TED speaker Marcel Dicke. Relish a flavoursome solution to the food crisis with insect canapés, talks and discussion.
Taste the delectability of insects offered by Nordic Food Lab, the research facility where Ben and his small team of chefs are driven by the pursuit of new flavours, using scientific methods. For two evenings only, Ben and Michael will be leaving their lab on a houseboat in front of Noma in Copenhagen to share this new deliciousness with you.
The lab’s mission at Wellcome Collection is to use the powers of cooking and science to bring us a new understanding and appreciation of insects as edible food. Immerse yourself in the insect cookery with live morphology commentary, and have insect canapés bought to your table in a fantastic sensory experience.
We have just 100 tickets across the two evenings of this event, so book early so you don’t miss out.
Nordic Food Lab Pestival
This event is part of a special series called ‘Who’s the Pest?’
– a collaboration between Pestival and Wellcome Collection.
From an original idea by Pestival. Pestival is a cultural organisation exploring our relationship with insects and the natural world.

GMO labeling due to popular demand

NYTIMES

March 8, 2013

Major Grocer to Label Foods With Gene-Modified Content

By STEPHANIE STROM

Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on Friday became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry.

A. C. Gallo, president of Whole Foods, said the new labeling requirement, to be in place within five years, came in response to consumer demand. “We’ve seen how our customers have responded to the products we do have labeled,” Mr. Gallo said. “Some of our manufacturers say they’ve seen a 15 percent increase in sales of products they have labeled.”

Genetically modified ingredients are deeply embedded in the global food supply, having proliferated since the 1990s. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States, for example, have been genetically modified. The alterations make soybeans resistant to a herbicide used in weed control, and causes the corn to produce its own insecticide. Efforts are under way to produce a genetically altered apple that will spoil less quickly, as well as genetically altered salmon that will grow faster. The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. “Fantastic,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. “These labels could mislead consumers into believing that these food products are somehow different or present a special risk or a potential risk,” Louis Finkel, the organization’s executive director of government affairs, said in the statement.

Mr. Finkel noted that the Food and Drug Administration, as well as regulatory and scientific bodies including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, had deemed genetically modified products safe.

The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will include its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients. The labels currently used show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. The labels Whole Foods will use in 2018, which have yet to be created, will identify foods that contain such ingredients.

The shift by Whole Foods is the latest in a series of events that has intensified the debate over genetically modified foods. Voters defeated a hard-fought ballot initiative in California late last year after the biotech industry, and major corporations like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, spent millions of dollars to fight the effort. Other initiatives have qualified for the ballot in Washington State and Missouri, while consumers across the country have been waging a sort of guerrilla movement in supermarkets, pasting warning stickers on products suspected of having G.M.O. ingredients from food companies that oppose labeling. Proponents of labeling insist that consumers have a right to know about the ingredients in the food they eat, and they contend that some studies in rats show that bioengineered food can be harmful.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It, a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients, called the Whole Foods decision a “game changer.”

“We’ve had some pretty big developments in labeling this year,” Mr. Hirshberg said, adding that 22 states now have some sort of pending labeling legislation. “Now, one of the fastest-growing, most successful retailers in the country is throwing down the gantlet.”

He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal-Mart’s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone. Today, only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone.

Karen Batra, a spokeswoman for BIO, a trade group representing the biotech industry, said it was too early to determine what impact, if any, the Whole Foods decision would have. “It looks like they want to expand their inventory of certified organic and non-G.M.O. lines,” Ms. Batra said. “The industry has always supported the voluntary labeling of food for marketing reasons.”

She contended, however, that without scientific evidence showing that genetically modified foods caused health or safety issues, labeling was unnecessary.

Nonetheless, companies have shown a growing willingness to consider labeling. Some 20 major food companies, as well as Wal-Mart, met recently in Washington to discuss genetically modified labeling.

Coincidentally, the American Halal Company, a food company whose Saffron Road products are sold in Whole Foods stores, on Friday introduced the first frozen food, a chickpea and spinach entree, that has been certified not to contain genetically modified ingredients.

More than 90 percent of respondents to a poll of potential voters in the 2012 elections, conducted by the Mellman Group in February last year, were in favor of labeling genetically modified foods. Some 93 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans in the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent, favored it.

But in the fight over the California initiative, Proposition 37, the opponents succeeded in persuading voters that labeling would have a negative effect on food prices and the livelihood of farmers.

That fight, however, has cost food companies in other ways. State legislatures and regulatory agencies are pondering labeling on their own, and consumers have been aggressive in criticizing some of the companies that fought the initiative, using Twitter and Facebook to make their views known.

Buoyed by what they see as some momentum in the labeling war, consumers, organic farmers and food activists plan to hold an “eat-in” outside the F.D.A.’s offices next month to protest government policies on genetically modified crops and foods. Whole Foods, which specializes in organic products, tends to be favored by those types of consumers, and it enjoys strong sales of its private-label products, whose composition it controls. The company thus risks less than some more traditional food retailers in taking a stance on labeling.

In 2009, Whole Foods began submitting products in its 365 Everyday Value private-label line to verification by the Non GMO Project.

But even Whole Foods has not been immune to criticism on the G.M.O. front. A report by Cornucopia, “Cereal Crimes,” revealed that its 365 Corn Flakes line contained genetically modified corn. By the time the report came out in October 2011, the product had been reformulated and certified as organic.

Today, Whole Foods’ shelves carry some 3,300 private-label and branded products that are certified, the largest selection of any grocery chain in the country.

Mr. Gallo said Whole Foods did not consult with its suppliers about its decision and informed them of it only shortly before making its announcement Friday. He said Whole Foods looked forward to working with suppliers on the labeling.

 

 

 

 

Fixing Our Food Problem By MARK BITTMAN

January 1, 2013, 7:52 pm79 Comments

Fixing Our Food Problem

By MARK BITTMAN
Mark Bittman

Nothing affects public health in the United States more than food. Gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes kill more than a million people a year — nearly half of all deaths — and diet is a root cause of many of those diseases.

And the root of that dangerous diet is our system of hyper-industrial agriculture, the kind that uses 10 times as much energy as it produces.

We must figure out a way to un-invent this food system. It’s been a major contributor to climate change, spawned the obesity crisis, poisoned countless volumes of land and water, wasted energy, tortured billions of animals… I could go on. The point is that “sustainability” is not only possible but essential: only by saving the earth can we save ourselves, and vice versa.

How do we do that?

This seems like a good day to step back a bit and suggest something that’s sometimes difficult to accept.

Patience.

We can only dismantle this system little by little, and slowly. Change takes time. Often — usually — that time exceeds the life span of its pioneers. And when it comes to sustainable food for billions, we’re the pioneers of a food movement that’s just beginning to take shape. The abolition movement began at least a century before the Civil War, 200 years before the civil rights movement. The struggle to gain the right to vote for women in the United States was active for 75 years before an amendment was passed. The gay rights struggle has made tremendous strides over the last 40 years, but equal treatment under the law is hardly established.

Well-cared-for animals will necessarily be more expensive, which means we’ll eat fewer of them; that’s a win-win. 

Activists who took on these issues had in common a clear series of demands and a sense that the work was ongoing. They had a large and ever-growing public following and a willingness to sacrifice time, energy and even life for the benefit not only of contemporaries but for subsequent generations.

They were also aware that there is no success without a willingness to fail; that failure is a part of progress. A single defeat was seen as a temporary setback. The same vision should be applied to every issue the nascent food movement is tackling.

Yet before we can assess our progress, we must state our goals. There is no consensus behind a program for achieving sustainable production of food that promotes rather than attacks health. We can’t ask for “better food for all”; we must be specific. In the very near term, for example, we must fight to protect and improve programs that make food available to lower-income Americans. We must also support the increasingly assertive battles of workers in food-related industries; nothing reflects our moral core more accurately than the abuses we overlook in the names of convenience and economy.

Beyond that, I believe that the two issues that will have the greatest reverberations in agriculture, health and the environment are reducing the consumption of sugar-laden beverages and improving the living conditions of livestock.

About the first I have written plenty, and can summarize: when we begin treating sugar-sweetened beverages as we do tobacco, we will make a huge stride in improving our diet.

The second is even more powerful, and progress was made in that arena in 2012 as one food company after another resolved to (eventually) reject pork produced with gestation crates. So over the next few years, some animals will be treated somewhat better. This is absolutely, unquestionably thanks to public pressure, which should now set its sights higher and insist that all animals grown for food production be treated not just better but well.

Well-cared-for animals will necessarily be more expensive, which means we’ll eat fewer of them; that’s a win-win. They’ll use fewer antibiotics, they’ll be produced by more farmers in more places, and they’ll eat less commodity grain, which will both reduce environmental damage and allow for more land to be used for high-quality human food like fruits and vegetables.

Allies may argue that I miss the mark with either or both of these, and that’s fine: it’s a discussion. The point is that no major food issue will be resolved in the next 10 years. As pioneers, we must build upon incremental progress and not be disheartened, because often there isn’t quick resolution for complex issues.

An association between tobacco and cancer was discovered more 200 years ago. The surgeon general’s report that identified smoking as a public health issue appeared in 1964. The food movement has not yet reached its 1964; there’s isn’t even a general acknowledgment of a problem in need of fixing.

So, in 2013, let’s call for energy, action — and patience.

A version

Joel Salatin Makes it to Harvard with “Folks, This Ain’t Normal” at the 2012 Ancestoral Health Society Symposium

Joel Salatin — Folks This Ain’t Normal! from Ancestral Health Society on Vimeo.

Joel Salatin delivering the keynote address at the 2nd annual Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS12).

Joel is a third generation beyond organic farmer and author whose family owns and operates Polyface Farm in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. The farm produces salad bar beef, pigaerator pork, pastured poultry, forage-based rabbits and direct markets everything to 4,000 families, 40 restaurants, and 10 retail outlets.

A prolific author, Salatin's seven books to date include both how-to and big picture themes. The farm
features prominently in Michael Pollan's NYT bestseller Omnivore's Dilemma and the award-winning
documentary, Food Inc.

Folks, This Ain’t Normal Based on his book by the same title, this whimsical performance is filled with history, satire, and prophecy. While most Americans seem to think our techno-glitzy disconnected celebrity-worshipping culture will be the first to sail off into a Star Trek future unencumbered by ecological umbilicals, Salatin bets that the future will instead incorporate more tried and true realities from the past.

Ours is the first culture with no chores for children, cheap energy, heavy mechanization, computers, supermarkets, TV dinners and unpronounceable food. Although he doesn’t believe that we will return to horses and buggies, wash boards, and hoop skirts, Salatin believes we will go back in order to go forward, using technology to re-establish historical normalcy.

That normalcy will include edible landscapes, domestic larders, pastured livestock, solar driven carbon cycling for fertility, and a visceral relationship with life’s fundamentals: food, energy, water, air, soil, fabric, shelter. We may as well get started enthusiastically than be dragged reluctantly into this more normal existence. Rather than being an abstract, cerebral, academic look at ecology, food systems, and soil development, this talk is based firmly on a lifetime spent communing with ecology, economics, and emotion in their full reality, as a farmer.

Both sobering and inspiring, this performance empowers people to tackle the seemingly impossibly large tasks that confront our generation. Historical contexts create jump-off points for the future–a future as bright as our imagination and as sure as the past.