Friday, December 18, 2009

US Dairy "Sustainability Plan"

This week the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced a joint agreement to support a U.S. dairy industry goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25% over 20 years. Unfortunately, the dairy industry's idea of sustainability through mitigation inhibits the real process changes needed to combat climate change and the creation of a truly sustainable food system.

The real way to combat climate change in dairy is by reducing dairy consumption (and therefore, production) and by producing dairy from cows raised on pasture, two things the industry is far from considering.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy (ICUSD) was created in 2008 to foster industry-wide pre-competitive collaboration and innovation in strategies designed to increase sales of milk and milk products. One of the founding organizations of the ICUSD is Dairy Management Inc™, which manages the national dairy check-off program.

From an industry perspective, the "sustainability" focus is on CO2 emissions, largely in response to anticipated government regulation. Further, the approach is how to extract value and utilize opportunities to leverage demand. Much of the results from lifecycle analysis (LCA) conducted by land grant universities, show the largest reduction potential in the production phase of the dairy value-chain. Consequently, their strategy for sustainability is targeting nutrition management of cows (changing ratio of corn and protein feed) and the utilization of methane digesters to mitigate methane from manure lagoons.

Research presented on the Measurement of GHG Emissions from Dairy Farms at the Climate Change Research Conference by Dr. Frank Mitloehner, Air Quality CE Specialist Animal Science at UC Davis, had some interesting findings:
  • The main dairy GHG source is cows, rather than waste.
  • The CO2 emissions from cow respiration cannot be mitigated without reducing herd size.
  • The leading methane contributor is enteric fermentation from cows eating corn instead of their natural fodder, grass.
  • The leading nitrous oxide contributor is land application of manure and fertilizer for growing feed (corn).
  • Nitrous oxide has almost 15 times more the global warming potential as methane.
That scientific perspective, emphasizing smaller herd sizes and the value of grass, is overlooked in much industry communication. Industry communication instead boasts of past efficiency gains and promotes increased milk consumption for good nutrition.

The most cited piece of literature by industry dairy sustainability initiatives is from Dr. Jude Capper currently at Washington State University. “The Environmental Impact of Dairy Production: 1944 compared with 2007” published in The Journal of Animal Science found that the carbon footprint per billion kg of milk produced in 2007 was 37% of the equivalent milk production in 1944. It concludes:

"Contrary to the negative image often associated with “factory farms”, fulfilling the U.S. population’s requirement for dairy products while improving environmental stewardship can only be achieved by using modern agricultural techniques. The immediate challenge for the dairy industry is to actively communicate…the considerable potential for environmental mitigation yet to be gained through use of modern dairy production systems."

Jill Richardson at La Vida Locavore recently criticized Capper's research in her post "Junk Science Study Says Factory Farming is Better" for including Roger Cady, former Sustainability Lead Monsanto and now works for Elanco (the former and current owners of rBGH), on the team of researchers. Cady was criticized by Tom Phillpot at Grist for conflict of interest in research extolling the environmental benefits of rBGH.

Capper’s twitter name is “Lactolobbyist” and she describes herself as a “dairy scientist passionately spreading the word about reducing environmental impact through improved productive efficiency and use of biotechnology.”

The other most cited resource in the milk industry's sustainability literature is the USDA's 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends consumption of 3 cups per day of fat-free or low-fat milk or equivalent milk products. According to Open Secrets, the dairy industry spent $3.3 million on federal lobbying in 2006, with Dean Foods, the National Milk Producers Federation and the Dairy Foods Association topping the list of spenders. The Dietary Guideline Advisory committee in 2005 was heavily criticized for its ties to dairy.

Ironically, the ICUSD primer reveals two important pillars of sustainable agriculture: the importance of place and scale:
“Today, in many states where climate is conducive, roughly 50% of producers use pastures to meet some fraction of their herds’ dietary needs. Of these producers roughly half practice continuous grazing which, compared to intensive grazing, is a less efficient method of providing forage and of sequestering carbon.”
They note: “generally this includes dairies in the Midwest, Southeast, and New England regions. although the amount of a herd’s dietary needs that can be met by pasturage varies by climate, management practices, and site-specific constraints.”

But, this discussion of pasturing and Midwestern production overlooks the dairy industry's real home base -- industrial production in California and other places with water shortages. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, California ranks #1 in the U.S. in total dairy cows (1.7 million cows on 2,030 dairies) and #1 in total milk production (21% of U.S. milk supply). The average herd size is 850 milking cows, with 46 percent of all dairies over 500 head.

These cows are not raised on pasture. They are raised on dairy freestall and drylot housing (concrete) in Tulare County in the San Joaquin Valley with 1,685,257 of their closest friends. Tulare County and five counties in the central valley account for 49% of the total milk production in California. Tulare County alone accounts for 25% of California’s total milk production and has an average herd size of 1,300 head.

And they drink a lot of water (in the desert) - 20-50 gallons a day and create a lot of waste - approximately 120 pounds, or 14.475 gallons of manure a day per cow.

Even with mitigation with methane digesters, the industry is off the mark towards sustainability. A real commitment comes from decreasing consumption of dairy and producing milk in the way it was intended, through cows on pasture. Seems like nature's own supply and demand curve. Until we have the dairy industry's commitment to these tenets, I am not convinced that sustainability in dairy is possible.

From the ICUSD site:
"Ideally the dairy industry will chart our own course in sustainability." -Jed Davis, Cabot Creamery

Mitigation, Transparency, Financing

President Obama calls for action at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.


Good morning

It is an honor for me to join this distinguished group of leaders from the nations around the world. We come here in Copenhagen because climate change poses a grave and growing danger to our people. All of you would not be here unless you, like me, were convinced that this danger is real.

This is not fiction, it is science.

Unchecked , climate change will pose unacceptable risks to our security, our economies and our planet. This much we know. The question then before us is no longer the nature of the challenge. The question is our capacity to meet it.

For while the reality of climate change is not in doubt, I have to be honest as the world watches us today, I think our ability to take collective action is in doubt right now and it hangs in the balance. I believe we can act boldly and decisively in the face of a common threat.

That's why I come here today. Not to talk, but to act.


Now as the world's largest economy and as the world's second largest emitter, America bears our responsibility to address climate change. And we intend to meet that responsibility.

That's why we renewed our leadership within international climate change negotiations. That's why we've worked with other nations to phase out fossil fuels subsidies. That's why we've taken bold action at home by making historic investments in renewable energy by putting our people to work increasing efficiency in our homes and buildings, by pursuing comprehensive legislation to transform to a clean energy economy.

These mitigation actions are ambitious and we are taking them not simply to meet global responsibilities. We are convinced, as some of you may be convinced, that changing the way that we produce and consume energy is essential to America's economic future. That it will create millions of new jobs, power new industries, keep us competitive and spark new innovation.

We're convinced, for our own self interests, that the way we use energy changing it to a more efficient fashion is essential to our national security because it helps to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and helps us deal with some of the dangers posed by climate change. So I want this plenary session to understand, America is going to continue on this course of action to mitigate our emissions and to move to a clean energy economy no matter what happens here in Copenhagen.

We think it is good for us as well as good for the world. But we also believe we will all be stronger, all be safer, all be more secure if we act together. That's why it is in our mutual interests to achieve a global accord in which we agree to certain steps and hold each other accountable to certain commitments.

After months of talks, after two weeks of negotiations, after innumerable side meetings, bilateral meetings, endless hours of discussion among the negotiators, I believe the pieces of that accord should now be clear.

First, all major economies much put forward decisive national actions that will reduce their emissions and begin to turn the corner on climate change. I'm pleased that many of us have already done so. Almost all of the major economies have put forward legitimate targets, significant targets, ambitious targets. And I'm confident that America will fulfill the commitment that we have made. Cutting our emissions in the range of 17 percent by 2020 and by more 80 percent by 2050 in line with final legislation.

Second, we must have a mechanism to review whether we are keeping our commitments and exchange this information in a transparent manner. These measures need not be intrusive or infringe upon sovereignty. They must insure that an accord is credible and that we're living up to our mutual obligations. Without such accountability any agreement would be empty words on a page.

I don't know how you have an international agreement where we all are not sharing information and ensuring that we are meeting our commitments. That doesn't make sense. It would be a hollow victory.

Number three. We must have financing that helps developing countries adapt, particularly the least developed and most vulnerable countries to climate change.

America will be part of a fast start funding that will ramp up to ten billion dollars by 2012. And yesterday, Secretary Hillary Clinton, my Secretary of State made it clear that we will engage in a global effort to mobilize 100 billion dollars in financing by 2020. If, and only if, it is part of a broader accord that I've just described. Mitigation, transparency, financing. It's a clear formula once that embraces the principle of common, but differentiated responses and respective capabilities. And it adds up to a significant accord. One that takes us farther than we have ever gone before as an international community.

I just want to say to this plenary session that we are running short on time.

And at this point the question is "will we move forward together or split apart"? Whether we prefer posturing to actio . I'm sure that many consider this an imperfect framework that I just described.

No country will get everything that it wants. There are those developing countries that want aid with no strings attached and no obligations with respect to transparency. They think that the most advanced nations should pay a higher price. I understand that. There are those advanced nations who think that developing countries either cannot absorb this assistance or that will not be held accountable effectively. And that the world's fastest growing emitters should bear a greater share of the burden.

We know the fault lines because we've been imprisoned by them for years. These international discussions have essentially taken place now for almost two decades. And we have very little to show for it other than an increase, acceleration, of the climate change phenomena.

The time for talk is over. This is the bottom line. We can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, continue to refine it and build upon its foundation. We can do that and everyone who is in this room will be part an historic endeavor. One that makes life better for our children and our grandchildren or we can choose delay. Falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments, month after month, year after year, perhaps decade after decade, all while the danger of climate change grows until it is irreversible.

Ladies and gentlemen, there is no time to waste. America's made our choice. We have chartered our course. We have made our commitments. We will do what we say. Now I believe it's the time for the nations and the people of the world to come together behind a common purpose.

We are ready to get this done today. But there has to be movement on all sides to recognize that it is better for us to act than to talk. It's better for us to choose action over inaction, the future over the past and with courage and faith I believe we can meet our responsibilities to our people and the future of our planet. Thank you very much. (applause)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What You Can Do to End Corporate Concentration in the Food System! | US Working Group on the Food Crisis

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), will hold a series of public hearings around the country on anti-trust violations, i.e. corporate dominance, in food and agriculture, beginning in March. Numerous topics are being addressed, and they are encouraging members of the public to submit comments based on either personal experience, technical expertise, or even general concern about the dangers and problems of corporate dominance in the food system.

Before December 31st, send a letter to the US Department of Justice telling them about your experience of corporate concentration in the food system! Visit our pages on sample letters and letter ideas to get started.

Here are some themes to inspire your own thoughts. Take a look and then head here for some sample letters and an easy template to write your own! To learn more about the issue, check out our resources here.

• It's harder and harder to find healthy, locally produced foods in your community -- especially if you live in a low-income area, there might not be a supermarket for miles.

• Prices are rising at the supermarket, but you've heard that farmers are struggling -- and big food companies have made record profits this year.

• You feel like you don't have much choice about the food you eat -- maybe the produce selection is bad, or you don't like that everything seems to be made with corn products.

• It's hard for small food producers and processors to find markets for their products -- and it's hard for consumers to find products made by small producers.

Food seems less safe. You've read that the outbreak and spread of bacteria like E. coli happens much faster when meat and vegetables are processed in big centralized locations.

Local farms are going out of business, because small farmers can't compete with prices set by industrial farms and consolidated buyers.

There aren't many decent jobs in food and farming anymore -- there's a real lack of opportunities for both urban and rural youth who are interested in growing and preparing food.

What's in your food, anyway? And why aren't there decent labels telling you where it grew, what chemicals are on it, and if it's genetically modified?

• There is a "revolving door" of personnel between corporate lobbyists and government regulators. No wonder corporations aren't held to strict standards.

• Many rural communities have become ghost towns. The farmers that have survived often find themselves entirely at the mercy of corporations who own all parts of the supply chain (called "vertical integration") and can set prices in such a way to drive competitors out of business.

Just one company controls the majority of seeds in the US, and regularly threatens farmers who don't buy its seeds.

• Cows, chickens, and pigs are being raised in squalid conditions on huge industrial feedlots and pumped full of unnecessary antibiotics, which is unhealthy for them and potentially unsafe for the people eating them.

The food you can afford is bad for you; healthy food is expensive.

• Food is grown and raised in ways that are terrible for the environment, with methods that pollute the water, poison the soil, and threaten our long-term food security.

• A lot of food from the store just doesn't taste very good, which raises questions about where it’s come from and how it’s been treated.

Mad yet? Head here for an easy template for you to tell the Justice Department about your own experience. The Justice Department is specifically seeking comments and stories about how corporate control of the food system affects average citizens. Your comments will help to inform a series of hearings on the issue next year.

Your voice really matters.

To learn more about corporate consolidation in the food system, check out the resources here.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pouring on the Pounds

I just saw this video from NYC Health Department called "Pouring on the Pounds."

What do we think about this?

Pouring on the pounds

From the press release:

Last summer, the Health Department asked New Yorkers a bold question: Are you pouring on the pounds? The question – accompanied by an eye-catching image of a soft drink turning to blubber as it gushes into a tumbler – has appeared on subway posters, educational brochures and websites since the campaign started in August. Now comes the sequel – a cheeky Internet video that uses similar imagery to show how the empty calories in sugary beverages can add up. Over the course of a year, drinking one soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter, fostering obesity and contributing to health problems such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

Drinking fat

“Sugary drinks shouldn’t be a part of our everyday diets,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “This video is playful, but its message is serious. Sugar-sweetened beverages are fueling the obesity epidemic, and obesity is disabling millions of New Yorkers. If this campaign shifts habits even slightly, it could have real health benefits.”

The new video can be seen at The Health Department is also posting it on YouTube – – in the hope that people will share it with friends and relatives.

Americans now consume an average of 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 30 years ago. Nearly half of that increase comes from sugar-sweetened drinks which can pack as many as 16 teaspoons of sugar in a single 20-ounce bottle. The Health Department’s 2007 Community Health Survey found that more than 2 million New Yorkers drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage each day – adding as much as 250 empty calories to their diets.

I would say, since governments are charged with footing the bill for health (ultimately), that they should have a role. If they aren't going to regulate the food industry's advertising, they are going to come out with campaigns that are equally compelling.

This is disgusting, but may very well be effective.

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Why we left our farms to come to Copenhagen"

RP of Jill Richardson from La Vida Locavore-

Copenhagen starts today and it seems like everyone except for me is there. A number of small farmers from around the world have come to Copenhagen to represent their interests. Below is a speech by Henry Saragih of Via Campesina, on why they left their farms to come to Copenhagen.
Speech of Henry Saragih, general coordinator of Via Campesina
Opening of Klimaforum - Copenhagen Dec 7

Tonight is a very special night for us to get together here for the opening of the assembly of the social movements and civil society at the Klimaforum. We, the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, are coming to Copenhagen from all five corners of the world, leaving our farmland, our animals, our forest, and also our families in the hamlets and villages to join you all.

Why is it so important for us to come this far? There are a number of reasons for that. Firstly, we would like to tell you that climate change is already seriously impacting us. It brings floods, droughts and the outbreak of pests that are all causing harvest failures. I must point out that these harvest failures are something that the farmers did not create. Instead, it is the polluters who caused the emissions who destroy the natural cycles. So, we small scale farmers came here to say that we will not pay for their mistakes. And we are asking the emitters to face up to their responsibilities.

Secondly, I would like to share with you some facts about who the emitters of green house gases in agriculture really are: new data that has come out clearly shows that industrial agriculture and the globalized food system are responsible of between 44 and 57% of total global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure can be broken down as follows (i) Agricultural activities are responsible for 11 to 15%, (ii) Land clearing and deforestation cause an additional 15 to 18%, (iii) Food processing, packing and transportation cause 15 to 20%, and (iv) Decomposition of organic waste causes another 3 to 4%. It means that our current food system is a major polluter.

The question we have to answer now is: how do we solve the climate chaos, hunger and assure a better livelihood for farmers, when the agricultural sector itself is contributing more than half of the total emissions? We believe that it is the industrial and agribusiness model of agriculture that is at the root of the problem, because those percentages that I mentioned earlier come from the deforestation and the conversion of natural forests into monoculture plantations, all of which is being carried out by Agribusiness Corporations. Not by familly farmers. Such large emissions of methane by agriculture are also due to the use of urea as a petrochemical fertilizer through the green revolution, very much supported by the World Bank. At the same time, agricultural trade liberalization promoted by free trade agreements (FTA) and by the World Trade Organization (WTO) is contributing to the greenhouse gases emissions due to food processing and food transportation around the world.

If we genuinely want to tackle the climate change crisis, the only way we have to go forward is to stop industrial agriculture. Agribusiness has not only highly contributed to the climate crisis, it has also massacred the small farmers of the world. Millions of farmers , men and women from around the world, have been kicked off their land. Millions of others suffer violence every year because of land conflicts in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Small farmers and landless farmers make up the majority of the more than 1 billion hungry people in the world. And because of free trade, many small farmers commit suicide in South Asia. So putting an end to industrial agriculture is the only way we can go.

Will the current climate negotiations, that are relying on carbon trade mechanisms, bring solutions to climate change? To this we say that carbon trade mechanisms will only serve polluting countries and companies, and bring disaster to small farmers and indigenous peoples in developing countries. The REDD initiative (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) has already kicked off their land many indigenous peoples and small farmers in developing countries. And more and more agricultural land is being converted into tree plantations in order to attract carbon credits.

At COP 13 in Bali 2007, La Via Campesina proposed the landless farmers' and small farmers' solution to climate change, which is: "small scale sustainable farmers are cooling down the earth". And here, at COP 15, again we bring that proposal, backing it with the figures that prove that it could reduce more than half of the global greenhouse gas emissions. This figure comes from: (I) Recuperating organic matter in the soil would reduce emissions by 20 to 35%. (ii) Reversing the concentration of meat production in factory farms and reintegrating joint animal and crop production would reduce them by 5 to 9% (iii) Putting local markets and fresh food back at the center of the food system would reduce a further 10 to 12%. (iv) Halting land clearing and deforestation would stop 15 to 18% of emissions. In short, by taking agriculture away from the big agribusiness corporations and putting it back into the hands of small farmers, we can reduce half of the global emissions of greenhouse gases. This is what we propose, and we call it Food Sovereignty.

And to achieve that we need social movements to work together and struggle together to put an end to the current false solutions that are today on the table at the climate negotiations. This is a must, otherwise we will face an even bigger tragedy worldwide. We, as social movements, have to bring our own agenda onto the table, because we are the first climate victims and climate refugees and therefore climate justice is in our hands.

At the FAO Food Summit in 1996, governments committed themselves to reduce hunger by half by 2015. The reality is that the number of hungry people has recently increased dramatically. We do not want the same thing to happen with the climate talks and see the emissions increase even further regardless of what the governments negotiate within the UNFCCC.

We invite all the movements present in Copenhagen to join together to bring climate justice to the table. Climate justice will only be achieved through solidarity and social justice.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Story of Cap and Trade

The Story of Cap & Trade is a fast-paced, fact-filled look at the leading climate solution being discussed at Copenhagen and on Capitol Hill. Host Annie Leonard introduces the energy traders and Wall Street financiers at the heart of this scheme and reveals the "devils in the details" in current cap and trade proposals: free permits to big polluters, fake offsets and distraction from what’s really required to tackle the climate crisis. If you’ve heard about cap and trade, but aren’t sure how it works (or who benefits), this is the film is for you.

See it here:

The Story of Cap and Trade

'Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation'

Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency.

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have got left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between east and west. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.

Few believe that Copenhagen can any longer produce a fully polished treaty; real progress towards one could only begin with the arrival of President Obama in the White House and the reversal of years of US obstructionism. Even now the world finds itself at the mercy of American domestic politics, for the president cannot fully commit to the action required until the US Congress has done so.

But the politicians in Copenhagen can and must agree the essential elements of a fair and effective deal and, crucially, a firm timetable for turning it into a treaty. Next June's UN climate meeting in Bonn should be their deadline. As one negotiator put it: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay."

At the deal's heart must be a settlement between the rich world and the developing world covering how the burden of fighting climate change will be divided — and how we will share a newly precious resource: the trillion or so tonnes of carbon that we can emit before the mercury rises to dangerous levels.

Rich nations like to point to the arithmetic truth that there can be no solution until developing giants such as China take more radical steps than they have so far. But the rich world is responsible for most of the accumulated carbon in the atmosphere – three-quarters of all carbon dioxide emitted since 1850. It must now take a lead, and every developed country must commit to deep cuts which will reduce their emissions within a decade to very substantially less than their 1990 level.

Developing countries can point out they did not cause the bulk of the problem, and also that the poorest regions of the world will be hardest hit. But they will increasingly contribute to warming, and must thus pledge meaningful and quantifiable action of their own. Though both fell short of what some had hoped for, the recent commitments to emissions targets by the world's biggest polluters, the United States and China, were important steps in the right direction.

Social justice demands that the industrialised world digs deep into its pockets and pledges cash to help poorer countries adapt to climate change, and clean technologies to enable them to grow economically without growing their emissions. The architecture of a future treaty must also be pinned down – with rigorous multilateral monitoring, fair rewards for protecting forests, and the credible assessment of "exported emissions" so that the burden can eventually be more equitably shared between those who produce polluting products and those who consume them. And fairness requires that the burden placed on individual developed countries should take into account their ability to bear it; for instance newer EU members, often much poorer than "old Europe", must not suffer more than their richer partners.

The transformation will be costly, but many times less than the bill for bailing out global finance — and far less costly than the consequences of doing nothing.

Many of us, particularly in the developed world, will have to change our lifestyles. The era of flights that cost less than the taxi ride to the airport is drawing to a close. We will have to shop, eat and travel more intelligently. We will have to pay more for our energy, and use less of it.

But the shift to a low-carbon society holds out the prospect of more opportunity than sacrifice. Already some countries have recognized that embracing the transformation can bring growth, jobs and better quality lives. The flow of capital tells its own story: last year for the first time more was invested in renewable forms of energy than producing electricity from fossil fuels.

Kicking our carbon habit within a few short decades will require a feat of engineering and innovation to match anything in our history. But whereas putting a man on the moon or splitting the atom were born of conflict and competition, the coming carbon race must be driven by a collaborative effort to achieve collective salvation.

Overcoming climate change will take a triumph of optimism over pessimism, of vision over short-sightedness, of what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature".

It is in that spirit that 56 newspapers from around the world have united behind this editorial. If we, with such different national and political perspectives, can agree on what must be done then surely our leaders can too.

The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it. We implore them to make the right choice.

This editorial will be published tomorrow by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages including Chinese, Arabic and Russian. The text was drafted by a Guardian team during more than a month of consultations with editors from more than 20 of the papers involved. Like the Guardian most of the newspapers have taken the unusual step of featuring the editorial on their front page.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

EPA Orders Employees to Remove YouTube Climate Video

Re-posted from Twighlight Earth.

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two of its attorneys to remove a video they posted on YouTube about problems with climate change legislation.

The couple had received clearance for posting the video but EPA took issue with its content following publication of an op-ed piece by the two in The Washington Post on October 31.

On November 5, 2009, EPA ethics officials ordered the two veteran employees to –

  • “Remove your climate change video from You Tube by the close of business on Friday, November 6, 2009″;
  • “Edit your You Tube video…by:
    • Removing the language starting at 1:06 min – ‘Our opinions are based on
      more than 20 years each working as attorneys at the U.S. Environmental
      Protection Agency in the San Francisco Regional Office.’
    • Removing the images of EPA’s building starting at 1:06 min…
    • Remove [sic] the language starting at 6:30 min – ‘In my work at EPA,
      I’ve been overseeing California’s cap-and-trade and offset programs for
      more than 20 years.’”
  • “All future requests for approval of an outside writing activity must be accompanied by a
    draft of the document that is the subject of the approval request…”
“EPA is abusing ethics rules to gag two conscientious employees who have every right to speak out as citizens,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who has re-posted the original video and its script. “EPA reversed itself because someone in headquarters had a tantrum about their Washington Post essay.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Food waste - to - energy

This is a great way to close the cycle! San Francisco area utility turns food waste into green energy. My friend Andy Sarjahani did a fabulous presentation at the American Dietetic Association Food and Nutrition Conference on Food Waste. Glad to see San Francisco take the lead. Now, if I could just get my neighborhood to learn how to recycle an the city to pick it up consistently. Argh.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Abused calves at Vermont veal slaughterhouse

Not for the faint at heart. USDA ordered this plant to close this week. Thank God.

Issue 2 in Ohio - Livestock Care Standards

I couldn't let the day go by without blogging on Issue 2 voting going on Ohio. Today marks a huge change to the Ohio constitution that will create a 13-member Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board for the purpose of establishing standards governing the care of livestock and poultry. While this sounds like a great idea, the "board" will be comprised of

thirteen Ohio residents including representatives of Ohio family farms, farming organizations, food safety experts, veterinarians, consumers, the dean of the agriculture department at an Ohio college or university and a county humane society representative,

1o of whom are chosen by the Governor, and the others appointed by other government officials. Those who understand the political clout of "big agriculture" know where this is headed. The move is said to be the largest "power grab" by special interests to control the way animals are produced since, well, rBGH.

The establishment has pulled out all of the stops to get the votes: good for the economy, good for the food supply, good for safe fact "Safe Local Ohio Food" is the industry sponsored (Ohioan's for Livestock Care) propaganda page which has done a great job of studying "green", "progressive", and "good food" websites. The bottom line: big agriculture business in Ohio wants business as usual and right now, it feels a real threat to their bottom line. Seven states—Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Maine, Michigan, and Oregon—have banned the use of inhumane confinement devices for farm animals. Ohio is trying to set a precedent before they are next.

Here are the Humane Society of the United States Six Reasons to Vote No on Issue 2.

Here are the Ohioan's for Livestock Care Seven Reasons to Vote Yes on Issue 2.

Here is Progressive Ohio's standpoint.

It's heating up in Ohio. I will be listening to AgriTalk radio today to hear the results, as well as monitoring Ballot-opedia -- my new favorite site!


As of 8:45 PM EST Issue 2 was leading with 69% of the votes tallied.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Friedman Sprout

The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (my school) at Tufts University has published their (our) inaugural issue of The Friedman Sprout student newspaper.

The theme is surviving finals, but there are other interesting articles. I contributed in the Kathleen's Korner Column, highlighting the news of Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan, as well as an Opt-ed -- "Why isn't nutrition part of the healthcare debate?"

Other columns include recipes, restaurant reviews, alumi spotlights, and tips on health and wellness.

To subscribe to the monthly paper email "subscribe" to

Pepsi Raw

Thanks to my friend Chuck for sending me Pepsi's new shenanigans. Pepsi Raw is the new trial run of products by the muliti-national corporation Pepsi.

I am a little unsure about the target audience: the health conscious? the elite? the gullible?
This is cola made with sparkling water and naturally sourced ingredients. That means no artificial flavours, sweeteners, preservatives, or colours.

With its lighter sparkle and unique ingredients such as apple and natural plant extracts, it has a cleaner, fresher taste that’s not only great on its own, but also makes a fantastic mixer. So if you’re someone who appreciates premium spirits, RAW is the perfect accompaniment as it allows the individual flavour of the spirit to cut through.
I am a little unsure what "naturally sourced ingredients" means. So they may be derived from plants, but what is the relevance?

The ingredients:
Sparkling water (bubbles) --no sure the difference between carbonated water, but okay.
Cane Sugar (sugar cane) -- HFCS, but I laugh that sugar is now being hustled as a marketable choice. I would be interested to know where they get their sugar from. (A 2004 report by WWF, titled “Sugar and the Environment,” shows that sugar may be responsible for more biodiversity loss than any other crop, due to its destruction of habitat to make way for plantations, its intensive use of water for irrigation, its heavy use of agricultural chemicals, and the polluted wastewater that is routinely discharged in the sugar production process.)
Apple extract -- fruit serving? does it count?
Colour- (plain caramel) derived from sugar thanks to the Malliard effect-- emphasis on "plain" ?
Natural Plant Extracts -- including natural caffeine, kola nut extract (from the rain forest in Africa)
TarTaric Acid (bunch of grapes), citric and lactic acid -- what's soda without some acid!?
Gum Arabic- Acacia tree branch & Xanthan gum -- how exotic.

And you have a "Natural Born Cola," and I have a headache.

Where the buffalo roamed - McDonald's settled

I like this article Where The Buffalo Roamed « Weather Sealed, where the author describes the monstrosity of the strip mall. I joke that urban sprawl is where they cut all the trees down and name streets after them-- Oak Ridge Road, Pine top Street, Sycamore Hallow Cove etc, which is only part of the disgust.

As a person who studies food policy, access, and security this map by Steven Von Worley was affective. The nation is discussing health care reform. Could we possibly look at the built environment as part of the problem. Is this many McDonald's really necessary? What if all of these lights were farmers markets?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Community Food Security Coalition conference recap

Iowa welcomed hundreds of Sustainable Food Aggies to the midwest this week for theCommunity Food Security Coalition's annual conference: From Commodity to Community: Food Politics and Projects in the Heartland. I arrived in Des Moines on Thursday night and was humbled by the friendliness and hospitality of the Iowan people. I'm sure others can join me and thanking them for volunteering, organizing, and hosting.

The conference kicked off Saturday with a gathering of local and state food policy councils:From People Power to Public Policy. Wayne Robert's of the Toronto Food Policy equated the issues facing communities to a rubric's cube: you don't solve the puzzle by looking at one side. This theme continued throughout the weekend. Further, food system development can be used as the driver in solving economic, safety, beautification, waste, health, community involvement, tax laws, etc and interdisciplinary design of these councils has the capacity to make it a reality. He finished with a powerful blessing by poet E. E. Cummings.

While folks attended the council meeting, others were out exploring the rich cultural and agricultural offerings that only Iowa can offer. A surprise snow storm did not deter bikers from taking their Urban Food Initiative tour. Other tours included visiting a grass-based dairy farm with on-farm processing, Marshalltown: the site of recent immigration raids on a local processing plant, a hog confinement facility, the Iowa Food Bank, Pioneer Seed Company- “world’s largest developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics,” a variety of agri-tourism sites, and even Iowan wineries. From the Farmers Tell it Like it is tour- Andrew Kang Bartlett provides a video of his experience on George Naylor's farm, as he discusses the three main reasons why family farming is being destroyed and how the system encourages GM corn and soybean production.

The next few days were spent in morning plenaries before breaking off into smaller workshops to share knowledge, stories, strategies and camaraderie. The breadth of topics touched on all aspects of the food system- production, distribution, farm to school, farmers markets, urban agriculture, value added products, reducing waste, hunger and feeding programs, food justice issues, farm workers rights, environmental impacts, health care discussion, utilizing media and marketing, changing policy, and building community. The sessions provided practical and applicable advice for community leaders, farmers, consumers, academics, dietitians and government agencies to bring home and put into practice. I spoke on a panel with Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center and Sarah Hackney from Gorge Grown Food Network on the utilization of local foods as a means to economic recovery. I presented some of the research and opportunities that I compiled this summer for my internship for Farm Aid and shared their commitment to family farms as the means to revitalizing the food system.

The first day, Wayne had asked us to keep track of our "ah ha" moments: moments when a conversation, statistic, challenge, or question spurred connection or understanding that was not clear before. My "ah ha" moments:

1. During Kirsten Simmon of the Michigan Food Policy Council session, I was intrigued by the systemic impacts that the council are having on governmental agencies. For example: recommendations by the Michigan task force led to the Department of Corrections aiming to purchase 5% of their procurement from Michigan farmers over 3 to 5 years. Other agencies that are being mobilized by councils are waste, health, transportation and safety.

2. During a session moderated by Molly Anderson of Food Systems Integrity, I learned a new perspective on the 'right to food' debate. Brewster Kneen or Ram's Horn and Marc Cohen ofOxfam identified the main arguments for a rights-based approach to food security in the US. I learned that holders of rights over the food insecure are ensured by their own rights to maintain personal food security. Further, the US Constitution has civil and political rights, but not human rights. This may be part of the difficulty in passing a healthcare bill based on the right to care.

3. Finally, I came out with a new perspective, strategy, and passion for connecting food and agriculture issues with public health and climate change. Rebecca Klien and Anne Palmer of Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future and RD's Sue Roberts and Fern Gale Estrow shared their experiences using a lens of public health to transform food and agriculture policy. We talked a lot about work taking place in silos. A follow up session led by Steph Larson, of the Center of Rural Affairs; David Wallinga of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; and Christa Essig of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention solidified the inherent connection between environmental changes on health and the importance of preventative care, which is currently not part of the national health care debate. As Wallinga said, "we can not afford any more cheap food." What about the way agriculture effects health- MRSA, asthma, pesticides, hormones? What about the effect that agriculture has on global warming (a third to a fifth of green house gases come from agriculture). Climate change will have intense impacts on health- increasing allergies and asthma, water contamination, infectious disease and make it increasingly difficult to produce food. We should demand our health care debate be about more than insurance and actually be about health.

For me, the whole conference was an "ah ha" moment. I am so grateful to have shared my time and experiences with such amazing people. The Good Food Movement is alive and is centered core human values and the ability of community to make change. I want to specifically thank my HEN consortium that have supported, guided, and continually inspired me in field of study that has the potential to change the world. Specifically I want to dedicate this post to Angie Tagtow and Mary Jo Forbord.

I will share a post on the Food Sovereignty Prize winner, a panel discussion with 1995 Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Hans Herren, as well as the guest appearance of Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in coming posts.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

USDA discussion live on Facebook

USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan will hold a Live Facebook Chat about local food systems on Thursday, October 1 at 3:45 pm ET. Comments and questions can be submitted via the USDA Facebook page.

The discussion is a part of the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative launched in early September. According to the website:
USDA-wide effort to create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with local producers. It is also the start of a national conversation about the importance of understanding where your food comes from and how it gets to your plate. Today, there is too much distance between the average American and their farmer and we are marshalling resources from across USDA to help create the link between local production and local consumption.
As a former student of Kathleen, I am reminded of something she told us in her policy class: "think big!" She is dedicated to the "People's Department" being just that, and this is her way of including all in the conversation.

Friday, September 4, 2009

ADA publishes benefits of organic talking points

In July, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition(AJCN) published a meta-analysis on the nutritional quality of organic versus conventional food creating a stir in the media. This month, the American Dietetic Association(ADA) has published a 'Hot Topic' which takes a more holistic approach to the benefits of organic food. According to ADA, 'Hot Topics' are "short, concise practice and science-based answers to current questions Registered Dietitians(RD) may receive."

The 'Hot Topic' was co-authored by Christine McCullum-Gomez, PhD, RD and Anne-Marie Scott of the Hunger and Environmental Nutrition(HEN) Dietetic Practice Group(DPG) of ADA. In their review they challenge the AJCN study for "not examining differences in contaminants (such as pesticide, herbicide or fungicide residues) or the possible environmental consequences of organic versus conventional production practices." Further, the authors claim there are benefits to organic beyond human nutrition.
When considering benefits and costs of organic versus conventional agricultural production, it is important to consider benefits and costs to consumers, farmers, communities and the environment. For example, current research in numerous areas is showing both short-and long-term benefits to our population and the planet with organic and other sustainable production systems. Documented environmental benefits of organic production systems include reduced nutrient pollution, improved soil organic matter, lower energy use, reduced pesticide
residues in food and water and enhanced biodiversity.
It is refreshing to see the ADA not taking their traditionally myopic approach.
The challenge for our field(dietetics) is to understand exactly how foods and food products are grown and manufactured and the effects these methods may have on our personal health and the health of the global environment.
Disclosure: I am a HEN member. HEN is currently the fastest growing DPG of the ADA. (phew..a lot of acronyms)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Foodie's Guide to SXSW Panel Picking

Babette's Feast, the official blog of, has blogged: A Foodie's Guide to SXSW Panel Picking.

She has made an extensive list of the food related panels. I appreciate being included in her list!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Blogs, Tweets & Movies: Fueling the Good Food Movement at SXSW

I am really excited to say that my panel: Blogs, Tweets & Movies: Fueling the Good Food Movement is being considered for the 2010 South by South West (SXSW) Interactive Festival. (see below for details). If I get picked they will have me design and pick the panelist!

How can you help? Well, I am really glad you asked!
1. Go vote for me at: the 2010 Panel Picker Site
To find my panel at this site just search the title or my name: Ashley Colpaart (it has 2 a's)

2. Could you send this link to everyone you know that may be interested in this topic? It would be greatly appreciated!

Here is my panel description:
The Good Food Movement is using twitter, blogging, newspapers, movies and other creative forms of media to fuel changes in the way we eat and produce our food. Individually and globally, it is the cornerstone issue that connects people, the environment, health and energy. Can highlight: Meatless Monday, Food Inc., Fresh, Free Range Media, Berkshares, CSA/farmers markets/farm to school

And my content ideas:
  1. food policy blogging
  2. sustainable agriculture education
  3. approaches to access of food, innercity gardens
  4. using video/media for education
  5. alternative investment and economic models
  6. meatless monday campaign
  7. Veggie trader to connect homegrown food with people
  8. CSA, CS-fish, CSmeat
  9. linking farmers with supply chains

Monday, August 10, 2009

Food and agriculture shows hit the radiowaves

A few radio shows have emerged lately on topics related to the good food movement and sustainable agriculture. I thought I would share some of my favorites:

First, fellow Registered Dietitian, and friend, Melinda Hemmelgarn has started a weekly 1/2 radio program – taped interviews with innovative, insightful and interesting guests who will help listeners "think beyond their plates" and connect the dots between food, health and agriculture.

The show airs on Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. Central and you can listen live on line at: or listen to podcasts as they're posted. KOPN is a 35-year-and-still-going-strong community–owned, volunteer-run radio station – Free press at its finest with NO commercials.

Secondly, as previously posted, Tuft's very own Jessica Ilyse Smith is a producer and journalist for the Public Radio International show, Living on Earth. Though the show is not entirely focused on sustainable food, she covers food issues as much as possible. Some topics she has covered include food deserts and the pros and cons of GE corn ethanol. Tuft's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy also has it's own Internet Radio Program that Jessica contributed to along with our own blog contributer Aliza Wasserman.

Third, Heritage Radio Network(HRN) is "a cutting edge internet-based radio station designed to protect and advance our country’s rich cultural roots in the form of interviews, reflections, musings and ramblings from America’s leading farmers, food mavericks, filmmakers, artists and tastemakers. The live radio shows are then uploaded onto where content is archived into audio bits and pieces and searchable by keywords or phrases. This is an unprecedented venue for future historians who want to research their past, our present."

HRN has plenty of shows and topics to choose from. Some of my favorite shows:

  • Edible Communities Hosted by: Kate Manchester, Marla Camp and Deborah Schapiro Celebrating the abundance of local foods, season by season.
  • Heritage Farm Report Hosted by: Heather Hyman and Lorenzo Ragionieri A day in the life of a Heritage Farmer. America's leading farmers discuss the history of their land, avant-garde farming techniques, and farming how-to's.
  • Greenhorn Radio Hosted by: Severine von Tscharner Fleming Greenhorn Radio: Radio For Young Farmers, By Young Farmers. Acclaimed activist, farmer, and documentarian Severine Fleming surveys America's cutting edge, under-forty farmers.

Fourth, The National Center for Appropriate Technology's Sustainable Agriculture Spotlight is a weekly Internet radio show. The show covers a wide range of topics on sustainable agriculture, including on-farm production of biodiesel, integrated pest management, growing crops for farmers' markets, organic crop certification and federal farm policy. Each week host Jeff Birkby, ATTRA outreach directory, interviews regional and national experts. The show airs live Thursdays at 10 a.m. Pacific Time on the Green Talk Network. Archives are listed 24 hours after the show.

Last, but not least, is my new favorite guilty pleasure: Agritalk Radio: The Voice of Rural America. I download Agritalk as a podcast and listen to it on the way to school. The show is hosted by Mike Adams and helps us "agricultural intellectuals" understand issues important to American farmers. There is a ton of policy discussion and guest interviews from many representatives who sit on agricultural committees. Scattered throughout the show are commercials from our favorite big agricultural corporations, Checkoff programs and the AdCouncil. My favorite episode is the June 2nd show: The Growth of Small Farms with guest Agricultural Economist, John Ikerd.

Happy listening!

Friday, July 17, 2009

American's against food taxes

Would these Americans be willing to pay the true cost of food? Food from unsubsidized corn and soy and including the externalities of the health care costs and environmental damage?

They certainly are willing to spend money of TV ads. This one makes me want to go camping with some Big Red.

Note the coalition members:

Coalition Members 7-Eleven, Inc.
Advantage Vending Equipment
Alabama Beverage Association
Alabama Grocers Association
Alcan Packaging
Allen Beverages, Inc.
American Advertising Federation
American Beverage Association
Americans for Prosperity
Arizona Beverage Association
Arkansas Beverage Association
Arkansas Grocers and Retail Merchants Association
Bernick’s Beverages and Vending
Beverage Association of Mississippi
Beverage Association of Tennessee
Beverage Association of Vermont
Beverage Truck & Trailer, LLC
Brinker International
C. C. Clark, Inc.
California-Nevada Soft Drink Association
Can Manufacturers Institute
Canada Dry Bottling Co. of New York
Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.
Carolinas Food Industry Council
Chesterman Company
Clark Beverage Group
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. High Country
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. United, Inc.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Fort Wayne, IN
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Minden, Inc.
Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Winona, MN
Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Inc.
Coca-Cola Company, The
Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc.
Colorado Beverage Association
Colorado Retail Council
Connecticut Food Association
Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Inc.
Corn Refiners Association
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Cowan Systems, LLC
Coyote Bait & Tackle
Darden Restaurants, Inc.
Domino’s Pizza
Dr Pepper Bottling Company of Dublin
Dr Pepper-Royal Crown Bottling Co.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Enterprise Leasing Company of Georgia
Entravision Communications
First Choice Vending
Florida Beverage Association
Florida Maritime Leadership Coalition
Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
Food Industry Association Executives
Food Marketing Institute
G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers
Georgia Agribusiness Council
Georgia Association of Convenience Stores
Georgia Beverage Association
Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Georgia Food Industry Association
Georgia Retail Association
Georgia Restaurant Association
Global Closure Systems OBRIST Americas
Graphic Packaging International, Inc.
Great Dane Trailers
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Hispanic Media Council
Hoosier Beverage Association
Idaho Soft Drink Association
Illinois Beverage Association
Illinois Food Retailers Association
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
Independent Buyers’ Co-op
Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association
Indiana Restaurant Association
Institute for Liberty
International Dairy Foods Association
International Dairy Queen, Inc.
Iowa Beverage Association
Kansas Beverage Association
Kansas Restaurant and Hospitality Association
Kentucky Beverage Association
Kwik Trip, Inc.
L & E Bottling Company
Lakeside Pepsi-Cola
Lancer Corporation
LinPepCo Partnership
Louisiana Beverage Association
Louisiana Retailers Association
Mack II, Inc.
Maine Beverage Association
Maine Restaurant Association
Maryland Retailers Association
MD/DC/DE Beverage Association
Massachusetts Beverage Association
MeadWestvaco Corporation
MEI, Inc.
Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Co.
Mexican American Grocers Association
Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Michigan Food and Beverage Association
Michigan Grocers Association
Michigan Soft Drink Association
Mid-Wisconsin Beverage, Inc.
Minges Bottling Group
Minnesota Beverage Association
Minnesota Grocers Association
Mississippi Automatic Merchandising Association
Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association
Missouri Beverage Association
Missouri Retailers Association
Montana Beverage Association
National Association of Convenience Stores
National Association of Manufacturers
National Association of Theater Owners
National Automatic Merchandising Association
National Confectioners Association
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Grocers Association
National Restaurant Association
National Supermarket Association
National Taxpayers Union
Neighborhood Market Association
Nebraska Beverage Association
Nebraska Retail Federation
Nei Bottling Group, Inc.
New Hampshire Grocers Association
New Hampshire Soft Drink Association
New Jersey Food Council
New Mexico Beverage Association
North Carolina Beverage Association
North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association
North Carolina Retail Merchants Association
North Dakota Grocers Association
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Ohio Council of Retail Merchants
Ohio Grocers Association
Ohio Restaurant Association
Ohio Soft Drink Association
Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative
Oregon Soft Drink Association
Original Roadhouse Grill
Pace Global Energy Services
Pennsylvania Beverage Association
Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association
Pennsylvania Restaurant Association
Pepsi Bottling Group
Pepsi Bottling Ventures
PepsiAmericas, Inc.
PepsiCo, Inc.
Pepsi-Cola & National Brand Beverages
Pepsi-Cola of Florence, LLC
Pepsi-Cola of Rochester, MN
Pepsi-Cola Bottlers Association
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Central VA
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Hastings
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Hickory, NC
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of LaCrosse
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Logansport
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of New York
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Pipestone, MN
Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of Roxboro, NC
Pepsi-Cola Decatur, LLC
Pepsi-Cola Dr Pepper Bottling Co.
Pepsi-Cola of Northeast Wisconsin
Quail Mountain, Inc.
Quality Retail Services, Inc.
Rehrig Pacific Company
Retail Merchants of Hawaii
Rexam, Inc.
Rhode Island Beverage Association
Ron’s Towing, Inc.
SandenVendo America, Inc.
Seneca Wholesale Co., Inc.
Sherm’s Thunderbird Markets, Inc.
Snack Food Association
South Carolina Beverage Association
South Dakota Beverage Association
Streva Distributing Co. of New Iberia, Inc.
Sun Drop Bottling Co.
Swire Coca-Cola
Temple Bottling Company
Tennessee Grocers and Convenience Store Association
Texas Beverage Association
Texas Grocery and Convenience Association
Texas Roadhouse
Towerwall, Inc.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Utah Beverage Association
Varsity Beverage
Venmart, Inc.
Vermont Grocers’ Association
Virginia Beverage Association
Virginia Chamber of Commerce
Vitro Packaging, LLC
Walton Beverage Company
West Virginia Beverage Association
West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association
Western Kentucky Coca-Cola Bottling Co., Inc.
Wilson Corporation
Wisconsin Beverage Association
Wisconsin Grocers Association
Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
Wisconsin Restaurant Association
WP Beverages, LLC
Wyoming Beverage Association
Yum! Brands, Inc.

KOPN Food Sleuth: Investigative nutrition

One of my favorite RD's bringing the truth about food to the American public is Melinda Hemmelgarn.

Her new radio show is available online and she has already had some great guest like Roger Dorion, Founding Director Kitchen Gardeners International, Robyn O'Brien author of The Unhealthy Truth and Julie Fischer on the Missouri CAFO issues.

Melinda Hemmelgarn is a registered dietitian, newspaper columnist, and freelance writer and speaker. She has written her trademarked weekly "Food Sleuth" column for the Columbia Daily Tribune since 1989, and it now appears in a variety of publications nationwide. The "Food Sleuth" mission is to "digest" nutrition research, expose diet fraud and help consumers think beyond their plates.

Melinda's launch into media work began when she learned that most consumers receive their nutrition and health information through the media. She developed (and for 15 years directed) the Nutrition Communications Center at the University of Missouri, where she wrote a nationally distributed newsletter, conducted hundreds of media interviews annually, and instructed dietetic and science journalism students.

Motivated by escalating childhood obesity rates and the inability to effect significant change through traditional nutrition education strategies, Melinda turned her attention to food marketing, advertising directed towards youth, and children's "media diets." She joined the Alliance for a Media Literate America in 2001 and has been conducting national workshops blending media literacy with nutrition education ever since.

Melinda is a member of the American Dietetic Association's Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group, the Society for Nutrition Education, and the Missouri Association for Social Welfare's Hunger Task Force. She is also a new member of the Association for Health Care Journalists, and an affiliate member of the University of Missouri's Center for Health Policy.

Melinda describes herself as a "change-agent," working to improve public health and create a more just and sustainable food system.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Women's health through women

This blogpost is participating in a Registered Dietitian Bloggerfest. Please check back daily and use the links below to read other RD's posts on Woman's Health. This post is dedicated to women coming together is special ways make the world a better place.

Last night I attended my first meeting with The Pleiades, a network of women working for a sustainable world. According to Wikipedia:
the Pleiades, or seven sisters, are an open star cluster in the constellation of Taurus. It is among the nearest star clusters to Earth and is the cluster most obvious to the naked eye in the night sky. Pleiades has several meanings in different cultures and traditions.
The mission of our group, Pleiades, is to "create a network of leading women thinkers to be an inspirational force within the sustainability movement. Leveraging the talents of its diverse members, Pleiades provides strategic partnerships and educational initiatives that empower the role of women in restoring balance in our lives, our communities, and the natural world."

The group was the brain child of Kathleen Frith, Assistant Director of Harvard's Center for Health and the Global Environment that stemmed from an idea she had in her early 20's. Our first meeting was held at member Ana Sortun's Sofra Bakery and Cafe in Cambridge. We enjoyed delectable yet simple, healthy food made of conscientious ingredients and tasted some organic and biodynamic wines. While this seems like the typical "Slowfoodie" event often criticized for being elitist, a fly on the wall would argue that the conversation had this evening was far from elitist.

A round of introductions revealed accomplished writers, activists, scientists, mothers, health care providers, farmers, teachers, artists, environmentalists, all of course, women. I was humbled to be surrounded by such agents of change.

After we enjoyed some nourishment, we moved on to a discussion. Dr. Molly Kile, a research fellow and epidemiologist in the Department of Environmental Health shared her experience in Bangladesh. In the 70's Bangladesh had a Cholera outbreak that was being perpetuated by the people's use of surface water. The international community came together to help fund water pumps that would give the people access to ground water and help control the epidemics. What is saddening is now Bangladesh faces arsenic exposure at daunting levels. It is disheartening to attempt to solve one problem, only to unavoidably create another.

Molly went on to share her story of her recent visit to Uganda, a nation of 30 million people, which according to the World Health Organization had an estimated 10.6 million cases of malaria in 2006. The estimated 70,000 to 110,000 deaths a year seriously hampers economic development. Molly's descriptions of suffering was difficult to hear. Having worked in extreme poverty, she said that regardless, you can never prepare yourself.

What is interesting about this story, and so conflicting to Molly, is that Uganda is being pushed to spray the infamous insecticide DDT to control the mosquito populations. Since the publishing of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, DDT has been banned from the US for its serious wildlife and habitat destruction. While this isn't the only approach, unfortunately things come down to the price, and DDT is cheap and effective. Molly's memory of stepping over dying children conflicts with her knowledge of the repercussions of using DDT and is sympathetically felt.Those who understand sustainability know that trying to solve the malaria problem with DDT only leads us down a path of more complex issues. What seems a silver bullet is actually a shotshell, causing unapproachable damage.

Our conversation turned to some very difficult questions. What is out of balance in the system? How can balance be restored? How does population and population control play a role? How do we address issues culturally? Why is money alway at the root? What can I do?

As the intensity of the conversation began to lighten, Kathleen brought us full circle to answer the question, "What can I do?" Having just spent a couple hours hearing a story, asking questions and discussing what is often difficult to discuss, we had achieved a part of Kathleen's vision for the Pleiades: to learn from and support each other. Through one person's account we all knew a bit more about our world and our place in it. What is interesting about the Pleiades constellation is that it is easier to see clearly out of your peripheral vision. Our group hopes to be seen making change within the peripheral of our community and world.

In a world facing insurmountable issues like poverty, climate change, disease, water and food shortages, habitat destruction and economic downturn, we can often feel helpless. For many women, the strength of community helps lessen the burden and gives an arena to discuss solutions, but this gathering of women is also good for our health. According to a new study when women are under stress they release more oxytocin, which encourages us to care for children and hang out with other women, creating a “tend and befriend” notion developed by Drs. Laura Klein and Shelly Taylor.
Study after study has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. “There’s no doubt,” says Dr. Klein, “that friends are helping us live.”
Want to make a difference in your community? Start a community women's group. Talk about the issues facing your neighborhood and your world. Be a source of strength for each other. A woman's traditional role in the society is the nurturer and our communities could use a bit more nourishment. By creating a space to have the talk that women have when they are together, you are being the change.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Court rules GE alfalfa can result in irreversible harm to crops

In an exciting ruling to protect the environment from GE crops, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the planting of GE alfalfa can cause potentially irreversible harm to organic and conventional crops. Monsanto’s petition to Rehear was denied in full.

From the Center for Food Safety:
“This ruling affirms a major victory for consumers, ranchers, organicfarmers, and most conventional farmers across the country,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. “Roundup Ready Alfalfa represents a very real threat to farmers’ livelihoods and the environment; the court rightly dismissed Monsanto’s claims that their bottom line should come before the rights of the public and America’s farmers. This ruling is a turning point in the regulation of biotech crops in this country.”

Today’s decision again upholds District Court Judge Charles Breyer’s earlier ruling of May 2007, in which he found that the USDA failed to address concerns that Roundup Ready alfalfa will contaminate conventional and organic alfalfa. The Ninth Circuit decision affirms that USDA violated national environmental laws by approving GE alfalfa without a full Environmental Impact Statement.

You can read the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals publication here.

Michelle Obama in the garden on health and nutrition

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts an event focused on health and nutrition, including the harvesting of vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House. She is joined by students from Bancroft Elementary who will also assist in the preparation of a meal. Bancroft Elementary students have also been involved in the gardens groundbreaking and planting events.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Processed food

Good thing we support honest/accurate labeling. As Jill Richardson pointed out, somebody on DailyKos suggested they save text on this label by just saying "Contains Globalization." Brilliant.

Friday, June 12, 2009

John Ikerd on cheap food

I am doing research on the economic benefits of family farms. I have come across agriculture economist John Ikerd a bunch. He's my new favorite.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

US dairy crisis, message from Willie Nelson & Farm Aid

The drastic drop in milk prices paid to farmers over the past year has led to an unprecedented crisis for dairy farmers who, on average, are being paid less than half the cost of production. Low prices and high production costs threaten to push nearly one-third of dairy farmers off their land over the next couple of months, strengthening corporate control of the dairy industry and severely impacting the health of local and regional economies nationwide.

“Setting a fair price for milk won’t fix all the problems that led to the current crisis, but it may be the only way to keep thousands of dairy farmers on their farms this year,” said Farm Aid board member Willie Nelson. “Unless Secretary Vilsack takes immediate action, huge areas of the United States may be left without any local dairy farms at all.”

Dairy farmers have been hit with a catastrophic combination of factors beyond their control. Farmers are struggling to pay bills from record high feed and fuel costs; adequate credit is increasingly impossible to come by; and the price of milk paid to farmers by processors collapsed a record 30 percent in January alone, and is currently down 50 percent since July 2008. In the meantime, the top dairy processors have recently announced 2009 first quarter earnings that are up from the same period last year. The top processor, Dean Foods, reported their first quarter earnings are more than double that of last year thanks in part to the plunging price Dean pays to its milk producers.

Under Section 608c (18) of the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, the Secretary of Agriculture is required to adjust the price of milk paid to farmers to “reflect the price of feeds, the available supplies of feeds, and other economic conditions which affect market supply and demand for milk and its products.” Farm Aid urges Secretary Vilsack to use this power to immediately institute a set price for milk that reflects the cost of production, keeping dairy farmers on their land.

“The U.S. has a tradition of local and regional milk distribution, making dairy farmers a base for strong local and regional economies. The loss of these farms will reduce spending in small businesses, investments in banks and shrink the community tax base. If we lose a third of our dairy farms in the next few months alone, imagine the impact on these economies by year’s end.” said Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid. “As our independent family dairy farmers go out of business, our milk supply gets more consolidated by giant confinement dairies that do not contribute to our local economies or act of stewards of the land like our family farmers do.”

The petition can be accessed by going to this link.

I would like to disclose that I am (proud to be) interning at Farm Aid.