Digest – news and commentary: People’s Grocery, Wendy’s plans, Alice speaks

Feeling a little bit unethical?: The Wendy's fast food chain is improving its animal welfare practices by setting up a preferential buying program that rewards pork producers that don't use gestation crates (cages so small that a pregnant or nursing sow can't turn around) and chicken producers using a less inhumane killing technique. It's a good start, but there is plenty of additional progress to be made on beef, milk, sourcing organic vegetables, and so forth. (Food Business Review)

IM for animals: Do you use Microsoft IM? If so, you'll soon get a chance to send some of Microsoft's ad revenue to the Humane Society of the U.S. Microsoft picked 10 non-profit groups to share. (Brownfield)

All-star audio: Boston's On Point program has quite a lineup on Monday discussing the Food and Farm Bill: Michael Pollan, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Des Moines Register's Phillip Brasher, Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Commodities), and Jake Caldwell from the Center for American Progress. You can listen on-line, call or send an e-mail, or download an digital recording after the show airs. (On Point Radio)

Another maddening slow rule change: The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) finally made permanent a rule banning the slaughter of cattle that are unable to walk or stand (known as "downer" cattle), only three and one-half years after the first diagnosis of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The rule takes effect on October 1. (USDA press release)

Adapting to recalls: The recent rash of product recalls has spurred new initiatives and new consumer alert techniques from federal agencies and corporations. (Boston Globe (AP))

End of the line for the E-gravy train?: Ethanol is one of the most subsidized products around: the Geneva-based Global Studies Initiative estimates that ethanol receives subsdies of about $16 per million BTU, while oil and natural gas receives only 40 cents per million BTU (does that subsidy calculation include the cost of military operations in the Middle East and Columbia?). With huge federal deficits and powerful lobbyists like the meat industry upset, subsidies to ethanol could be disappearing. (Des Moines Register)

Alice Waters comments on the Food and Farm Bill (Sacramento Bee)

Tens of thousands of Italian farmers and citizens protest poor quality of food labels. (AP, via Common Dreams, via Organic Consumers)

Ford to use foam made partly from soybeans in 2008 Mustang (Los Angeles Times)

Editorial: Congress needs to reorganize food safety system (San Jose Mercury News)

Starbucks forced to close shop in Beijing's Forbidden City (New York Times, via AP)

 

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