Digest – News & Features: Organic gets wild n’ crazy, turkey workers do too, and everyone turns to SPAM
When organic gets fishy: The National Organic Standards Board ruled to allow farmed fish that consume up to 25% non-organic feed to be labeled "organic." Consumer advocates worry it's the beginning of a downward slide for standards on other organic animal products. (Washington Post)
Pasture perfect (almost): The USDA publishes new draft rules for organic milk in response to calls from consumers and the organic community that the standard's "access to pasture" requirement should mean actual access to actual pasture. Remarkably, out of more than 80,500 comments to the USDA earlier, only 28 were against tightening the rules. The proposed new requirements stipulate that organic cows must be on pasture at least 120 days out of the year and get at least 30% of their dry-matter intake from grazing during the growing season. (LA Times via AP)
If only there were a hell: As it does every November, PETA released undercover videotapes taken at workers at the Aviagen Turkeys plant in Lewisburg, W.Va., showing turkeys being stomped to death, punched by workers, and other really sordid horrible things. All of a sudden that locally raised, locally slaughtered "happy" turkey seems worth the hefty price tag. And vegetarianism? Priceless. (New York Times)
Food banks need a bailout, too: Historically food banks have depended on donations from manufacturers and large supermarket chains, but many factors — canned-food production has fallen, federal programs have fewer extras, and manufacturers are producing fewer damaged items — have meant less food for food banks. (Wall Street Journal)
Melamine at home in U.S.: Maybe the inclusion of melamine in our food sources is (a little) less intentional than in China — but it's there, and it's insidious. (NY Times)
Does plastic have fat?: Nestle recalls Lean Cuisine entrees for contamination with "foreign matter." Mmm. (Brownfield)
Gobble wobble: A heritage poultry project is shaken by a leader's death, but it will continue. (NY Times).
"Meat with a pause button": Americans have turned back to their favorite mystery meat during hard economic times. Luckily, the "glistening canned product" has a shelf life that could more than outlast even a prolonged depression. (NY Times; amusing follow-up by Gawker here.)
He needs a better cook: Why else would Obama not like beets? (NY Times)
Sour on raw milk: Some cold-tolerant bacteria make raw milk go bad. (Int'l Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, via EurekaAlert)
A crappy deal: In the developing world, water treatment infrastructure has not kept up with urban growth, so many waterways are contaminated by sewage. Farms near urban areas often use the contaminated water to irrigate crops, posing a risk to those who eat the produce. (Environmental Science and Technology)
Crying fowl in the city: Across the U.S., urban dwellers flock to raising chickens in their backyards, both legally and illegally. One Brooklyn home boasts over 50 chickens. (Worldwatch; Newsweek has a similar feature)
Out with ethanol, in with food: Food Before Fuel calls for end to ethanol subsidies. (Brownfield Network)
They're gonna wait 'til the midnight hour: The final weeks of the Bush Administration will see a flurry of new regulations — "midnight regulations" — that attempt to lock in the administration's radical ideology. Pro Publica has a primer on how the regulatory process works and a handy status chart for the regulatory changes that are in the works. (Pro Publica) Dan Froomkin adds his own two cents on the last-minute rollbacks. (Washington Post)
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