The best and the brightest: Foodie luminaries, among them Michael Pollan and Alice Waters, send a letter to Obama calling for a Secretary of Ag who will deliver on sustainability. Mark Ritchie makes the list (yeah!). (NYT blog) Meanwhile, environmental groups send their own 391-page policy wish list to the Pres-to-be, asking for, among other things, the preservation of idled farmland, better oversight of soil-saving programs, and no subsidies to farmers who break into native prairie. (Battle Creek Enquirer)
Ag hazards headed to Kansas: They’ll be safely stored, of course - never mind that guy with the anthrax - right in the middle of the state that produces more meat and (usually) more wheat than any other in the union. (Lawrence Journal-World)
Food safety apparently not as easy as sliced bread: The USDA inspects packaged open-faced meat sandwiches; the FDA inspects packaged meat sandwiches with two slices of bread. Will Obama simplify and/or amplify our food-safety programs — or just ban tartines? (Washington Post)
Death Star of Pork gets … a union? About 4,600 workers at Smithfield Foods' slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, NC, will vote next week on whether to join the United Food and Commercial Workers. (Newsvine via AP)
Suppliers also squeal when screwed:Agriprocessors, already charged with racketeering, the hiring of illegal immigrants, and violations of child labor laws, also hasn't paid its suppliers. Sen. Tom Harkin wants to know why. (Brownfield Network)
Thank God for one happy story: In San Francisco, a group called Food Runners gathers up leftover goodies from the farmers market, cooking schools, and even private parties and redistributes them to the hungry. (NPR)
Department of Duh: Government Accountability Office staff investigate the oversight of GMO crops in the United States and find that more is needed in order to prevent unauthorized releases. (Reuters) In an excellent piece of timing, Monsanto announces that some of its unapproved-for-consumption GM cotton was accidentally harvested and may have entered the livestock feed supply. (Reuters)
Nukes to the rescue: The IAEA is promoting a radiation-based technique to breed tough plants to avert hunger. (Eureka Alert) Steven G. points out on on the Comfood list-serv that, according to the Times, "many of our traditional commercial varieties of plants have been produced by radiation techniques."
Media makes kids fat, smokers, and/or sluts: Poring over nearly 30 years of research on how television, music, movies and other media affect the lives of children and adolescents, a new study from NIH/Yale found strong connections between media exposure and problems of childhood obesity, tobacco use, and early sexual behavior. (Washington Post)
Eating yourself fat and demented: Research suggests that fast-food-type diets may contribute to the development of Alzheimer's disease. (Eureka Alert) Meanwhile, studies by Sarah A. Rydell and others confirms that people who eat fast food do it because it's fast and easy. Only 21% surveyed said fast food was nutritious. (Journal of the American Dietetic Association)
A new threat to food supply? Wild hogs in an illegal shipment are carrying pseudorabies, a threat to wild and domesticated animals. Colorado officials order them quarantined. (High Plains Journal)
Not a drop to drink: A suit has been filed to shut down giant state and federal pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that funnel water to 25 million Californians until certain Central Valley farmers retire hundreds of thousands of acres of chemical-laden farmland. Irrigating agricultural land tainted with selenium, mercury, boron and other toxic substances constitutes an unreasonable use of a public resource and has contributed to the sharp decline of endangered fish species, said the California Water Impact Network.
Bisphenol A should be canned for good: The Milwaukke Journal-Sentinel, a local paper who's been digging into the safety of bisphenol A with the zeal of French pigs after truffles, has found it leaches into food at what some call toxic levels when containers are heated — even those labeled "microwave safe" or made for infants. The newspaper's tests also revealed that BPA, commonly thought to be found only in hard, clear plastic and metal food cans, is present in frozen food trays, microwaveable soup containers, and plastic baby-food packaging. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; thanks Jack!).
Whatever you say slides off me and sticks to you: A federal judge rules that millions of nonstick-pan users cannot file class-action lawsuits against DuPont, the maker of Teflon. (Charleston Gazette-Mail)
It's all greene to me: Pediatrican Alan Greene finds good health - and definite challenges - in going entirely organic for three years. (New York Times)
A CSA apple a day…: Madison-area health insurance companies are offering cash rebates to people who invest in a local community supported agriculture (CSA) farm. (Madison Commons)
Rural food deserts: Cities aren't the only places that lack access to food. (High Plains Journal)
Fart power: Dutch hog farmers are burning the methane from their animals to generate energy. The trillions of farm animals worldwide generate 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to U.N. estimates, more even than from cars, buses, and airplanes. (New York Times)
Ethicureanism down under: Angela Crocombe's new book "Ethical Eating" is the first publication to take a comprehensive look at ethical eating from an Australian point of view. (Sydney Morning Herald)