Digest: Funny honey, the pork disease, and White House eats

Angry Buzz: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a series of articles on the sticky state of the honey industry. Start with the two-part report on honey, which introduces readers to honey laundering and continues to meaningless label claims. Think domestic honey means produced in the U.S.? That organic means organic? Think again. The honey may originate from a country that uses banned pesticides and stop in a second country for boiling, filtration, dilution, and relabeling, but be labeled as U.S. honey if further processing occurs in the United States. Despite loud calls from some within (and many outside) the industry for better standards, there is considerable friction between U.S. producers and importers, including an attempt to create a second National Honey Board that focuses only on domestic honey production; producers claim the problem is consumer ignorance.” Oh, and then there’s the whole colony collapse thing. Sweet! (All from Seattle Post-Intelligencer; see links above.)

The hive mind: Following the honey series, the P-I editorial staff summarizes the problem and gives what we think is solid advice: “Buy directly from local producers who explain their methods.” They are talking about honey, but the principle applies to much, much more. (Seattle P-I)

Bittman on Pollan, and us: Salon reviews Mark Bittman’s new book and gives us the rundown on how to live and eat conscientiously. Recipes included. (Salon)

The never-ending story: A Louisiana institute warns that Chinese-produced catfish, which have already been found to be contaminated with antibiotics, may be contaminated with melamine as well. Sigh. (Daily World)

Life at the head table: Pork processing workers who were diagnosed with Progressive Inflammatory Neuropathy from – yes – breathing in pulverized pig brains have still not recovered and are protesting mistreatment by their employers. (News Blaze)

Chef’s pique: In response to sustainable-food advocates Alice Waters and others, former White House chef Walter Scheib says local and responsible food already is commonplace at the presidents’ residence. (NYT letters)

Damned additives: Not like we needed another reason to avoid food additives, but just in case you were waiting for that proverbial straw: A common food additive now appears to give lung cancer a boost. (Am. Journal of Respiratory & Critical Care Medicine via Eureka Alert)

Chickens in the Bay: San Francisco Bay Area residents, like their counterparts across the country, are finding urban chicken-raising to be cost-effective and fun. And who knew – backyardchickens.com gets 6 million hits a month! (ABC 7 local)

FDA on the job—sort of: After more than five years, the FDA announced Jan. 2 that it’s “taken action” against a dairy found to have overmedicated cattle, among other violations, since 2003. The action, according to the FDA’s press release, is that it has enjoined the offending New Mexico dairies from doing what they aren’t supposed to be doing in the first place. That’ll teach ‘em! (FDA press release)

Something’s fishy here: An article by James Diana of the University of Michigan says that aquaculture, “when practiced well, can be no more damaging to biodiversity than other food production systems,” according to a press release. Um, that’s not exactly reassuring. (Am. Institute of Biological Sciences)

Will it have to have been washed with organic shampoo?: The next natural fertilizer coming down the pike: Composted human hair. (HortTechnology, via Eureka Alert)

Taste’s all in the mouth: When kids could taste the difference but didn’t have a clear preference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef, a Portland, Ore., school district opted to stick to the cheaper grain-fed beef. Well, at least they considered going grass-fed. Maybe next year they’ll take the health and environmental advantages into account and come to a different conclusion. (Brownfield)

Food mood in KC: Kansas City Star food editor Jill Silva takes a look at 2008 food trends with a peek at 2009. (KC Star)

MI raises the bar with new farm to school bills: New legislation encourages local food procurement by establishing a farm to school point person at the MI Dept of Ag and other great changes. Diane Conners summarizes these recently enacted bills. (Michigan Land Use Institute)

Cool Caf: Aramark is launching a new cafeteria “atmosphere” in 16 states that encourages increased fruit & vegetable consumption. (The Packer)

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