Free-range throwdown: A New York Times op-ed turns the food-fear spotlight on pastured pork, covering a study that finds that "free-range pork can be more likely than caged pork to carry dangerous bacteria and parasites" including potentially-deadly Trichinosis. The author gets in a few more digs with the good-food community by challenging whether free-range husbandry - and the taste of the meat that results - can fairly be called "natural." (New York Times; thanks, Jack!) (See blogs digest for responses)
No Monticello required: Michelle Obama and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack (with the help of DC elementary school students) break ground on the First Garden, where they plant 25 varieties of heirloom seeds, including some favored by Thomas Jefferson. It's an ideal setting for Vilsack to pitch his proposal to increase funding for fruit and veggies in school lunches via reforms to the Child Nutrition Act. (Washington Post)
Our tax dollars at work: Newsflash: Food safety isn't improving. We bet you wouldn't have guessed that in the face of the peanut butter scandal, last year's massive ground beef recalls, or the summer's tomato chili pepper incident. But now the CDC and FDA say we need to overhaul the food safety system. We say, no shigella, Sherlock! (New York Times)
Don't blame meat: Jim Hodges, an American Meat Institute exec, says the food safety system isn't so bad, and illness from meat and poultry consumption is down. (Brownfield)
Payments for carbon sequestration?: The current issue of UC's California Agriculture is devoted to looking at how climate change will transform growing in the state — unequivocally, it says. (California Agriculture)
Two heads are better than one?: An Australian researcher studying fish with developmental abnormalities follows a trail that leads to the pesticides being used on nearby macadamia nut plantations. Unlike their marine neighbors, human residents living near the farms are not growing multiple heads - but they are getting cancer, and the same pesticides are suspected to be the cause. (The Australian)
Chicken challengers: Egg and poultry producers are suing to reverse an EPA permit rule on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that will require them to apply for a permit if they have the "potential to discharge" pollutants into U.S. waters. (They argue that unless the EPA can prove they're actually polluting the water, they shouldn't be required to have a permit.) The industry is also disputing EPA guidance that says that CAFOs with ventilation fans have the potential to spew pollutants into the air, which may then fall into waterways. (Brownfield; KRVN Rural Radio).
Reducing sugar intake may improve our memories (Scientific American)