Digest – Blogs, features and snacks: Pesticide perversions, subsidy love, the anti-Pollan

Small-town physician sees effects of Big Ag: an Indiana neonatologist finds that birth defects, including spina bifida, cleft pallet and lip, down syndrome, urogenital abnormalities, and club foot (among others) are more likely to occur in pregnancies that begin between April and July — the time period when surface waters measured across the U.S. have the highest concentration of pesticides. Echoing his predecessors, the good doctor says, “the capacity that pesticides have to alter our lives has been grossly underestimated.” (Living on Earth)

For food safety, priorities by the plateful: The nominee to head the Food and Drug Administration faces challenges ranging from what Marion Nestle might call “the pizza conundrum” to the ten-fold increase in imports the U.S. has seen in the last decade. A great overview of the issues and the direction the Obama Administration may be headed. (NBC News) One VA-based prof has some suggestions for how the administration should prioritize, starting with CAFOs, the centralized food system, and the line speed at meatpacking plants. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Does this mean he’s officially mainstream?: Joel Salatin graces the pages of USA Today in an article covering the new film Food, Inc. and Salatin’s influence on sustainable farmers around the country. James McWilliams of free-range fear fame is the article’s featured naysayer, prompting us to wonder if he’s positioning himself as the anti-Michael Pollan. The movie opens nationwide June 12, with screenings in selected cities before then. (USA Today) (Food, Inc.)

Having SOLE food and eating it too: Siobhan Phillips writes of her experiment to eat SOLE food without driving up her food budget — and finding it’s not only possible, but provides a more interesting diet. (Salon)

Put the money where our food is: A poll shows that most Americans are not big fans of farm subsidies (surprise), but look closer for the interesting data: the vast majority (77%) support subsidies to small and mid-sized farms (those under 500 acres). Perhaps respondents believe these farms provide public benefits in the form of local jobs, environmental stewardship, scenic views…? Since you asked, we say yes. (World Public Opinion/U Maryland; thanks, Anna!)

No manure detected: Columnist Seymour Klierly [is the name a joke??] observes that USDA appointees have plowed more political ground than topsoil. (High Plains Journal)

Sustainable ag gets its due: High-profile organizations are calling out the efforts of sustainable agriculture proponents and practitioners. (TreeHugger)

Civilization-ending hunger: Lester R. Brown writes that food crises could cause worldwide social instability. (Scientific American via TreeHugger)

Hospitals adding organic food and hormone/antibiotic-free meats to menu (LA Times)

One Responseto “Digest – Blogs, features and snacks: Pesticide perversions, subsidy love, the anti-Pollan”

  1. Using the number of acres to define a farm as small or not might seem logical but it isn’t. Our _small_ farm is over 1,000 acres (mostly timber land which we log sustainably and wet lands which we protect – no subsidies). On the other end of the scale CAFOs are typically tiny as measured by acreage – they fit tens of thousands of animals into a few acres. Regular cities.

    We need a different measure to define small, mid and large farms. Fortunately there is such a thing that makes a lot more sense: the number of “animal units” which is based on resource usage. By this much more logical definition our small farm is indeed a small farm, with about 1,000 acres soaking up carbon from the atmosphere.