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Math lessons for Budiansky: Industrial concentration vs. local choice

On Friday, New York Times op-ed contributor Steven Budiansky challenged local food advocates to rethink their math, mainly about food miles. As it happens, I was already doing some food calculations that day -- but not of the sort Budiansky discussed. My numbers included the following: As of Friday, 450...

A full plate of obesity news

The fat of the land has turned us into the land of the fat: It's small surprise to learn that obese Americans spend more on their health care than others (New York Times), but it's truly disturbing to find that the rates of severe childhood obesity have tripled (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical...

GAO report questions selection of Kansas lab site

Darn those GAO bean-counters! Analysts in the Government Accountability Office are questioning the selection process of a site in Kansas for the planned new National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF), which will study some of the most virulent animal and plant diseases known to man. We're sincerely...

Special Digest, rumor version: Mike Taylor to Join FDA

Another round for the revolving door: Rumor has it that Mike Taylor, currently a professor at George Washington University but better known for his work as Monsanto’s Vice President for Public Policy, will start on Monday at the FDA in a position coordinating food safety. Congress is considering a major...

Family farm advocate named GIPSA head

Sunshine comes to the stockyards: USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack wins some more fans in these quarters by naming Dudley Butler to head the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). (USDA press release) That's the agency responsible for insuring that livestock producers are treated equally...

Organic agriculture gets $50M boost from USDA

Feeling like 50 million bucks: Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced $50 million for a new initiative to meet the Obama Administration's promise to encourage more organic agriculture production. The 2009 Organic Initiative, to be funded as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives...

Kansas Senate leaves rBST milk labels on ag committee floor

No crying over milk labeling: The Kansas Senate apparently won't even attempt to override former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius's veto of legislation (as described in the Lawrence Journal-World) bearing complicated milk-labeling rules. The proposed law would have restricted dairies that wanted to tell customers...

USDA to hold listening sessions on national animal ID system

Start packing, Walter: We knew swine flu novel H1N1 virus was going to move animal-tracking to the front burner. AgSec Tom Vilsack today announced that the USDA will hold a series of "listening sessions" on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) next month in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut,...

Wisconsin spinach recalled, DC protests

Safety in numbers: Kleen-Pak brand fresh spinach is being recalled in Wisconsin and Illinois after testing positive for salmonella. (Brownfield) Just one more incident to add to the call for food safety reform, as demanded Wednesday in Washington by people harmed by contaminated food. (Civil...

Dow Chemical should catch hell

Walleye from the Chemical guys: In spite of Michigan's restrictive walleye consumption advisories, Dow Chemical — the company responsible for the dioxins that contaminated the local watershed — sponsors a Walleye Festival that promotes sport fishing in the polluted waterway. Although Dow promised to pay for...

Swine flu and Mexican CAFO connection

Hogs, bogs, and floggings: Tom Philpott takes a careful, comprehensive look at the possibility the swine-flu outbreak originated from the area around Granjas Carroll’s hog confinements  (Smithfield has a stake in them), whether transmitted by workers, flies, or asymptomatic pigs. And if it didn't, we should...

Digest – News: Smithfield’s flu, organic for the masses, Vilsack reserves judgment

They're not confining everything, apparently: MSM's all over the swine flu (SJ Merc) and U.S. hog prices are tanking (Reuters), but few are talking about its possible origins - flies and manure from the CAFO facilities of a Mexican subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. What would we do without Tom Philpott?...

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