Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Farm to School Programs

My article 'Fresh Food Nation' published in Mothering Magazine gives information about existing farm to school programs around the US and suggestions on how to start one at your school. It was just put online at http://www.mothering.com/articles/growing_child/food/fresh-food-nation.html

Friday, November 16, 2007

USDA allowing Candadian meat with high risk of mad cow

Beginning Monday, November 19, the USDA will allow Canadian cattle born after 1999 to enter the U.S., where they can be slaughtered and sold to Americans for meat. Previously, USDA only allowed cattle up to 2.5 years old to enter the country. Older cattle are believed to be at higher risk for carrying mad cow disease, in fact, at least five cases of mad cow disease have been detected in Canadian cattle born after 1999 according to Dr. Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Food Safety for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. He adds that "these cattle have been detected in a relatively small test program that tests only about one percent of slaughtered or dead Canadian cattle. How many more are there that are escaping detection?" If an infected animal does come across the border, it is very unlikely that the extremely small U.S. testing program, which tests just a tenth of a percent of beef that die or are slaughtered, would detect it.

In addition to going into the food supply, a cow's remains (like that of most slaughtered cattle) would be rendered and converted into pet food and feed for pigs and chickens. Because the remains of slaughtered pigs and chickens can be fed back to cattle, it is possible that the infectious agent could find its way into U.S. born cattle in the future.

"Allowing these cows to enter into the U.S. food system is a foolhardy course," Hansen said. "According to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of mad cow disease is 30 times higher in Canadian than in U.S. cattle. USDA's plan to reopen the border to cows born after March 1999 puts both consumers and the livestock industry at risk."

As of now, there is no labeling of country of orgin on meat so consumers would not know if they were eating beef from Canadian cows or not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed bill to label products from cloned animals

The California Legislation passed a bill (SB 63) introduced by Senator Migen to require that meat and dairy products from cloned animals be clearly labeled as such. Unfortunately, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed it.

"Governor Schwarzenegger's veto is a slap in the face to a majority of consumers who say they want milk and meat from cloned to be labeled," said Elisa Odabashian, Consumers Union’s West Coast Director. "Without labeling, not only will consumers be unable to choose whether or not to buy cloned food, but government food safety agencies will be unable to track any long-term impacts of cloned food on human health."

According to a recent survey by Consumers Union, more than 89 percent of Americans want food from cloned animals to be labeled. At the federal level, the groups, along with, the Consumer Federation of America, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Anti-Vivisection Society, and Union of Concerned Scientists, are also urging the inclusion of a recent amendment concerning food products from cloned animals in the 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419). Amendment No. 3524, introduced by Senators Mikulski and Specter, would ensure that the potential human health, animal health, and economic impacts associated with animal cloning that are missing from the FDA's risk assessment are fully analyzed before any products derived from clones are introduced into the food market. The organizations are deeply concerned over the FDA's issuance of an inadequate draft risk assessment that endorses the safety of milk and meat derived from cloned animals and their progeny.

Experts say milk, cheese and other dairy products from cloned animals will be the first such food products to reach California stores, and will make up the vast majority of the cloned food market.

According to the Center for Food Safety, they will continue to work with California Legislators to get a labeling bill passed. Write to Governor Schwarzenegger and let him know we have the right to know where our food is coming from.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas

The November issue of VegFamily Magazine is now up at http://www.vegfamily.com/. Get some good ideas and recipes for a vegan thanksgiving -- and don't forget to check out my column on what to do with sweet potatoes at http://www.vegfamily.com/whole-family/sweet-potatoes.htm.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Paying more for organic or local is "dumb" according to Collin Peterson

From an MSNBC.com Financial Times Oct. 17, 2007 Collin Peterson, chairman of the House of Representatives agricultural committee, says the farm sector that raises organic produce and grass-fed beef for local consumers needs little federal help. "It is growing, and it has nothing to do with the government, and that is good," he told the FT. "For whatever reason, people are willing to pay two or three times as much for something that says 'organic' or 'local'. Far be it from me to understand what that's about, but that's reality. And if people are dumb enough to pay that much then hallelujah."

"For whatever reason" huh! Hm, I can think of a few:

- we don't want food laced with pesticides and herbicides
- we care abour our health
- we care about our plantet
- we care about the health and safety of our children
- we want to support farmers who grow sustainably
- organically grown food contains more nutrients
- local grown food tastes better because it's not bred to be shipped and stored
- we want to help combat global warming
- we want food that has not been genetically modified

Shall I go on?