Tom Laskawy

A 17-year veteran of both traditional and online media, Tom Laskawy is a founder and executive director of the Food & Environment Reporting Network and a contributing writer at Grist covering food and agricultural policy. Tom's long and winding road to food politics writing passed through New York, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, Florence, Italy, and Philadelphia (which has a vibrant progressive food politics and sustainable agriculture scene, thank you very much). In addition to Grist, his writing has appeared online in The American Prospect, Slate, The New York Times, and The New Republic. He is on record as believing that wrecking the planet is a bad idea. Follow him on Twitter.

The other aquacalypse

California’s water woes worsen

NASA just released a disturbing report on California’s shrinking water supplies: New space observations reveal that since October 2003, the aquifers for California’s primary agricultural region — the Central Valley — and its major mountain water source — the Sierra Nevadas — have lost nearly enough water combined to fill Lake Mead, America’s largest reservoir. The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), reflect California’s extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation. Combined, California’s Sacramento and San Joaquin drainage basins have shed more than …

your liver, hfcs, and you

New research: Fructose increases risk of diabetes, heart disease [UPDATED]

You should lay off the sauce–it’s not good for your liver. [Author's Note:] This post, reacting to the findings of a University of California, Davis, study on fructose, quoted and relied heavily on an error-laden Times of London story. That said, the post generated a lot of valuable discussion in the comments section below, including a critique of the Times piece by Dr. Kimber Stanhope, one of the authors of the Davis study. In response to another comment, Dr. Stanhope agreed that the question remains how much fructose is safe to consume and she indicated that a current project of …

grossology

Don’t watch NYC’s new anti-soda video on a full stomach

Remember NYC’s anti-soda campaign “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat”? Well, prepare yourself. Because the NYC Department of Health has made themselves a YouTube Video. And it’s a doozy: I think I’m going to be sick — which is, of course, the point. So, what do you think — will it stop people from drinking soda or is it just a cheap gag? Get it? Gag? h/t Eat Me Daily

Yes, they can

U.S Gov’t official: ‘avoid BPA’ in food packaging

Oh, you wanted it poison-free? Let’s hope this report represents a tipping of the government’s hand on bisphenol A and not a case of someone going rogue: The head of the primary federal agency studying the safety of bisphenol A said Friday that people should avoid ingesting the chemical–especially pregnant women, infants and children. “There are plenty of reasonable alternatives,” said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. While stressing she is not a medical doctor, Birnbaum said she has seen enough studies on …

same sh*t, different administration

U.S. takes daft position on agriculture at climate talks

Things are not looking good on the agriculture front at the Copenhagen climate talks. According to a representative from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a group dedicated to sustainable agriculture and trade policy, American negotiators are being, um, less than productive: Long, long meeting this afternoon (Dec. 10) on sectoral language for agriculture. First of all, there is confusion as to what the text will end up being — part of a comprehensive Copenhagen agreement? A separate COP decision? Something else still? Everything seems pretty much up in the air on this topic as different countries hold very …

Bargains of the faustian kind

Is Wal-Mart the future of local food?

Local food gets the Wal-Mart treatment. One of the most important historic developments in the food economy is embodied in this statistic: in 1900, 40 percent of every dollar spent on food went to the farmer or rancher while the rest was split between inputs and distribution. Now? 7 cents on the dollar goes to the producer and 73 cents goes just to distribution. That’s worth keeping in mind when you read things like this: … Wal-Mart, now the nation’s largest supermarket chain as well as retailer, has gotten into the local scene, embarking on an effort to procure more …

Time for Americans to 'raise their game' on climate change

Everyone should read this Matt Ygelsias post on the need for all of us to “step up our game” morally speaking as regards the climate. The climate change “debate” is a true gut check moment. And right now, we’re failing: CNN was running a climate change story yesterday with the chyron “Global Warming: Fact or Fiction.” It’s clearly not the case that that happened because no one at CNN is unaware that framing the story that way is nonsense. They just chose to let it happen. John McCain used to recognize the urgency of the climate threat and then, thanks …

labeling change

FDA moves to reform nutrition labels

Still smarting over the industry’s shenanigans over the “Smart Choices” label, the FDA has decided to pick up the pace of change. Marion Nestle dug up a set of proposed new front-of-package nutrition labels that the FDA is studying, one of which may ultimately get the agency’s final approval. Here they are: My faves are the “Nutrition Tips” label with colors and the last one, dubbed “Waitrose,” with the traffic light label. It’s worth noting that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is already on the record as supporting the traffic light system — it’s currently in use in the UK and …

Notable Quotable

Copenhagen climate talks: the story so far

“The conference, at this point, feels more like a trade show than a political event, but it’s cool to be surrounded by so many people from all over the world — imagine the international terminal at JFK, but with even worse food and people walking by in giant tree costumes.” – Nate Silver of political blog 538.com on the scene at the Copenhagen climate talks.