Food

Meat wagon

E. coli O157 comes back with a vengeance, and other nasty toxins in meat

Tainted burger, coming soon to a plate near you? In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. ——————————— (This is the first Meat Wagon column in months. No, the meat industry hasn’t suddenly become socially and ecologically responsible. I’ve just been distracted by other topics.) Where’s the tainted beef?If you regularly eat fast-food burgers or unlabeled supermarket beef, you’ve almost certainly consumed a JBS product in the past month. That’s because Brazil-based JBS is the globe’s largest beef producer–and the third-largest U.S. beef packer. And what a month it’s been for this emerging …

A Can of Worms

California is new front line of BPA fight

The following is a guest post submitted by Elisa Odabashian, Director, West Coast Office and State Campaigns, and Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy, Consumers Union. It’s the stuff of a good Hollywood movie-a potentially toxic chemical lurking in the bodies of most unwitting Americans; a decade of mounting but scuttled scientific evidence; government inaction; undue influence and public denials of harm by the powerful chemical industry; congressional inquiries; a crescendo of outcry by consumers demanding that something be done-and still, the battle to ban bisphenol A (also known as BPA) in food and drink containers rages on. Now, …

Irrational Corn Growers Association

Farm lobby: Shoot the climate bill, but keep the Peterson goodies

Give me the loot–then I’ll shoot! I got mugged in Mexico City once. Guy whirled me around and pointed a gun at me. He had a crazed look in his eye–like he might be on familiar terms with a crack pipe or a glue tube. He demanded my wallet with a grunted threat to shoot. I handed it over. We went on our ways, both reasonably satisfied. He got some cash, and I got to live. I’ve been thinking about that relatively straightforward transaction as I ponder the the farm lobby’s stance on the Waxman-Markey vote. Their man Collin Peterson …

More sin taxes, please

USDA food-desert report points to need for a soda tax

Obesity machine? The USDA released a new report on food deserts yesterday and the blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree. Which, honestly, saves me a lot of trouble. Jill Richardson pulls out some excellent data nuggets here. To summarize: Food deserts are areas where residents lack access to supermarkets and other outlets selling a broad, range of healthy food. It turns out that only a small percentage of Americans — 2.2% — live in true food deserts. At the same time, research indicates that there’s little correlation with access to healthy food and low Body Mass Index (BMI, used …

Don't panic ... offsets for organic?

The bad and maybe not-so-bad of the Waxman-Peterson deal

Take this, Collin! Language of the Waxman-Peterson compromise has been released (full text here; and here’s a summary)–and in some ways it’s worse than I originally thought, and in some ways potentially better. The bad part involves the provision around indirect land-use change and ethanol. It would, for the next five years, prevent that the EPA from considering international indirect land-use change when assessing the GHG footprint of ethanol. Yesterday, I declared it a travesty, but added that it didn’t change much on the ground, since the 2007 Energy Act already grandfathered in 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol–a huge …

Our Oil Obsessed Civilization

The oil intensity of food

Today we are an oil-based civilization, one that is totally dependent on a resource whose production will soon be falling. Since 1981, the quantity of oil extracted has exceeded new discoveries by an ever-widening margin. In 2008, the world pumped 31 billion barrels of oil but discovered fewer than 9 billion barrels of new oil. World reserves of conventional oil are in a free fall, dropping every year. As I note in my latest book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, discoveries of conventional oil total roughly 2 trillion barrels, of which 1 trillion have been extracted so far, …

News of a compromise foretold

How bad is the Peterson-Waxman deal on climate legislation?

Big Ag gets its way. [See update below.] Surprising no one–but disappointing many–House energy chief Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has caved in to the demands of the the agribusiness industry over the climate bill. In reality, he had little choice if he wanted his legislation to get through the House. For more than a month, House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) — an unabashed proponent of agribusiness interests–has thundered and roared about how no climate bill could get through the House without containing his agenda. He had the votes to back up his bluster–26 Democrats on his committee, plus another …

Survey Says!

Consumers no longer want to be kept in the dark about food

A new survey came out indicating that (surprise, surprise) only 20% of Americans trust food companies to “to develop and sell food products that are safe and healthy.” While the depth to which food companies’ reputations have sunk is impressive, the phrase from the survey question is both interesting and unfortunate. IBM(!), who performed the survey, put “safe and healthy” together. As a result, we can’t really know which aspect, safety or health, is driving that low number. If I had to bet, I’d say safety since survey results often track media coverage of an issue and there’s certainly been …

Bone of Contention

Ask Umbra on meating your needs

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Hi Umbra, I was shopping in the commissary (our lovely military grocery store) this afternoon when I noticed the “reduced for quick sale” meat section. [As a former vegetarian], I literally feel the weight of the world when I buy meat … but when I saw this meat, it occurred to me that it was going to be thrown away within the next day or two if someone did not purchase it. To me, this is a worse crime: To have had that animal suffer a cruel factory farm existence only to have its …