There's a really easy way to understand the difference between sustainable and chemical agriculture. We can either let all of the life in the soil do the heavy lifting, or we can kill them all and invent chemicals or tinker with DNA to replace everything they do. I'm for the former. After all, it requires about less oil, it produces healthier food with higher yields, and it doesn't result in dead zones in the Gulf or the Chesapeake.
But, if you reject the idea that nature has a system figured out that works pretty well (even for large-scale grain farming), then Monsanto has something for you. Drought tolerant corn.
(For more coverage on topics like this, please check out my blog, La Vida Locavore)
Yesterday the House Energy & Commerce committee subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations held a hearing on the salmonella peanut butter outbreak. It was their 3rd in a series of three, this time focused on the companies supplied by Peanut Corporation of America and their lapse in food safety vigilance that allowed this to happen.
Opening statements, written testimony, and documents for the hearing can be found here. For continued coverage of food safety reform as it unfolds, read my blog regularly.
A recent issue of Agri-Pulse gave us some bad news. Obama's considering Michael Taylor to head his new Food Safety Working Group. For a president who came to power with grassroots support on a promise to keep lobbyists out of the administration, this is a bad move. It's true that Obama's "no-lobbyist" promise has a time-limit on it (I believe it's "nobody who was a lobbyist in the last two years") and Taylor probably passes that test, but he doesn't pass the overall smell test. Taylor's name is synonymous with the revolving door between industry and government.
(Off-topic... Peanut salmonella hearing NOW (link) - I will blog it up on my site http://www.lavidalocavore.org today or tomorrow. Also, Louise Slaughter introduced an antibiotic in livestock ban bill yesterday. Ted Kennedy introduced it into the Senate, & Snowe made a great statement for it.)
Last night I couldn't sleep. So I did what any sensible person would do. I watched an entire Senate hearing on Child Nutrition. As for the title of this piece, it's true. Senator Harkin is a fantastic advocate of breastfeeding.
I wrote up the entire hearing in two diaries on my site: School Food and Food Outside of Schools. Summaries of both are below. This is important stuff to pay attention to because they are having these hearings in preparation for writing a BIG child nutrition bill.
I also have a roundup of info about child nutrition and school lunch in recent news.
Factory hog farmers are having a terrible, horrible, awful, no good, very bad week for an awful lot of reasons. Already in the news was the earmark for a pig poop study that Republicans were having a cow (or a pig?) over.
Next Nicholas Kristof took them on for overuse of nontherapeutic antibiotics. Meanwhile, Louise Slaughter's gearing up to reintroduce a bill banning several classes of antibiotics from nontherapeutic use in livestock (i.e. giving drugs to the animals when they aren't even sick).
But then - to kick 'em while they were down - last night HBO aired Death on a Factory Farm, with undercover footage of a factory hog farmer showing absolute utter cruelty. It was so graphic and awful that Eddie C said he's ashamed to be in the same species as the people in the documentary. That's how I feel.
I've got a thorn in my side. And I'm gonna be bad and call out another blogger. Scaredhuman. She's been part of a small group who has pushed a misinformation campaign - quite successfully - about Rosa DeLauro's Food Safety Modernization Act (H.R.875). I've got it firsthand from Rosa DeLauro's office that the bill isn't moving (i.e. it won't pass). I don't know WHY they have done this. But they have reached far and wide and their lies are being spread by many as truth. Weren't we supposed to be the reality-based community here??
There are two REAL issues going down that DO deserve our attention. One - real food safety problems (can anyone say "peanut butter"?) and the bill that DOES have a chance of passing, Dingell's bill H.R.759. Two - the National Animal ID System. If you want a reason to panic - a real reason - that's it. It's a bad thing and MANY Democrats support it. And today is the deadline for sending in comments to the USDA. Do so here.
Details below. (P.S. I swear I won't delete this diary, sorry for doing that this weekend - i can explain)
It's rare that zillions of major news happens all on the same day. Or same week. Well, not all on the topic of food, at least. Usually the news is more spread out - a little Karl Rove here, a little Afghanistan there... but right now there's a LOT of big deal major super big important news all going on right in my little corner of the world. Wow!
So follow along below cuz if you eat, you want to know this...
THURSDAY NIGHT IS HEALTH CARE CHANGE NIGHT, a weekly Daily Kos Health Care Series. We're switching the time as of this week from 8pm EDT to 9pm EDT (6pm on the left coast!).
So, what is there in the health care system that will make you mad? Oh... lots. As you might know, I just left a 5 year career in electronic medical record implementation. That means that I had my paws on all of the data that a hospital or clinic moves around during your visit - your registration info, your appointment on the schedule, your medical info, your tests, prescriptions, results... and of course... your bill. So I know an awful lot about it. Some of it's boring and mundane - but some of it will MAKE YOU MAD.
I've got a number of things on my radar but there's one very stupid thing that is causing a huge commotion for no good reason. It's HR 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act, a bill by Rosa DeLauro with about 40 cosponsors (mostly progressives) and no chance of passing (yet). The bill is flawed. It's not perfect. She's introduced it into previous Congresses without this much fanfare and panic among the blogs. So let's get the facts straight so that I don't have to see any more erroneous and crazy, paranoid diaries on the rec list.
Then after that we can talk about stuff that's more pressing, like the Employee Free Choice Act and school lunches.
A few years ago, I decided I wanted to write a book. Today, I have a book on Amazon for pre-order and it's only a few months away from coming out. I'm a bit overwhelmed that this is really happening. But it's really happening.
Several people have asked me for advice on writing a book, so I figured I ought to write up what I know on here for everyone to share.
I am writing for three reasons. This might be better as 2-3 diaries but I'm cramming them all into my one diary for the day.
First of all: THANK YOU. I think I'm going to be OK til early June at least with the help from the blogs. In that time, I am going to 1 maybe 2 conferences related to progressive politics/food. And I will now be free to concentrate full time on food and health care reform. My book comes out in July so my initial goal is to hang on until then. (You can pre-order it... use the link in the ads column BELOW the paypal thing. I'm trying to make the ad for my book on top go away.)
Second: The latest urgent burning issue I'm hearing about is a potential bad appointment or two. I've got dueling sets of rumors reaching me from DC and I'll tell you as much as I know and let you decide what you think.
Well, now I've joined the ranks of the unemployed. Great.
I was working on a team with a psycho for a boss. She had already fired 2 others and she's only been there maybe 6 months. She was getting really mean to a few others on the team before I started working there. Actually, they thought she was homophobic because she fired a gay guy and she was coming down hard on a few lesbians. I guess when I started and she decided to hate on me, that proved that she's equal opportunity, gay or straight. More on her and my sad story below...
I'll be honest about why I'm writing this here. I want your help. I need your help. Details below, but the help I'm asking for isn't all monetary, and I'm hoping that I can turn progressive activism into a full-time job for me in the long run. I'm just not there yet and I'm scared that I can't pay the rent after next month.