Finger Foods: the weekly news update

U.S.

Food Safety

Oops! F.D.A. Error Is Talk of Henhouse – William Neuman – New York Times, Business Day
Marilyn F. Balmer, a top egg expert for the Food and Drug Administration, was training inspectors in July to enforce the agency’s new egg safety rule when she parked the van she was driving near a henhouse at a farm in Manheim, Pa. She did it again during another session at a farm in Lancaster. Ms. Balmer was in Pennsylvania to teach inspectors about how to keep germs away from poultry flocks, known as biosecurity. But the industry executives and state officials said she was breaking a basic biosecurity rule: keep vehicles, which may have driven through manure on rural roads or other farms, as far from the hens as possible.

GE Salmon

Are Genetically Engineered Foods (Including Salmon) More Allergenic? – Kiera Butler – Mother Jones News
AquaBounty says that the triploids’ allergenicity level wasn’t statistically significant, and although the diploids’ level is significant, it doesn’t matter because only triploids will be sold. But Hansen of the Consumers Union finds a few problems with this argument. For starters, the test wasn’t double blind, meaning the researchers knew which fish were part of which test group. Second, the sample size of triploid fish was tiny—only six fish in all. Third, although AquaBounty is going to try to turn all its market-bound fish into triploid sterile females, the process isn’t perfect, and some 5 percent could end up as the more allergenic diploid. Especially scary when you consider that unlike the triploids, the diploids aren’t sterile. So if they escaped, they could breed with wild salmon.

School Food and Nutrition

Americans beat 33 countries to win OECD obesity prize – Marion Nestle – Food Politics
OECD (the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), a group of 33 countries “committed to democracy and the market economy,” has just released a major report on obesity. Its main conclusion?  The United States population has the highest percentage of overweight and obesity in the democratic, market-economy world.

Schools struggle to feed kids healthy food (VIDEO) – Jen Christensen – CNN
Dana Woldow issues a challenge to every member of Congress: “Try school cafeteria food in your district. Then see if you continue to make the same decisions about how you fund the program.” This San Francisco, California, mother of three is mad. As the co-chair of the student nutrition and physical activity committee for the San Francisco Public School District, she has personally led the charge to improve school meals. From its beginning, the National School Lunch Program has been woefully under-funded, according to many school food experts. While the federal government mandates schools that receive federal money serve a free lunch to children whose families meet a certain income, the funds don’t cover the entire cost of the meal. So, state governments or local school districts make up the difference. “Which of course is a problem, because every dollar that has to be supported by the general fund is a dollar out of the classroom,” said Ed Wilkins, the school nutrition director for the San Francisco Public Schools.

Waters gets proof that Edible Schoolyard works – Jane Black – Washington Post, Food
Waters is hitting back with an academic analysis of her Edible Schoolyard experiment in the Berkeley public schools. Over three years, from the fall of 2005 till spring 2009, University of California at Berkeley researchers followed 238 students and determined that a combination of healthful food at school, gardening and culinary education increased students’ nutrition knowledge and broadened their taste for and consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Agriculture

Copycat Farmers’ Markets Reap a Crop of Complaints – Nick Wingfield and Ben Worthen – Wall Street Journal, Business
Farmers and their supporters have spent several decades building “farmers’ market” into a brand that signifies something specific to consumers, namely, locally grown produce fresh off the farm. Now, to the dismay of farmers’ market representatives, two large grocery chains in the Northwest recently began posting store banners advertising displays of tomatoes, corn and other items as farmers’ markets. While applauding the sale of local produce in stores, farmers’ market supporters say the main point is for farmers to sell freshly harvested goods directly to shoppers, which they say is more profitable than using stores and distributors as middlemen.

Despite economy, Americans don’t want farm work – Garance Burke – SF Chronicle
It’s a question rekindled by the recession: Are immigrants taking jobs away from American citizens? In the heart of the nation’s biggest farming state, the answer is a resounding no. Government data analyzed by The Associated Press show most Americans simply don’t apply to harvest fruits and vegetables. And the few Americans who do usually don’t stay in the fields. The AP analysis showed that, from January to June, California farmers posted ads for 1,160 farmworker positions open to U.S.  citizens and legal residents. But only 233 people in those categories applied after learning of the jobs through unemployment offices in California, Texas, Nevada and Arizona. One grower brought on 36. No one else hired any.

The above article from the Chronicle is an interesting story to juxtapose with Stephen Colbert’s plead in front of Congress:
Colbert to Congress: What would Jesus do about migrant farm workers? [VIDEO] – Bonnie Azab Powell – Grist, Food
Kudos to Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert for spotlighting how schizophrenic Americans are when it comes to an unpopular issue — immigration — despite how these much-maligned migrant workers are the linchpin of America’s beloved cheap-food system. Colbert appeared with United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo S. Rodriguez today to testify before Congress for a hearing called “Protecting America’s Harvest” held by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. He testified in character about a day he spent working in the fields, having taken up the UFW on its dare to American citizens “take our jobs.” It was apparently a rough day for the comedian: “Please don’t make me do this again. It is really, really hard … Apparently, even the invisible hand doesn’t want to pick beans,” he told Congress.

Miscellaneous

This is why we’re fat—by the numbers (INFORGRAPHIC) – Bonnie Azab Powell – Grist, Food
Nibbling on the data nuggets found in this “Food Consumption in America” infographic delivers a real jaw-dropper, showing the literal weight of an average American’s food choices in a typical year. According to the graphic from banking site Visual Economics, which combines data from sources such as the USDA, FDA, and CDC, the average man is 5’9″ and weighs 190 pounds, while the average woman is 5’4″ and weighs 164 lbs. A quick check of the Mayo Clinic’s Body Mass Index calculator shows that both Joe and Jane Sixpack are thus overweight, with a BMI of 28.1 — 30 and above is classified as obese.

Mont. woman fends off bear attack with zucchini – Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle
When the woman, whom police did not name, screamed to draw the bear’s attention, it charged her and swiped at her leg. Maricelli says the woman jumped back into the doorway and reached for the nearest object on her kitchen counter — a 12-inch zucchini from her garden. The woman flung the vegetable at the bear, striking it on top of the head and causing it to flee. Maricelli says the woman did not need medical attention. Wildlife officials were trying to locate the bear on Thursday.

International

School Lunch and Nutrition

France’s Gourmet School Lunches (VIDEO) – CBS Morning News
A Paris public school gets $4-$5 for each child in the school lunch program. Parents also receive a menu of the week’s meals.

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2 Comments on “Finger Foods: the weekly news update”

  1. Wood Shelf says:

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