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News for July 1, 2010

Taking the Meat We Eat Out of the Factory and Putting It Back on the Farm

On Tuesday, Animal Welfare Approved and the Pew Environment Group presented a public panel discussion about raising pasture-based animals, and reclaiming these sustainable farming systems as the source of our meat and dairy. The star-studded panel included Nicolette Hahn Niman, attorney and author of Righteous Porkchop, Carole Morison, former Purdue chicken farmer turned whistleblower and sustainable farming consultant, David Kirby, investigative journalist and author of Animal Factory and Dr. Patricia Whisnant, vet, rancher and president of the American Grassfed Association. As farmers, Carole Morison and Dr. Whisnant have had personal experiences with the industrial animal agriculture system currently producing most of the meat in our country today, and have chosen another path. Nicolette’s husband Bill Niman founded Niman Ranch, which he has since left as he felt that the standards declined to a point he couldn’t live with, after a management change in 2006. They continue to raise beef on pasture but sell under a private label. Kirby has turned his investigative skills on factory farming - the way we raise most of our meat today - and what he found out has spurred him to let out a battle cry to put an end to these factories that call themselves farms.

The discussion was lively, and at times contentious. All panelists agreed that the detrimental impacts from industrial food animal production on the environment - our air and water - and on us - in the form of antibiotic residue in the meat we eat - are too great to be ignored. These concerns, coupled with a clear recognition that respecting animal welfare leads to sustainable farming, have driven all of them to speak out against the industrial system. While the concern about environmental degradation was a unifying theme, so too was a hopeful vision of the future in raising animals for food in a manner that affords them fresh air and clean, fresh food (grass!). They all agreed that sustainable and humane alternatives are real and viable solutions. Nicolette brought up the suggestion that in addition to changing the way we raise meat, we need to eat less meat. This cause has been championed by the Meatless Monday campaign (now catching on all over the world), and Niman pointed out that the message should not only be less, but also “eat better meat.” How do we do that? And how do we get other consumers to do that? The answer is two-fold. What is called for is consumer education about the major differences between the industrial system and sustainable grass-based farms, and education about how and where to find the better meat.

READ MORE (Center for a Livable Future) ]

Choosing healthy foods now called a mental disorder

In its never-ending attempt to fabricate "mental disorders" out of every human activity, the psychiatric industry is now pushing the most ridiculous disease they've invented yet: Healthy eating disorder.

This is no joke: If you focus on eating healthy foods, you're "mentally diseased" and probably need some sort of chemical treatment involving powerful psychotropic drugs. The Guardian newspaper reports, "Fixation with healthy eating can be sign of serious psychological disorder" and goes on to claim this "disease" is called orthorexia nervosa -- which is basically just Latin for "nervous about correct eating."

READ MORE (Natural News) ]

Healthy food obsession sparks rise in new eating disorder

Eating disorder charities are reporting a rise in the number of people suffering from a serious psychological condition characterised by an obsession with healthy eating.

The condition, orthorexia nervosa, affects equal numbers of men and women, but sufferers tend to be aged over 30, middle-class and well-educated.

READ MORE (Guardian) ]

Genetically Altered Salmon Get Closer to the Table

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate.

The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.

READ MORE (New York Times) ]

Is Interstate Shipping Raw Milk Products Illegal?

In the minds of attorneys for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it's illegal to ship raw milk products for human consumption across state lines. In fact, FDA prohibits such milk in interstate commerce.

But last week, attorneys for the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund challenged the federal ban as unconstitutional and outside FDA's statutory authority. FCLDF filed suit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and FDS.

READ MORE (American Agriculturalist) ]

USDA, Dept. of Justice focus on dairy industry competition

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have set their regulatory sights on the dairy industry, which both agencies say is consolidating more production and influence among fewer milk producers.

The two federal agencies held a joint meeting Friday in Madison, Wis., to discuss antitrust and regulatory enforcement of the dairy industry. The workshop was similar to those conducted earlier in the year regarding the poultry industry, which led to sweeping reform in antitrust rules surrounding the production and packing of poultry and other meats.

READ MORE (Times-News) ]

What I Learned in Detroit

At the United States Social Forum in Detroit I concentrated on three areas: reclaiming the commons, organic farms and the end of mountaintop removal. My idea was that this trinity of issues make a revolutionary combination.

Reclaiming the commons -- taking back into public ownership the air, water, parks, schools and much of government from the privatizing take-over begun by Ronald Reagan, is already underway. Commons-defense is often couched in liberal NPR-like soft-focus rhetoric, but can be an effective bull-work against corporate capitalism. The expansion by Wall Street each quarter mandates a broad attack on the natural world (often commonly owned only in theory, like "the sky"). The one-way extraction can be from the ocean beyond the national 200 mile limit or deep in the interior of our individual psyches. From first nations people to government financial regulators -- we are now resisting. With new limits, corporate capitalism can no longer expand. It must change or die.

READ MORE (Huffington Post) ]

Crop mobs': Local-food movement plus social networking

It was a rainy Saturday - a perfect day for sleeping late or lingering over a latte. But graduate student Sarah Burridge of Minneapolis was in a farm field getting wet and dirty with a bunch of people she didn't know. They got a quick demonstration on the stirrup hoe, then got to work planting tomatoes and onions, and mulching paths using mown alfalfa.

Burridge didn't get paid. She didn't even get much produce - just a few radishes. She spent the day as a farm hand for "fun," she said, after a Facebook friend told her about having a great experience volunteering at a farm near Washington, D.C.

READ MORE (KansasCity.com) ]

States on lookout for local produce that isn’t

The official start of summer also ushers in numerous locally grown campaigns across the country, and at least one state is on the lookout for products that aren’t what they claim to be.

Earlier this month, New Jersey warned consumers to be aware of fresh produce that may be labeled or promoted as New Jersey-grown — even before harvests in the state had begun — to increase its cachet.

READ MORE (The Packer) ]

Calling for an 'old-fashioned' green revolution

The new green revolution that is needed on the continent of Africa has been much discussed of late.

With pressing development needs in many parts of Africa, and with a growing population, that revolution is desperately overdue.

READ MORE (BBC) ]

Portobello signs up for The Dirty Life

Portobello Books has acquired a "riveting" tale of a city woman who traded her single life in Manhattan to marry a farmer.

Laura Barber bought UK and Commonwealth rights to The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball at auction from Lutyens & Rubinstein on behalf of Sterling Lord Literistic. The non-fiction work will be published as a lead non-fiction title in spring 2011.

READ MORE (The Bookseller) ]

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