Dirty Dairy: Why Consumers Need To Force Ben And Jerry’s To Go Organic

From organicconsumers.org

By Ronnie Cummins for Organic Consumers Association – The Vermont brand has been built on a bucolic image of cows grazing on endless pastures . . . Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and other Vermont companies have used this idyllic imagery to sell their products. Gone are the days, however, when most of Vermont’s cows were grazing in spectacularly scenic landscapes. Now a majority of Vermont’s cows are locked up in . . . ‘confined animal feeding operations’ or CAFOs . . . grazing on concrete with a diet rich in GMO corn and pesticides. – “Vermont’s GMO Addiction: Pesticides, Polluted Water and Climate Destruction,” Regeneration Vermont The most important thing we can do today as conscious consumers, farmers and food workers is to regenerate public health, the environment and climate stability. We can do this most readily by moving away from industrial, GMO and factory-farm food toward an organic, pasture-based, soil-regenerative, humane, carbon-sequestering and climate-friendly agriculture system. What’s standing in the way of this life-or-death transformation? Rampant greenwashing. The proliferation of $90 billion worth of fraudulently labeled or advertised “natural” and “socially responsible” food products in the U.S. confuses even the most well-intentioned of consumers and lures them away from purchasing genuine organic or grass-fed products.

Toxic Industrial Chemicals Found In 10 Types Of Macaroni And Cheese Powders

jeepersmedia / Flickr

By Staff of Earth Justice – Laboratory testing of 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products has revealed toxic industrial chemicals (known as phthalates) in the cheese powders of all of the tested items, according to the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a national alliance of leading public health and food safety groups. In recognition of National Macaroni and Cheese Day, the coalition has issued a call to The Kraft Heinz Company—the dominant seller of boxed macaroni and cheese, with 76 percent of market share—to drive industry-wide change by eliminating any sources of phthalates (THAL-eights) that may end up in its cheese products. Detailed information and a public petition are available at http://www.KleanUpKraft.org. “Serving up one of America’s favorite comfort foods shouldn’t mean exposing your children and family to harmful chemicals,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director of the Environmental Health Strategy Center, a coalition member. “Our test results underscore the need for industry to comprehensively test their products for phthalates and determine the steps needed to eliminate them.” Two million boxes of macaroni and cheese are sold every day in the U.S.

U.S. Blocking Food Shipments To Venezuela, Says Minister

A man sits in front of a mural in Caracas, Venezuela | Photo: Reuters

By Staff of Xinhua Net – CARACAS, July 12 (Xinhua) — The United States is blocking food shipments to Venezuela, a country struggling with shortages of staple goods, Venezuelan Minister of Urban Agriculture Freddy Bernal said on Wednesday. Bernal said U.S. threats of sanctions against companies doing business with Venezuela was interfering with the country’s supply of imported foodstuffs. “The United States pressures shipping companies that if they make purchases, sales or transactions with Venezuela, they will be sanctioned,” Bernal said in an interview with Caracas-based Union Radio. Bernal has coordinated a government program to deliver basic goods to families, which was put in place after Venezuela’s political and economic crises led to shortages. That aid includes both domestic products and tons of grains and meats imported from Nicaragua, Panama and Mexico, said Bernal, adding U.S. interference was impeding the national distribution of the foodstuffs. Shortages of dietary staples and other basic goods have fueled discontent in Venezuela. Bernal also denounced recent stepped-up anti-government demonstrations for destroying “30 food warehouses” that support the food aid program.

Maine's Food Sovereignty Law Touted As Nationwide First

A farmer in Haiti explains his harvesting process as he stands in front of a large cabbage plot, holding a garden hoe. Small farmers from the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP) are resisting the intrusion of multinational agriculture corporations like Monsanto into their food supply. (Flickr / Unitarian Universalist Service Committee)

By Julia Bayly for Bangor Daily News – With a stroke of his pen, Gov. Paul LePage last week enacted landmark legislation putting Maine in the forefront of the food sovereignty movement. LePage signed LD 725, An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems, Friday legitimizing the authority of towns and communities to enact ordinances regulating local food distribution free from state regulatory control. According to food sovereignty advocates, the law is the first of its kind in the country. “This is a great day for rural economic development and the environmental and social wealth of rural communities,” said Rep. Craig Hickman, D-Winthrop. “The Governor has signed into law a first-in-the-nation piece of landmark legislation [and] the state of Maine will [now] recognize, at last, the right of municipalities to regulate local food systems as they see fit.” Sponsored by Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, LD 725 does not include food grown or processed for wholesale or retail distribution outside of the community from which it comes. Supporters of food sovereignty want local food producers to be exempt from state licensing and inspections governing the selling of food as long as the transactions are between the producers and the customers for home consumption or when the food is sold and consumed at community events such as church suppers.

Monsanto’s Mess–Four Signs Consumers Are Winning

A sign at Wednesday morning's rally in front of the U.S. Capitol building. (Photo: Occupy Monsanto/@gmo917/Twitter)

By Katherine Paul for Organic Consumers Association – Next month will mark one year since Congress obliterated Vermont’s GMO labeling law and replaced it with its own faux-labeling measure. The DARK Act was an outright attack on consumer and states’ rights. Still, then-President Obama refused to veto it. We lost the right to labels on GMO foods. But we never lost our determination to expose Monsanto’s corrupt manipulation of government agencies, or the truth about just how harmful Roundup herbicide is to humans and the environment. Fast forward to today. Monsanto is facing down scores of lawsuits by people, or their families, who were diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma after being exposed to Roundup. Those lawsuits have led to revelations about possible collusion between Monsanto employees and former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials to bury evidence of Roundup’s carcinogenicity. Meanwhile the EPA, perhaps fearing consumer backlash, refuses to rule on whether to renew the license for glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), even though we’re now nearly two years past the deadline.

Dow’s Dastardly Deeds

Flickr/ Francisco Javier Argel

By Staff of Organic Consumers Association – With Monsanto looking to be acquired by Germany-based Bayer, is Dow Chemical taking over Monsanto’s role of chief influence-buyer in Washington, D.C.? Dow wasted no time wooing Trump—the poison-peddler ponied up $1 million for the new president’s inauguration festivities. Trump swiftly rewarded Dow by naming CEO Andrew Liveris to head a new White House manufacturing working group. In February, after Trump signed an executive order aimed at rolling back regulations (including those on pesticides and GMOs), he handed the pen to Liveris. Fitting, given that Trump’s new EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, was quick to overturn the Obama administration’s proposed ban on one of Dow’s moneymakers, chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide. (Pruitt’s move prompted a lawsuit by environmental groups). Now, it seems, just banning organophosphates isn’t enough. A new report by the Associated Press (AP) says lawyers for Dow and two other manufacturers of organophosphates are asking Trump’s administration to throw out the EPA’s own studies on the dangerous effects of chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates, known to lower I.Q.s and cause neurological damage in children.

‘Seed’ Documentary Explores The David-and-Goliath Battle With Food Corporations

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By Jordan Riefe for Truth Dig – Maybe Jack wasn’t the fool son when he traded the family cow for a handful of magic beans. Seeds are the givers of life, the minute building blocks of family farms and agri-empires alike. They are powerful and often sacred objects woven into local customs and cultures around the world. America’s own Thomas Jefferson was a famous horticulturist and seed saver who grew 330 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit. Among his illustrious titles was that of patent examiner, basing his decisions on laws he himself had written. Items deliberately excluded from patents included plants and animals, placing public interest over private gain. Throughout human existence, seed diversity has been a constant, including drought-resistant strains, or those able to withstand floods or wide temperature swings. For countries plagued by war and poverty, this can mean the difference between life and death. “The Irish potato famine is a clear and elementary example of what happens when you rely on too little diversity—[you get a] mass refugee situation, many of them fleeing to the U.S.,” Jon Betz tells Truthdig. He and co-director Taggart Siegel are the filmmaking team of “Seed: The Untold Story,” a documentary that premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens on April 17, and streams online beginning April 18.

Ten Tips To Make Every Day Earth Day

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By Lloyd Alter for Tree Hugger. Readers of a certain age will remember Pogo, the political satire strip that was probably the Doonesbury of the sixties. Walt Kelly did this great poster for the first Earth Day and really, nothing has changed. So many email pitches for green products, infographics and listicles (articles made of lists) come to me at TreeHugger. It is astounding, how many of them there are, and how trivial they can be. One that got me particularly cranked suggested that we could make a big difference in the state of the world by turning our TV brightness settings down and making the video game console go to sleep. A few years back, one of my sustainable design students asked what she could do to go green that did not involve buying replacement windows, electric cars or bamboo socks; Here is an Earth Day roundup of them, an update of an earlier version, listing the things that anyone can do.

Food Protests Erupt In Egypt As Bread Supplies Cut

An Egyptian holds a piece of bread to protest against the high prices of goods in Tahrir square in Cairo February 8, 2013. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany )

By Neil Ketchley and Thoraya El-Rayyes for MERIP – On March 6, 2017, hundreds of local residents took to the streets of towns and cities in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta after the Ministry of Supply cut their daily ration of subsidized baladi bread. By the following day, thousands were protesting in 17 districts across the country. In Alexandria, protestors blockaded a main road at the entrance of a major port for over four hours, while residents in the working class Giza suburb of Imbaba blocked the airport road. Elsewhere, women in the Nile Delta city of Dissuq staged a noisy sit-in on the tracks of the local train station, where they chanted, “One, two, where is the bread?” and called for the overthrow of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s government.

Monsanto Isn’t Feeding The World—It’s Killing Our Children

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By Katherine Paul for AlterNet -Two new reports published in recent weeks add to the already large and convincing body of evidence, accumulated over more than half a century, that agricultural pesticides and other toxic chemicals are poisoning us. Both reports issue scathing indictments of U.S. and global regulatory systems that collude with chemical companies to hide the truth from the public, while they fill their coffers with ill-gotten profits. According to the World Health Organization, whose report focused on a range of environmental risks, the cost of a polluted environment adds up to the deaths of 1.7 million children every year.

Throw Sands In The Gears Of Everything

From organicconsumers.org

By Ronnie Cummins for Organic Consumers Association – Trump has appointed a slate of millionaire and billionaire corporate cronies to key, powerful positions, with orders to immediately set to work rolling back any regulations or policies that even hint at cutting into corporate profits. We will have an EPA Administrator, an Energy Secretary and a head of the CIA who largely reject the international scientific consensus that human behavior is a contributing factor to global warming. We will have billionaire bankers running the U.S. Treasury Department and the American economy. And yesterday we learned, not surprisingly, that the new USDA Secretary of Agriculture will be former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue.

World Bank's Scheme to Hijack Farmers' Rights To Seeds

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By Alice Martin-Prevel of the Oakland Institute. Oakland, CA—Ahead of World Bank’s release of the 2017 “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” (EBA) report this month, 157 organizations and academics from around the world denounce the Bank’s scheme to hijack farmers’ right to seeds, attack on food sovereignty and the environment. In a letter to the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and EBA’s five Western donors, the group demands the immediate end of the project, originally requested by the G8 to support its industry-co-opted New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. “The EBA dictates so-called ‘good practices’ to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they implement its prescriptions,” said Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute. “But the EBA has become the latest tool, to push pro-corporate agricultural policies, notably in the seed sector—where it promotes industrial seeds, that benefit a handful of agrochemical companies,” he continued.

Act Out: Ministry Of Truth, Save The Bees

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By Eleanor Goldfield for Act Out! Conveniently signed into law on December 23rd, the benignly named Cultural Engagement Center just seeks to “recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” Or as journalist Rick Sterling put it, it sets aside “160 million dollars to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.” And, yes, bees are dying. And for those of us who enjoy eating food, that’s bad news. Enter the solitary bee. This means local bees pollinating local plants and crops, promoting the overall ecological health of the entire area they populate. Charlie Mohr of Crown Bees explains more about how we can save the bees, our food and our land with solitary bees.

Dairy Queen Tells Racist Franchisee His Store Is Closed Forever

From stltoday.com

By Clint Rainey for Grub Street – Despite him using the word “freely to describe black people,” police told Ford it wasn’t a criminal act, so there wasn’t much they could do. Ford took to Facebook instead, where her post quickly exploded. While she says the site deleted the original for some reason, her updates have received plenty of attention: It didn’t take long for Dairy Queen’s headquarters to take action. It released a statement Thursday that called Crichton’s behavior “inexcusable, reprehensible, and unacceptable,” and then, on Friday, the chain announced that Crichton’s restaurant would close, effective immediately, and “not reopen as a Dairy Queen unless ownership changes at that location.”

Small Town Refused Walmart When Last Grocery Store Closed

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By Melissa Hellman for Yes! Magazine. For two months in 2012, longtime Iola, Kansas, resident Mary Ross trudged through the sweltering heat, waving gnats from her view as she walked door to door with a petition. It was the hottest summer since moving there with her family about 30 years ago, but Ross was determined to gather signatures requesting a grocery store be established in the small rural town of fewer than 6,000 people. Iola had lost its last independent grocery store four years earlier, shortly after the Wal-mart Supercenter—with its own expansive aisles—came to town and drove out all of the competition. “I live in a small town. That was my choice,” she says. But since Iola’s three smaller grocery stores went out of business, she has to drive 8 to 20 miles to find healthy food choices and the specific ingredients for her home-cooked meals.