With each attempt to pass the 2012 farm bill (yes, it has been that long), congressional Republicans keep ratcheting up their cruelty to poor Americans. While last year’s bill would have cut $16 billion to food stamps, the House of Representatives has now proposed an astonishing $39 billion reduction in benefits over 10 years. While many media pundits are outraged, and rightly so, missing from the national conversation are important questions about the effectiveness of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, the federal food assistance plan formerly known as food stamps. Read rest at Al Jazeera America …
Posts Tagged ‘USDA’
In April, I submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on behalf of Center for Food Safety regarding proposed nutrition guidelines for “competitive foods” sold in schools. These are foods sold outside the school program and consist mainly of junk food and soda. Our position was that schools should do away with these foods altogether and focus on improved school meals. While some groups celebrated when the interim final rule was released in June, numerous questions remain. (USDA is calling the rule “Smart Snacks in School.”) I asked registered dietitian Andy Bellatti to take a closer look at the new nutrition guidelines for potential weaknesses. You can submit comments to USDA until October 28; the rule takes effect in the 2014 school year.
Read the interview at Center for Food Safety …
Short answer: Next to nothing.
With the nation finally waking up to the sad reality that truly healthy food doesn’t come in a box, food manufacturers are desperate to keep shoppers fooled into thinking highly processed food products are good for them. How do companies get away with this? Because the federal government lets them.
But it’s not for a lack of trying.
It seems hardly a week goes by without another foodborne illness outbreak. This time, in frozen organic berries, proving once again that even the health-conscious are not immune from getting sick. Although you wouldn’t know it from the packaging, the contaminated fruit came from overseas, raising several questions such as: Can we trust the USDA organic seal on imported food? I address this and other issues about our globalized food system in my latest article for Center for Food Safety, which you can read on their site here.
Our founding fathers, white-maleness aside, did get a few things right. One of them was the concept of “separation of powers,” to ensure a system of checks and balances among the three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. But a dangerous provision snuck into the budget bill passed last week in Congress upends that system. Continue reading →
The recent announcement by USDA that the agency is relaxing (for now) its new limits on meat and grains has garnered mixed reactions from advocates. Some such as Bettina Siegel say the flexibility is needed while others such as Marion Nestle are calling out the politics. I asked Amie Hamlin, executive director of the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, for her reaction. Hamlin’s group has been pushing for more plant-based options in New York schools for years and knows the issues well. – MS
The battle in California over Proposition 37, which would require labeling of foods containing GMOs, is really heating up. Millions of dollars are already being poured into the opposition campaign, with much of it going to former Big Tobacco shills. Over at GMO HQ, Monsanto recently posted this missive called “Taking a Stand: Proposition 37, The California Labeling Proposal,” in which the biotech giant explains why it is opposing the measure (to the tune of $4.2 million so far).
Rarely does the mainstream media bother to connect the dots when it comes to our broken food safety system. Consider these two recent headlines:
The latter story celebrating government action to “help farmers” — prompted by this U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) press release — was trumpeted by major media outlets across the nation without any questions raised. Of course American farmers need help during times of drought and that effort is well worth supporting, but is the indiscriminate buying up of meat really the best and only idea the feds can come up with? Read rest at Center for Food Safety…
Postscript: Since writing this article, the federal government reported that two people have died and 141 were made sick by salmonella in yet another cantaloupe outbreak, this one in 20 states.