May 31st, 2007
With the announcement that it will purchase VitaminWater Glaceau for $4.1 billion dollars, Coca-Cola, long a purveyor of sugary soda, is supplementing its bottled tap water business with bottled vitamin water full of sugar. The company already bottles municipal tap water, further purifies it, and slaps on its Dasani label. People would do better to drink tap water, most of which is clean, safe and much more tested and regulated than true bottled spring water. There’s just too much pollution associated with all that plastic production and transportation, not to mention taking water from communities that depend on it.
As far as Glaceau is concerned, that‚ just more purified tap water with sugar in the form of crystalline fructose, some color, citric acid and a few vitamins and minerals dribbled in at such low levels that one would do better to just eat a good, well-balanced dietor just a piece of fruit.
So if you see Glaceau or any other bottled water, regardless of whether it‚ flavored, comes from a spring or from a municipal tap, just keep on walking. Bag the bottles and stick with straight tap H20. If necessary, use a filter.
May 29th, 2007
If you were carefully reading the Orange County Register Money section this week, you may have noticed the following line in an article on organic milk:
Slightly more than half of the dairy purchased by Starbucks in the
United States is produced without the use of growth hormones, a company
official said this week.
You may then have fallen right out of your chair because, the last you heard, only 37 percent of Starbucks’ milk was hormone-free.
But, Food & Water Watch has gotten confirmation on this point , though Starbucks is keeping it hush-hush, 51 percent of their milk supply is now rBGH-free. Conscientious consumers in the DC metro area (including a few Food & Water Watch staffers who have been in serious Frappachino withdrawal since we started this campaign) and several other states can now buy artificial hormone-free coffee beverages as their local Starbucks.
Does this mean we spend the summer on our porches sipping iced caramel machiattos? Nope, we continue to ask Starbucks to commit to a timeline for converting to 100 percent rbgh-free dairy.
|States with rbgh-free Starbucks as of jan 2007
(37% of supply)
|States to go rbgh-free since jan 2007
(an additional 14%)
- Northern California
- New Mexico
- northern Nevada
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
- parts of Connecticut
- southern Nevada
- Washington D.C.
- parts of Pennsylvania
- parts of New Jersey
Now, if you live in one of these “parts of” states and want to know if your store is rbgh-free, we think you should call and ask (1-800-235-2883, Mon , Fri 5 AM , 6 PM PST). Then, tell us what they say.
May 25th, 2007
The Sunlight Foundation and the Center for Media and Democracy have set up a new website that will help citizens track issues before their elected representatives in Congress. They’re calling it Congresspedia.
You can find your member of Congress and read up on pending legislation. We’re partial to the page about open ocean aquaculture.
May 24th, 2007
The vast majority of Americans, 86% of us, get our water from a local, public utility. Despite the fact that the United States has some of the best water systems in the world, private water companies continue to try and wrest control of this essential resource away from the public. These corporations often argue that they can do the job better and cheaper. But the private water industry undermined its own argument last week when Food & Water Watch released
the sealed minutes from a board meeting of one of the world’s largest private water companies, Germany-based RWE. (It’s a fun read . . . Ok, it’s at least an interesting read.)The documents cite
“considerable political resistance to privatization of the water sector”
“performance problems and weak growth at American Water”
as reasons for the German utility’s quick exit from the water business. RWE is planning to sell American Water, the largest private water company in the United States, later this year, after owning it for fewer than 5 years.
The minutes also cite outdated infrastructure, increasing regulatory requirements, and opposition to rate increases as challenges to profitability in the American Water division.
“These minutes demonstrate that RWE doesn’t believe that private water companies in the United States are a good investment. The company is dumping their bad investment on Wall Street investors and American ratepayers,” Wenonah Hauter, our executive director, told U.S. News & World Report which picked up the story.
Instead of looking to privatization, our government should protect current and future generations of Americans by dedicating a funding stream for water – a trust fund to keep our water clean and safe.
May 15th, 2007
It‚ in hog feed; it‚ in poultry feed; it‚ in fish feed. It‚ melamine, known as plastic to the rest of us, yum!
Kona Blue, the industrial fish farming operation that Food & Water Watch criticized in our Seas of Doubt report and here on the blog, has announced that its fish were fed melamine laced feed and has suspended sales.
The whole melamine experience just highlights the woefully inadequate job the federal government is doing at protecting American consumers in the face of rising imports. Yesterday, Food & Water Watch released a little analysis of import refusals for veterinary drug residues in seafood (again, yum!). It turns out that without increasing inspections, contaminated shipments are up dramatically in the first four months of 2007. Read the whole analysis here.
May 11th, 2007
In last month‚ Currents, we highlighted Knox Friends of Locally Owned Water, the grassroots group near Pittsburgh, PA campaigning to maintain local control of their water. Well, their work has paid off!
On May 8, the Knox City Council voted against selling the local water and wastewater systems to either of the two companies vying for it: American Water and Aqua America. Those are the two largest private water companies in the United States. One council member, Jim Curran, did not vote because he is an American Water employee; he had originally presented the idea of privatization to the full council.
Knox FLOW members collected hundreds of petition signatures from residents opposed to the sale of the water systems, and they spoke up at city council meetings. Knox‚ water systems still need upgrades, and rates will likely go up to pay for those. ‚We figured, if were paying for the upgrades anyway, we might as well own the system in the end,” said Carol Weaver, Knox‚ former mayor and a founder of FLOW.
May 8th, 2007
It turns out that spraying fossil fuel-based synthetic fertilizers and pesticides all over the land is not the only way to feed people. Danish researchers told a United Nations conference last weekend that organic agriculture could feed the world and protect the environment.
In part by encouraging a diversity of crops, organic farming could help hungry people in sub Saharan Africa by reducing their need to import food. It also would relieve farmers of the need to buy expensive chemical inputs common to unsustainable industrial agriculture.
Click here for more on organic food and farming finally getting the credit it deserves.
May 7th, 2007
Or, that was the thrust of the joint press release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture this morning when they announced that they would allow 20 million chickens potentially fed contaminated feed to go to slaughter and processing.
While that sounds like a lot of chickens, it‚ actually only 0.2% of the 9 billion chickens raised annually in the United States. But, in case you are wondering, this isn’t family-farmer Joe‚ livestock investment that FDA/USDA is protecting. The original estimate (since expanded) of 3.1 million “adulterated chickens” only affected 38 so-called farms. These are “large, brand-name growers,” USDA spokesman Keith Williams told the Washington Post. “These are names you would know.” You know, the kind of farm that raises 80,000+ birds.
Anybody else thinking ideal bird flu conditions , right there?
(Read the Food & Water Watch letter to USDA objecting to our government‚ response to melamine contaminated chicken feed here.)
On a side note, federal regulators approved a merger between Smithfield Foods and Premium Standard Farms last week because allowing a merger between the largest and second largest hog producer/pork processor will “not harm competition or depress prices paid to hog farmers.” Of course, if you raise hogs in the southeast United States, you now only have one processor to sell your animals to because the two competing processors in your area just merged. Can you hear the groans in our office from where you’re sitting?
May 3rd, 2007
Gulfnews.com reported on May 2 that a number of desalination plants in the Persian Gulf region sold water that failed to meet health standards because they were “eager to cut the processing time as the official desalination process takes a long time and consumes a lot of energy.”
The desalination industry would like you to believe that big, expensive, energy-hungry plants are the only solution to future water crises. But in reality, water conservation would do much to alleviate water shortages. And this is another place where water, energy, and food are connected. The biggest users of water are corporations, particularly electric energy utilities and large-scale irrigated agriculture.
For more on that go to: U.S. Geological Survey – Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000
May 2nd, 2007
We were pleased to see that Washington Post environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin graced the pages of the Food section today in an excellent article about the challenge of managing the ocean fisheries in a sustainable manner as seafood demand continues to rise. The article discussed the trap of shifting from consumption of one fish to another as more and more favorite fish populations become depleted. Given that the Bush Administration, many members of Congress, and some of the media seem to have bought into the myth (hook, line, and sinker) that fish farming will save us, it was refreshing to read an article that acknowledged the problems with popular fish farm methods.
Many chefs serve farm-raised fish on the grounds that farming operations do not deplete wild fish stocks. . . . but scientists and environmental activists say the open-water fish farms that produce them can pollute the ocean while consuming vast amounts of smaller, wild fish as feed for the salmon.
While the Post article was a bit short on solutions, it did highlight some of the great work of chefs who are leading the way toward sustainable seafood consumption.