July, 2011 | Food & Water Watch
Victory! Farm Bureau case challenging EPA’s right to share factory farm data dismissed. more wins »


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Blog Posts: July 2011

July 29th, 2011

Super-Mega Obama-Mart… eh, Nevermind.

By Rich Bindell

I saw that the First Lady Michelle Obama is going to unite with some of the super-mega-box stores to help bring healthy food to all socio-economic classes. At first I got really fired up about it. I was going to write about how ridiculous it seems to solve the problems in our food system by working with some of the players who are responsible for creating them. I was going to mention that, while working with Walmart, Supervalu, and Walgreens might seem like a quicker way to tackle food access, a better idea would be to work on making changes to the Farm Bill that would make prices fair for farmers and consumers, thus making a far greater contribution toward the idea of accessible, healthy food for all. But, then I thought, “Nah… I’ve already done that.”

Instead, I’d rather wish you nice weekend and remind you that our Fair Farm Bill Road Trip begins tomorrow. Keep on the lookout for our organizers!

July 28th, 2011

Is Bath and Body Works Selling Toxic Soap?

If your soap contains triclosan, it could be doing more harm than good. We are asking Bath and Body Works to stop using triclosan in their products.

Bath and Body Works offers various and sundry products for looking shiny and smelling pleasant. But not everything is as fragrant and innocent as it seems in the land of raspberry lip tickles and loganberry love lotions. While it may seem harmless to dip into a Bath and Body Works gift basket, deep within some of their soapy concoctions of rose petals and fairy dust lies a secret antibacterial potion that we could all do without. This is why Food & Water Watch is asking Bath and Body Works to stop selling products containing triclosan. Read the full article…

July 27th, 2011

Harrassment of Turkish Water Activists Continues After Death of Metin Lokumcu

In just two days, on July 28, it will be the one-year anniversary of the passing of the UN resolution on the human right to water and sanitation. While the UN General Assembly determined on that day that everyone should have access to clean water, it is clear that privatization schemes continue to run rampant throughout the world, undermining the goal of the resolution and targeting impoverished communities as they continue to treat water as a commodity. You can see an unfortunate example of this battle over public resources happening right now in Hopa, Turkey. Read the full article…

July 22nd, 2011

So, We Can’t Afford to Eat Healthy. Should We Just Give Up?

By Rich Bindell

Gallup released the results of a poll about Americans’ eating habits this year compared to last, and the results aren’t so great. According to the poll, “Adults’ health habits have been worse in each of the past three months compared with the same months in 2010.” With the healthy food movement getting stronger each year, it seems surprising that we fell 1.4 points in our index score. But, the problem doesn’t lie simply in percentages of people who make healthy food choices. In his blog on Salon.com, David Sirota describes the reason our nation is food challenged. While he does a great job of breaking down a giant portion of the problem, he misses a great opportunity to suggest steps we can take toward a solution. Read the full article…

July 21st, 2011

Arsenic & Young Face

Apple juice from China could be dangerous to your children thanks to high levels of arsenic. Image provided by Patrick Geltinger.

As if the FDA doesn’t have enough trouble already, now it has an apple juice problem that has people talking. Food & Water Watch and Empire State Consumer Project sent a letter to the FDA that included test results from apple juice samples. One juice sample contained levels of arsenic that were five times higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency would allow in drinking water. Considering that the biggest consumers of apple juice products are children, you would think that the FDA would want the monitoring process to be at least as strict on juice as the EPA is on water.

The letter (you can read the press release here) calls on the FDA to develop a much better system of monitoring our juice, especially because two-thirds of apple juice consumed in the United States — 400 million gallons of juice each year — comes from China. Knowing that China has a poor record when it comes to food safety, why are we gambling with a product consumed mostly by kids? Read the full article…

Are You Ready to be a Seafood Hero?

By Rich Bindell

What kind of fish did you eat last week? Salmon? Tilapia? BORING!!! Eating those fish won’t save an ecosystem. If you’re looking to impress your friends with an adventurous seafood meal that is both sustainable and exciting to prepare, it’s time for you to dine on invasive species. Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter and Southgate Executive Chef Kerry Heffernan were on CNN this morning, touting the benefits of eating Asian carp, Chinese mitten crab, European green crab, lionfish, Mozambique and blue tilapia, and walking catfish.

A fish is considered to be invasive if it’s not native to its current environment and it becomes destructive to that environment. These exotic fish often have voracious appetites and when they compete with native species for food in their new ecosystem, they usually win. Fortunately for us — and for the species that are threatened by their presence — these invasive fish are edible, so it’s time to eat up! Read the full article…

July 20th, 2011

Will Portland State University be Bottled Water-Free Within Five Years?

By Rich Bindell

It’s nice to get some good news in the form of a small but important victory from the field: Pacific University has banned the sale of bottled water. Starting in August, no one will be able to purchase bottled water on campus or access bottled water through official university functions. Congratulations to the students and alumni who made it happen!

Even though Pacific University is a smaller school than, let’s say, Portland State University (PSU), this is still a great win for water advocates across the country. Why make the comparison between the two schools? Sometimes you have to read between the lines to get to the heart of the story. Read the full article…

July 19th, 2011

Grab Your Cow Suit: The 2012 Fair Farm Bill Road Trip Begins!

By Rich Bindell

Summer won’t be complete until you pack a bag, jump in your car and hit the pavement for a road trip. (Oh, and grab your cow suit too!) It’s the classic American experience that hones in on the pulse of people, place and food. Since we are looking to tie these together in an effort to improve our food system, it seems appropriate to carry on our tradition of a summer road trip in support of the fair food movement. On July 30, Food & Water Watch will screech our tires as we prepare to hit 20 states in 30 days on our 2012 Farm Bill Road Trip.

What’s this tour about?

Think back to when you first started hearing phrases like, “fair food,” “farm-to-table,” “factory farms” and “sustainable agriculture.” I know that I felt like quite a rookie. How did these terms become so critical to understanding and improving our food system? When did things get so complicated that we actually had to point out to people that it’s better to have food that comes straight from a grower, without chemicals, additives and unnecessary hormones? Why are foods like apples, broccoli, almonds, tomatoes and kale more expensive and more difficult to acquire than foods like cheeseburgers, corn chips, chicken nuggets and canned chili?

While the answers to these questions are definitely not simple, all is not lost. Our food system may be broken, but it’s not impossible to repair. There’s certainly no shortage of opinions on the topic of food, but there’s only one piece of legislation that holds the key to making positive changes to the way we produce and distribute food around the country: the 2012 Farm Bill. Those of us who truly want to improve our food system need to be educated on how the rules are implemented. Read the full article…

July 15th, 2011

Real Fishermen Attach Their Names to Their Cause

This flier has the wrong idea about fishery management, which is probably why the creators were afraid to include their name.

In the halls outside of the offices of the members of our nation’s Congress, it is common practice to occasionally scatter fliers relating to a political or social issue. Those who paper the halls typically identify themselves somewhere on the flier so as to take ownership of their message. So, when one of our staff discovered a pro-catch shares flier had been anonymously distributed around Capitol Hill (see top photo) with a weak argument within its text, it seemed fitting to respond. Read the full article…

July 14th, 2011

Summer’s Coolest Culinary Trend: Invasive Species

By Leslie Hatfield

[Originally posted at Ecocentric on July 13, 2011]

Asian carp ceviche demonstrates that eating invasive species can be a wonderful culinary experience.

Last week, I attended an event at New York City’s famous James Beard House that took me back to Yellowstone National Park.

Around this time last summer, I was on a tour boat on Lake Yellowstone with my family, where we learned that lake trout, a non-native species introduced around 1995 (presumably by an angler), had grown extremely problematic for the ecosystem of the lake – in particular, for the prized cutthroat trout, which is easily preyed upon and out-competed by the larger lake trout.

Not only was there no fishing limit on lake trout but in fact, the only rule about catching them was that if you weren’t going to eat them, you had to kill them before throwing them back. According to our tour guide, you could cart a fresh-caught lake trout to any of the park’s restaurants for professional cooking and earn a pat on the back from the chef and staff.

“Welcome to the invasive species smorgasbord! Let’s eat them before they eat us.”

Why did my visit to the Manhattan-based James Beard House inspire me to recall that ecological factoid from my visit to the nation’s oldest national park? Last Wednesday night, Kerry Heffernan, head chef for Central Park’s South Gate Restaurant, prepared a delectable feast based on four exotic invasive varieties of seafood: green crab (known to most fisherfolk as bait for blackfish), Asian carp, lionfish and blue tilapia.

The brainchild behind the event was Washington, D.C.- based Food & Water Watch, producers of the Smart Seafood Guide. In partnership with James Beard House, the watchdog organization had invited Chef Kerry to prepare the invasives Iron Chef-style — with a little more than a day’s notice. This isn’t much time to get acquainted with the four exotic new ingredients, but Heffernan managed the challenge admirably, at least, according to this amateur seafood lover. Read the full article…

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