June 1st, 2011
By Sarah Alexander
Today one in three American children are overweight or obese. It doesn’t help that kids are bombarded with advertising on TV, the Internet, social media and through “advergames,” which are ads dressed up as games and that unfortunately, much of the food that’s marketed to children is terrible for their health: sugary cereals, soda and drinks loaded with sugar and corn syrup, fast food, and snacks.
Corporations spend close to $1.6 billion marketing food to children each year, and now kids are seeing advertising everywhere they look. Online marketing to kids now includes fun games and e-card designs made with images of candy and sugary cereals. According to Cereal Facts, a report from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, one site operated by General Mills has over 767,000 young people spending more than an hour each month playing games that are branded for cereals like Lucky Charms® and Trix®. There are company-sponsored pages on Facebook for Froot Loops®, Frosted Flakes®, Lucky Charms and other products with more than 10,000 fans each.
What’s a kid or a parent to do?
The Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children is actually looking at creating standards that would limit marketing junk food to kids. Marketing junk food to kids has gone on for too long, and obesity rates in the United States should be enough to prompt immediate government action.
Will you submit a comment to help end corporate marketing of junk food to kids? Can you take action to stop the junk food advertising to kids?
May 27th, 2011
By Rich Bindell
While this weekend is supposed to encourage us to pause and think about those who have served or continue to serve our nation, it’s not unlikely that you could end up grilling out at someone’s house over the next few days. Since Memorial Day weekend is the kick-off for summer for many of us, it’s the perfect time to discuss the USDA’s big change to their refrigerator magnet of recommended cooking temperatures for meat. Well, it’s not that big, actually; technically it’s more of an update for pork.
The USDA is changing the recommended cooking temperatures for all thick, whole cuts of pork (roasts, chops, from 160 degrees to 145 degrees with a resting time of three minutes. That means that the thickest part of the meat has to reach 145 degrees and then have three minutes of rest time. This will allow for safe meat consumption, which really means that it will properly kill the pathogens and be microbiologically safe. Read the full article…
May 25th, 2011
By Rich Bindell
Necessity might be the mother of some inventions, but certainly not all of them. In other words: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Perhaps, we should leave room for difference of opinion on the definition of necessity. For some, it seems to reflect the notion that Mother Nature just isn’t quite efficient enough.
Take meat, for example. We’re used to getting meat from actual animals that are raised on farms (or hunted, depending upon where you’re from) and that are born from the wombs of their mothers. Apparently, this is no longer necessary, thanks to the work of biologist and tissue engineer Vladimir Mironov from the Medical University of South Carolina, who believes that we might soon be able to “grow” our own meat. Mironov is involved in the bioengineering of “cultured” or “in-vitro” meat or, as I am calling it, “In-meatro.” Is Mironov another scientist who humbly desires to help solve global hunger or is he blinded by the thought of becoming more efficient than nature? Read the full article…
May 23rd, 2011
By Wenonah Hauter
Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter calls out 147 Members of Congress for "shameful kowtowing" to the meat industry.
Last Wednesday, 147 Members of Congress proved once again that the meat industry can buy public policy. The trade associations for big meat, which are major campaign contributors, have been pitching a hissy fit that they won’t be able to squeeze every penny out of livestock producers. They wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking him to conduct “a more thorough economic analysis” of the proposed fair farm rules (GIPSA) that would give livestock producers a fighting chance when they contract or sell to the consolidated meat industry. This action by the Members is nothing more than yet another obstruction to implementing a rule first proposed in the 1921 Packers and Stockyards Act because of the abusive practices of the meat industry that have continued and worsened through the decades. This rule would eliminate “undue” preference in livestock marketing to the biggest producers. Read the full article…
May 19th, 2011
The Food & Water Watch Factory Farm Map has created quite a buzz over the last several months, and now it’s won an Interactive Media Award (IMA). Created by our friends at New Signature, the Factory Farm Map has taken home IMA’s coveted Best in Class award under the Advocacy category, a rather high honor of which we are very proud. We would like to congratulate our food team for their hard work and New Signature for their creativity in designing a compelling media experience that allowed us to share very detailed information about factory farm statistics that reinforces our messaging on the U.S. food system.
The Factory Farm Map is an interactive resource that charts the concentration of factory-farmed animals across the country and illustrates the geographic shift in where and how food is raised in the U.S. Our researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Census using information from 1997, 2002 and the most current census, 2007, for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations.
The map continues to be an annual labor of love for many people here at Food & Water Watch and we are very happy for everyone involved that this interactive map has seen such tremendous success.
Congratulations to all involved!
May 17th, 2011
A few Chinese farmers found out the hard way that using a growth accelerator could cause watermelon carnage.
The Associated Press reported that approximately 20 farmers in Jiangsu province have witnessed 115 acres of watermelons exploding like land mines, thanks in part to their overuse of a growth accelerator called forchlorfenuron, which caused the fruit to burst. Back in the United States, 80’s comedian Gallagher might be worried about losing his job.
China Central Television said the farmers were all first-time users of forchlorfenuron, which is legal in China and even used on grapes and kiwis in the U.S. While the report suggests that the farmers didn’t use the chemical correctly, the situation highlights a growing concern for Americans: China’s frequent misuse of chemicals — both legal and illegal — in food that might be exported to the U.S. thanks to free trade deals. Read the full article…
May 13th, 2011
By Rich Bindell
Certain products might help us face a future of toxic contaminants, chemical dispersants, genetically engineered mutations and unnecessary hormones and antibiotics in our food and water.
A design student in Germany created a dinner plate that informs consumers of the amount of radiation in their food. Nils Ferber, a student at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg, has introduced the Fukushima Plate, which contains a meter that would allow consumers to determine if their food is contaminated with radiation. Ferber has no plans to sell the plate; rather, his invention is intended to express his cynicism about governments prioritizing profit over public health.
But, why stop with dangers triggered by unpredictable natural disasters? In the U.S., we have other dangers that are presented to consumers that could be avoided. Using Ferber’s idea, I propose we push the envelope and develop a series of products that could really help financially stable consumers prepare for a future of toxic contaminants, chemical dispersants, genetically engineered mutations and filth in our food and water. Read the full article…
May 11th, 2011
The nearly 812,000 hogs on factory farms in Bladen County, North Carolina produce as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Chicago and Atlanta metro areas combined.
In April, we highlighted the environmental and public health dangers associated with North Carolina’s hog industry, one of the biggest industries in the state. North Carolina’s 10 million hogs produce 40 million gallons of manure each day — that’s more than the number of people in the state. In Duplin County alone, 2.2 million hogs produce twice as much untreated manure as the sewage from the New York City metro area. Efforts to implement a plan to ensure that factory hog farms are incorporating responsible practices of manure disposal continue to be unsuccessful. It’s a tug-of-war between those who want to pull North Carolina away from harmful factory farm methods of manure management and those who want to keep dragging the state through lots and lots of manure. Read the full article…
May 6th, 2011
Washington Post Live assembled an all-star conference entitled “The Future of Food” Wednesday at Georgetown University. Speakers included Macarthur Fellow and urban farmer Will Allen, poet/farmer Wendell Barry, professor Marion Nestle and other advocates, government officials and industry representatives. Highlights included a keynote by none other than Prince Charles of Wales (House of Windsor), a passionate advocate of organic farming, who argued that farming systems should mirror “the miraculous ingenuity of nature.”
Not to be outdone by a representative of the British monarchy, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack made a surprise visit and enthusiastically covered many positive topics in agriculture including supporting local food systems, feeding hungry children, and ensuring small and mid-scale farmers can make a living from farming. In the question and answer period, however, conference participants unleashed criticisms that USDA does too little to address industrial agriculture. Read the full article…
April 29th, 2011
President Obama gives berth to industry on big issues like GE food and fracking.
By Rich Bindell
It’s probably safe to say that a majority of Americans were pretty surprised that President Obama hosted an official press conference to share his birth documentation with the nation. Why did the President feel compelled to dignify Donald Trump and other “birthers” with a response at all? Surely, as President, the relationship of power is such that he does not need to lower himself to respond to such a ridiculous and empty allegation. Many have said that the entire situation is an embarrassment and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick even said that American politics has hit “a new low.” But Obama’s quick response to quell Trump’s desire for press reminds us of the President’s other recent acts of acquiescence: the deregulation of genetically engineered crops, the pending approval of GE salmon, and the lack of action on fracking including the potential effects on the drinking water of millions.
President Obama may have just delivered to the nation his certificate of birth, but for the past two years, he’s been yielding to the influence of industry, practically offering various lobbying groups a “certificate of berth.” Here are three areas where Obama gives wide berth to the interests of big companies… Read the full article…