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November 18th, 2008

Washington University of St. Louis Says No to Bottled Water and Yes to Energy Savings

Campuses across the country compete for placement on the cutting edge of climate action. Washington University of St. Louis’ recent switch away from bottled water consumption demonstrates an easy green initiative propelling the institution toward a more sustainable learning environment.

Kicking the bottle, the Washington Bears united with the city of St. Louis in celebrating award-winning tap water.  Just this August, Food & Water Watch joined St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in providing 5,000 reusable drinking water bottles to city employees, banning the purchase of bottled water by city departments, and issuing a call for a federal trust fund for water infrastructure. Read the full article…

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Can I get an order of "Fish & Tips"?

Update: Fish & Tips has been released. Get your copy! The holiday season is approaching, which means that it‚ time to look for new ways to spice up old traditions. And just in time for the holidays, Food & Water Watch is releasing its very own sustainable seafood recipe cookbook entitled “Fish & Tips.” The recipes featured are provided by fishermen, chefs, and some of our best submissions from our recent “Get Cookin Recipe Contest,” and are all meant to be cooked using sustainable seafood recommended from our Smart Seafood Guide.

While it may be hard to imagine the holidays with seafood, consider this: at the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims and the Native Americans actually ate seafood along with their turkey. Whole Foods is putting that concept into practice by having their very own “Shrimpsgiving”, a period of special prices on their seafood, specifically shrimp, so that consumers can have a variety of options for the holiday season. Keep in mind, however, that not all of the offerings at Whole Foods are fair game in terms of sustainability. Read the full article…

November 17th, 2008

Fishy Organics

Imagine a farm in the ocean that produces fish containing PCBs and other toxins, and dumps chemical-laden waste directly into surrounding waters. Does that sound organic to you? According to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a commission of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fish from these “factory farms of the sea” should be able to carry the USDA Organic label. In fact, this week the board is meeting in Washington, DC to recommend allowing fish from open water aquaculture operations to be certified as organic.

But organizations within the organic, ocean conservation, consumer and food safety communities oppose this proposed decision because the principles and practices behind open water aquaculture, growing tens of thousands of fish in cages anchored to the seafloor – are simply incompatible with basic organic standards. Read the full article…

November 13th, 2008

Calling all marine enthusiasts on the West coast!

Meet us at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle between November 20-22! We will be there handing out free seafood guides and magnets and getting
the word out about important fish issues.

Pacific Marine Expo is the largest commercial marine tradeshow on the West Coast.  Serving all aspects of the market, including commercial vessels owners, commercial fishermen, boatbuilders and seafood processors, this annual event covers it all.  If you make your living on the water, or provide services to those who do, this is your show.

-Food & Water Watch

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November 10th, 2008

Bush Administration Trashing Country on the Way Out

During their last days in power, President Bush and his administration are  evidently uninterested in improving their image or even maintaining it. It seemed fathomable, after multiple indications of failure, that the administration would acknowledge the incompetence of its deregulatory doctrine and, like the public, accept the need for regulation. Unfortunately, that’s nowhere near the case. Instead, they’ve decided to blatantly ignore consumer interest and have one last push at passing rules to further weaken our health, safety, and environmental protections.

Like frat boys ending a party at full drunken force, it looks like they are rushing to do as much as damage in as little time as they can. Perhaps they have learned something in the course of their eight years of experience — they’re attempting to set these policies up in a way that will make it difficult for the incoming administration to reverse them. If they pass a rule by December 22nd and it takes effect before Inauguration Day, the new administration will not be able to revoke it without creating a new rule, which often takes months.

In the coming weeks, Food & Water Watch will be working hard to minimize the damage the administration is expected to inflict on the public and the environment. Stay tuned for opportunities to help and take action on one important issue now: urge the USDA to protect our food labels.

-Elissar Khalek

November 6th, 2008

The tip of the iceberg

Just when it seemed that the melamine scare couldn’t get any worse, we find out that the problem may be far deeper than we imagined. Eggs sold in Hong Kong, imported from mainland China, have been found to have twice the FDA‚ supposed “safe limit” of melamine. How did it get there? Apparently through contaminated feed , which means that beef, chicken, pork, and fish may also be at risk. However, U.S. and European agencies have yet to do something about it.

While Hong Kong authorities are responding by expanding their testing of products to include pork, fish, and offal products, the same sort of initiative has yet to be seen in the U.S.. And in Europe, while authorities admit to being aware of the situation, they still have not issued any sort of alert to consumers. In this they are showing an astonishing degree of willful irresponsibility, shockingly similar to FDA-backdated (and long overdue) recall of the contaminated Koala‚ March cookies. Read the full article…

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October 28th, 2008

"Call me irresponsible"

‚Smithfield: Good food. Responsibly.” This is the heading at the top of the Smithfield website, trying to convince consumers that all of its environmental awards actually reflect environmental quality.  And they now have another award to add to their list of accolades , the McDonald‚ first ever Sustainability Award, a prize that they actually nominated themselves for. They presumably won it for having described how they try to conserve natural resources, treat animals humanely, and ensure the health and welfare of their employees. Now if only all this were true, then this award would be a great achievement.

This is hardly the first time that Smithfield has been given a pat on the back for supposedly being environmentally friendly. On their website, they talk about being the first to receive ISO 14001 certification for its U.S. hog production and pork and beef processing facilities , presumably the ‚international gold standard for environmental management.” Not to mention being ranked as a ‚socially responsible company,” or other awards from places like the American Meat Institute or the Virginia government.  Sounds quite impressive, right? Read the full article…

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October 27th, 2008

Fish Team's Gulf Diary

Food & Water Watch’s fish team is currently in the Gulf of Mexico region, working to bring out a variety of local voices to the Gulf Council’s public hearings on aquaculture. Marianne and Sascha, two of our fishy fighters, send dispatches from their work in the north Gulf region. We hit the ground running on Wednesday, having meetings with various local allies in Mississippi to plan our week. In the evening, we were invited as guest speakers for the local Mississippi Sierra Club chapter. We had a great discussion about ocean fish farming, and in particular concerns with use of wild fish in feed for farmed fish. About 1 billion pounds of Gulf Menhaden are already taken annually from the Gulf of Mexico , and these fish are important in the wild as food for larger wild fish, birds and other marine wildlife. The chapter is very interested in Gulf of Mexico issues, and a group of people from the meeting agreed to attend the Gulf Council public hearing Monday night! They plan to carpool down to Mobile. We also had an interview with a reporter from the Associated Press by phone. That night, we headed up to New Orleans to stay with friends. Read the full article…

October 24th, 2008

Congratulations to Our Winning Seafood Chefs!

Food & Water Watch held the Get Cookin’! sustainable seafood recipe contest to gather the best recipes for the variety of seafood choices we recommend in our Smart Seafood Guide. Over the past several weeks, we received a multitude of recipes from seafood lovers all over the place. We were so excited to see how many people out there care about what they eat and have so many creative ideas for serving it.

We judged the recipes on the basis of several criteria: first, they had to include a type of seafood that we recommend in our Smart Seafood Guide. Other criteria included healthfulness, ease of preparation, originality and of course‚ most importantly‚ deliciousness. This last factor might seem subjective, but we had a panel of dedicated judges from the Food & Water Watch staff, including our partner chef, Rocky Barnette, who gathered to cook and taste all the recipes. It took a few rounds of voting before we were able to come to final decisions on all our winners, but we finally did. Throughout the tastings, everyone‚ response seemed to be the same: ‚yum!” According to Chef Rocky, all the recipes were well-written and very professional. All the staff judges had a lot of good things to say about every recipe. Read the full article…

Fish Team Making Waves in the Gulf

In preparation for the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council‚ upcoming public hearing on open ocean aquaculture, Food & Water Watch‚ fish team has been traveling around the Gulf Region speaking with fishermen, students and others about the plan. For the past couple days Christina and I have been driving around Mobile Bay, from Mobile through Bon Secour, Foley Beach and Gulf Shores. We started out the day stopping by a couple bait and tackle shops, where most people were surprised to hear about the plan and couldn’t believe that it was already coming up for vote. It’s shocking to imagine that a plan with so many negative ramifications for commercial fisherman, shrimpers, recreational fisherman, coastal communities and consumers in general hasn’t even been publicized.

Next, we made our way down to Pelican point where we found some people net fishing off the end of the road. One, the “mayor” and “dock master” told us he didn’t understand why anyone would talk about putting resources into building farms in the Gulf, which will add more pollution, when we need to spend our resources cleaning it up. Read the full article…

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