#1—Steer Clear of Antibiotics in Meat The FDA recently reported the use of “medically important” antibiotics (those that are also used to treat human diseases) in animal agriculture is on the rise despite concerns from the CDC, World Health Organization, The American Academy of Pediatrics, and others. When used preemptively on animals, these drugs help create “superbugs” (antibiotic-resistant pathogens). Tom Philpott for Mother Jones in his annual food news roundup (worth checking out!) cites a study published last month in which researchers found antibiotic resistant e-coli in a pig farm in China. Consumers who purchase only antibiotic-free meat will create market forces that ensure we don’t see more cases like this.
PHOTO: Korin meat and eggs are produced without antibiotics and growth promoters in the feed. Luiz Carlos Demattê (pictured), the Industrial Manager at Korin, says this results in “healthier consumers and healthier animals” © WSPA via WSPA Flickr
#2—Choose Shrimp Carefully Many of us are acutely aware of the environmental impacts of the world’s seafood industry, but this year a group of reporters from the Associated Press opened our eyes to the human-rights side of the story. After a year-long investigation, the journalists exposed slave-labor practices used in seafood production in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, linking the supply chain back to Wal-Mart, Sysco, and others. Most recently, the AP reported on human-trafficking and slave-labor in Thailand, one of the world's largest shrimp suppliers. Supply chain consolidation and the sheer volume of shrimp coming out of Thailand make it very difficult for consumers and business owners to track seafood to its source, but Marion Nestle of Food Politics gives a clear message to consumers:If ever there were a need for a boycott of Asian shrimp, this investigation provides ample evidence.”
PHOTO: Industrialized shrimp farming operation via vice.com
#3—Vote for Food This coming election year will shape food and health policy over the next decade or longer. The good folks at Food Policy Action, Union of Concerned Scientists and HEAL Food Alliance have teamed up to launch a Plate of the Union campaign urging both Republican and Democrat presidential candidates to take some action to help fix our food system. In a powerful letter released earlier this month, the group, referencing a recently conducted poll, explains the public sentiment on food policy reform:
The polling results are clear: an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Americans believe our antiquated food system should be reformed to protect workers, our environment, and ensure access for all to affordable, healthy food.
Support the Plate of the Union effort, and take it a step further by studying the Food Policy Action Scorecard to see how your state legislators are performing. This election year, vote with food on your mind!
VIDEO: Plate of the Union Campaign featuring Dr. Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists
#4—Seek out Regenerative Agriculture Last year Dan Barber, famed chef of Blue Hill, admonished us that the farm-to-table movement is not the revolution that will change the health of our food system. He cited agricultural practices used for grain production in our country as a primary cause of environmental and public health impacts. He suggests...
Diversifying our diet to include more local grains and legumes is a delicious first step to improving our food system.”
Taking Barber’s advice one step further,the International Year of Soil highlighted ways in which agriculture can be used to replenish the land. In some cases, the effects of this type of agriculture can go beyond the ground beneath the crops. “Carbon Farming,” agricultural practices that put carbon back in the soil, is an important field of research that many predict can go a long way towards mitigating climate change.
As always, Wellness Warrior recommends that you get off the grain-belt of industrial agriculture and explore your local and regional options. Look for organic produce and meats, and seek out biodynamic and permaculture-based producers who are serious about building soil health. Hey, even the Pope’s doing it: he celebrated his birthday with a biodynamic birthday cake.
PHOTO: Organic grain farmer Roy Brewin of Rowland Seeds, South of Taber, Alberta CA first published in One Degree Organic Foods.
- The AP’s investigation of slavery in the Asian shrimp processing business via FoodPolitics.com
- AP: Global supermarkets selling shrimp peeled by slaves via AP The Big Story
- What farm to table got wrong via the New York Times
- Pope Celebrates 79th Birthday With 'Biodynamic Cake" via National Catholic Register
- Plate of the Union Stresses Importance of Good Food Policy to Presidential Hopefuls via FoodPolicyActipn.org
- Tell the Next President to Fix the Food System! via Union of Concerned Scientist