Top News from the Food Front: Food Safety Facepalms, Food Rev Wins

Coffee shop newspaper reader

This week’s food news features some un-delicious food safety irony, GMO labeling progress, and urban gardening ‘greenovation.’ Meanwhile former President Clinton plays fast and loose with ‘the V word,’ and efforts to protect farm workers gain momentum. Read on, for the week’s good-bad-and-ugly food news!

Food Safety Facepalm

Side of Irony? Meal Sickens People at Food Safety Summit — No: this is not an Onion article. It is also not an article likely to build confidence in our food system’s safety regulations.

FoodNet Report: Pathogen Infection Rates Still ‘Well Above’ Government Targets — If Big Food interests were (hypothetically) completely and utterly in charge of our alleged ‘regulatory’ agencies, this is the kind of problem that might easily emerge. In such a theoretical model, removing food industry moguls from the boards of the FDA and USDA might have a beneficial effect on meeting food safety goals — because those agencies could work towards actual food safety goals, rather than carrying (contaminated) water for the food industry. I’m just throwing the idea out there, as potentially relevant.

To V, or Not to V?

Bill Clinton fall off vegan diet wagon — but not vegan label — I can hear my community of fellow veggie-people rumble and hiss. Yes, this is supremely annoying: visions of all the times someone asked if we’re ‘vegans who eat fish’ (or whatever formerly lovely living thing that vegans do not in fact eat) swim through our heads. We imagine increased incidence of such mood-darkening conversations; and that’s probably a valid concern. At the same time, that ‘increased incidence’ applies to ALL conversations about veganism — not just the annoying ones!

Should Clinton use ‘mostly vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ or some other more accurate label to describe his diet? Definitely. However: I welcome all the conversations this exposure invites, even the annoying ones. It’s an opportunity for advocacy, and I’ll take it. I think it’s easy to get caught up in label policing, and I won’t do it — especially early in their veganization process (though that’s not the case here), many people tend to embrace The V Word as a label before embracing all aspects of the lifestyle. We label ourselves sometimes to align with groups we admire.

It’s not the word that has the power, it’s the actions. So whether perfectly or not, more plants and less animals on plates is a win! And if you ask me whether I’m a ‘fish eating vegan’ like Clinton, I am very happy to embrace that discussion.

Vermont and Boston FTW!

Vermont State Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill, House Expected to Follow — This week the Vermont Senate passed a bill to require labels on genetically modified foods sold in that state, by a vote of 26-2. Unlike bills recently passed in Maine and Connecticut, the bill contains no language making such a law dependent on other states’ GMO regulation laws. Vermont’s bill would also prohibit labeling GMO-containing foods as ‘natural’ or ‘all natural.’ Go, Vermont, go!

Ground-breaking ‘urban farming’ law sparks renaissance of greenovation in Boston — And thus does the revolution proceed apace! Mwah!

Speaking of Progress: Ag Gag Nope

Victory! 11 States That Have Shut Down Ag-Gag Bills and How They Did It — Despite recent foolishness in Idaho, most of these toxic bills fail: no one wants them except animal cruelty enthusiasts and factory farming interests. These anti-whistleblower laws have hideous implications for food safety, food workers, and farmed animals, and deserve all the resistance a sane society can muster.

Pass the Food Justice, Please

Effort to protect farmworkers from sexual assault gaining momentum — ‘Advocacy groups, such as Human Rights Watch, say many of the hundreds of thousands of female agricultural workers in the U.S. are vulnerable to sexual assault while working in the fields.’ Non-litigation based initiatives like the Fair Food Program utilize public pressure and corporate partnerships to work towards better conditions for farm workers — and it seems to be working!

You Can Change The Horrid Conditions Of American Farmworkers — A partnership called the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) offers ideas on how you can use your grocery bucks to do just that. Hurrah for food justice in the modern age!

Calling All Newsies

Comment below if you see breaking food news stories this week that we should share with EDB readers. Meanwhile subscribe to the EDB newsletter, find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and meet me back here every Saturday for the best and worst news in food!

Image credit: photo via Shutterstock.

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