Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Catching up on Issues

I had tunnel vision just getting all the recipes done for Thanksgiving. Since I am still full and still eating turkey, I thought I would take a break and see what else is happening in the world of food and agriculture.

Lettuce Legislation
New USDA regulations may impact small family farms that grow lettuces. This is big since leafy greens are one of the best items to buy locally. There is a comment period for farmers and consumers to weigh in on the issue. The comment period closes Dec. 3, so it is important to act now, you can read more and follow the link from to add your comments:

"In response to the E. coli 0157 outbreaks last year in bagged spinach, the USDA is considering a change in the federal regulations that could potentially require growers of all fresh leafy green vegetables to follow specified guidelines in the fields and during post-harvest handling. The federal rules would be similar to the California guidelines that were set by large-scale operations after the outbreaks. The guidelines include growing practices that discourage biodiversity and sustainable/organic farming practices, deplete soil fertility, and create “sterile” fields—methods that have not been scientifically proven to actually reduce E. coli 0157 bacteria but are certain to reduce biodiversity, harm wildlife, and burden family-scale farms."
Global Warming and Agriculture
The Washington Post takes a pretty depressing look at the harsh impacts global warming will have for agriculture.

You Say Antibiotic, I Say Antimicrobial
USDA forces Tyson to revise those bright, shiny new "raised without antibiotic" labels on their chicken. Turns out, Tyson still fed the poultry a diet laced with drugs called ionophores which qualify as an antibiotic. Tyson is defending its new labels and the tens of millions of dollars in marketing by saying that this is a "antimicrobial" not an antibiotic. The official Webster's definition of "antimicrobial" is "capable of destroying or inhibiting the growth of disease-causing microorganisms." Sure sounds like antibiotic to me.

Blaming the Chef?
According to a study by, if you are gaining weight from eating out, it's the chef's fault. I support posting the nutrition information for foods in restaurants. I'd like big posters that show what a portion size really is to be plastered on walls everywhere. I agree that an average restaurant single portion is more than a family of four in a developing country eats in a day.

But, unless the chef is walking out to the table and force feeding you everything on the plate like a soon-to-be-foie-gras duck, you are on your own here. Portion sizes ARE obscene. If restaurants could get away with it, they would be smaller. More food equals more food costs.

Fast food places aren't dreaming up three-beef-patty-eight-bacon nightmares without a darn good hunch someone will buy it. The simple truth is, we Americans are lousy (myself included) at self-control when it comes to food. Our demand has driven the perception of portions way off the charts.

Maybe we should all take note of the line spoken by the rail-thin food critic in Ratatouille, "I don't like good food, I love it. If it is not good, I don't swallow it."

The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, released a definitive report on likely causes of cancer and how the lower the risks. The report, a result of five years of research by nine teams of scientists, included information on a link between consuming processed and cured meats and cancer and the need to consume red meats in moderation.

Upon its publication, American Meat Institute Foundation Vice President of Scientific Affairs Randy Huffman said, "WCRF's conclusions are extreme, unfounded and out of step with dietary guidelines."

Oh, that meat industry. Always looking out for us consumers.

And now for something completely different
Some insight into what it is like to be a Japanese housewife. Not pretty.


katiez said...

The chef responsible? Can no one accept responsibility for their own actions?
I must admit I really don't enjoy eating out in the U.S. as much as I used to. As a visitor/traveler I don't want to take half of my meal back to a hotel to be thrown out. I'd just like a reasonable portion on my plate...I'd be willing to pay the same price...

Carina said...

As much as I hate to admit it...the Tyson people are right. Antimicrobial and antibiotic are very different things. Kind of like the difference between bleach (an antimicrobial), and penicillin (an antibiotic). It doesn't mean that I want to eat antimicrobial things...but then they didn't make any claims about that. They just said "no antibiotics". So maybe we need to raise awareness to close that loophole so that they can't be so dodgy.