In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- The aftermath of hurricane Irene is being felt by farmers across the East Coast. Some farmers reported entire crops lost to several feet of water; others experienced wind damage to crops, machinery, and buildings. Now, farmers must spend months tackling insurance claims and attempting to rehabilitate their land after millions of dollars of destruction. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack toured affected farmland in upstate New York, saying that he'd never seen such extensive damage and flooding.
- North Dakota has seen continued flooding throughout the growing season, resulting in widespread damage to the region's durum wheat crop. The state produces three-quarter's of the nation's durum flour. About a quarter of the farms in North Dakota are dedicated to producing durum wheat, which is very common in dried pastas and bread. The state's agriculture commissioner stated that the price hike in durum wheat would have an "immediate effect" on the consumer—watch out for higher pasta prices.
- Famine in Somalia continues to rise according to the most recent studies from the U.N. Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for the country. Nearly four million people are now facing starvation, more than half of the country's population. Drought in the region has wiped out much of the state's staple grains and the country is now dependent on foreign food aid. The southern part of the country is controlled by an Islamist insurgent militia, which impedes assistance from the international aid community.
- President Obama declared September 2011 as National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. In a lengthy press release he discussed the importance of legislation such as the recently-passed Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in improving the health of our children and of the nation. This month, he stated, is about appreciating and celebrating the efforts that have been made by parents, schools, the Let's Move! campaign, and the government to improve childhood nutrition.
- Barry Estabrook penned a profile of important foodborne illness lawyer William Marler of the firm Marler Clark. Marler specializes in representing clients who have been sickened by widespread salmonella, E. Coli, and listeria outbreaks. He uses his position as a powerful trial lawyer to call for reform in our food safety system. He pushes corporations to check their products for bacteria and attempts to use the courts to regulate and publicize food-related outbreaks and illness.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work is also featured in Rhode Island Monthly magazine.