In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- Fast Company describes the process by which Sysco, one of the largest bulk food distributors in the country, is attempting to sell more local food to its customers. By acting through regional brokers, the large company can obtain and deliver food from small farmers to institutions such as universities, hospitals, and the like. The article includes a handy infographic detailing how this process works with one basil farmer in Michigan. Sysco is working on expanding this initiative to other states.
- Yesterday (October 24) was the first national Food Day, a movement created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest and sponsored by dozens of food organizations around the country. Food Day is meant to celebrate sustainable food initiatives, as well as to brainstorm reforms to fix the problems in our food system. Currently there are almost 2,000 events planned nationwide, including rallies, food festivals, government actions, and fundraisers. Michael Jacobson, the head of CSPI, penned a nice piece about the process of developing Food Day, and his hopes for its success.
- Last week, the Senate and House Agriculture Committees submitted a plan to the supercommittee to cut $23 billion from the 2012 Farm Bill. They have promised details on how to cut those funds by November 1, and many speculate that the cuts will include direct payment subsidies. On Friday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of cutting direct payments to farmers making over a million dollars annually. Sentiment seems to have largely shifted in favor of defunding many subsidy programs in the coming Farm Bill.
- Last Thursday, the Institute of Medicine proposed a new front-of package (FOP) labeling system for packaged foods. The FOP label would include amounts of saturated fats, calories, sugars, and sodium. A four-star ranking system would let consumers know how healthy the food is based on those four relevant calculations. The Institute's new plan is responding to a number of suggested and partially-implemented labeling schemes that have proven more confusing than transparent for consumers. The FDA could implement this new labeling format as a voluntary suggestion for food processors.
- Paul Greenberg discusses the harmful potential of a salmon-killing virus that has just been discovered in salmon populations off the coast of British Columbia. That region supports some of the last remaining wild salmon colonies in the world, which draws in billions of dollars for the regional economy. The virus has already greatly impacted salmon populations in Chile and Europe, and great environmental and economic distress could result from this outbreak. Greenberg provides some possible solutions for how to protect both wild and farmed salmon populations from heavy losses.
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.