In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- On December 3rd, the folks at Food & Tech Connect hosted an event called the Farm Bill Hackathon, which brought together policy experts, journalists, and computer wizzes to create visual representations of facts contained in and related to the Farm Bill. Here's a great collection of the infographics from the event, organized into a nice narrative that conveys a huge amount of information. F&TC works on finding new ways of using technology to collect and share knowledge about agricultural methods and to redesign the food system.
- The USDA released a report on nutrient management, highlighting the importance of monitoring the amount of fertilizer added to cropland. Nutrient run-off occurs when too much fertilizer is applied to an agricultural area, and the nutrients from that input seep into waterways. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the most pervasive nutrients, and cause algae blooms that deprive other ocean life of oxygen. The report provides recommendations for how farmers can lessen fertilizer use while still maintaining good crop yields.
- The New York Times covers an interesting and highly relevant debate in Nepal over the use of hybrid seeds. Initiatives run by USAID to increase the country's food security have been stalled because rural farming communities are refusing to plant the organization's hybrid seeds. The seeds are primarily sourced from industry giant Monsanto, whose practice of patenting seeds leads to strong foreign dependence on the American firm. Nepalese communities are encouraging USAID to help the country develop its own hybrid seeds to better encourage independence and food sovereignty.
- New York City reported a drop in its childhood obesity rate over the last five years. The CDC's data demonstrates a 5.5% decrease in the rate of obesity among students aged 5 to 13, representing about 6,500 fewer obese children. New York has been a leader in implementing reforms and programs meant to instill better health habits in students. These measures include improving the nutritional quality of school food, allowing adequate recess and gym time each week, providing support for teachers introducing curricula related to health and fitness, and helping parents make lifestyle changes at home.
- Food Safety News has an interesting piece discussing the links between the food sovereignty movement and federal food safety regulation. The author points to recent legislation in Maine that "rejects" federal involvement with local food production as a case study of the food sovereignty movement in the U.S. The piece is perhaps a bit overly skeptical of Maine's intentions and too specific in its definition of food sovereignty, but still provides a valuable perspective on the tension between localized production and government regulation.
About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work has also been featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.