- On December 4, hundreds of protesters gathered on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for the Farmers March on Wall Street. The march, coordinated by Food Democracy Now and Occupy Wall Street, sought to bring food policy issues into the conversation about corporate dominance. Farmers, advocates, and well-known speakers gathered to highlight the climate impacts of current agricultural practices, as well as the ways in which corporations have marginalized the family farm and depleted farmland. The Daily Kos has a nice collection of photos from the event.
- Barry Estabrook penned a compelling piece for The Atlantic, in which he takes issue with the commonly-held belief that organic farming can't feed the world. He provides information from many oft-ignored recent studies that indicate the efficacy of organics, as well as holes in the arguments of conventional producers who see organics as a drop in the bucket of agricultural production. He also points out that today's conventional agriculture has left over a billion people hungry worldwide.
- Smithfield, a pork producer and meatpacker, has promised yet again to end the use of gestation crates for female pigs by 2017. The sows are kept in cramped and dirty gestation crates during their four-month pregnancies, moved to a nursing cage for three weeks after giving birth, and then re-inseminated and returned to the crates. Smithfield had previously promised to work on removing the crates but quietly stopped work on the project in the last few years. Representatives of the company say that their renewed efforts are due to consumer demand for more humane livestock conditions.
- The Center for Disease Control ended its investigation into the September outbreak of listeria from whole cantaloupes. The outbreak spanned 28 states and was the most deadly outbreak of food-borne bacteria in 100 years. Since September, 146 people were sickened and 30 of those people died. The highest number of cases was reported in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.
- First Lady Michelle Obama announced a renewed focus on exercise in her Let's Move! campaign to end childhood obesity. She has been spending most of her efforts advocating for healthier food choices, in schools, supermarkets and restaurants. Now, she will find ways to motivate children to move more throughout their day. Critics wonder if she has given up on the fight for healthier food for kids, or if she feels that her moderate successes have fully addressed the issue.
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.