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[Photograph: Coolville Supermarket]

  • Many recent conversations around food access have been based on the premise that residents of urban, low-income neighborhoods have less access to grocery stores or other healthful food sources. These food desert neighborhoods have received much attention from Michelle Obama and the USDA, but two new studies have shown that these lower-income neighborhoods have higher numbers of all food retailers, from convenience stores and fast food to higher-end grocery stores. The studies call the food desert into question and may change the way the food access issue is framed in the future.
  • As the farm bill undergoes further conversation and revision, policymakers are looking for places to reduce spending in the expensive piece of legislation. Crop insurance, which is heavily subsidized by the government, is currently under examination. The insurance is modeled to protect against a bad harvest, or against market and price fluctuations. Subsidizing this insurance cost $7.4 billion in 2011. A new report from the Government Accountability Office recently wrote a report that argues for budget cuts in this type of insurance.
  • Remember the salmonella outbreak in 2009 that was traced back to peanut butter? It sickened over 700 people and resulted in 9 deaths. Food Safety News details the fallout from that outbreak, and highlights that no charges have been made against the head of Peanut Corporation of America, the responsible company. Though PCA had been aware of contaminated samples in 2007 and 2008, they did not take action to clean or improve their facilities. The company has, however, gone bankrupt since the outbreak.
  • A Chinese market in Northern Virginia has become the center of a cultural debate in the region. State agents recently claimed all of the stores frogs, turtles and other animals it sold for consumption, with the charge that the store was illegally selling wildlife. Lawyers contest that the animals were farm-raised and therefore are not classified as wildlife. As more Asians immigrate to the state, culturally-relevant foods become more important but also perhaps more contested by natives of the area.
  • This set of amazing infographics from Massive Health synthesizes a huge amount of data from their app, Eatery. The app attempts to provide health and eating advice based off of pictures that users take of their meals. The infographics provide insight into how the world eats at different times of day, depending on what company we keep, and from country to country.

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.

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