In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- Eric Holt-Gimenez wrote an important piece for the Huffington Post detailing the impact that higher corn prices will have on international food markets. The summer's drought has threatened our domestic corn supply and consequently corn prices will go up internationally. The result of this price hike will likely be more speculative investment on the global crop market, which will eventually create higher food prices for poor smallholders across the world. He highlights some of the most important consequences of domestic U.S. agricultural policy and its impact on the world.
- Some of the same lawyers who once battled Big Tobacco are now going after Big Food. Several lawsuits have begun against food companies that have misinformed or misled consumers as to the nutritional content of their products. A case brought against Chobani yogurt relates to their use of the phrase "evaporated cane juice" on their nutrition facts label, which suggests a healthier additive than what it really is - refined sugar. Other targeted companies include Hunt's, Swiss Miss, and PAM. Even if the suits are not successful, the lawyers hope to make a statement about the misleading nature of many nutrition and health labels.
- Several California cities have banned single-use plastic bags in check-out lines. West Hollywood is the most recent city to jump on board, joining San Francisco, Long Beach, and Pasadena. The rule applies to hundreds of retailers, not just supermarkets. Stores are allowed to offer paper bags made with 40% recycled content, but customers will still be charged 10 cents per bag to encourage reusables. The cities feel that it is the government's partial responsibility to reduce the amount of waste headed for the landfill. So far the ban has been well received.
- A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council discusses food waste in America. The group reports that we waste almost 40% of our food each year, or about 20 pounds per person each month. This figure is up 50% from the 1970s, suggesting that we could reduce waste by adopting lifestyle habits that were once the norm. The group recommends that the government get more involved by studying American food waste and setting regional goals for waste reduction. This model is being implemented in the United Kingdom, to some success.
- USDA investigators are looking into whether a Central California slaughterhouse was killing and processing sick animals for human consumption. Operations were suspended at the slaughterhouse after the USDA received footage from an animal rights group showing gross violations of food safety code. The footage shows many animal abuses that are cruel but also counter to the USDA's safe slaughter codes. If the slaughterhouse is found to be in violation of food safety standards, there could be a beef recall from the plant.
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.