In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites
- Last weekend's New York Times Magazine was the annual food and drink issue. Michael Pollan wrote a long piece examining California's Proposition 37, which is a ballot item in November that would require the labeling of genetically-modified ingredients on processed foods. Pollan wonders if this issue might be the one that finally pushes the alternative food movement bring change to industrial agriculture. He discusses how Americans will have to move beyond "voting with their forks" to "voting with their votes" for change in the food system.
- In his piece for the Food issue, Mark Bittman explores California's Central Valley, where over 230 crops are produced in a 450-mile-long fertile valley. The area produces 85% of the nations carrots, among other staggering amounts of produce. Bittman spent time with conventional and organic farmers in the area, and discusses the difference between "the spirit and the letter" of organic farming. He wonders how much longer the valley will remain this productive, given the taxing nature of intensive industrial agriculture.
- In Richmond, California, the November ballot contains a proposal to tax sweetened beverages one cent-per-ounce. The pro-tax lobby has spent about $25,000 on advertising, campaigning, and spreading the word about the tax. But the anti-tax lobby, driven by a corporately-organized Community Coalition Against Beverage Taxes, has spent a combined $2.2 million in anti-tax efforts. The money has been used on public relations, TV and radio ads, and lobbying. This unmatched battle will come to a head in the November vote.
- Big Agriculture has realized that consumers are unhappy with the bland taste of grocery store tomatoes, and is attempting to improve product quality through genetic modification and plant breeding. Companies like Monsanto and Bayer AG are working on developing fleshier, tastier, and disease-resistant varieties. Tomatoes are the biggest seller in the produce sector, accounting for over $1 billion in sales in a $5 billion market.
- A reported global "wine glut" is expected to end this year. Overproduction of wine coupled with decreasing consumption after the 2008 recession led to several years of a flooded market. The US is set to continue its high level of production, but other wine-producing countries in South America and Europe will lessen production. Wine supply across the world is likely to be lower than it has been in almost a decade.
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.