Banksy on Fast Food, Obama on the Farm Bill, and More in Food Policy


Photograph: Anemone Projectors on Flickr

Freak Blizzard Kills Cattle in South Dakota

In early October, a blizzard dropped 4 feet of snow in areas of South Dakota. The unexpected storm resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of cattle across the state. In some areas, up to 20% of cattle herds were lost. With each cow valued at around $1,800, the storm will result in millions of dollars in lost revenue for South Dakota ranchers. Cattle carcasses are still being buried and burned two weeks after the storm.

President Obama Calls for New Farm Bill

After the government re-opened on Thursday, President Obama made remarks addressing the political stalemate that has labored our legislative process in recent months. In his list of top priorities for the coming weeks, Obama stated: "We should pass a farm bill, one that American farmers and ranchers can depend on, one that protects vulnerable children and adults in times of need, one that gives rural communities opportunities to grow and the long-term certainty that they deserve." The Senate's version of the bill, which passed with bipartisan votes, is stalled in the House due to a lack of Republican support.

1 in 8 People Went Hungry in 2012, According to FAO

A new report from the Food and Agricultural Organization revealed that over 870 million people went hungry worldwide in 2012. 'Hungry' is defined as subsisting on fewer than 1,800 calories per day. The index takes into account the quality as well as quantity of calories consumed. The rate of hunger has decreased since 1990, but 19 countries still have 'alarming' or 'extremely alarming' rates of hunger. These countries are largely in the global south, including parts of Africa and Asia.

Fast Food Workers Rely Heavily on Public Assistance Programs

A new report out of the Center for Labor Research and Education at the University of California, Berkeley reveals that over 50% of fast-food workers are enrolled in at least one public assistance program. The report was funded by Fast Food Forward, a group that has long been campaigning for higher wages for fast-food workers. Fast-food employees struggle with a particular combination of low wages, low benefits, and difficulty securing full-time schedules. Many economists argue that higher wages would reduce workers' dependency on government programs.

Banksy Takes Aim at Food Industry During Month-Long Residency

Famous British graffiti artist Banksy is on a month-long residency in New York City, during which he is spray-painting his way around the five boroughs. Two of his pieces so far have taken direct aim at the food industry. One: a fiberglass replica of Ronald McDonald, angrily peering down at a real-life boy shining his shoes. Another: a slaughterhouse-bound truck filled with stuffed animals, their heads poking through slats in apparent fear and dismay. His notoriously outspoken art always receives criticism and applause from across the political spectrum. New Yorkers can draw their own opinions as his pieces travel around the city.

About the Author: Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her other work can be found at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter @leahjdouglas.