Fast Food on Strike, Milk Prices Soar, and More in Food Policy This Week

In Food Policy This Week: 5 News Bites

A roundup of news clippings we're reading that affect the way we eat.


Hope it stays that way. [Photograph: dcoetzee on Flickr]

Fast Food Workers Strike in Over 100 Cities

On December 5th, fast-food workers across the country held strikes and rallies in protest of low wages. Their campaign, Fight for 15, is organized by Low Pay is Not OK. If that name sounds familiar, it's because they've already held two collective actions this year. Thursday's walk-out was the largest of its kind, with extensive media coverage and thousands of workers participating. The campaign demands that wages be increased to $15 an hour—current wages average between $7 and $9 an hour—and that workers be allowed to unionize. The consequences of low worker wages are felt beyond the register—it's estimated that public benefits distributed to low-paid fast food workers cost taxpayers $3.8 billion each year.

Without a Farm Bill, Milk Prices Could Skyrocket

As Congress restarted negotiation of the Farm Bill last Wednesday, there was talk of $7 gallons of milk. Why? Well, if the Senate and House can't agree on a Bill by January 1, 2014, farm policy would revert to "permanent law." Permanent law is used as a means of incentivizing new policy creation—under it, the Farm Bill would revert to its 1949 version. If the dairy industry were forced to implement permanent law, the government would likely buy up much of the milk, butter, and cheese supply as a way of providing price supports to farmers. This would mean shortages at the market for consumers and, thus, $7 milk. The likelihood of this happening is extremely slim, but given the tension in Washington these days, only time will tell.

PETA's 'Plan V' Campaign Uses Birth Control Scare to Advertise Veganism

If you think that headline is confusing, you're not the only one—news of PETA's 'Plan V' campaign boggled many women's health advocates this week, too. After Mother Jones broke the story that a European drug very similar to Plan B is ineffective for women who weigh more than 176 pounds, PETA launched its campaign to advertise veganism as a way for women to lose weight. While weight loss may be a side effect of switching to veganism for some people, the campaign was criticized for its fat-shaming message and for hijacking an important story for its own political agenda.

Barry Estabrook Shares Five Foods He Won't Eat

In a rare blog post, prominent food policy writer Barry Estabrook writes about five foods he avoids at the grocery store. He does a nice job of summing up many of our food system's woes into a few paragraphs. First there's the E. Coli in ground beef, then the terrible labor practices of companies growing out-of-season tomatoes. He also shines light on the overfishing practices wiping out bluefin tuna and wild salmon populations. If you're interested in taking steps to eat more sustainably, this list is a great place to start.

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.