May 12th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
What do multiplatinum-selling musician Moby and Global Animal Partnership Executive Director Miyun Park have in common?
They’re coeditors of the new book Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety, an info-packed guide to the consequences of factory farming.
Gristle covers “the rarely publicized ramifications of industrialized farmed animal production and meat, egg and milk consumption on the environment, human health, communities, workers, taxpayers, zoonotic diseases, global warming, global hunger and, of course, the animals themselves,” Moby writes. “There are huge and egregiously well-financed interests who want to keep the truth of animal production hidden.”
The book’s contributors include:
At 144 pages, Gristle is a fast and enlightening read. Order through Amazon, and you’ll save 25%. (Pay $10.49 instead of $13.95.)
Read More:Gristle: From Factory Farms to Food Safety
April 20th, 2010 - Laura Klein
If you haven’t seen Food Inc. yet, now is your chance. It is a must see. It premiers on PBS’s POV April 21st! Check your local listings for the broadcast schedule. You can even download materials from the POV website to host your own viewing party.
This Academy Award nominated film is a powerful eye opening documentary about the truth behind America’s food supply. It questions whether America’s industrial food system produces healthy, nutritious, life-sustaining stuff we call food. If you take one look at America’s current health care crisis you might ask the same questions.
Food Inc., features several poignant interviews that caution us about the nutritional value of America’s food supply and question if our food products, including processed foods, fresh meat and produce, are in fact a threat to public health and safety. Interviews include Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) (two food movement heroes), sustainable, organic farmer Joel Salatin of Virginia’s Polyface Farms and mother, Barbara Kowalcyk. Kowalcyk’s 2 1/2 year old son died 12 days after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli.
The documentary also raises serious questions about ethical business practices of food giants Monsanto, Tyson, Perdue and Smithfield companies. When these companies were asked to tell their side of the story to filmmakers, they declined to comment.
This past week California public health officials issued another recall on ground beef products sold at WinCo food stores in six western states, stating it could be contaminated with E. coli.
Despite some of the heavy issues Food Inc tackles, the film is driven by visionaries of alternative businesses and activists that are leading the food movement to delicious, healthy, safe food for America.
Read More On America’s Food Safety Issues:
Monsanto’s Seedy Business
Tyson Foods Lied To Consumers About Drugs Used To Raise Their Chickens
FDA Fills New Position with Monsanto Hormone Guy
Monsanto is Hogging Hawaii’s Water
Big Agribusiness Dictating U.S. Food Safety
A Chemical Reaction to the White House Garden
E. coli Outbreak and Our Contaminated Food Supply
Most Chicken Producers’ Safeguards “Inadequate”
Russia and China Say Thanks, But No Thanks, to U.S. Poultry
Antibiotics: Tyson Chicken Wants to Lie to Consumers
USDA Allows Contaminated Chicken in Stores
Read More:Food Inc To Air on PBS’s POV
February 4th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Singer Neil Young was honored Friday as the MusiCares Person of the Year for his artistic accomplishments and philanthropic work with Farm Aid and The Bridge School, a California organization that assists disabled children.
A Farm Aid cofounder and board member, Young has worked for decades to help family farmers compete against Big Agribusiness.
“For 25 years, my friend Neil has been an impassioned champion of family farmers,” says Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. “He rallies concertgoers year after year at our show, and he relentlessly calls on Washington to reverse the bad policies that force family farmers off their land. He’s stubborn, passionate and persistent—just like family farmers.”
Grant Money for Family Farms
In December, Farm Aid provided $503,500 in grant money to 72 family farms and rural service organizations. The funding:
- Helps farm families stay on their land
- Builds new market opportunities for farmers and increases consumer access to good food
- Increases institutional buying of family-farm food
- Confronts the threat of corporate concentration in agriculture
- Recruits and trains new farmers
- Supports farmer-to-farmer programs for more sustainable agricultural practices
“Farm Aid is proud to support the crucial hands-on work happening all over the country to keep family farmers on the land,” says Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “2009 has been a tough year for everyone, but farm families especially have struggled with low prices, tight credit and bad weather. These grants will help address the immediate needs of family farmers and continue to grow and strengthen the sustainable, family farm-based food system that helps us all thrive.”
To make a tax-deductible contribution, click here.
Click here to purchase organic T-shirts that read “Stop Factory Farms.”
Get Some Neil!
- Greatest Hits
- After the Gold Rush
- Rust Never Sleeps
- Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography
Photo by Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2008; courtesy of Farm Aid
Read More:Join Neil Young and Help Make Factory Farms History
October 7th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Here’s a special message for the United Egg Producers: Get over yourselves.
The group is threatening consumers with a 25% hike in egg prices if cages are banned, while blaming animal-rights activists for snatching school breakfasts from the mouths of needy children.
The egg producers’ ultimate threat: importing eggs from overseas.
“I don’t think American consumers really want to play Russian Roulette with every carton of eggs they buy, which is essentially what would happen if we allow special interest groups to force a ban on the most modern, sanitary egg housing systems in the world,” said UEP President Gene Gregory in a hyperbolic press release. “Those systems are used to produce 95% of the eggs that American consumers buy every day.”
And therein lies the problem. California has already banned battery cages—a move that prompted Gregory to tell a U.K. audience that voters were “uninformed.”
I, for one, am willing to pay more for eggs that don’t require hens to be abused. As a child, I would accompany my mom to the local dairy farm in suburban New York, where we would buy our milk and eggs. Watching the chickens and cows roam free was the highlight of the trip. Somehow, the farm managed to get it right.
Am I willing to boycott egg producers who cage their hens? In a New York minute.
Want to get involved in the cause? Farm Sanctuary is pressing for national legislation to prevent animal cruelty.
Read More:Dear Egg Producers: Get Over Yourselves
October 5th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
During yesterday’s successful concert, Farm Aid leaders asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support measures that help family farmers thrive.
In the 1990s, broken farm policies and consolidated corporate food production forced nearly 80% of hog farmers out of business. According to Farm Aid, similar circumstances are causing dairy farmers to be paid less than half of what it costs to produce milk, and the United States risks losing thousands of dairy farmers this year alone.
At yesterday’s concert, Farm Aid representatives reiterated their request for the USDA to set a price for milk that covers the cost of production, which would guarantee dairy farmers a fair price that keeps them on their land. Farm Aid also asked the USDA to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund new and larger factory farms.
“Family farmers are the first rung of the economic ladder in this country,” said Farm Aid Founder and President Willie Nelson. “Against all odds, they have persevered and found ways to stay on their land, growing good food for all of us and creating strong communities. It’s time now for policy to rise to meet their needs with fair prices and support for their innovations.”
“We invite all Americans to join us in pressing for food production that protects our environment, our health and our economy,” added Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “We are encouraged by the opportunity the new administration in Washington offers us all for making the needed changes.”
At the concert, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan joined farmers and food advocates in a conversation about the many ways family farmers are rebuilding local and regional food systems and reenergizing the economy.
“Farmers face overwhelming challenges as they work each day to put food on our tables, and Farm Aid’s ongoing efforts on behalf of family farmers have helped put a human face on this vocation,” she said. “At the same time, there is a bright future for small- and mid-sized producers because there is an agricultural renaissance taking place in America. More and more consumers are wanting to better connect with their producers, and USDA’s new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative helps to accomplish that goal.”
For Your Organic Bookshelf: Farm Aid: A Song for America
Photo: Paul Natkin/Photo Reserve Inc. 2009
Read More:Farm Aid Calls for Agriculture Policy Changes
September 21st, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Compassion Over Killing (COK), a Washington, DC-based nonprofit animal advocacy group, has exposed cruelty at an egg factory farm owned by Michael Foods, one of the nation’s largest egg producers and a major supplier to Dunkin’ Donuts. (Click here to view the video.)
While employed at the facility in August, an investigator with a hidden camera shot footage of farm conditions for more than 1 million birds in battery cages, including:
- Hens immobilized in the wires of their cages, unable to access food or water
- Decomposing and “mummified” corpses left in cages alongside live birds
- Severe feather loss
- Untreated injuries
- An employee decapitating a hen
“No responsible company should support this animal cruelty,” says Erica Meier, COK’s executive director. “Dunkin’ Donuts can—and should—make the right decision by removing eggs from its doughnuts and offering more humane vegan menu items.”
Earlier this year, COK asked the donut chain about how the hens in its supply chain were treated and whether the company could offer egg-free donuts.
Dunkin’ took no action, so COK launched DunkinCruelty.com. You can protest the ongoing hen mistreatment by completing an email form.
Photo courtesy of DunkinCruelty.com
Read More:Caught on Tape: Hen Horrors
August 28th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Farm Aid is sponsoring a petition that calls on the U.S. government to suspend taxpayer funding of factory farms.
As the petition states:
Factory farms pose a real danger to our communities, our natural resources and the livelihood of hardworking family farmers. A current USDA program is funneling taxpayer money to fund new and bigger factory farm operations that lead to the gross overproduction of hogs and poultry. So much livestock is being churned out that it has caused a long-term depression of producer prices, forcing family farmers out of business.
The longer the USDA continues this misguided policy, the greater the threat to small farmers who are already being squeezed in this economy.
By signing the petition, you’ll add your name to a letter that will be sent to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. It urges the USDA “to suspend all direct or guaranteed farm ownership or operating loans for the construction or expansion of specialized hog or poultry production facilities.”
In other Farm Aid news, there’s still time to order tickets to the Oct. 4 concert in St. Louis, where performers like Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, Neil Young and Willie Nelson will rock the house. And if you’re a photography buff, consider entering the Farm Fresh Pics photo contest; the winner will receive an expenses-paid trip and two front-row concert tickets.
Read More:Sign Farm Aid’s Petition Against Factory-Farm Funding
August 5th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Food historian and self-described “full red-blooded carnivore” Betty Fussell understands that Americans are “caught up in the romance of beef.”
As she writes in Raising Steaks: The Life and Times of American Beef:
I felt that when I ate steak, I was sinking my teeth into the myth of the Frontier—the Marlboro cowboy busting his bronc, the cast-iron skillet on an open fire, the smell of tobacco and burnt coffee, a soft neigh or two from a tethered horse, the clank of a metal spur, the wheeze of a harmonica, a black sky full of stars.
But Fussell also acknowledges the stark realities of factory farms and slaughterhouses, animal cruelty, E. coli, mad cow disease and the toll meat production takes on our environment.
She talks with folks like Connie and Doc Hatfield of Country Natural Beef, who prove it’s possible to raise cattle humanely, without feeding them hormones or antibiotics, and without polluting the environment.
This makes Raising Steaks a fascinating anthropological read for organic foodies, whether you’re a meat eater, vegetarian or flexitarian.
Read More:Raising Steaks
July 18th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Farm Aid’s 2009 concert will be held Oct. 4 at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, MO.
Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews are scheduled to appear, and other artists will be announced soon.
Tickets will go on sale 10 a.m. Saturday, July 25, and are exclusively available at livenation.com, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater Box Office, participating Blockbuster stores or by calling (877) 598-8703.
“Farm Aid has deep roots in the Midwest that reach back to our first concert in Illinois in 1985,” says Nelson, the organization’s president. “I’m looking forward to bringing my friends together on the Farm Aid stage to celebrate family farmers and the crucial work they do. Farmers do so much more than bring us the good food we all want to eat. America needs family farmers to revitalize our economy and make our country healthy.”
Presented by Horizon Organic, the event will once again feature HOMEGROWN concessions, with foods from regional family farms and local organic growers. The HOMEGROWN Village will host hands-on activities that give concertgoers a chance to meet family farmers and get their hands dirty.
“Family farmers are innovative entrepreneurs who safeguard our food, environment and health,” says Carolyn Mugar, Farm Aid’s executive director. “Since the beginning, Farm Aid has worked with family farmers in the Midwest to keep them on the land, especially in the face of factory farms that have threatened to take over food production. At Farm Aid, concertgoers will reap the benefits of this work and will experience food grown by Missouri’s family farms.”
Read More:Farm Aid 2009 Set for October
June 30th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
Right before Memorial Day, as Americans prepared for holiday barbecues, I informed you of a recall involving 96,000 pounds of ground beef potentially contaminated with E. coli.
Now, with Fourth of July barbecues only days away, we face another beef recall. JBS Swift Beef Co., based in Greeley, CO, has recalled approximately 380,000 pounds of assorted beef products that may be contaminated with E coli. Not surprisingly, its a huge factory farm.
Once again, this is a Class I recall, defined as “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”
The CDC is investigating 24 illnesses in multiple states; 18 appear to be associated with the recalled beef.
The beef products were produced on April 21 and were distributed both nationally and internationally. Click here for a PDF file that lists recalled products.
As noted yesterday, multiple recalls have eroded consumer confidence in the food industry.
From Our Organic Blog: DIY Ground Beef
Read More:New Beef Recall Announced