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Radical ruling proposed on food advertising

Mark Sweney, Guardian
The Committee for Advertising Practice is close to ratifying a plan that would see the introduction of advertising restrictions on all food and drink products in non-broadcast media – except for fruit and vegetables. can reveal that the radical plan, raised in discussion at the Department of Health’s food and drink advertising and promotion forum today, goes further than Ofcom’s obesity reduction strategy that applies to TV ads only.

Ofcom has banned the advertising of junk food to children, determined by a nutrient-profiling model developed by the Food Standards Agency to identify products high in fat salt and sugar.
(20 Feb 2007)

Humans’ beef with livestock: a warmer planet

Brad Knickerbocker, The Christian Science Monitor
American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.
As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It’s not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that’s the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

“Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that’s more than the emissions caused by transportation.
(20 Feb 2007)
Great environmental reporting – well-sourced, relevant, going beyond the stereotypes. -BA

Transportation, Food Security and Local Economies

Sarah Rich, WorldChanging
In low-income urban communities, lack of access to healthy food poses a Catch-22. Supermarket chains shun neighborhoods where the customer base lacks an adequate food budget, yet traveling to grocery stores in more affluent areas stretches those residents’ scare resources even further (and takes local money to outside economies). As a result, low-income families tend to shop for cheap, nutrient-deficient foods in nearby liquor stores and bodegas, and eat very little fresh, wholesome food.

We’ve talked before about this problem, mostly in presenting solutions related to bringing fresh food into the city and growing your own, but in the absence of CSAs and time to cultivate one’s urban plot, public service systems and local economies ought to support the basic human right to obtain adequate nutrition. While grocery chains continue to hedge their bets around placing stores in low-income neighborhoods (and residents continue to debate the overall benefit of such an addition), there are two key solutions for facilitating food access in underserved areas: a public transit system that coordinates routes which connect well-stocked groceries to residents without wheels, and locally owned and operated groceries which are strong and networked enough to supply the fresh food people need.
(18 Feb 2007)

Australian crop production worst in 20 years

AAP, The Age
The drought will slash Australia’s summer crop production to its lowest level in more than 20 years.

After running a scythe through the winter grain harvest, the big dry is set to take a huge toll on water-intensive summer crops like cotton and rice.

The federal government’s rural economic forecaster, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) says 2006-07 summer crop production will fall 59 per cent to 1.9 million tonnes – the smallest haul since 1982-83.

The federal government’s rural economic forecaster, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE) says 2006-07 summer crop production will fall 59 per cent to 1.9 million tonnes – the smallest haul since 1982-83.

Rice production will plummet 90 per cent to just 106,000 tonnes, and cotton production will be down 42 per cent at 250,000 tonnes.

ABARE is tipping grain sorghum production to fall 51 per cent to 996,000 tonnes.

Severe cuts to water allocations were taking a toll on Australia’s thirsty cotton and rice sectors, ABARE said.

“In both industries, growers have been abandoning parts of their crops and using their reduced water allocations on smaller areas in an effort to maximise returns from the remaining crops,” ABARE’s quarterly crop report said.
(1X Feb 2007)
Contributor SP writes:
Where ABARE says “Severe cuts to water allocations were taking a toll on Australia’s thirsty cotton and rice sectors…” readers should know that water in the Murray Darling basin (MDB) has been overallocated, especially in the state of New South Wales (NSW). This might also explain NSW Premier Iemmas willingness in handing control of the MDB water to the Federal Government in an election year where water and the environment will be key issues accentuated buy the current “drought”.

In a mostly dry and arid continent using the word “drought” (to me) depends if you are a cup half full or cup half empty kinda person…

Recipe for a Revolution
How a cookbook renaissance heated up the sustainable-food movement

Tom Philpott, Gristmill
…it’s worth cataloging what’s been lost as food production industrialized over the course of the century. A country marked by sturdy regional cuisines, enriched by waves of immigration from throughout the globe, mutated into Fast Food Nation. Homogenization, portability, and convenience became the hallmarks of U.S. eating. Flavor became less the concern of the farmer and cook and more the realm of the corporate food scientist. Untethered from the dirty work of production, U.S. consumers became “free to choose” from a vast array of items at supermarkets and fast-food chains — most of which, it turns out, amounted to clever combinations of corn and soybeans, our two most prodigious, subsidized, and thus inexpensive crops.

Yet things are never as clear-cut as they seem. In the post-World War II decades, just as these trends gained force, a backlash began to take root. It started when young Americans like Julia Child and Richard Olney traveled to southern Europe and tasted farm-fresh food prepared with flavor and tradition — not volume and profit — as the primary motivating factors.

These writers didn’t plan to launch a revolution. They fell in love with vibrant flavor and fell upon cookbook writing as a means for building a career around food. Their audience certainly wasn’t 1905-style rural homesteaders feeding a family from backyard produce. Rather, the target was a burgeoning middle class — buoyed by the postwar boom — that could be convinced to see cooking as a leisure activity.

Thus a new genre was born. Previous American cookbooks had been geared to harried housewives scraping together family meals from common ingredients. Child and Olney ushered in an age of almost scholarly texts, where American writers venture off to foreign lands and record their culinary customs with the zeal of anthropologists. We remain in the midst of the cookbook renaissance they launched.