Food & Nutrition

Days After Administration Promised not to Touch Food Stamps, Trump Budget Reportedly Will Cut Them

by Alan Pyke – Expect big cuts to SNAP, WIC, and food bank subsidies systems. “As far as I’m concerned we have no proposed changes” to the food stamps program, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told congressmen last Wednesday. “You don’t try to fix things that aren’t broken.” Perdue’s comments, delivering during a Wednesday House Agriculture Committee hearing, seemed to signal that President Donald Trump would not seek to shrink America’s efforts to help low-income families feed themselves. Yet just five days later, a leaked budget document seems to show the White House is going back on Perdue’s commitment — contemplating some combination of policy changes and outright budget cuts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) and other key food supports for the poor. The leaked spreadsheet lists proposed budget requests for thousands of different government line items, without any of the accompanying policy information that would...

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Michelle Obama Offers Great Question To Ask Trump: ‘What Is Wrong With You?’ (VIDEO)

by Jon Queally – After seeing one of her signature efforts go backwards under new Republican administration, former First Lady wants to know, ‘Why don’t you want our kids to have good food at school?’ With her focus on nutritious foods and making sure access to them was expanded to all children in the nation during her time in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama is asking some serious questions now that President Donald Trump has moved to go backwards on efforts designed to promote healthier school lunches and reduce childhood obesity. Just months after former president Barack Obama left office, as Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump administration issued orders that weakened standards set by the “Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” which Ms. Obama championed and her husband signed into law in 2010. The Obama-era statute repealed by Trump had set guidelines and added funding that would...

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USDA Rolls Back School Lunch Guidelines Championed by Michelle Obama

by Lauren McCauley – The nutrition rules were long abhorred by industry groups who now have a friend in the White House. In one of his first orders of business, President Donald Trump’s newly confirmed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue took steps to weaken school lunch standards championed by former First Lady Michelle Obama. In an interim final rule, announced by Perdue while he visited an elementary school in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Virginia on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is rolling back nutrition rules that were part of Obama’s Let’s Move campaign that was abhorred by food industry groups. Specifically, Perdue is postponing a regulation that would have required schools to lower the sodium content in lunches. The order has also eliminated requirements that schools serve 100 percent whole-grain rich products, and another that forbade sugary, flavored, one percent milk. As The Hill explains: “Sodium levels in...

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

by STEVEN HARPER – Across the federal government, Trump is determining the country’s fate. The first 100 days of deconstruction set the stage for 1,360 that will follow. Trump promised to be a transformational leader. It wasn’t an idle threat. He has assembled an unprecedented governmental wrecking crew. This is the third installment on Trump’s a unique combination of kleptocracy and kakistocracy that is reshaping America in ways that most of voters won’t like. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Don’t let the symbolic American missile strike on a Syrian airfield, dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” on tunnels in Afghanistan or threats directed at North Korea distract from a central fact: Trump is Putin’s President. Former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is a player in the resulting saga. After Trump announced his choice for secretary of state, former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov said that Tillerson was a “gift for...

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Key Report: Hundreds of Native Bee Species Buzzing Toward Extinction

by JULIE FIDLER – One species is already presumed to be extinct. The Center for Biological Diversity has published a first-of-its-kind comprehensive review of more than 4,000 native bee species in North America. The report indicates that more than half the species with sufficient data are declining. Nearly 1 in 4 is racing towards extinction due to increased pesticide and other factors. Of the 1,437 species with sufficient data, the nonprofit found that 749 were declining. An additional 347 (24%) of the species are imperiled and at risk of extinction. The center presumes that the species lacking sufficient data are presumed to be at risk of extinction as well. The author of the report, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement: “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.” All of the bee...

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An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty

by Robert Reich – The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty. 1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels.” These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children. Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together. 2. His plan to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act will cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million by 2026. Why is Trump doing...

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East Chicago’s Pleas for Clean Drinking Water Go Unanswered as Trump Moves to Weaken EPA

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Environmental justice is on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency, and that doesn’t bode well for communities like East Chicago, Indiana, where the agency recently discovered that drinking water is contaminated with lead. Nearly three weeks ago, a number of East Chicago churches and community groups petitioned the EPA to take emergency action and protect the majority-Black community from lead poisoning, which can cause a long list of health problems, especially in children. As of Tuesday, the local leaders and their environmentalist allies had yet to hear back from the agency. The EPA’s inaction in East Chicago comes as Trump’s administration considers massive budget cuts that could crush the agency’s environmental justice program, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of low-income communities, Native communities and people of color under environmental law. The agency’s environmental justice office is slated...

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Trump, Ryan Budgets will Kill More Americans Per Year than all Muslim Extremist Attacks Combined

by Hunter – Meals on Wheels. How far do you have to get down the scale of ideological depravity before your pen lands on Meals on Wheels as the thing you need to get rid of to buy those last two more Tomahawk cruise missiles that will finally make America a super-duper-dominant world power again. That’s only one part of the Trump budget that directly targets the poorest Americans, of course. It also cuts home heating assistance, so those same seniors will have a chance to freeze to death before starving. It takes an axe to EPA efforts to clean up pollution, which will have a disproportionate effect on the air and water of those neighborhoods surrounding those worst polluters. While that will likely result in an uptick in everything from childhood asthma to cancer, the Trump budget also slashes medical research funding in an apparent effort to ensure nobody does...

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“Morally Obscene” Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again

by Deirdre Fulton – Environment, public education, worker protections, and cultural institutions all stand to lose under Trump’s “cruel” budget blueprint.   Meals on Wheels. Amtrak. Teacher training, after-school, and summer educational programs. The National Endowment for the Arts. The Appalachian Regional Commission. The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All these initiatives and agencies—plus many more—face cuts or wholesale elimination under President Donald Trump’s proposed “skinny budget,” officially unveiled Thursday. Meanwhile, the blueprint calls for increases in military spending, border and immigration enforcement, and money for charter and private schools. The Washington Post has a comprehensive breakdown, with graphics, here. The document was variously denounced as “an all-out assault on our planet;” “dirty and dangerous;” “cruel;” and “unacceptable.” “President Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help...

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‘Dangerous’ and ‘Dumb’: Trump Signs Executive Order Torching Regulations

by Andrea Germanos – “It will fundamentally change our government’s role from one of protecting the public to protecting corporate profits” President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday that aims to slash regulations—an action, advocacy groups say, that puts lives at risk. The order—the latest of a flurry since he took office—states that “for every one new regulation issued, at least two prior regulations be identified for elimination,” fulfilling a campaign promise he made. “For fiscal year 2017, which is in progress, the heads of all agencies are directed that the total incremental cost of all new regulations, including repealed regulations, to be finalized this year shall be no greater than zero,” it adds. Trump said before signing the order: “We’ll be reducing big league,” adding “This will be the biggest such act our country has ever seen.” Advocacy groups were quick to decry the executive order as...

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Media Blackout at Multiple Federal Agencies

by Lauren McCauley – Moves come amid growing concern that Trump and his appointees will suppress scientific innovation and research to advance their own ideological agenda. Though the majority of President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet nominations have not yet been confirmed, his so-called “beachhead” teams have arrived at their respective agencies, carrying out orders that make clear that the “War on Science” has begun. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed broke the news that scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are no longer allowed to share information about taxpayer-funded research with the public. In an email sent Monday and obtained by the news outlet, Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for the USDA’s primary in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), told the department: “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents…This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social...

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Oxfam: Ten Multinational Corporations Control Most Food Brands

by Dave Johnson – Take a look at Oxfam’s report, “Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies.” A Food System In Crisis The Behind the Brands report explains, “For more than 100 years, the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits have often come at the cost of the environment and local communities around the world, and have contributed to a food system in crisis.” Explaining the campaign, the report says, “Oxfam’s campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies – Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain.” “Big Ten” Infographic The report...

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House Republicans Seek Destruction Of School Lunch Program

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The National School Lunch program that provides healthy free or reduced meals for children in need has joined Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare as yet another program Republicans want to gut in 2017. Not only do Republicans want to take Social Security away from the American people and take away healthcare for adults and children alike, they apparently also want to let children starve at school, too. For years, both parties supported the school lunch program, but Republicans have becomes so greedy and heartless that they are breaking that spirit of cooperation in order to ruthlessly take food out of the mouths of the children who need it most. The program currently costs $12.7 billion, which is a drop in the bucket considering Donald Trump just called for expanding America’s nuclear weapons stockpile, which will cost way more than a school lunch. Clearly, Trump nor...

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What’s on Your table? How America’s Diet has Changed Over the Decades

by DREW DESILVER – Americans eat more chicken and less beef than they used to. They drink less milk – especially whole milk – and eat less ice cream, but they consume way more cheese. Their diets include less sugar than in prior decades but a lot more corn-derived sweeteners. And while the average American eats the equivalent of 1.2 gallons of yogurt a year, he or she also consumes 36 pounds of cooking oils – more than three times as much as in the early 1970s. Americans’ eating habits, in short, are all over the place, at least according to our analysis of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) data. Which is about what you’d expect, judging from the results of Pew Research Center’s recent survey on food and nutrition attitudes. In that survey, 54% of Americans said people in the U.S. pay more attention to eating healthy foods today compared with 20...

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More Than Half Of New Yorkers Are One Paycheck Away From Homelessness

by Whitney Webb – A new report has found that 60% of New Yorkers could face eviction, foreclosure, or homelessness in the event of a lost job, medical emergency, or similar crisis due to a lack of emergency savings. Since the 2008 economic crisis, most Americans have seen little of Obama’s much-touted economic “recovery” in their personal lives. Considering that the so-called “recovery” involved printing millions of dollars that went directly into the pockets of the same bankers who created the crisis itself, it’s not surprising that many Americans still find themselves struggling. Throughout the nation, many families are struggling just to get by, especially in areas were wages remain stagnant and the cost of living and housing continues to climb. Many American cities are a microcosm of this larger phenomenon, perhaps none more so than New York City. However, a recent report from the Association for Neighborhood & Housing...

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Hateful Letter To Food Bank Proves We Need Food Stamps

by Wendy Gittleson – A few days before Thanksgiving, a food bank in Central Texas received a letter that was so hateful it could only have been written by a Trump supporter. Dear Foodbank: I don’t understand who these poor folks are that need food. I assume they consist primarily of illegals, who come to Texas for “free stuff.” And of course, our unemployed Africans, who find work too much trouble, especially when they can collect the equivalent of $40,000 a year on welfare, and other “benefits” offered to the unfit, the lazy, and the under-educated…and of course, the drug addicts. I expect that most who need food are marching around whining that the congenital liar, Hillary Rodham Clinton, lost the election. Too bad; How sad. I also wonder if your organization is not one of those Phoney-Baloney, so-called “charities,” designed primarily to provide a good living to its organizers. In...

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School Lunch Worker Forced to Throw Away Student’s Hot Meal Decides to Quit

by Casey Quinlan – “As a Christian, I have an issue with this.” Under a new policy introduced earlier this year, the Canon-McMillan school district in Pennsylvania bars cafeteria workers from serving students a hot meal if their families owe the school more than $25. That’s why, when a little boy in one of the district’s elementary school went over his credit limit, lunchroom staffer Stacy Koltiska was forced to toss his meal in the trash. Instead, according to district policy, Koltiska was supposed to offer the boy two slices of white bread and cold slice of cheese. After this incident, Koltiska — who worked for the district for two years — decided to quit. She says she resigned out of “moral obligation.” “There’s enough wealth in this world that no child should go hungry, especially in school. To me this is just wrong.” “As a Christian, I have an issue with this. It’s sinful and shameful...

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The Clinton Foundation Shows Off The Goods—And Wow, Are They Good

 by Mark Sumner – While the Donald J Trump Foundation is daily melting down into a quagmire of political payoffs, illegal transactions, and astonishing acts of greed, the Clinton Foundation has been doing it’s paperwork. … as questions swirl about Trump’s own Foundation, thanks to a series of investigative articles in The Washington Post that reveal Trump uses almost none of his own money to make donations, the Initiative’s annual meeting is an apt time for the Clintons to show off just how much good their Foundation has actually done. And boy, did Bill bring the receipts. … 3,600: That’s how many public commitments the Initiative’s attendees have made on stage over the last 12 years. 435 million: That’s how many people those commitments have helped. 52 million: That’s how many children have received access to education as a result of those commitments. 114 million: That’s how many people can drink clean water because of...

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Decried as Unfair, Taxes on Groceries Persist in Some States

by Elaine S. Povich – Thirteen states and many localities continue to tax the sale of groceries, even though the taxes disproportionately hurt the poor and may affect the quality, variety and even the amount of food they can afford to put on the table. The reason: The taxes provide a steady source of revenue in volatile times, making it difficult for states to get rid of them without finding a way to make up the revenue. Recent efforts in several of the states to eliminate or lower the taxes have failed. “States might be looking at getting rid of sales tax on groceries, but groceries are between a sixth and a seventh of all consumption,” said Scott Drenkard, analyst at the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax study group. “If you want to raise the same amount of money you might have to increase the sales tax by a full...

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Fate of Vermont’s Historic GMO-Labeling Law in US Senate’s Hands

by Deirdre Fulton – Victory in Vermont, where GMO label requirements went into effect Friday, may be ‘fleeting’ As the nation’s first GMO labeling law takes effect, food policy experts are warning that its benefits could be “fleeting,” should the U.S. Senate pass a so-called “compromise” bill this week that would nullify Vermont’s historic law as well as other state efforts in the works. Vermont’s law (pdf) requiring food manufacturers to clearly state whether a product is “produced with genetic engineering” went into effect Friday. “Vermont had the courage to say, ‘If it’s the right thing to do, what are we waiting for,'” Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin told a rally of about 150 people on the Statehouse steps. He asked supporters of the law to celebrate on social media under the hashtag#WeLabeledGMOS. “But this victory may be fleeting,” cautioned Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The Senate will vote next week on a federal...

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Better Labels, Better Food

by Jill Richardson – Here’s an option for food manufacturers who don’t want to disclose all that sugar they use: Use less Food labels are changing. In the past, you could only see how much total sugar was in your food. That included sugars naturally occurring in healthy, whole foods — like lactose in milk — alongside extra sugars like sucrose or high fructose corn syrup, which aren’t so healthy. But the Food and Drug Administration just announced that in the near future, labels will specify the amount of added sugars in packaged products. That makes it easier to spot the sugars you should limit in your diet. Will this change America’s eating habits and health for the better? I hope so. But it might not. The new labels could benefit consumers in two ways. First, and perhaps most obviously, health-conscious eaters may read the labels and select healthier food choices....

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New Mexico Officials Accused Of Forging Applications To Deny Poor People Emergency Food Stamps

by BRYCE COVERT – Kimberly Jones knows just how hard it is to wait for emergency food stamps to come through. New Mexico is supposed to grant people in dire financial situations expedited benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) within seven days, rather than the 30 it takes to process regular applications. But it often doesn’t work out that way. At the end of last year, Jones, who was living in a hotel room because she couldn’t afford an apartment, applied for emergency benefits. But months passed without any word from the state’s Human Services Department (HSD), which oversees SNAP. Forced to decide between spending her meager income from her part-time job caring for a home-bound patient on either food or the hotel room, she spent it on the room, knowing that she needed somewhere to keep her belongings. So while she waited for help buying food, she...

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GMOs Are Complicated, And Our Food System Is Not Designed To Handle Complicated. That’s A Problem

by NATASHA GEILING – This month, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) — an independent group created by Congress — released what is, to date, one of the most extensive reviews of genetically modified crops. The nearly 400-page report looks at everything from genetically modified crops’ potential impact on human health to their impact on the environment. It’s a massive, hulking piece of scientific literature — the panel spent two years pouring over more than 1,000 existing studies on genetically modified crops, interviewing 80 witnesses, and analyzing more than 700 comments submitted by the public. The report comes at an important time in the overall debate about GMOs and their place in the American food system. In a country almost constantly polarized, an overwhelming majority of Americans think that GMOs should be labeled. According to a Pew poll, more than half of Americans believe that GMOs are unsafe. At the same time,...

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The ‘Sell By’ Dates On Our Groceries Are Causing Tons Of Food Waste

by NATASHA GEILING – The food labeling system in the United States is a complete mess. Foods can be labeled “healthy”regardless of how much sugar they contain. Foods can be labeled “Non-GMO” even when they don’t have genes, making the existence of a genetically-modified version impossible. But beyond encouraging misinformation in our food system and potentially leading consumers to make ill-informed nutritional decisions, labels can also be terrible for the environment and food security. Take, for instance, the existence of omnipresent expiration labels. Most consumers assume that these labels are guidelines for the date after which it’s unwise, or potentially unsafe, to eat that particular food product. But expiration labels basically mean nothing. There are no federal standards for expiration dates, except for baby formula, and best-by or sell-by date have no basis in science — instead, they’re a manufacturer’s best guess for when the food is likely to be...

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Costco Is Selling So Much Organic Produce, It’s Helping Farmers Grow More

by Amanda Froelich – Because the retail company can’t keep up with the demand for organics, it has launched a pilot program to help farmers buy land and grow chemical-free crops As TrueActivist has mentioned before, the future is green – that much is clear. Not only have a handful of countries expressed intention to transition completely to renewable energy within the next few decades, the trend of eating wholesome, organic food is on the rise. In fact, so many people are choosing to invest in their health, the popular retail company Costco can’t keep enough organic food stocked to meet customer demand. Believe it or not, the chain has actually surpassed Whole Foods as the top seller of organic produce. As a result, Costco has launched a pilot program to loan organic farmers money to buy land and equipment to increase the supply of the wholesome fruits and veggies. The...

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Diabetes and Prediabetes Rates in California: “A Storm is Coming”

by JULIE FIDLER – 175% increase nationally since 1980 It’s not all rippling muscles and green smoothies in California. A new analysis by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) researchers shows a shocking number of Californians either have diabetes or are on the verge of developing it.  To be specific 55% of California adults have either diabetes or prediabetes, a condition in which a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. The analysis used a predictive model based on national blood testing results and survey data of 40,000 California residents. Dr. Harold Goldstein, the report’s co-author and executive director of the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, told The Sacramento Bee: “The numbers are so large that they stop you in your tracks… It’s hard to digest that the situation is as bad as it is.” The team already knew 9% of adults in the...

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Republican Proposal Would Restrict Free Meal Programs At Thousands Of America’s Poorest Schools

by ALAN PYKE – Millions of low-income American students could lose access to free school meals under a proposal circulating among House lawmakers. The measure would reverse years of progress on free meals in U.S. schools by setting a much higher eligibility bar for schools to start making meals free to all students. Thousands of schools have expanded their meal offerings in recent years as researchers expose the extent of child hunger — and the dividends that come from curing it inside schoolhouses. The changes would take away schoolwide free meals programs from more than 7,000 schools that educate almost 3.4 million students in low-income areas, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports. Another 11,600 schools that have not yet taken advantage of the free meals option for all students would lose access to it under the proposal. Instead of using what’s called Community Eligibility, these schools would have to...

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McDonald’s Kale Salad Surpasses Big Mac in Calorie, Fat Count

by JULIE FIDLER – Over the past year or two, McDonald’s made the decision to appear to offer customers healthy menu options, but appearances can be deceiving. If you’re going to go to McDonald’s for lunch or dinner, you might as well indulge a juicy Big Mac, because the fast food chain’s new kale salads have more fat and calories crammed into it than McDonalds’ flagship burger. McDonald’s Canada’s “Keep Calm, Caesar On” crispy chicken salad. Source: McDonald’s                                                                          Canada The company is marketing the salads as healthy alternatives to McDonalds’ traditional menu. The fast-food chain touts “4 Servings of Vegetables Never Tasted So Good” for its Caesar Salad with Crispy Chicken bowl, while urging customers to “get your...

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5 Ways NOT To “Make America Great Again.” And One Way To Do It

by Paul Buchheit – Mahatma Gandhi said, “A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” The visions of “greatness” coming from America’s political and business and military leaders are quite the opposite, with an emphasis on the ‘exceptional’ people who would prefer to have nothing to do with the weaker members of society. 1. Let Government and the Media Ignore 90% of Us Based on a study of 1,779 policy issues, Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page concluded that “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” Government doesn’t listen to us, and the mainstream media fails to inform us about matters that might offend their corporate bosses. As Bernie Sanders explained, “The corporate media does everything they can to keep us entertained without addressing the real issues… don’t even know that we...

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‘This is What Consumers Want’: General Mills to Start Labeling GMOs

by Nadia Prupis – Environmental and consumer advocacy groups hailed decision by food manufacturer and called on Congress to follow suit General Mills will start labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in all its food products, thanks to Vermont‘s impending GMO law and the failure of the ‘voluntary labeling’ law in U.S. Congress this week. “We can’t label our products for only one state without significantly driving up costs for our consumers, and we simply won’t do that,” wrote General Mills U.S. retail chief Jeff Harmening in a post to the company’s website on Friday. “The result: Consumers all over the country will soon begin seeing words legislated by the state of Vermont on the labels of many of their favorite General Mills food products.” The company, which manufactures huge North American brands like Betty Crocker, Yoplait, and Cheerios, among others, now joins Campbell‘s as one of the major food companies in...

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Drug Testing Welfare Recipients Is A Popular New Policy That Cost States Millions. Here Are The Results

by BRYCE COVERT & JOSH ISRAEL – In 10 states, someone who applies for welfare cash assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program doesn’t just have to deal with complicated paperwork at a time when there’s a good chance she’s already in a state of financial crisis. She also has to be screened and possibly tested for substance abuse. And if she tests positive, she won’t receive benefits. Proponents of these programs argue that they’re implemented not just to save money, but to help people who may be struggling with substance abuse. But the data tells a different story. In 2015, despite lack of evidence that programs in other states accomplished their goals, three more states have implemented similar regimes. And a ThinkProgress survey of the 10 states that now have these programs in place found that they continue to be expensive and not especially effective. All...

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Humanitarian Aid Sent to Besieged Syrian Towns

Convoy moves out as Turkish President Erdogan vows to prevent Kurdish forces from creating stronghold in northern Syria At least 100 trucks of humanitarian aid have started moving towards besieged areas of Syria from Damascus, the Syrian Red Crescent and United Nations have said, in the latest delivery of supplies to trapped residents. The Syrian government has approved access to seven besieged areas, the UN said after crisis talks in Damascus on Tuesday, a week before a planned resumption of peace talks between Syria’s warring parties. The aid convoys on Wednesday afternoon started heading for Madaya, Zabadani and Mouadamiya al-Sham near Damascus, and to the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province in the northwest, five of the locations named by the UN.   Turkey launches attacks on Kurdish units in Syria Supplies included wheat and high-energy foods. A medical team would enter Kefraya and al-Foua, the spokesman...

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When Government ‘Saves Money’ And Gets ‘Smaller,’ We All Lose

by Dave Johnson – Many say we should “run government like a business” and “save money” by “cutting spending” and “making government smaller.” Does this work? Do We the People really save money by doing these things? Have you heard the phrase “penny-wise and pound-foolish”? How about “a stitch in time saves nine”? Maybe “eating the seed corn?” When government “saves money,” all of these snippets of time-honored wisdom, warning of what happens to those who try to “do it on the cheap,” should come to mind. Infrastructure You can “save money” by not changing the oil in your car. But have you ever seen a car that has never had its oil changed? After a while white smoke pours out the back because the rings are ruined. Other parts of the engine are also being ruined. Eventually the engine will seize up and quit and you have to either...

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Turning Our Backs

by Isaiah J. Poole – A growing number of states are booting poor people from assistance programs With the winter winds of January came a flurry of reports that several states were moving to cut thousands of people from their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or “food stamp”) rolls. In New Jersey, for example, Governor Chris Christie pulled the plug on benefits to 11,000 unemployed state residents. By this spring, an estimated 500,000 people nationwide could be cut off. For most of them, the maximum benefit of less than $200 a month is all the federal aid they get. For some, it’s their entire income. These people live in states that have chosen to reinstate work requirements on able-bodied adults without children, which had been suspended since the 2008 economic downturn. It means that single adults who aren’t working at least 20 hours a week or participating in a job-training program...

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New Study Links Milk Consumption To Parkinson’s Disease

by Amanda Froelich – “Got Milk?” If so, now might be the time to ditch it. According to researchers from Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, contaminants found in cow’s milk may increase the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. As TIME Magazine reports, lead researcher Robert Abbott and his team of colleagues took advantage of an environmental scandal in Hawaii in the 1980s to investigate the connection between milk consumption and Parkinson’s. Around the same time, there was also a study of heart disease among Japanese-American men being conducted. Over 8,000 men were involved, and they were followed from mid-life to death in the study. The participants provided detailed information about what they ate, including how much milk they drank. Some even agreed to donate their brains for research upon death. Abbott and his team studied 449 of the brains and recorded the density of neurons in specific areas of...

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Huge: Monsanto Going to Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

by CHRISTINA SARICH – If you’ve been waiting to finally see Monsanto – one of the most hated companies in the world – to pay for its ecocide, knowing harm of human life, and devastation of our pollinators, then you won’t have to wait much longer. Several activist groups joined by food and farming experts are suing Monsanto for their crimes against humanity. Finally, Monsanto, the US-based, transnational company responsible for introducing multiple genetically modified crops and numerous toxic chemicals into our environment – including saccharin, aspartame, polystyrene, DDT, dioxin, Agent Orange, petroleum based fertilizers, recombinant bovine growth hormones (rGBH), Round Up (glyphosate), Lasso (a herbicide used in Europe), Bt toxic plants, and more – will have to answer to the world for its reign of terror. Monsanto has acted with severe negligence, and the hubris and supremacy of a corporation given personhood, but no longer. The Organic Consumers Association...

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Nine Foods You Should Never Eat Again

by True Activist – (NaturalNews) With so much misinformation out there about food and how it affects human health, making healthy food choices for you and your family can be difficult and confusing. There are a number of specific foods; however, that you will want to avoid in almost every circumstance because they provide virtually no health benefits while posing plenty of health risks. Here are nine foods you should never eat again if you care about preserving your long-term health: 1) White bread, refined flours. By definition, white bread and refined flours in general are toxic for your body because they have been stripped of virtually all vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other important nutrients. Because of this, the body does not know how to properly digest and assimilate these so-called foods, which can lead to health problems. Refined white flour has also been bleached with chlorine and brominated with bromide,...

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Scott Walker Boots 15,000 People Off Food Stamps In Three Months

by ALAN PYKE – In just three months, 15,000 people in Wisconsin have already lost food stamps thanks to Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) decision to enforce full work requirements for the program in Milwaukee despite economic conditions dire enough to trigger a federal reprieve. Walker’s administration made the policy change in April. Since then, anyone deemed to be an able-bodied adult with no dependents to care for must prove they are working or participating in job training programs for at least 20 hours per week. Failing to meet that standard means losing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits after three months. The 15,000 bumped from the rolls from May to July is only half the number the state predicts will ultimately lose food stamps because of the move. The 20-hour weekly work requirement is typically waived when economic conditions are too tight. Since making people hungrier doesn’t create jobs where...

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This Restaurant Made A Black Customer Pre-Pay Now They’re Getting Sued (VIDEO)

by SARAH BURRIS – Brian Eason is an African-American man, a realtor and a sheriff’s deputy. But he’s also the survivor of an Elmer’s franchise in Vancouver, Washington that forced him to pay for his meal before he ate. Because he is black. Seriously. According to his lawsuit against the company, Eason’s server profusely apologized saying that the owner ask him to pay ahead. She admitted knowing the policy was discriminatory. He reportedly returned to the restaurant and asked a table of white patrons if they had to pay before, and they said that they did not. No one knows why the owner put the policy in place, but Easton is suing for $100,000. Far too little if you ask me. He said when it happened he wasn’t sure if he was going to do something, but his family convinced him that something must be done. A statement from the parent...

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Arson Suspected in Massive Fire at Monsanto Research Facility

by True Activist – (ANTIMEDIA) Maryland — Earlier this week, a Monsanto research facility in France was burned to the ground. Monsanto and investigators suspect an arsonist was responsible for the blaze. Monsanto representative Jakob Witten told Reuters that investigators“strongly suspect it was a crime as no electrical or other sources were found.”He added that “No Monsanto sites in Europe have so far been the victim of fires of criminal origin, this is unprecedented violence.” The fire had multiple points of origin, meaning it is unlikely the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction or other natural causes. Investigators also noticed a strong smell of gasoline in different areas of the site. France announced in June that it was banning sales of Roundup, Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, amid public pressure and the World Health Organization’s announcement that the product is probably carcinogenic. Further, last month the country announced it was strengthening its ban...

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Anthony Bourdain’s Wake Up Call To Trump On His Deportation Plan

by ESTHER YU-HSI LEE – Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has some strong words for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who espouses some pretty xenophobic immigration policy plans: “Every restaurant in America would shut down” without the undocumented immigrant population. During an appearance on SiriusXM’s StandUp with Pete Dominick on Wednesday prior to the third GOP presidential debate, Bourdain — who worked in the restaurant business for 30 years — described restaurant workers, mainly from Mexican or Central America, as the “backbone of the industry,” according to Eater, which transcribed the discussion: I rolled out of a prestigious culinary institute and went to work in real restaurants. I walked into restaurants and always, the person who had been there the longest, who took the time to show me how it was done, was always Mexican or Central American. The backbone of the industry — meaning most of the people in my...

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First Senate Agricultural Committee Meeting in 10 Years Cheers GMOs, Ignores Dangers

by CHRISTINA SARICH – The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry held a biotechnology hearing for the first time in 10 years last week to discuss the future of food technology as the industry responds to increased demand, production challenges, and consumers’ calls for a safe and transparent food supply. But the meeting came up short on transparency and carried on more like a Monsanto share-holders meeting than an unbiased inquiry into the pros and cons of biotechnology where it concerns the food supply. Senator after senator praised biotechnology and genetically modified foods, claiming they had ‘come a long way’ in ten years. Pamela Bailey, president and CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association said: “The Senate Agriculture hearing reaffirmed the broad consensus among scientists and regulators that GMOs are safe and highlighted the real world negative impacts a patchwork of state labeling mandates will have on farmers, businesses...

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The Future Of Our Food Depends On Honeybees, And The USDA Is Spending Millions To Save Them

by KATIE VALENTINE – In case you haven’t heard, honeybees aren’t doing so great. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture thinks it’s found a way to make life a little easier for these imperiled pollinators. Last week, the USDA announced that it would be setting aside $4 million for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners who want to plant more pollinator-friendly flora — including wildflowers, native grasses, and cover crops like clover, sunflowers, mustard, and buckwheat — on their lands. The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is working with farmers in six Midwestern states — Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin — to help make these bee-friendly changes. “The future of our food supply depends on honeybees,” NRCS Chief Jason Weller said in a statement. “This effort partners with farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to ensure honeybees have safe and diverse food sources during a time when...

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USDA Does Not Have The Cash To Keep Food Stamps Running If The Government Shuts Down

by ALAN PYKE – Tens of millions of vulnerable Americans would lose their food stamps benefits if Republicans bent on defunding Planned Parenthood force the second government shutdown of the Obama era next week, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) warned on Tuesday. Unlike the 2013 shutdown when cash reserves allowed Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to be disbursed as normal, “USDA will not have the funding necessary for SNAP benefits in October and will be forced to stop providing benefits within the first several days of October,” a spokeswoman told the Associated Press. The agency notified state SNAP administrators on Friday that they should not begin the process of doling out October’s food stamps dollars this week as they normally would. Without a deal, funding for normal government operations will run out at the end of September. In response to the news that a shutdown would cut...

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The U.S. Government Wants To Cut Food Waste In Half

by NATASHA GEILING – Food waste is a huge problem — each year, around 40 percent of food in the United States ends up as waste, contributing to food insecurity and climate change and costing the country billions of dollars. If the greenhouse gas emissions created when food waste decomposes were a country, it would rank only behind the United States and China in terms of contribution to global emissions. Over the past few years, advocates — aided by successful pilot programs at some retail stores — have waged campaigns aimed at educating consumers about the woes of food waste. Now, the United States government is stepping up its contribution to the fight. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the first official national goal for decreasing food waste across the country. Launched in partnership with state and local governments, private sector companies, and...

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These Waiters Make $15 An Hour, Get Paid Time Off And A 401(k), And Won’t Have To Worry About Tips

by BRYCE COVERT – William Oliver’s Publick House, a pub in Fort Collins, Colorado was already unusual compared to others in the food industry. Employees got health care from their employer, 401(k) retirement plans, paid time off, and profit-sharing bonuses every year. “One of the things I’ve said since we opened is that I want to have a place that is for people who want to do this as a profession,” said Ryan Wallace, owner of William Oliver’s. When he opened it with his wife in 2013, they had both come from more typical 9-to-5 jobs with those kinds of benefits as the norm. “We wanted to start a company that had a lot of those same things,” he explained. Those kind of offerings attract a certain kind of person: the first employee they hired came with 37 years of experience. “I wanted to make sure I was creating a...

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What Would It Cost to Deport 11.3 Million Unauthorized Immigrants?

By Philip E. Wolgin, Center for American Progress – Last week’s Gallup poll reaffirmed what we have known for a long time: The vast majority of Americans want sensible solutions to immigration policy, with 65 percent of Americans believing that unauthorized immigrants should be allowed to get legal status and a pathway to citizenship. A small minority—only 19 percent—believe that unauthorized immigrants should be deported from the United States. What would it cost if this fringe minority of Americans got their way, and the United States took the draconian step of deporting 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants from the country?Based on previous analysis from the Center for American Progress, a mass deportation strategy would cost an average of $10,070 per person, for a total of $114 billion to remove 11.3 million people.This figure includes the high costs that would be required to find each and every unauthorized individual. Since two-thirds...

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D.C. Diner Serves Up ‘The Trump Sandwich’ And It’s Filled With Exactly What You’d Expect (VIDEO)

by ELIZABETH PRESTON – The newest culinary craze is hitting Washington D.C. and we know of one person that isn’t going to like it: The Donald. A diner in the nation’s capital has added The Trump Sandwich to the menu. The colossal sandwich is full of bologna – a whole pound of it – and now sells for $12.95, up from the original price of $6.95, because: capitalism. Hey, that’s something Trump should get excited about, right? The sign in front of the American City Diner reads “The Trump Sandwich Full Of Bologna.” Which certainly does seem fitting for GOP presidential hopeful. Jeffrey Gildenhorn, owner of the American City Diner, was interviewed by Don Lemon on CNN about his newest culinary delighttravesty – oh c’mon, it’s bologna – travesty totally fits! The sandwich is piled high with the meat product, lettuce and tomatoes and served with a side of fries...

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Coca-Cola Takes Lesson From The GOP, Buys Scientists To Shift Obesity Blame Away From Sugar

by CHARLES TOPHER – A recent infographic from TheRenegadePharmacist.com went viral after people all over social media realized just how much damage a single can of Coca-Cola can do to the human body in an hour. The article that highlights the effects of the sugary drink is complete with citations for each of the stages of “help me” your body goes through every time you have a Coke and a smile: That’s pretty frightening. When you consider that there approximately 1.6 billion servings of the stuff disappearing down the gullet of people around the world every day. Coca-Cola has decided to take a page out of the Republican playbook and fight science with…junk science. Unfortunately there’s no bible verse that proclaims sugar and caffeine to be the work of the Devil, unless you rely on some really interesting interpretations, so the strategy is now the same as that of climate change: ignore 95...

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Surprise! Pro-GMO Lawmakers Get Big Funds from Agribusiness Lobbies

by Nadia Prupis – File this under unsurprising, but nefarious nonetheless. Members of U.S. Congress who vote against mandatory labeling for genetically modified (GMO) products receive three times as much funding from the food and agriculture lobbies as their colleagues, according to new reporting from Open Secrets, a project of the Center for Responsive Politics. The political finance watchdog group found that the supporters of the anti-labeling bill which passed the House of Representatives last Thursday collectively received $29.9 million from the agribusiness lobby and food and beverage industry during the 2014 election cycle.At 230 Republicans and 45 Democrats, that averages roughly $108,900 per member to support HR 1599—officially titled the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015 but known by its opponents as the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. HR 1599 passed with 275 to 150 votes. Meanwhile, co-sponsors of the anti-labeling bill “received six-figure dollar amounts...

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‘Corporate Influence Has Won’: House Passes Anti-GMO Labeling Bill

by Andrea Germanos – Legislation dubbed the DARK Act had backing of powerful groups which poured money into defeating state-level GMO-labeling efforts The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would block states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods, or GMOs—a move that consumer rights groups decried as corporate power defeating Americans’ right to know what’s in their food. The bill, H.R. 1599—dubbed the “DARK Act” (Deny Americans the Right to Know) by its critics—passed 275-150. It was backed by the food industry, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Monsanto Company, which have poured money into defeating GMO labeling initiatives. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, a group that opposed the bill, explains: “The bill that passed includes provisions that would preempt states from labeling GMOs or enforce already passed GMO labeling provisions (like Vermont’s Act 120), and would prohibit states from having any oversight...

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New Strain of Seaweed Tastes Like Bacon

By Ben Coxworth, Gizmag – Seaweed is widely considered to be a health food. Bacon, on the other hand … well, bacon isn’t. There may yet be hope for pork belly lovers around the world, however. Scientists at Oregon State University (OSU) have patented a lab-bred strain of dulce seaweed, that they claim has “a strong bacon flavor” when fried. Regular varieties of dulce have been eaten by people for many years, mainly as a food additive or nutritional supplement. The new form (Palmaria mollis) was developed by a team led by OSU’s Prof. Chris Langdon, who has been growing it in tanks of cold seawater at the university over the past 15 years. Not only does it apparently taste like bacon, but its translucent crinkly red leaves even look a bit like it, too. Langdon’s original goal was to develop a seaweed that could be used as a...

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One Simple Way To Get Fresh Food To People Who Can’t Afford It

by SAM P.K. COLLINS – For the last three years, Sarah Purpura has been a Robin Hood of sorts, taking food from the wealthy and giving it to the impoverished. But she isn’t stealing these items. Instead, she and her colleagues have successfully convinced industry titans and private educational institutions in Massachusetts to donate their excess food to the homeless. Through the aptly named Food for Free program, Purpura has diverted more than 2 million pounds of leftover food from restaurants and cafeterias to homeless shelters and food pantries in the state. Within that time, the nonprofit has expanded its operations, forming partnerships with nearby Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other businesses in its 12 partner cities. Each week, Food for Free representatives leave the headquarters in Cambridge and collect nearly 2,500 pounds of fresh and frozen produce — including meat, cheese, vegetables, and other items that...

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One of the Most Famous Chefs in the World Bails on Restaurant at Trump Hotel

by Jen Hayden – Jose Andres is an award-winning chef who is originally born in Spain, but became a U.S. citizen in 2013 after decades of living in the United States. Time Magazine named him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012. His new restaurant was to be a jewel of the new Trump hotel currently under construction in D.C., but Jose Andres says he’s out: “Donald Trump’s recent statements disparaging immigrants make it impossible for my company and I to move forward with opening a successful Spanish restaurant in Trump International’s upcoming hotel in Washington, D.C.,” the statement reads. “More than half of my team is Hispanic, as are many of our guests.  And, as a proud Spanish immigrant and recently naturalized American citizen myself, I believe that every human being deserves respect, regardless of immigration status.” Andres has long been an advocate for...

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California Farmers Are Using Oil Waste Water To Water Our Vegetables

by WENDY GITTLESON – For the last four years, it’s barely rained in California. As a result, the state is in perhaps the worst drought in its history. Despite the fact that the majority of the nation’s produce is grown in California, food prices have remained relatively stable and the reason why could be poison. While it’s not the largest user of California water, oil and gas companies are using about 70 million gallons a year for fracking, which is the process of extracting natural gas from the earth. Even more wasteful are oil companies. They use 1 – 2.5 gallons of water for every gallon of petroleum products produced. California farmers are now using oil processing waste water to irrigate their crops and we have no idea how poisonous it might be. While the practice is getting more common place with the 25 percent mandatory watering restrictions put in...

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List of Foods We Will Lose if We Don’t Save the Bees

by CHRISTINA SARICH – Many pesticides have been found to cause grave danger to our bees, and with the recent colony collapses in Oregon, it’s time to take a hard look at what we would be missing without bee pollination. In just the last ten years, over 40% of the bee colonies in the US have suffered Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Bees either become so disoriented they can’t find their way back to their hives and die away from home, or fly back poison-drunk and die at the foot of their queen. There are many arguments as to what is causing CCD, but the most logical and likely culprit is the increased usage of pesticides by the likes of Monsanto and others. A study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has labeled one pesticide, called clothianidin, as completely unacceptable for use, and banned it from use entirely. Meanwhile, the U.S....

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New Mexico Governor Readies Tougher Food Stamp Work Rules Amid High Unemployment And Hunger

by ALAN PYKE –   With an unemployment rate well above the national average and more than one in four of its children on the brink of hunger, New Mexico is poised to make it harder to get food stamps. Like most other states, New Mexico has waived federal work requirements tied to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) since about 2009. The work rules are designed to lapse when the unemployment is severe, since requiring people to find work or starve makes little sense when there’s no work to be had. But since last fall, Gov. Susanna Martinez (R) has sought to reinstate the rules limiting able-bodied people to three months of SNAP benefits unless they work or attend job training classes at least 20 hours per week. Martinez’s initial attempt was blocked by a judge who ruled the state had failed to give the required public notice about...

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How the Child and Adult Care Food Program Improves Early Childhood Education

by Christine Binder, Joel Berg, Maryam Adamu, Katie Hamm – For many American families, finding high-quality, affordable child care is an impossible task. But it is also a necessary one, given that most families cannot afford to have a full-time, stay-at-home caregiver. Early childhood education and care programs give parents the opportunity to work, but they also have the capacity to offer important learning opportunities for children at a crucial stage of development. Unfortunately, they are too often cost prohibitive; annual child care costs are currently higher than the cost of in-state tuition and fees at public universities in more than 30 states. Furthermore, research shows that the child care options many families struggle to afford are usually of poor or mediocre quality. One of the many tools the nation has to support low-income families and their young children is the Child and Adult Care Food Program, or CACFP. Managed by...

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Monsanto Fires Back at Neil Young’s Scathing New Album

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – After delivering some bad news to presidential candidate Donald Trump to stop rockin’ to his Freedom song, looks like Neil Young has also upset some of his fans over at Monsanto. In a statement to Billboard, Monsanto is letting it be known that its feelings have been hurt by the rock legend. “Many of us at Monsanto have been and are fans of Neil Young,” the company said. “Unfortunately, for some of us, his current album may fail to reflect our strong beliefs in what we do every day to help make agriculture more sustainable. We recognize there is a lot of misinformation about who we are and what we do — and unfortunately several of those myths seem to be captured in these lyrics.” As we previously reported, the 69-year-old musician is releasing a new album on June 29 called The Monsanto Years targeting the chemical...

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Neil Young Blasts Starbucks for Supporting Monsanto and GMOs in Rock Anthem

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – Sorry Taylor Swift, it looks like Neil Young is most definitely not a “Starbucks lover.” Young released a new anthem last week decrying Starbucks for its alleged support of Monsanto and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). “I want a cup of coffee, but I don’t want a GMO. I’d like to start my day off, without helping Monsanto,” Young sings. Young and the band The Promise of The Real debuted an acoustic version of the song, “A Rock Star Bucks A Coffee Shop,” in Maui, Hawaii at “OUTGROW Monsanto,” an event put on to call attention to Monsanto’s destructive practices in Hawaii. Hawaii is considered the global epicenter for GMO seed testing, according to Paul Towers of Pesticide Action Network. Corporations based around the globe test and grow GMO seeds in Hawaii, which can be grown year-round in the islands’ tropical climate, before shipping them to places like Iowa to sell...

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This State Literally Wants To Treat Welfare Recipients Like Criminals With Mandatory Fingerprints

by SARAH – The state of Massachusetts is actually strongly considering implementing a fingerprinting system that will keep track of all welfare recipients within the state. Yes, you read that correctly — liberal Massachusetts. A couple months with a Republican governor and all hell breaks loose. And yes, this “solution” to alleged welfare fraud is coming from the House Minority Leader, Republican Brad Jones — what a peach. Jones wants the state Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Transitional Assistance to clamp down on welfare recipients by implementing a fingerprinting system as well as other biometric identifiers. He said: “We’re losing millions of dollars a year to people who are gaming the welfare system.” So, of course, the obvious solution would be to treat all welfare recipients like criminals. God forbid he ever need assistance during a troubling time in his life and needs a little...

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War Leaves Two-Thirds of Yemen without Water Access: Oxfam

by Nadia Prupis – ‘This is equivalent to the populations of Berlin, London, Paris and Rome combined, all rotting under heaps of garbage in the streets, broken sewage pipes and without clean water for the seventh consecutive week.’ As war continues to ravage Yemen, at least 16 million people—nearly two-thirds of the country’s population—are now without access to clean water, a humanitarian crisis that threatens to escalate, Oxfam warned on Monday. According to a statement released by the international aid group, “People are being forced to drink unsafe water as a result of the disintegration of local water systems, bringing the real risk of life-threatening illnesses, such as malaria, cholera, and diarrhea.” “Yemen’s hospitals are in no condition to adequately cope with an outbreak of a water-borne disease,” the organization stated. In addition, the price of water that is trucked in from other areas has tripled, making it an unfeasible alternative...

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Farmers Cut Back as Beleaguered California Hit by Water Loss

by Nadia Prupis – State accepts voluntary water cutbacks by farmers as vandals loose 50m gallons from dam A day before California accepted voluntary water cutbacks by farmers, vandals targeting an inflatable dam in Fremont sent 50 million gallons of water meant for the city’s residents flowing into the San Francisco Bay. “This is a very significant loss of water under any circumstances, and more so in the drought conditions we are experiencing,” Robert Shaver, the Alameda County water district general manager, told the Oakland Tribune on Thursday. “It is an utterly senseless, destructive, and wasteful thing to do.” According to the ACWD, the lost water could have supplied 500 homes for a year. The loss is the latest setback for the state, which is in the midst of a historic four-year drought that has led to Governor Jerry Brown imposing mandatory water cutbacks on urban consumers for the first time ever....

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France Just Made A Law Forcing Grocery Stores To Give Unsold Food To Charity

by JOE FLETCHER – Last Thursday, France banned supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food. The new law comes after mounting pressure from environmental and food justice groups. Grocery stores can face fines over $80,000 dollars or two years in jail for violating the law. The Guardian reports: “French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law set to crack down on food waste. The French national assembly voted unanimously to pass the legislation as France battles an epidemic of wasted food that has highlighted the divide between giant food firms and people who are struggling to eat. Supermarkets will be barred from deliberately spoiling unsold food so it cannot be eaten. Those with a footprint of 4,305 sq ft (400 sq m) or more will have to sign contracts with charities...

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Nearly 40 Million Birds Dead as Avian Flu Ravages Midwest

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – The devastating avian influenza sweeping the Midwest has forced the mass slaughter of nearly 40 million diseased chicken, turkey and wild birds in order to contain the outbreaks, according to the latest grisly numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). According to the USDA, since it was first detected in December 2014, there have been several ongoing highly pathogenic avian influenza cases along the Pacific, Central and Mississippi Flyways (or migratory bird paths). The strains in particular, H5N2 and H5N8, have been found in wild birds, as well as backyard and commercial poultry flocks. This is the worst epidemic of bird flu in the nation’s history. Egg-producers in Iowa, the top egg-producing state, have been hit the hardest, with a shocking 40 percent Iowa’s egg-laying hens dead or to be euthanized. In a report from Harvest Public Media (via NPR), while some local incinerators are...

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GOP Governor To Ex-Cons On SNAP: You Made A Mistake, Your Kids Should Starve

By CHARLES TOPHER, Addicting Info – Maine Governor Paul LePage, notorious for holding the shiny object of poor-shaming in front of a base of ignorant rural constituents, has taken his attacks on the less fortunate to a new level. A new bill introduced to committee in the Maine Legislature seeks to deny TANF and SNAP, better known as welfare and food stamps, to anyone with a felony drug conviction. A father who was arrested at a college kegger in 1987 and charged with a felony cocaine possession would be automatically denied, even if that were the only trouble he had ever been in. His children would therefore be ineligible as well. A recovering addict with 15 years of sobriety who falls on hard times is out of luck, and a single mom who was arrested along with her boyfriend because he was carrying drugs a decade ago can forget about any...

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Republicans Sink To New Low By Using Fox News Special As Fact In Committee Hearing

by RIKA CHRISTENSEN – Fox News is so pervasive, and apparently so convincing, that a misleading special of theirs has made it into a House committee hearing on SNAP benefits as evidence of widespread fraud within the system. According to Media Matters for America, Fox News aired a special in 2013 about a California guy on SNAP who surfs, eats lobster, and doesn’t work. They then sent the video to certain Republicans, who apparently ate it up as absolute truth. Fox tried to make the surfing freeloader “the new face of food stamps.” In other words, they were specifically looking to demonize people who receive SNAP benefits by making them all look like freeloaders living off of hardworking taxpayers. Media Matters said that the hearing was to address the past, present and future of SNAP. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) referenced Fox News’ special as evidence of the fraud within the...

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How Conservative Obsession With Policing Poor People’s Shopping Carts Got Started

By ALAN PYKE, ThinkProgress – The first time a state government tried to bar food stamps recipients from buying certain types of food it deemed “junk,” the War on Terror hadn’t yet reached Iraq and Facebook hadn’t been invented yet. More than a dozen years later, so-called “junk food bans” remain en vogue with conservative lawmakers who have not heeded the lessons of that first failed attempt. At the outset of 2003, then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) kicked off his first term by proposing “the next generation” of welfare reform in Minnesota. Amid a laundry list of other changes, Pawlenty wanted to ban Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits from buying junk food. States cannot take such a step unless they are granted a waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and no state had ever applied for one for the purpose Pawlenty had ginned up. Legislators and agency heads...

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Panera Bread to Drop 150 ‘Unacceptable’ Additives From Its Menu

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch –  Would you like some tertiary butylhydroquinone or azodicarbonamide with your food? The first difficult-to-pronounce ingredient is a potent preservative that increases the shelf life of oily and fatty foods (such as McDonald’s never-rotting french fries) and has been linked to stomach ulcers and damage to DNA in animal studies. The other is the notorious “yoga mat” chemical that’s banned in the European Union and Australia. Panera Bread is removing these two additives and at least 148 more artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors from its menu by 2016. The company has publicly shared their “No-No List” that contains every single artificial additive that will be dropped from their food items, from soups to salads to sandwiches, making it the first national restaurant chain to do so. “Last year we unveiled our Food Policy to hold ourselves accountable to long held values and set the future vision...

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Wisconsin Republicans Don’t Want Food Stamp Recipients Buying Beans, Potatoes, Pasta Sauce

By ALAN PYKE, ThinkProgress – Low-income Wisconsin families won’t be able to buy shellfish with food stamps, and will have a much harder time getting basics like dried beans, pasta sauce, and cooking spices into their kitchens, under the latest state-level Republican proposal to tighten the government’s grip on the poor. A bill proposed by state Rep. Robert Brooks (R) would ban stores from accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) cards for lobster, shrimp, and any other form of shellfish, and set a long list of additional rules for the first two-thirds of a recipient’s monthly spending. Lawmakers held a committee hearing Thursday on the bill, which would require a federal waiver to implement. An average of 420,000 households received SNAP each month in Wisconsin in 2014. The average recipient household got $220 per month from the program last year. Brooks’ restrictions would apply to all but $72.60 per month...

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Robbin’ the Reuben

Maine Food Stamp Reform Could Include Banning Deli Meat, Pickles and More By Jen Hayden, Daily Kos –  In the last year alone, Maine has kicked 9,000 people off the welfare rolls. Now, Maine legislators have proposed new guidelines that would forbid SNAP beneficiaries from buying “junk foods.” The idea is to get people on food stamps to eat healthier, but it is also part of a troubling trend of state legislatures shaming food stamp recipients, like this bill in Missouri that would forbid recipients from buying fish and steak. If Maine Governor Paul LePage has his way, this junk food ban would pass. But, as Think Progress notes, the term “junk food” has broad implications: The legislation LePage supports claims that “the purchase of unhealthy products is antithetical to the purpose of the program.” But the definition of “unhealthy” that the bill uses is quite broad, and...

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Consumer Reports Finds 60% of Raw Shrimp Tested Positive for Bacteria

By Lorraine Chow, EcoWatch – There are now more reasons to consider skipping your next shrimp cocktail. In a startling new Consumer Reports study, bacteria was detected in more than half the raw shrimp that was tested, with some also tainted with illegal antibiotic residues. For the study, How Safe is Your Shrimp?, scientists analyzed 342 packages of frozen shrimp — 284 raw and 58 cooked samples — purchased at Albertsons, Costco, Fry’s Marketplace, Hy-Vee, Kroger, Sprouts Farmers Market and Walmart in 27 cities across the U.S. The study found that 60 percent of raw shrimp tested positive for bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli and listeria. In seven raw shrimp samples, scientists detected the antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, that could potentially lead to a dangerous infection. America’s demand for our favorite crustacean is causing a sea of trouble here and abroad. Photo credit: Shutterstock The country currently consumes about three...

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Second U.S. Ice Cream Maker Pulls All Products After Listeria Threat

HealthDay News — Last week, for the second time, a major U.S. manufacturer of ice cream has recalled all of its products because of possible contamination with the bacteria listeria. Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams said Thursday that it was recalling all of its ice creams, sorbets and ice cream sandwiches, and temporarily closing all of its scoop shops. The company said in a statement that it took the action after possible listeria contamination was found in one random sample that had been tested by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. The company said it wasn’t aware of any illnesses caused by its products, and added that it issued the recall “out of an abundance of caution.” Listeria — officially known as Listeria monocytogenes — is a bacteria that can cause stomach illness, although it typically does not cause severe illness in healthy people. However, it can pose serious health...

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With EPA Lawsuit, Environmental Groups Step Up Fight Against ‘Super-Toxic Chemical Cocktail’

‘Our federal regulators have again unlawfully bowed to the chemical industry,’ says Center for Food Safety by Nadia Prupis – A coalition of health and environmental organizations on Monday challenged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision to expand the use of a new herbicide in nine states, which the groups say could endanger wildlife and public health. The lawsuit (pdf) is the most recent step in a fight to push back against the use of the weed killer, Dow’s Enlist Duo, which combines glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s Roundup, and 2,4-D, the key ingredient in the infamous warfare herbicide Agent Orange. As the coalition points out in a press release following its lawsuit, 2,4-D “has been linked to serious illnesses like Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems. It also threatens endangered species that reside in the approved states, like the whooping crane, the Louisiana black bear, and the Indiana bat.”...

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Maple Syrup Extract Shows Promise in Fight Against Superbugs

By Nick Lavars, Gizmag – Researchers at Canada’s McGill University have uncovered what could be a pretty sweet way of warding off bacteria. The scientists developed a concentrated extract of maple syrup and combined it with antibiotics, finding that it heightened bacteria’s vulnerability, suggesting it could prove an effective way of lowering dosages required to treat infections and help to hamper the evolution of drug-resistant superbugs. Starting with off-the-shelf maple syrup from a Montreal market, the scientists first froze the product and then extracted a concentrate rich in molecules known as phenolic compounds. They then exposed various strains of bacteria to the extract, such as E. coliand Proteus mirabilis, a common culprit of urinary tract infection. When used on its own, the researchers found the extract to have a small effect on the bacteria, but using it in conjunction with common antibiotics saw it take on a whole new...

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