This is a very different post-election blog than the one I planned to write. I was going to call the new president's attention to the political importance of food and farming, highlighting the fact that how we grow our food directly impacts the health of our families, the well-being of our communities and the future of our planet. All of that is still true, but the political winds have dramatically shifted.
Well that took awhile. In early September, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a list of products they will no longer allow in soaps. On that list was the pesticide triclosan — which was identified as a chemical of concern in 1972.
As I follow the news from this very unusual (!) presidential election cycle, it's clear that food and farming issues aren't high on the political agenda — which is a shame. Fixing our very broken system could help us tackle a wide range of health, equity and environmental issues, including our resilience in the face of a changing climate.
A batch of encouraging news emerged in the world of healthy farming this week. First off, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) reported that U.S. sales of organics continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Then there's the new study showing that organics bring significant economic benefits to rural communities. And in France, the Minister of Agriculture launched a national celebration of agroecological farming. Well then!
The science is in. Our food system's continued reliance on pesticides is putting children's health at risk. Kids across the country are exposed in various ways, but those who grow up in agricultural areas often face a "double dose" of pesticides from nearby fields. Rural children are — quite literally — on the frontlines of pesticide exposure.
Hats off to climate justice activists around the world. The credit for whatever progress we can point to coming out of the recent climate talks in Paris lies squarely at the feet of this smart, creative and persistent global movement.
Thanksgiving. More than any other, this holiday is about food — how it brings us together, the magic of the harvest and appreciation for the many hands that bring bounty to our table. And this year, I'm feeling especially hopeful about the future of food.
It took a court order and a virtual avalanche of scientific evidence, but federal pesticide regulators finally did the right thing. Late last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced plans to put a stop to agricultural uses of chlorpyrifos. Yes!!
It's that time of year! Freshly scrubbed, nervous-looking kids don backpacks, pack lunches and head off to school.
This back-to-school season there's both excellent and not-so-great news when it comes to schoolkids and pesticides. On balance, it's fair to say there's exciting progress afoot for children's health — from pesticide-free school lunches to a nasty brain-harming chemical finally getting the boot.
Years ago, at a meeting of diplomats in Geneva, a freshly expressed vial of breastmilk was passed around the room. As dozens of men in suits squirmed, my friend and colleague Sandra Steingraber explained exactly why the global chemical treaty they were negotiating mattered so very much.
That treaty passed. And around the globe, nature's best food for babies is now less compromised by chemicals. This World Breastfeeding Week, August 1-7, we celebrate this important progress — and note that we still have work to do.