Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Kristin Schafer's blog

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It's true. Pesticides are harming our children.

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.

Kristin Schafer
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Hopeful harvests

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.

Kristin Schafer
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Fewer pesticides, healthier kids

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.

Kristin Schafer
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Nature's best food for baby

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.

Kristin Schafer
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Chemicals, kids & precaution

More and more public health experts are turning their attention to how we can prevent childhood diseases, rather than hunting for cures. This was my takeaway from an inspiring two-day meeting of scientists in Austin earlier this month.

Children: Food and Environment, sponsored by our partners at the Children's Environmental Health Network, brought together dozens of pediatric researchers from a wide range of disciplines. All seemed to share a recognition that environmental exposures are playing a key role in undermining our children's health, and that the resulting problems are both urgent — and preventable.

Kristin Schafer
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EPA fails our kids, again

EPA just released its long overdue look at how the brain-harming insecticide chlorpyrifos is affecting human health. Once again, we're beyond disappointed with the agency's lack of leadership when it comes to protecting children from pesticides.

On the good news side, the report does recognize (finally!) that this particular chemical poses unacceptable risks to farmworkers, and something must be done. The bad news? The solutions they propose don't go nearly far enough, plus they manage to completely dodge the growing evidence that chlorpyrifos can derail the development of children's brains.

Kristin Schafer
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Seeds of (policy) change

Before we move fully into the busy end-of-year season, it seems useful to take a moment to step back, take a breath and take stock of where we landed after the mid-term elections. Some surprisingly heartening lessons emerge.

We're all familiar with the high-level analysis by now — the very big impact of big money, ascension of climate-deniers to Senate leadership, polarization of politics, etc. But as you dig a bit deeper, a more optimistic picture comes into focus. From community pushback of corporate control to a rekindled conversation about national food policy, some very real, very hopeful shifts are in motion.

Kristin Schafer

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