WASHINGTON, May 24, 2013 — This spring has been busy for people concerned about the food we eat for its health and for the health of the planet.
The most publicly visible real food action will occur on Saturday, May 25, when hundreds of protests against biotech giant, Monsanto, are planned around the country and the world. Activists seek to raise awareness about the way Monsanto’s use of chemicals and genetically modified organisms contaminate the food supply and to protest the Monsanto Protection Act, which provides biotech companies freedom from liability for any harm to consumers.
Participation in the March Against Monsanto is expected in over 250 cities worldwide. Organizers hope the actions inspire people not only to resist consuming GMOs, push for labeling and support bans on GMOs, but also to buy direct from farmers and to grow their own food, working from the ground up.
For those who would rather learn and get inspired or angry from the comfort of their own home, several new books take on food and how our choices of what to eat affect much more beyond our own bodies. Michael Pollan, best known for his Omnivore’s Dilemma, explores his own kitchen and how the preparation of food relates to social and ecological relationships in his new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.
In Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm, new author Forrest Pritchard reveals how he decided to become the seventh generation of family farmers by transforming his Shenandoah Valley land into a sustainable place to raise livestock on pasture.
On June 12, Real Milk Revolution author David Gumpert comes out with a new book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights: The Escalating Battle Over Who Decides What We Eat, that explores the growing desire of consumers to consume food purchased directly from farmers they know in the face of resistance by public health and agriculture regulators.
Gumpert has also been reporting from Wisconsin, which this week saw the beginning of a trial of farmer Vernon Hershberger, who is charged with three misdemeanors related to licensing and a fourth for violating a holding order by resuming sale to his buying club. Gumpert writes in Food Safety News the trial calls into question the very notion of what health and safety mean.
In a time when concerns about antibiotic-resistant pathogens are on the rise, many consumers are interested in buying directly from producers who use no drugs and often no feed other than grass rather than from industrial, drug-using and grain-feeding farms hundreds or thousands of miles away.
As the trial went on, Gumpert reported on his blog at The Complete Patient that the judge repeatedly sustained objections when witnesses said they bought from the farmer for health reasons. A ruling may come as early as today.
In West Virginia, a poultry farmer who was hit with fines by the Environmental Protection Agency for nitrogen runoff has filed a federal lawsuit. As reported in Fox News, Lois Alt’s small farm did not enjoy the same exemption to the Clean Water Act that industrial farms do, and her lawyers also take issue with the appropriateness of the EPA’s rules. The EPA dropped the fines and tried to have the case dismissed, but the court said it is taking on the case will ultimately benefit many parties.
Note: The March Against Monsanto rally in Washington DC begins Saturday, May 25 at 2 p.m. in Lafayette Square with the march to follow at 2:45.
Also read Sustainable farmer and author Forrest Pritchard on parenting by Jessica Haney
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