Food & Farm Policy Issue Update: Festie Farmers Markets and the Luck of the Amish

So you made it through Memorial Day BBQ’s and July 4th hot dogs. If you’re anything like most Americans, this probably isn’t your most sustainable or healthy time of year. But to bring you back to earth, here are a few stories and good reads from the world of food and farming:

  • How do you like this use of your tax dollars? The Food and Drug administration conducted a year-long sting operation using false identities to acquire… raw milk from an Amish farmer. They then had it tested in labs to prove it was unpasteurized, after which the FDA filed an injunction against Dan Allgyer and shut him down. Then an organization called Grassfed on the Hill gathered on the Upper Senate Park to support Mr. Allgyer, even bringing a cow to the park that sits directly across from the senate. They milked the cow and served the fresh milk to the crowd, playfully “daring” one another to drink it. Raw milk has made a come back in recent years as more Americans try to eat  things that are local, fresh and unprocessed.
  • Along side "Spicy Pie," arepas and fried dough vendors, farmers markets are starting to make regular appearances at concert festivals. The Dave Matthews Band Caravans feature an area for locally grown and organic food, and the recent Phish Super Ball IX had one of its own. Reverb, the non-profit that is organizing the farmers market at the Caravans, is also working with various concert tours to provide locally-grown food for the meals served to artists and their crews backstage. As if I needed another reason to long for a backstage pass!
  • After years warning about the dangers of BPA in food containers, it appears that some California lawmakers are trying to end its use, once and for all. Assembly member Betsy Butler introduced a bill called the Toxin-Free Infant and Toddlers Act, which would ban the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, infant formula, and baby food. BPA, also known as Bisphenol-A, is harmful chemical that is used in the lining of food and drink containers. Studies show that there is a clear link between BPA and increased risk of cancer, diabetes, reproductive, neurological, and developmental disorders. A BPA-ban is currently pending in 12 states and most recently China announced that they would make a move to ban BPA. Health advocates are hopeful that the legislation will get passed this time around as the FDA has evidence that over 90% of canned foods are contaminated with BPA.
  • You know the cover to Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” album? Yeah the one with all the fire escapes. Well what I always thought it could use some vegetable gardens. OK, maybe I never thought that before, but gardening on fire escapes is a big trend in urban locations – so much so that a store opened in San Francisco last month catering just to people who want to grow veggies on those little metal escape routes.

So what Food and Farm happenings are grabbing your attention? I’d really like to know. Please send any interesting links, or just your thoughts, my way. I’d love to hear from you.