Newsbites: Choice Tidbits from the Week in Sustainable Food

Photograph: Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Photograph: Coalition of Immokalee Workers


PR Flub of the Week

The award this week goes to Trader Joe’s. The feel-good bastion of all things fair and natural, has steadfastly refused to sign a Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)—a social-justice organization based in the south-Florida migrant community of Immokalee. The coalition has long been pressing supermarkets for higher wages and some basic rights for the workers who harvest tomatoes. In February, Trader Joe’s will open its first Florida store. The precise location? In tony Naples on Immokalee Road, less than an hour away from ground zero for the worst labor abuses in the country. From recent postings on the CIW’s website, it’s evident that the struggling workers and their supporters intend give Joe a rousing welcome. Read the story

Slugfest at Slow Food

Slow Food USA is embroiled in a traditional family feud. Old-school purists like Poppy Tooker, an expert in the traditional cuisine of New Orleans, and Gary Nabhan, who specializes in the foods of the indigenous people of the Southwest, have issued a volley of emails and blog posts accusing Executive Director Josh Viertel and his Brooklyn-based staff from straying too far from the core beliefs of the organization by becoming less artisanal and more populist. Grist’s Twilight Greenaway brings a measure of reason and clarity to the ugly food fight. Read the story

 Doctor’s Orders

Several years ago Dr. Ken Jaffe laid down his stethoscope, left the city, and moved to a rolling tract in the Catskills to open Slope Farms, a producer of grass-fed beef. In his new blog, Jaffe wonders why the government once took an active role in warning him to limit prescribing antibiotics to human patients, but now gives him carte blanche in giving antibiotics to cattle that don’t need them (something he does not do—unlike most livestock producers). The government should heed the good doctor’s advice. Read the story

 Harris Ranch Feedlot

Hot Topic

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the massive feedlot of Harris Ranch (see photograph) in California, the subject of a recent post on this site, was struck by animal rights arsonists. Read the story 

NAFTA’s Hogwash

When the giant pork producer Smithfield Foods opened a huge facility in his Mexican hometown, Roberto Ortega was forced to close his small butcher shop because he couldn’t compete. So he immigrated to the United States, where he is again slaughtering pigs for—guess who—Smithfield. David Bacon reports in The Nation about how misguided United States policies caused the massive immigration of legal and illegal Mexicans to this country. Read the story

Fisheries Managers Get It Right—at Last

According to Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post (and author of Demon Fish:Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks)  this year the United States will become the first country to impose catch limits for every wild seafood species it manages. Score one for the oceans. It was a long time coming. Read the story 


Food snobs should be proud of themselves now. This week, Hostess Brands, known for Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Wonder Bread, was forced to file for bankruptcy. But fear not, the company’s president and chief executive Brian J. Driscoll assured the New York Times that the embattled firm would emerge from bankruptcy stronger than ever. “With generations of loyal consumers, numerous iconic products, and a talented and experienced work force, Hostess Brands has tremendous inherent strengths to build upon,” Driscoll told the paper. Read the story

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