All week long I’ve been collecting tabs of articles about food updates, environmental news, and sustainability issues.  Here’s a quick overview of what’s been going on in the world of food/sustainability:

First–good news: The U.S. Senate did NOT approve the Keystone Pipeline (yay!), which is good on so many levels, but also because the Ohio Department of Natural Resources just released a report citing fracking for the dozen or so earthquakes/tremors that have occurred.

Then some not-so-good news:  Last week Friday, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed the first “ag-gag” bill into law.  This is disappointing on many levels (especially since I was born/raised in Iowa and I have high expectations of my home state), but mostly because many people already don’t have any idea about where their food comes from and they definitely deserve/need to know.  What is used as nourishment and a life source, shouldn’t be a corporate secret.  Since I could keep going, I feel like I should save this topic for a future blog entry, but the article captured really well the corporate interests and influences at play.  A disclaimer for non-corporate farmers in Iowa and most people who have smelled the rank and foulness that is a CAFO, I don’t think any of us agree that this is how we are supposed to feed and nurture ourselves.

Also from Mother Jones (and also quite disturbing/disgusting), the “pink slime” that was floating around Facebook a few weeks ago, when McDonald’s agreed to stop using it in their products has just been purchased by the USDA for school lunches.  Last week I read an article (sorry, I don’t remember where) about a school “supplementing” a child’s sack lunch with something crazy like chicken strips, because the child/parent hadn’t packed a sufficiently nutritious lunch.  But seriously, are “pink slime” products really a good or better source of nutrition?  I doubt it.

The next article is an interesting one about the relationship between Food and Class.  This is the conversation my “Global Issues in Food and Eating” class had over and over again last December.  I think, at least as far as Food Ethics is concerned, this is a huge issue with lots of different things to consider, but I think we (as a nation) are really hesitant to discuss class issues (just like issues of racism, gender inequality, etc.), even though they are so critical to understanding how the U.S. functions.  So, read/watch on and then be willing to get involved in a conversation, this is important stuff and we can’t address an issue without first recognizing that there is in fact a problem.

Next, a few more pieces of good news (because if you want bad news you could just turn on the tube):

First and second, the UN has reported that it has met two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): (1) reducing income poverty by half and (2) halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water, both five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.  These are huge reasons to celebrate–even though there is still work to do.  So celebrate and then support ending poverty completely (I know, easier said than done).

Finally, I wanted to recognize the Coalition of Immokalee Workers who are fasting this week.  Today is Day 5 of the Fast for Fair Food.  More than 50 farmworkers and their allies are fasting for six days at Publix headquarters.  The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has done many amazing things for farmworkers and to help get better food into consumers hands.  The CIW website has instructions for sending solidarity messages to the farmworkers and allies and lots of information about the work they are doing, be sure to check them out.

With that, happy weekend!  Be sure to celebrate all of the little victories we’ve experienced through the last week and think of ways to pro-actively change the challenges we’ve encountered!