Register at https://bit.ly/3xu4C6x.
If you are interested in edible insects—and who is not—this fabulous FAO report examines the safety implications of their farming and production.
As explained in the executive summary:
Until recently edible insects have been collected mainly from the wild but farming insects for human as well as animal consumption is now on the rise. Their high fecundity, high feed conversion efficiency, and rapid growth rates make insects viable and attractive candidates for farming. In addition, they can be reared in small, modular spaces, making it feasible to raise them in rural as well as urban farm settings.
After reviewing the environmental and nutritional benefits of insect production, the report continues:
However, the benefits of this emerging food source must be weighed against all possible challenges: for instance, any food safety issues that could pose health threats to consumers….This publication covers some of the major food safety hazards that should be considered, including biological agents (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic) as well as chemical contaminants (pesticides, toxic metals, flame retardants)….
concerns. Food safety risks can be higher when insects are harvested from the wild and consumed raw.
The moral: cook your insects!
An article in Food Navigator—Asia got my attention: “A study by researchers from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and China has found that the levels of iron, chromium, cadmium and nickel in fish caught from the Red Sea exceeded the levels recommended by various authorities such as the EU, FAO, and WHO.”
Heavy metals are not just in baby foods (see post from a couple of days ago).
Now they are a problem in Red Sea fish.
This is no surprise. Recall the enormous effort needed to extract the 1300-foot container ship, Ever Given, from the banks of the Suez Canal.
Hundreds of ships going through the Red Sea and the Canal every week, all of them dumping waste water.
An article in the Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences observes that the Red Sea environment is heavily contaminated with heavy metals; these accumulate in fish muscles.
The concentrations of Cr, Fe, Ni and Cd, analyzed in this study were higher than other heavy metals due to the overloading of industrial waste and the disposal of the water from Jeddah. Mn, Cu, and Pb concentrations, however, were far below the levels recommended by various authorities…It was concluded that the fishes captured from Jeddah Coast, Red Sea, are still safe for human consumption, but the amount consumed should be controlled under the FAO/WHO guidelines.
So–it’s up to you to protect yourself from contaminated fish.
How about international shipping policies that restrict what ships can dump into international waters?
I read in DairyReporter.com that Danone reports an increased score in it B-Corporation certification.
I am interested in the B-Corporation phenomenon.
B Corporations are required to include social values—along with the usual profit motives—as established goals.
Society’s most challenging problems cannot be solved by government and nonprofits alone. The B Corp community works toward reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities, and the creation of more high quality jobs with dignity and purpose. By harnessing the power of business, B Corps use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment.
What is that one unifying goal? “We envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good.”
Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good.
B Corporations promise:
Food companies are among those certified as B corps
I’m not sure how this plays out in practice, but this certainly appears to be a step in the right direction.
If we want to encourage this effort:
I’ve written previously about the alarming findings of toxic heavy metals in baby foods. These toxins are in all foods, but are particularly harmful to infants and young children, a situation that calls for immediate FDA action to set limits on the amounts these foods contain.
The FDA has a Q and A on this issue. It has also issued previous guidance.
In response to many complaints, the FDA has now issued a plan for action: “Closer to Zero.”
Translation: the agency will propose action levels (limits on allowable amounts), consult with stakeholders, finalize the limits, and then evaluate how the whole thing works to reduce intake levels.
Timeline: It plans to do this starting now, with the aim of finishing the process by 2025.
The FDA must not consider limiting toxic metals in baby food to be urgent.
No wonder some members of Congress have introduced la bill to force the FDA to set limits for the most common toxic metals within a year. It suggests what those limits should be: 10 parts per billion for inorganic arsenic in baby food (15 ppb for cereal); 5 ppb for both cadmium and lead (10 ppb for cereal); and 2 ppb for mercury.
While all this is going on, what are parents to do?
The FDA is working on doing better monitoring and regulation of heavy metals in commercial baby foods. In the meantime, it’s nearly impossible to know which are completely safe and which aren’t. Babies don’t need solid foods until 6 months of age. At that time it’s perfectly fine to give them soft table foods instead of baby foods. You can also make your own baby food, using steamed or naturally soft foods and a blender. (Storage tip: you can pour a homemade puree into an ice cube tray and freeze it, and then just grab the cubes you need each time.)
In the meantime…
Thanks to Sinead Boylan in Australia for alerting me to this paper about the influence of the meat and dairy industries on climate change policy. The authors are Environmental Science colleagues at NYU.
The Study: The climate responsibilities of industrial meat and dairy producers. Oliver Lazarus & Sonali McDermid & Jennifer Jacquet. Climatic Change (2021) 165:30.
Method: The authors examined the role of 35 of the world’s largest meat and dairy companies in actions related to preventing climate change. But in particular, it investigated “the transparency of emissions reporting, mitigation commitments, and influence on public opinion and politics of the 10 US meat and dairy companies.”
Its overall conclusion: “all 10 US companies have contributed to efforts to undermine climate-related policies.”
Through a questionnaire, it found (these are direct quotes):
Through researching OpenSecrets
Their analysis also suggests: “the level of influence generally corresponded with emissions. Tyson, for example, is the largest emitter of the 10 US companies. Tyson received the highest total influence score in response to our 20 questions at 15, tied with National Beef Packing Company, the fourth highest emitter.”
Overall: “In the case of the USA, our analysis provides evidence to suggest that the 10 largest meat and dairy companies have worked to frame the conversation, influence climate-related policies, and minimize the link between animal agriculture and climate change.”
Comment: This issue matters because animal agriculture is estimated to contribute 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. This, and industry behavior around this issue, is a reason why sustainability needs to be part of Dietary Guidelines, and “eat less meat” is good dietary advice for people in industrialized economies.
Hi. After last week’s follow.it fiasco, I’ve transferred the subscription service to one called ActiveCampaign. The e-mails should be sent out as soon as I post them, look a lot better, and will not come with ads. You should have gotten a message from ActiveCampaign asking you to Verify that you wish to continue the subscription. If you don’t see it, check your spam folder (that’s where I had to look for mine). Everything should be back to normal starting Monday. I am truly sorry this happened and for the inconvenience. Thanks for subscribing and for your patience with this electronic glitch. Onward!
J.L. Anderson. Capitalist Pigs: Pigs, Pork, and Power in America. West Virginia University Press, 2019.
I saw this book in the office of my food historian colleague, Amy Bentley, and snatched it up.
I love the title.
The book is a well researched history of pigs, feral and domestic, in the United States, from colonial times to the present, from free-range to CAFO, from waste as fertilizer to waste lagoons, and from lard to lean.
The book is fabulously illustrated with dozens of reproductions of etchings, drawing, and photographs of pigs in all their glory, as well as their confinement and butchery.
If you want to know how pigs arrived in America, how farmers treated them, how their numbers grew, and their place in U.S. diets, this book has it all.
But for me, the title is the best part of this book. I was disappointed in its lack of a more forceful discussion of how pigs exemplify larger issues of corporate power and capitalism in today’s society. The index has not one listing for “capitalism,” “neoliberalism,” or “pig industry.”
Unless I missed others, only two sentences bear directly on “Pigs, Pork, and Power:”
What about the farmers who continue in the pig production business, including the large-scale enterprises, contractors, and independent producers? While it is difficult to generate much sympathy for the corporate leaders and integrators who are more concerned about shareholders and the bottom line than about communities, it is important to remember that many farmers and farm wage workers care about the animals they raise and the communities in which they live (p. 220)
For a recent update on the politics of pig farming, see Charlie Mitchell and Austin Frerick’s The Hog Barons, on Vox (April 19). This article focuses on Jeff Hansen, Iowa’s largest hog producer.
Hansen’s company, Iowa Select Farms, employs more than 7,400 people, including contractors, and has built hundreds of confinement sheds in more than 50 of Iowa’s 99 counties. Since they began to arrive in the 1990s, these sheds have provoked controversy. Citing damage to health, livelihoods, property values, the environment, and the farm economy, rural communities in Iowa have campaigned fiercely against them. While their efforts have yielded small victories, they have lost the war: The state’s hog industry, led by Hansen, has cultivated close relationships with state politicians on both sides of the aisle to roll back regulations, and confinements have flooded the countryside. The Hansen family’s charitable efforts have seemingly solidified these ties; it’s not unusual for a sitting governor to attend a charity gala thrown by the Hansens.