Its main point:
Everyone needs to pay attention to water use, and the teaser and the report state the policy recommendations.
Its main point:
Everyone needs to pay attention to water use, and the teaser and the report state the policy recommendations.
I am ever in awe of the creative ways in which marketers sell—water.
George Kent sends me this brilliant example from Hawai’i: Kona Deep.
This, according to the website, is mined from deep ocean waters off the coast of that state.
Professor Kent did not mention how much this costs.
Translation: Kona Deep is desalinated ocean water.
Water, let me remind you, costs pennies from the tap. Most tap water in the United States is safe to drink and tastes just fine.
Bottled water may be handy, but it raises at least three issues:
Today’s Politico Morning Agriculture report has this brief note:
SENATE TO TAKE UP WOTUS FIX: The Clean Water Rule’s days could be numbered. The Senate could as early as next week take up a bill from Sen. John Barrasso to require the EPA to withdraw its Clean Water Rule and re-draft the measure with the help of states and other affected groups…The bill has the backing of 46 senators…Given that the House has already passed a similar measure, a “yea” vote from the Senate could signal a quick demise for the rule.
This sent me to try to understand what the Clean Water Rule is about and why so many groups want to get rid of it.
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) covered by its regulations. This, as far as I can tell, extends regulatory protection beyond large streams to the small streams that flow into them.
On its website devoted to this rule, the EPA says “The rule ensures that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are more precisely defined, more predictably determined, and easier for businesses and industry to understand.”
Maybe so, but I’m having a hard time understanding how the new rules would require agricultural producers to clean up the waste they discharge into local streams.
The agricultural implications are particularly contentious—think of the huge volumes of animal waste delivered to streams by Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or of pesticides and herbicides running off from mega-farms.
But the EPA insists that there are no changes to the current rules that exempt agriculture from having to protect local water supplies.
Agricultural producers evidently do not believe this. They have done everything possible to block the rules and apparently will succeed in this effort.
The strength of the opposition—farm organizations, golf course groups, municipalities—suggests that somewhere in these rules must be restrictions on discharges into water supplies. If so, the Clean Water rules deserve plenty of support.
I wish I could find a clear, straightforward explanation of what the WOTUS rules would do. If the rules are overturned, which it looks like they will be, I’m wondering if this is because only lobbyists can understand the details and implications.
This document from the American Water Works Association has useful diagrams illustrating which streams are affected by the EPA’s rules.
Are any groups supporting the WOTUS rules? If so, they are very quiet.
The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC)’s position paper on the failings of the Clean Water Rule
Q. Marion, have you seen the NY Times article? It is about how what we eat is contributing to the CA drought. Leaves me confused. If we don’t eat these foods, the farmers will go out of business and that state will suffer. Also, it is mostly fruits, nuts and veggies mentioned. Any thoughts??? –Julie Kumar
A. The story, in case you missed it, is summarized by its headline: “The average American consumes more than 300 gallons of California water each week by eating food that was produced there.”
California farmers produce more than a third of the nation’s vegetables and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. To do that, they use nearly 80 percent of all the water consumed in the state.
The Times also says:
Americans consume the most water by eating meat and dairy products, primarily because a lot of water is needed to grow the crops to feed the animals. Not all of this water comes from California; about half is imported in the form of crops, like corn, from the Midwest.
What to say about this?
California has a good climate for growing vegetables year-round. What it does not have is rain. Even in non-drought years, the rainy season is short. California gets virtually no rain in summers when the vegetable-growing Central Valley is at its hottest.
Nevertheless, the powers that be decided long ago that money was to be made diverting water from the Sierras to promote the growth of cities (see, for example, Chinatown and any number of documentary films)—and to irrigate California farmland.
The current drought brings the greed and lack of foresight in these decisions to public attention. California farmers have now agreed to cuts in their water allotments, but that still leaves proponents of sustainable agriculture with the dilemma described by Julie’s question:
Does it make ethical or moral sense to boycott California vegetables, nuts, and fruits as a means to encourage producers to move their businesses to wetter locations?
In the long term, it might. I keep thinking of Iowa, which used to be the major producer of specialty crops, but which now produces corn and soybeans under industrial conditions that are ruining municipal water supplies with nitrates from their runoffs.
We need to develop agricultural policies that promote sustainable production methods and take water use, climate change, and other such matters into serious consideration.
In the meantime, you are on your own to figure out your personal method for helping California with its water problems and for encouraging such policies as quickly as possible.
California’s water problems, by the way, are anything but new. It’s worth digging up the 1949 study by Carey McWilliams, who edited The Nation for 20 years. His book, no surprise, focuses on the politics.
Or if you prefer a more historical approach, there’s this one from University of California Press in 2001.
Where I live, it’s suddenly summer and time for putting in tomatoes.
I’m trying to understand what’s going on with the bill the House passed on Tuesday to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from doing what it proposed to do last April: define its ability to protect bodies of water in the United States against agricultural pollution.
Specifically, the EPA proposes that under the Clean Water Act, it can enforce pollution controls over:
The Clean Water Act gives EPA the authority to set wastewater standards for industry, including agriculture. The Act
The Clean Water Act most definitely applies to agriculture:
According to the account in The Hill, the bill prohibits the EPA from establishing any regulations based on the proposals.
Trivial, of course, is a matter of perception. Agricultural pollutants cause much damage to US waterways. The proposals are aimed at containing some of the damage.
No wonder agribusiness wants to stop EPA from enforcing the Clean Water Act’s provisions.
The White House says it will veto the bill. Let’s see what happens in the Senate.
The big surprise in Michael Moss’s tough look at health claims on coconut water in today’s New York Times—worth looking at online for the terrific video—is this:
One Last Comparison
These days, coconut water’s big rival may be plain old water. How do they compare? Scientists are still wrestling with the question, and while their findings vary, water is starting to look just fine for most people. A 2012 study (funded by Vita Coco) in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that neither coconut water nor sports drinks were better than water in hydrating young men after hourlong workouts.
Really? An industry-funded study that comes to a conclusion against the interest of the funder?
This requires a look at the original paper.
So a round of applause please for the authors who did this funded study, “Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men,” and nevertheless came to this conclusion:
Our data indicate that both coconut water (natural, concentrated and not from concentrate) and bottled water provide similar rehydrating effects as compared to a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink. Moreover, none of the beverages impacted treadmill exercise performance differently during the rehydration period.
Lest there be any ambiguity about what this means, their data clearly show that VitaCoco, a sports drink (not named but I’d bet on Gatorade), and coconut water from concentrate all rehydrated men who spent 60 minutes on a treadmill to the same extent.
In other words: for rehydration, water works just as well as coconut water or sports drinks. No surprise, really.
VitaCoco must be disappointed, but it still has one thing going for it: coconut water tastes really good.
I know I live on another planet, and my kids are long grown, but is there really a void in the market that has to be filled by a half-juice, half-herbal tea drink in a box for kids?
According to Food Navigator, the CEO of Drazil (lizard spelled backwards) Kids Tea thinks this product
pinpoint[s] a void in the kids’ beverage marketplace for a naturally healthy, reduced-sugar ready-to-drink beverage line as US consumers started falling out of love with 100% juice….There’s a huge need for healthy beverages that actually appeal to kids, so I thought, why not tea?…“I’ve studied how habits are formed when doing product development,” she said. “How do you get more adult tea drinkers? You get them to start drinking it regularly when they’re young. Tea is perfect because it’s relatively inexpensive to brew, so healthy—all those antioxidants, nutrients. Why not develop those habits young?”
OK. The concept is adorable.
But is tea really loaded with antioxidants and nutrients? Not like fruit juices. This product is a juice drink that dilutes juice and its nutrients by half. Yes, it also dilutes the fruit sugars by half but the boxes are 6.75 ounces and that much 100% juice is not unreasonable for school-age kids.
What ever happened to tap water?
This product is about marketing, and marketing to kids and hooking them early at that.
As I said, I live on another planet.
Michele Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation has taken on a new angle: Drink Up. It issued a press release yesterday urging Americans to drink more water.
The “Drink Up: You Are What You Drink” website explains:
Let me be absolutely clear: I am totally in favor of encouraging kids to drink water.
The ABA’s congratulatory press release says:
Staying hydrated is important to staying in balance, and bottled water provides people with a convenient and popular choice. By supporting this new initiative, our industry is once again leading with meaningful ways to achieve a balanced lifestyle.”
Hydrated? Not an issue for most people (exceptions—elite athletes, people at high altitude, the elderly).
Bottled water? In places with decent municipal water supplies, tap water is a much better choice; it’s inexpensive, non-polluting, and generates political support for preserving the quality of municipal water supplies. See, for example, what Food and Water Watch has to say about bottled water.
James Hamblin’s critical account in The Atlantic indicates that the press conference must have been tough going. Sam Kass, White House chef and executive director of Let’s Move! took the questions.
Another reporter: “Why aren’t we talking about obesity?”
Another reporter: Are we talking about replacing sugary drinks and sodas with water?”
Lawrence Soler, president and CEO of Partnership for a Healthier America, fielded that one. “It’s less a public health campaign than a campaign to encourage drinking more water. To that end, we’re being completely positive. Only encouraging people to drink water; not being negative about other drinks. “
I consider Let’s Move! to be a public health campaign, and a very important one.
I know we’re just trying to “keep things positive,” but missing the opportunity to use this campaign’s massive platform to clearly talk down soda or do something otherwise more productive is lamentable. Public health campaigns of this magnitude don’t come around every day…Keeping things positive and making an important point are not mutually exclusive, you fools.
Let’s Move! staff have stated repeatedly that they must and will work with the food industry to make progress on childhood obesity. I’m guessing this is the best they can do. Messages to “drink less soda” (or even “drink tap water”) will not go over well with Coke, Pepsi, and the ABA; sales of sugary sodas are already declining in this country.
I’m thinking that the White House must have cut a deal with the soda industry along the lines of “we won’t say one word about soda if you will help us promote water, which you bottle under lots of brands.” A win-win.
Isn’t drinking water better than drinking soda? Of course it is.
But this campaign could have clarified the issues a bit better. Jeff Cronin, communications director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest circulated a poster created by Rudy Ruiz (of the communications firm Interlex) for a public health campaign in San Antonio:
Public health partnerships with food and beverage companies—especially soda companies—are fraught with peril. Let’s hope this one conveys the unstated message like the one in San Antonio: My balance is less soda and more tap water.
As always, Eddie Gehman Kohan writing at ObamaFoodorama provides a clear, detailed summary of the relevant details along with transcripts of Michele Obama’s remarks at the launch in Watertown, Wisconsin (site of a Pepsi bottling plant, among other things).
Amanda Chin has a good piece in the Huffington Post (I’m quoted).