From The Blog

By Ocean Robbins

I was ten-years-old when my dad first began to write Diet for a New America. It was the first book to expose the truth about factory farms, and the link between food and our planet, to a wide audience. In the five years after the book’s publication in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 25%, and my dad received more than 50,000 letters from readers, thanking him for changing their lives.

As we’ve seen in our family, sometimes writing can change the world.

We aren’t all destined to write million-copy bestsellers, of course. But we do all have a message to share, and our own unique way to share it.

Albert Einstein once said that “if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, man would have only four years to live.”  Whether or not his statement is exactly accurate, it highlights how deeply dependent we are on bees for our food and nutrition.

Traditionally, beekeepers have reported annual hive losses of 5 to 10 percent a year.  But for the past 10 years, beekeepers, primarily in the U.S. and Europe, have been reporting annual losses of 30 percent or higher, far above than what is normal or sustainable.  Many U.S. beekeeepers have experienced losses of 40 to 50 percent or more.

The problem is serious and it is growing.  In response, both the U.S. and Mexico have recently taken steps toward banning the use of pesticides and GMO crops that have been strongly linked to the widespread bee die-offs.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that genetically engineered crops and bee-toxic pesticides known as “neonicotinoids” will be banned in National Wildlife Refuges. This ruling impacts more than 150 million acres of federal land.

The announcement follows a recent White House memorandum that directed federal agencies to promote pollinator health in the face of significant losses in recent decades of bees, bats and birds that pollinate fruits, nuts and vegetables.

This article was originally published on TheNation.com and is republished with permission. Read the full text of Michelle Chen’s article here.

The person who served you lunch today may be going hungry. Surveys of restaurant workers in the Bay Area and New York City show that after spending long days sating the appetites of customers, they return home to empty pantries and struggle to pay for groceries. Nearly one in three restaurant workers suffers from “food insecurity”—meaning they regularly have trouble obtaining adequate nourishment, usually because they can’t afford it.

The study, published by Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY) (in collaboration with Food Chain Workers Alliance and Food First), shows that while the prevalence of food insecurity in the food-service workforce is paradoxical, it is built into the capitalist food chain.

Among the surveyed workers—representing a cross-section of cooks, servers, bussers and other low-wage workers in two cities with thriving dining scenes—workers of color were more likely to be food insecure than their white counterparts. Two in three undocumented workers experienced food insecurity. The problem is especially widespread among tipped workers, like servers. Those jobs are mostly done by women, many of them single mothers raising kids in poverty.

Even restaurants that touted their green credentials—marketing themselves as organic or sustainable—did not seem to pay enough to sustain the basic needs of their workers: