Some interesting and important Food News to kick off 2015.
Iowa’s Largest City Sues Over Farm Fertilizer Runoff In Rivers [NPR] – The city of Des Moines is holding three of its surrounding counties accountable for the high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers which supply the city’s drinking water. The city shelled out over $900,000 in 2013 to filter nitrates out of the water, which originate from the massive corn farms in the area spraying nitrogen fertilizers on the fields. The run-off from the fields goes into streams and then into the network of drainage pipes that empty into the rivers. Des Moines Water Works says that upstream counties Sac County, Buena Vista County and Calhoun County should be held responsible for what they’re sending to their downstream neighbors. “It’s a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated.” Sad that this is a novel concept, but I guess we have to start somewhere.
Good Food Awards 2015 Winners [Good Food Awards] – The 5th annual Good Food Awards were hosted in San Francisco last weekend. There were 1,462 entrants from across the country in the categories of Beer, Charcuterie, Cheese, Chocolate, Coffee, Confections, Honey, Oils, Pickles, Preserves and Spirits. The 146 winners are representative of “the forefront of American craft food, making products that are delicious, respectful of the environment, and connected to communities and cultural traditions.” Winners were chosen by 182 judges who blind-tasted the various products. All of the delicious products were available to sip and taste on Saturday, January 10 at a public marketplace at the Ferry Building. Talk about sensory overload.
California Foie Gras Ban Lifted – After an almost 2 year ban on the consumption of foie gras in California, the law was overturned by a federal judge last week. Foie gras producers Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies (Quebec) and Hudson Valley Foie Gras (New York) filed suit against the ban the day after it was put in place. Sure, the eaters of California are excited about this news, but the chefs are the ones that are overjoyed (even though some have been sneaking around the rule since Day 1… you know who you are).
I was most interested in what this meant for the Sonoma Artisan Foie Gras, California’s sole foie gras farm, that was forced out of business in 2012. However, the new ruling still does not lift the ban on producing foie gras in the state. Obviously reporters have been calling the Gonzales family to get their comments on this change, but the responses seem to be inconsistent. This Huffington Post article says that they’re looking for property to start the farm outside of the state, while the Munchies report says they won’t be restarting the farm. Hmm.
Next Week’s 1st Annual Food Tank Summit Will be Live-Streamed [Food Tank] – Food Tank, the online & “global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters”, is hosting it’s 1st annual Food Tank Summit on January 21 and 22. They’re bringing together over 75 speakers for a number of keynote speeches and panel discussions, from farmers and researchers to authors, chefs and policy makers. Some names on the schedule include Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave; Danielle Nierenberg, Food Tank: The Food Think Tank; Patrick Holden, Sustainable Food Trust; Pamela Hess, Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture; Paul Willis, Niman Ranch and Farmer; and Helen Dombalis, National Farm to School Network. The event, to be held at George Washington University, is sold out but will be live-streamed on FoodTank.com. You can also follow along using the hashtag #FoodTank.
Ban on Plastic Foam Packaging in New York City [NY Times] – Starting July 1, food establishments in New York City will be barred from using plastic foam cups or containers. Two years after former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first proposed the law, current Mayor Bill de Blasio is dropping the hammer. While similar measures have been enacted in other cities (San Francisco, Seattle and Portland), imagine the impact it will make in a fast-paced city of 8.4 million people. Businesses have a little time to figure out alternatives, as the law won’t be enforced until January of 2016. Nonprofits and businesses with less than $500,000 in annual revenue can also apply for exemptions if they prove that buying other materials in place of foam would create “undue financial hardship.”