“Poisons are us”

I feel compelled to compile some information related to the recent reversal of a planned ban of a common, yet dangerous, pesticide. I hadn’t actually heard of the generic name of this poison until the new EPA administrator announced he was halting the steps to ban it. [modified 5/19/2017]

“By reversing the previous administration’s steps to ban one of the most widely used pesticides in the world, we are returning to using sound science in decision-making – rather than predetermined results.” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

  1. An article covering the public comment period on the regulatory reform agenda of Trump, Pruitt, et al. In other words, I’m trying to begin with something positive and empowering. Here’s the actual comment form. The deadline is May 15. Look for the “Comment Now” button in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Forbes has a great overview about the chlorpyrifos reversal
  3. “Poisons are us” | A compelling opinion piece by Timothy Egan
  4. Dow Chemical tries to kill risk study of its chlorpyrifos
  5. Here’s the National Pesticide Information Center general fact sheet on chlorpyrifos. The publication provides a very basic, yet alarming, explanation of why children are more sensitive to the insecticide. Studies have found that children who had chlorpyrifos in their blood had more developmental delays and disorders than those who did not. In addition, it states that chlorpyrifos is toxic to bees and earthworms. “It can poison non-target insects for up to 24 hours after it is sprayed. Chlorpyrifos can be toxic to earthworms for up to 2 weeks after it is applied to the soil.” Doesn’t that seem counterproductive — especially in its agricultural applications?
  6. A strong case against a pesticide does not faze EPA under Trump
  7. Letter from over 45 Scientists and Health Professionals Supporting EPA’s 2016 Risk Assessment and 2015 Proposal to Revoke Food Tolerances for Chlorpyrifos [pdf]

Please contact your federal legislators about the chlorpyrifos reversal, as well as the plans for repealing other EPA regulations.




Our Daily Bread

https://i2.wp.com/media.sundancechannel.com/UPLOADS/films/320x240/o/our_daily_bread.jpgThe most powerful food documentary I’ve watched is Our Daily Bread. It offers simplicity in its delivery. It is an opportunity to witness the systems that produce industrial food, without the burden of processing the data and opinions from experts.

Around five years ago I sat alone, horrified, as I watched the quiet footage progress. No narrative thread emerged, but as time elapsed, the weight on my chest grew heavier.

I was reminded of Our Daily Bread recently; when cleaning out my desk I found the notes I jotted down during the film. Some of these notes don’t make much sense; italicized words are my reactions to what I was watching. For what it’s worth, here’s what stood out to me:

hanging pigs
so much water
milk cows on a moving platform
hogs on a train
gigantic greenhouse
chicks on conveyor
sorting chicks
injecting chicks
checking for dead chickens in a warehouse
harvesting potatoes
hazmat gear
greenhouse plants – drenching peppers
trolley system for harvesting
glowing greenhouse complex
sperm collection: teasing steer, only to collect sperm
confined prize steers
machine spraying hay like a water sprinkler
pulling a calf out of cow: cut open, C-section
calf sprayed with blue paint and taken away
spraying crops
hen in tractors
apple harvesting
battery cages and egg harvesting: very loud, stressful environment
busing workers to harvest green onions
hog slaughterhouse
good thing I didn’t eat any meat today

food production footage interspersed with women on smoke and lunch breaks
stationary camera
spraying flowers
tilling under dead stalks
lettuce harvest
machinery causing me to wince
shaking the hell out of olive trees, sucking olives off the ground with a ride-able vacuum
salt mining
fish farming: fish sucked up with a big hose
gestation crates
castrating piglets
big monstrous vacuum sucking up chickens from the warehouse
flashback to when there were chicks blown into crates
crates crammed full and shoved closed
crates aren’t deep enough for chickens to stand up
juxtaposition of these scenes with ads
slaughter of cows: covered in shit, skinned, cut in half
didn’t show the feed lot
machines and food

What’s the most influential food documentary you’ve watched?


Never mind what it implies about our social life—Matt and I look forward to the Saturday evening radio line up. The Midnight Special at 6pm on KCSC (90.1), followed by The Thistle & Shamrock and Folk Salad on KOSU (91.7). The Midnight Special songs play with a theme. I was cooking and listening this past Saturday, so it was fitting that one theme was kitchen life/food. My ears perked up when I heard the introduction to this song: “Kelvinator” by James Gordon, a Canadian activist singer-songwriter. (Check out “Mr. Developer Man” and “Weapons of Mass Instruction.”)

Also, here’s the full playlist from the September 25 edition of The Midnight Special radio show.

Laughable Labels

Is this the co-opting of “local” or just a really broad interpretation?


My recent encounter in Oklahoma City with this “locally grown” jar of roasted bell peppers from Napa Valley caused me to revisit this fantastic article from last May, which explores the angles and issues with the “local” label. Mezzetta, Frito Lay, and others are making a case for “local” in relation to their processing plant and are clearly leaving the eater out of the equation. What merit does this have? Is this an improvement upon former business practices or is it merely a new marketing strategy for their status quo? When the labels we trust become diluted from government certification or opportunistic marketing gurus, they become, at best, nothing more than a game of semantics and at worst, completely meaningless.

From the article:

…the widening view of what it means to eat locally is similar to the changes the term organic went through as it grew from a countercultural ideal in the 1960s and 1970s to an industry with nearly $25 billion in sales last year. A related debate about how to define sustainable farming is now gathering force in government, agriculture and business.

Slant and Sausage

Do you subscribe to Meatingplace headlines and blog updates? I can’t remember how I came across the site, but I continue to read and get pissed; read, get pissed. It’s my education on inserting bias and “fast, flexible, fully automated sausage production.”

The industry blogs are even more fun, where bloggers like Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton of Poultry Perspectives argue semantics: in her view factory farms and family-owned farms are mutually exclusive. And the mere existence of factory farms is questionable. Oh, and this gem: “Poultry farmers are farmers and by nature these people love the environment otherwise, they could have a career in an office doing much less physically exhausting work.” (from “The message we need to shout,” 9/1/09; I’d link to it, but articles and blogs require a sign-in.)

Yesterday’s Meatingplace headlines were peculiar in that two stories were inconveniently interwoven.

meating place

The referenced author is Jonathan Safran Foer, whose new book is titled Eating Animals. He has an erroneously titled opinion piece here. I guess an honest, thorough title wouldn’t be as provocative. Do you think Foer’s critique of animal agriculture will be taken seriously? Is there room for another voice in this discussion?

Food, Inc. Buzz

Industry web sites have been created to respond to Food, Inc.

Animal agriculture industry groups
National Chicken Council

Some Reading

When “Local” Makes It Big
Frito-Lay rationalizes their new “locavore” marketing scheme.
Excerpt: “You know the locavore phenomenon is having an impact when the corporations begin co-opting it,” Ms. Prentice said. “Everyone should know where things are processed. The ‘where’ question is really important.”

U.S. Hog Giant Transforms Eastern Europe
Read the story while considering Smithfield’s slogan: “Good food. Responsibly.”
Excerpt: “In the United States, Smithfield says it has been a boon to consumers. Pork prices dropped by about one-fifth between 1970 and 2004, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, suggesting annual savings of about $29 per consumer. In Eastern Europe, as in American farm states where Smithfield developed its business strategy, the question is whether the savings are worth the considerable costs.
Smithfield brands.

Governor Henry signed the “Right to Farm” Measure
No private nuisance lawsuit can be brought against agricultural activities  in operation for more than two years. Fine. Sure. I understand. But, the law adds “expansion” to the definition of agricultural activities. An expansion— even if it is non-contiguous—does not reset the clock.

Take that, California!
An Oklahoma legislator’s response to California’s Proposition 2 is now law. Here’s an earlier post about this paranoid response to humane legislation that ensures confined livestock are able to—god forbid—stretch their legs and *gasp* turn around in their cage!