Food waste weighing down U.S. food system

About 35 million tons of food was dumped in landfills across the United States in 2012. That figure compares to 29 million tons of plastic and 24 million tons of paper.

Food is the largest single source of waste in the U.S. More food ends up in landfills than plastic, more than paper. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 20 percent of what goes into municipal landfills is food. Food waste tipped the scale at 35 million tons in 2012, the most recent year estimates are available. Continue Reading →

Big farms, frac sand mines could feel force of judge’s groundwater ruling

The number of CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, has shot up in the past decade — as have concerns about their impact on water quality and quantity.

A recent legal decision is likely to significantly change how Wisconsin manages its groundwater and will especially affect the state’s sandy counties where powerful wells are irrigating potato fields, servicing giant dairies, and providing water critical for the state's frac sand mining boom. Continue Reading →

Comments pour in as EPA water rule discussion comes to a close

Iowa farmers say that if a new EPA proposal takes effect, their fields could be considered regulated water bodies — which could drastically change the way they do business.

The EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule would add to the Clean Water Act by defining whether a water body is – or is not – protected by the act. The public has until Oct. 20 to formally comment on the proposed rule. So far, the rule has received nearly 6,000 comments. Hundreds of others have chosen to discuss the rule through social media, as well. Continue Reading →

EPA roiling the U.S. waters

A proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule on water usage defines a tributary as “a water physically characterized by the presence of a bed and banks and ordinary high water mark” and something that contributes directly or indirectly to the flow of a protected water. Farmers throughout the country believe this proposed definition could put their operation at risk.

In March, the EPA issued a proposed rule to define what is considered a water body under its jurisdiction. Since then, farmers throughout the Midwest have expressed concern over the rule. Some have even claimed it could drastically change the way farmers run their businesses. Continue Reading →

Recall roundup: a look back at August food hazards

California-based APPA Fine Foods recalled more than 90,000 pounds of its chicken Caesar salad kits because of Listeria monocytogenes concerns, according to a Food Safety and Inspection Service announcement on Aug. 21. The potentially contaminated salads – shipped throughout the country – feature the establishment number “P-21030.” Though the Food Safety and Inspection Service received no illness reports at the time of the announcement, Listeria monocytogenes can lead to Listeriosis. “Listeriosis can cause fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms,” according to the announcement. The Food Safety and Inspection Service categorized the recall as a Class-I high-risk recall, meaning “there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”

More than a dozen potentially hazardous food products were recalled last month, federal food-safety agencies announced. Overall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced six recalls for the month of August. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meanwhile, announced at least 11 recalls for food-related products last month. Continue Reading →