With the new year, Bountiful Brookline is refreshing its voice in the local food arena. Here’s some “food for thought”: 2014’s food highlights from around the corner and across the country. In 2015, the UN's international year of soil, much attention will be focused upon this and other key ingredients needed for sustaining a food system. We look forward to sharing this with you!
National – WHAT’S IN YOUR FOOD?
1. 2014 Farm Bill: Organic and Local Food Grants
The USDA awarded over $52 million to organic and local food systems across the nation. On the local level, these funds will help improve access to locally and regionally produced food, including for food-insecure populations, and strengthen ties between producer and consumer. Read more here.
2. The GMO Debate Continues
A new bill introduced in Congress, the “Safe and Accurate 5 Food Labeling Act of 2014”, and better known by food advocates as the “DARK” Act, threatens to undermine states rights in support of GMO labeling. Coined the “Deny Americans the Right-to-Know” Act, this bill would make it illegal for mandatory GMO labeling on the federal and state levels. It would allow companies to label products containing GMO ingredients as “natural” undermining organic food production. Read more here.
3. Food Safety Modernization Act
Initially passed by Congress in 2011, the public review period for the Food Safety Modernization Act was completed in December 2014. This act when implemented will facilitate the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938. After extensive feedback from across the US, some adjustments were made to mitigate impact on small farms. Yet, even the FDA anticipates that the disproportionate cost of compliance will deter new small-scale operations and likely put existing farms out of business. Given that Massachusetts and New England are known for small family farms, this prognosis is particularly alarming for farmers and consumers alike. Read more here.
4. Buzz About Bees
The plight of bees continued to draw attention at all levels. Native and managed pollinators produce over thirty five percent of the world’s food including over ninety percent of American fruits and vegetables. Although the President established a Pollinator Health Task Force in June 2014, it has not yet met its charge leading to strong pleas from national beekeeper associations, scientists and prominent national environmental groups for decisive sustainable action. Read more here and here.
Stay tuned over the coming days as we delve into our 2014 food highlights in and around Massachusetts, Boston, and Brookline!