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In the News: Nanoparticles in Food, Impact of Fracking on Food, Rockaway Lateral Gas Pipeline, Tackling Food Waste

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Study Looks at Particles Used in Food

Nanomaterials have started to enter the food chain through well-known food products and their packaging, but there is little acknowledgment by the companies using them, according to a new report from a nonprofit group that works to enhance corporate accountability.  Nanoparticles are materials that are microscopic—significantly smaller than a red blood cell; and tens of thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair. These particles deliver nutrients, ensure longer freshness of food, act as thickening agents or enhance taste or flavor. While some nanoparticles have been found to exist in nature, the nanoparticles that have been engineered in laboratories and are currently in your food, have environmental health advocates concerned. Scientists are still determining the health and environmental impact of these tiny particles, even as industry is forging ahead. There is currently very little oversight and regulation on the use of nanoparticles in food and food packaging. Nanoparticles, such as Titanium Dioxide, which is found in everything from cosmetics and sunscreen to paint and vitamins, has been shown to cause systemic genetic damage in mice and induce lung cancer in exposed animals, according to a comprehensive study conducted by researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

As approval of fracking continues to be considered in New York state, it is clear that fracking will drastically affect this country’s land, water, and air, and by doing so, have major impacts on our local food system and beyond. There have already been accounts of  horrific consequences of fracking, such as cows mysteriously losing tails, birthing stillborn calves and even dropping dead have made their rounds, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Stories from farmers in the Marcellus region—including fracking victims from Pennsylvania who came to New York last week—along with mounting concerns from health experts, are certainly cause to worry. So not only do unsafe fracking practices threaten our clean air and water, but by limiting demand for local food they may begin to erode the economic development potential of local food as well. A call to end fracking is also a rally of support for the health of our farms and the food they produce for us. In order to continue to produce local, nutrient-dense food, we must demand that our water, land, soil, and air are not contaminated by the devastating practice of fracking.

Rockaway Lateral Gas Pipeline

The Rockaway Lateral pipeline is a planned 26-inch high pressure gas pipeline. Its builder, Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company, LLC (a.k.a. Transco), wants to cut through Sandy-devastated Rockaway, under Riis Park’s public beach, into southern Brooklyn. It will threaten the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, and place a metering and regulating facility right near the Floyd Bennett Community Gardens. Is this what NYC’s coastal areas need — a major pipeline to pump radon-infested, climate destroying methane gas from Marcellus frack fields into NYC kitchens? Like the Spectra pipeline, the Rockaway Lateral will bring fracked gas from the radioactive Marcellus Shale to our stoves and boilers. Its construction will encourage the expansion of fracking, and it will exacerbate climate change. Running a gas pipeline through Jacob Riis Park used to be illegal, because it’s part of a national park. But Congress passed, and President Obama signed, a bill that allows this pipeline. But that is not the end of the story. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) still must approve Transco’s project. We need to send our comments to FERC and tell them that we don’t want this pipeline!

Tackling Food Waste

It is devastating to say, but between the stages of production and consumption, 30 to 40 percent of all food produced worldwide is either lost or wasted.  A major problem in developing countries is crops that spoil before reaching the market, post harvest crop losses. This issue contributes to malnourished and food insecurity, which affect both human health and economic development. Food waste may be a global issue, but developed countries, primarily in high and medium income countries, are absolutely the most to blame. According to the UN World Food Programma, countries such as China and America, independently, waste enough food to satisfy “every empty stomach” in Africa.

In all countries, food waste contributes to global methane emissions, which are 20 times more environmentally harmful than carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA reports that food waste is the number one material in U.S. landfills, which is responsible for 34 percent of national methane emissions. What about the resources that are used to produce the food? They are also wasted. Land, water, fossil fuels (i.e. farm machinery, transportation, and the production of fertilizer,) is all lost within wasting landfills. These unsustainable methods are greatly contributing to deforestation, water scarcity, and climate change.  Be conscious of your food, conserve and share as much as possible without throwing it away!

About Bhavani Jaroff

Bhavani Jaroff is a Natural Foods Chef, Educator, Radio Host, and Food Activist. She has over thirty years experience cooking healthy, fresh organic food. Read More

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