Daily Essentials | 10 May 2015


SIMPLY RECIPES: Sweet Potato Hashbrowns

So, do you want to know the secret to truly amazing, mind blowing, crazy good hash browns?

THE NEW YORK TIMES: When Humans Declared War on Fish

Oddly, the war itself was a great reprieve for many marine species. Just as Axis and Allied submarines and mines made the transportation of war matériel a highly perilous endeavor, they similarly interfered with fishing. The ability to catch staple seafoods, like cod, declined markedly. Freed from human pursuit, overexploited species multiplied in abundance.

But World War II also brought a leap in human ingenuity, power and technical ability that led to an unprecedented assault on our oceans. Not only did ships themselves become larger, faster and more numerous, but the war-derived technologies they carried exponentially increased their fishing power.

Take sonar…

NPR | THE SALT: Promises, Promises: Is Big Food Marketing Less Junk To Kids On TV?

Kellogg pledged that all child-targeted food ads would feature foods that contain no more than 200 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat and 12 grams of added sugar per serving. According to the new study, this promise has been kept. “Examination of compliance with industry self-regulation revealed complete conformity with company pledges,” the study concludes.

But it’s too soon to give the industry a congratulatory high-five, according to Dale Kunkel, a professor emeritus of communications at the University of Arizona and one of the authors of the study. He tells us that the companies’ efforts “have barely moved the needle in terms of shifting food advertising to children to genuinely healthy products.” Kunkel and his co-authors used a food-grading system known as “Go” (good to eat every day), “Slow” (good to eat a few times a week) and “Whoa” (eat only on occasion) to evaluate the kinds of foods advertised to kids.

Their analysis shows that in 2013, 75 percent of food ads targeted toward children by companies participating in the initiative “promoted products in the poorest nutritional category.”

GAWKER: The Bullshit Hypocrisy of “All-Natural” Foods

Last month I wrote about Vani Hari, AKA the Food Babe. I decreed that her tactics and statements about food were devoid of science (fine, she’s full of shit). One of her attention-grabbing schemes was petitioning Kraft to remove artificial dyes from their macaroni and cheese. Shortly after my article made her cry tears of blood about her life decisions, Kraft announced that they would be removing the artificial dyes, although they claimed that they started reformulating the recipe a year before she launched her campaign. Whether or not this was a response to her petition, did the change make the product healthier?

To start with, let’s remember that we’re talking about a product with powdered cheese. If you were looking for health food, you took a wrong turn three aisles ago after the spinach. We’re also not removing something that causes foodborne illness and replacing it with hummingbird whispers. We’re switching food dyes synthesized in the laboratory to food dyes that are… well, still going to be produced in the laboratory.

We now have the safest class of food dyes ever on the market

ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE FUND | GROWING RETURNS: Water risk: Which food companies are managing it and how can they do better?

The Ceres report defined five water risk drivers in the agricultural sector: growing competition for water, weak regulation, aging and inadequate water infrastructure, water pollution and climate change.

These water risks are already impacting corporate supply chains. Look no further than California to see how industries like fruits and nuts are taking a hit. Not only are farmers having to fallow land and remove orchards due to insufficient water deliveries, news headlines are tarnishing the reputation – with potential effects on demand – of crops like the beloved almond.

The good news

Fortunately, there was some good news that came out of the report, which also recommended steps that companies and investors can take to ensure a healthy water future. These include a need to:

  • Increase board members’ understanding and oversight of water risks.
  • Conduct analyses of water risks.
  • Address water risks at the watershed-level, not at the field-level, and develop mitigation plans that include water impacts throughout watersheds.
  • Engage directly with supply chains to address water risks and impacts from field-level practices:
    • Set policies, sourcing goals, purchase products that have sustainability certification, collect data.
  • Improve transparency of water risk and mitigation plans to investors.

Several companies are already building this kind of water risk management into their business planning, creating a model for others to follow.

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