TakePart

Another Scary Superbug Has Been Found on an American Hog Farm

If you weren’t already alarmed by the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, consider this: Scientists recently went looking for one type of superbug lurking among livestock only to find another superbug they weren’t expecting.

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The Other Carbon Tax: Why Meat Eaters Should Pay More for Beef

How much extra should you be paying for your hamburger to compensate for all the damage that the all-beef patty is doing to our climate? How about 40 percent more?

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What Trump Could Mean for America’s Public Lands

When it comes to the American West, Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” still rings mostly true. The federal government (and by proxy, U.S. citizens) owns 47 percent of America’s 11 contiguous Western states.

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7 Things You Use Every Day That Contain Palm Oil

People don’t usually think about the destruction of rainforests while washing their hands, applying lipstick, or doing laundry. But thanks to high demand for products containing palm oil, which is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree, consumers are inadvertently contributing to deforestation.

1. Hand soap.

The bubbles and lather produced when you wash your hands with a bar of soap make you feel like you’re getting clean, but the foaming effect is actually a result of palm oil. Palm oil produces sodium lauryl sulfate, which creates the mass of small bubbles often produced by soap.

2. Toothpaste.

Similar to the lather of soap, the foam produced when you brush your teeth with toothpaste is from the palm oil derivative sodium lauryl sulfate. As you brush, the friction causes the chemical’s molecules to rub up against and cleanse your teeth.

3. Cosmetics.

Palm oil acts as a natural emulsifier that prevents the separation of oil and water in moisturizers and cosmetic products such as foundation, lipstick, and mascara. 

4. Laundry detergent.

Manufacturers use palm oil, commonly labeled as sodium sulfate, to create a uniform density in the detergent. Want to know if your detergent contains palm oil? Look for a label marked “palm oil free” to find out.

5. Processed food.

Almost half of all packaged food products—including cookies, instant noodles, and pizza—contain palm oil. Used to add a creamy taste and a consistent texture, palm oil can be found on ingredient lists as vitamin A palmitate and palm kernel oil. In the United States, palm oil is required to be included on food labels regardless of whether it is blended with other oils. Countries such as Australia and China allow “vegetable oil” as a label substitute.

6. Body wash and shampoo.

Palm oil contains tocotrienol, a member of the vitamin E family. Rich in antioxidants, it removes dirt and oil from skin, making it a common ingredient in body wash and shampoo. A majority of shampoos also contain palm oil as a moisturizer. Conscientious shoppers should avoid products containing ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate and palmolein.

7. Margarine.

The debate over whether butter or margarine is worse for your health has raged for decades, but spreading processed imitation butter may not be the smartest decision if you’re trying to avoid palm oil. Palm oil is solid at room temperature and naturally free of trans fats, making it a common ingredient in margarine. Its cheap cost has led to its increased use in developing countries such as India and China.

This article was originally published by TakePart. Reprinted with permission.

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How Food-Labor Activists Are Preparing for President Trump

From farms and packing houses to grocery stores and restaurants, one in seven workers in the U.S. is employed in the food system. It is the single largest employment sector—and the lowest paying, with a median wage of $16,000, according to a new report by the Food Chain Workers Alliance.

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Voters Push Through Soda Tax in Four More Cities

On Election Day, voters in four cities cast ballots that will triple the number of municipal soda tax measures in the United States. San Francisco, Oakland, Albany, California, and Boulder, Colorado, will join Berkeley and Philadelphia in charging an extra penny or two per ounce for sugar-sweetened beverages.

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This Food Truck Wants to Serve Up Dinner and Social Justice

When Carolina Abolio was developing a menu for her restaurant, she knew she wanted to cook and serve something from Venezuela, where she grew up, that was healthy, that was affordable, that kids would like. Today, many of her fans know her as Miss Arepita, the name both she and her food cart have taken from the arepas—thick, griddle-browned corn cakes that are a Venezuelan staple—the menu is built around. Whether they’re stuffed with pabellón (black beans and beef braised in tomato sauce) or reina pepiada (chicken with avocado), the arepas are loaded with veggies from Phat Beets Produce, a nonprofit food justice collective based in North Oakland, California.

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Will Hearing From Garment Workers Finally Change Fast Fashion?

When I think of my great-grandmother in Japan, the first thing that comes to mind is the perfectly matched shirt and pant sets she wore. A survivor of both World Wars, she sewed her own garments out of necessity. Unlike my great-grandmother, when I need a new outfit, I head to the mall. My inability to sew leaves me wondering, Who is making my clothes?

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A New Food Co-op Offers an Oasis in a Southern Town Food Desert

One of the weekly specials at the soft opening of the Renaissance Community Co-op in Greensboro, North Carolina, was on whole chicken—68 cents a pound. The distributor hooked up the fledgling store with what it considered a sufficient number of birds.

This article was originally published on TakePart. Reprinted with permission.

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Nearly Half of College Kids Go Hungry - Even With Jobs and Financial Aid

Between balancing school, work, and a social life, students have more than enough to think about without worrying where their next meal is coming from. However, a new, expansive study on student food insecurity published Wednesday found that despite receiving student loans and maintaining paying jobs, nearly half of all college students lack a sufficient food resource.

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A Major American Meat Company Is Betting on Plant-Based Protein

What does it say about the future of meat when the country’s largest processor of chicken, pork, and beef buys a stake in a start-up that aims to “perfectly replace animal protein with plant protein”?

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Germany Wants to Ban Fossil-Fuel-Powered Cars

Germany, home of global automotive giants Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, is on the road to banning gas and diesel engines from its highways and byways.

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Your Pot Habit Is Making Climate Change Worse

What’s the carbon cost of legal marijuana?

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The FDA Is Reconsidering What ‘Healthy’ Means

In conversations about food and well-being, the term “healthy” gets thrown around a lot. We’re told to eat a healthy diet, we’re told which foods are healthy, and at the grocery store and in commercials, we see a host of products that are marketed as “healthy,” “healthful,” or other permutations of the word. But what, exactly, does “healthy” mean? For consumers, it’s a definition that is probably a bit squishy—but an entity like the Food and Drug Administration can only develop regulations on the back of strictly defined terms, and “healthy” is no exception.

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Even Organic Baby Food Might Still Contain Lead

When it comes to bringing up baby, conscientious moms and dads want the best-quality products money can buy. But as a new analysis on baby and toddler foods shows, higher prices and organic labels don’t always mean a product is free of potentially harmful contaminants.

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Indestructible Plastic Six-Pack Rings Kill Countless Wildlife - but Not This New Edible Variety That Turtles Love to Munch On (Video)

Given the amount of plastic floating in the world’s waterways, it’s not unusual for marine life to accidentally ingest bits of refuse—and get sick or die as a result. Then there’s the horrible fate of the creatures that get plastic six-pack rings stuck around their necks or bodies. Some, like the famous hourglass-shaped turtle Peanut, end up with deformed bodies and underdeveloped organs—if they’re not strangled first—all because they swam into a six-pack ring as a baby.

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In Rwanda, Craft Beer Opens the Door to Female Empowerment

Rwandan entrepreneur Josephine Uwineza is accustomed to challenging the status quo in her country’s food scene. In 2000, she brought Asian cuisine to the capital city of Kigali with the country’s first Chinese restaurant. Now she has her sights set on disrupting the pub culture in the Central African nation.

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Our Economy Is Booming, So Why Are Kids Still Going to Bed Hungry?

In 2009, when the economic devastation of the Great Recession was most widely felt, one in four American children struggled with hunger, according to a USDA report released at the time that President Obama called “unsettling.” As unemployment shot up after the housing collapse, the number of Americans enrolled in the food stamp program hit record high after record high. The richest nation in the world was facing a hunger crisis—and children were among the most vulnerable.

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We May All Have to Cut Carbs Thanks to Climate Change

It seems that as the world’s temperature heats up, more of the world may be forced to go gluten-free.

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Tens of Thousands of Californians Exposed to Arsenic in Drinking Water

More than 55,000 Californians are exposed to drinking water that exceeds federal safety standards for arsenic, a known carcinogen, but the state is failing to adequately warn them of the risks, according to a report released Monday by an environmental watchdog group.

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6 Facts About Chicken That Will Make You Seriously Rethink Your Dinner

Nuggets, strips, filet, soup, stock, casserole, cordon bleu, a la king—chicken is the meat of infinite possibilities, and Americans eat 37 billion pounds of the versatile fowl every year. 

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Long Hours May Soon Pay Better for California Farmworkers

California’s long-struggling farmworkers, who labor in harsh conditions to harvest more than a third of all vegetables grown in the U.S. and two-thirds of our fruits and nuts, are one big step closer to getting the bump in pay they deserve.

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Can Kimbal Musk Do for Farms What Elon Has Done for Cars?

For more than 150 years, Pfizer manufactured pharmaceuticals in its 660,000-square-foot factory on Flushing Avenue in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. The pharma giant shut down operations in 2008, and since 2011, a host of food start-ups have taken up residence in the building’s cavernous halls. Starting next year, the bakeries and distilleries and kimchi companies will be joined by a venture called Square Roots. Founded by Kimbal Musk and Tobias Peggs, the urban farming accelerator aims to empower “1,000s of millennials to join the real food revolution,” as Musk (Elon’s brother) wrote in a Medium post announcing the venture last week.

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750 Million People at Risk as Scientists Discover Contamination of One of the World’s Biggest Freshwater Supplies

Three-quarters of a billion people across four South Asian nations rely on one vast water basin for much of their irrigation and drinking water. Called the Indo-Gangetic Basin, it stretches east to west over 618 million acres, sitting like a cap over the Indian subcontinent, and contains about 7,200 cubic miles of groundwater, roughly 20 times the annual flow of the region’s Brahmaputra, Ganges and Indus rivers combined.

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There Are More Women in U.S. Jails Than Ever Before

An unusual thing happened last year: The number of people in U.S. prisons declined. After decades of exponential growth, both the state and federal prison populations dropped slightly, reflecting the steady embrace of policy reforms enacted over the last decade intended to curtail corrections costs.

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When a City Passes a Soda Tax, Who Pays? (Video)

Two years after highly contested campaigns on both sides of San Francisco Bay, municipal soda tax initiatives are once again driving political debates in the Bay Area. In 2014, Berkeley, California, passed a tax, and a measure narrowly failed in San Francisco, where questions of class and the city’s high cost of living were at the heart of the “no” campaign organized by the industry-backed Coalition for an Affordable City.

This story was originally published on TakePart. Reprinted with permission.

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Marketing Can Change Kids' Brain Activity - and the Food Industry Is Spending $2 Billion a Year to Push Them to Junk Food

It’s a battle played out every day in the United States: Kids persistently beg their parents for one of the sugary cereals or drive-through hamburgers they saw in a commercial while watching Saturday-morning cartoons, and eventually the worn-out parents give in, even though they know it’s unhealthy.

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There's a Difference Between Buying Organic and Not Buying GMOs

You never know where the snatches of conversation overheard at farm stands or farmers markets will lead you—into an impromptu recipe exchange, for instance, or the desire to try a new vegetable (or part of one, like beet greens). The dark side of this eavesdropping is that you will hear culinary myths being perpetuated left, right, and center.

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Are Your Summer Berries Being Picked by Abused Farmworkers?

When representatives of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (Families United for Justice), an independent farmworkers union, spoke at Seattle University last year, filmmaking student José Chalit Hernandez wasn’t particularly familiar with the ongoing conflict between seasonal farmworkers and management at Washington state’s Sakuma Brothers Farms. Since at least 2013, farmworkers and the union have alleged poor treatment and unfair wages at the 1,000-acre farm and processing plant in Burlington, which grows fruit for Driscoll’s, the world’s largest distributor of berries.

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Taxes on Groceries, Not Soda, Are Hurting Poor Americans

Soda taxes are continuing to bubble up throughout the United States. After Berkeley, California’s soda tax brought in $1.2 million in revenue in its first months, cash-strapped Philadelphia passed a 1.5 cent–per–liter tax in June. In November, several other cities will vote on their own measures, including San Francisco (again) and Boulder, Colorado.

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Border Fences Aimed at Stopping Immigrants Are Killing Wildlife

The rapid construction of border fences across Europe is aimed at stemming the influx of refugees, affecting millions of lives. But those fences are leading to a crisis for an unintended target—wildlife.

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