I’m always indebted to Food-Navigator-USA for spot-on commentary on current food politics. Here, for example, is Elaine Watson on the FDA’s amazing decision to take comments on the meaning of “natural” on food labels.
Having studiously avoided this food labeling minefield for years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has surprised many in the trade by seeking comments on the definition of a word that has launched a thousand class action lawsuits (well almost): ‘natural’.
Her piece is worth reading for its excellent reporting and interviews with industry stakeholders.
About “natural,” the FDA has said:
From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.
Now petitions have induced the FDA to seek comments, the first step in its standard rulemaking processes.
Specifically, the FDA asks for information and public comment on questions such as:
—Whether it is appropriate to define the term “natural,”
—If so, how the agency should define “natural,” and
—How the agency should determine appropriate use of the term on food labels.
“Appropriate” in this context translates as: Should high fructose corn syrup be considered “natural?” (The FDA said yes in 2008). How about GMOs? (the FDA’s position on GMOs is that they are not materially different from any other kind of food).
To file comments on these and other questions,
Together, BALLE and Etsy.org are exploring a number of initiatives. Last month BALLE ED Michelle Long joined Etsy Foundation leaders in Brooklyn to serve as a field guide leading a weekend immersion for their pilot “business school for the regenerative entrepreneur.” While there, she offered a mini version of the Well-Being in Business Lab program piloted to Oakland business owners this spring.
By Michelle Long
Last month BALLE brought the Well-Being in Business Lab to the new Etsy Foundation in Brooklyn, NY. Like BALLE, their founders believe that the skills, aptitudes, and attitudes that it took to build the old economy will not be the same that it will take to build the new. We share the belief that what is being called for requires tapping into a deeper place in our humanity, of who we really are, and who we want to be as a society – and that to solve the complex crisis of our era, we are being called as leaders to feel and make decisions from a place of our interdependence – a shift from “me” to “we.”
Together, BALLE and Etsy.org are exploring a number of initiatives, and last month I joined them as a field guide to lead a weekend immersion for their pilot “business school for the regenerative entrepreneur.” Over the course of a day I offered their Brooklyn-based cohort of entrepreneurs a mini-version of the five-month Well-Being in Business Lab we developed for and with 40 Oakland business leaders in the first half of 2015. Together we touched on the four threads of interdependence, which according to the Greater Good Science Center, make all human beings deeply well: connection to purpose, connection to each other, connection in reverence to the larger natural world, and acting to address suffering with compassion. Research shows that to be human is to long for and to feel joy when we have touched into these aspects of interconnection. Research also shows that these capacities can be developed.
Over the course of the immersion we used story-telling to explore how these motivations are being translated into service through business in every sector. Sparks of that emerging future are here with us now! Participants helped each other to identify small ways to practice these capacities over the course of the program, and a partner for encouragement and accountability. One person wanted to rekindle awe and committed to daily walks in the woods and sending a photo to a friend each day as proof. Another person committed to hosting a dinner with critics of her industry to better understand the suffering they knew. Someone else made the commitment to journaling each night about what gave him joy at work that day, with the intention that this would bring him closer to his purpose.
From Oakland to Brooklyn, these entrepreneurs are ready to move beyond incremental steps and toward business as service to our humanity. Next we’ll be with BALLE Local Economy Fellows Alfa Demmellash, CEO of Rising Tide Capital, and Jessica Norwood of Emerge Change, alongside a group of local entrepreneurs in Jersey City on December 8.
If this intention speaks to you, join us on December 3 at noon PT/3pm ET, for a webinar with myself, Dr. Dacher Keltner of the Greater Good Science Center, and Erin Kilmer Neel of the Oakland Sustainable Business Alliance and co-creator of the Oakland Well Being in Business Lab, as we explore together the awakening of the heart of the entrepreneur.Thumb Image:
Terence Cuneo, Andrew Chignell, Matthew C. Halteman, editors. Philosophy Comes to Dinner: Arguments over the Ethics of Eating. Routledge, 2015.
I was happy to do a blurb for this book, having met Andrew Chignell and participated in an online course he ran at Cornell based on the book.
In recent years, I’ve seen an explosion of student and public interest in the politics and ethics of food. It’s great to have philosophers contributing to this discussion, and this book explains why.
When thoughtful people differ about issues in food and nutrition, it isn’t always easy to decide what the right thing is to do. Philosophers have ways of looking at controversial issues that help with such decisions. This book lays out some typical arguments and explains how the major philosophical frameworks can help sharpen the discussion.
scientificamerican.com | Article Link | by Elizabeth Harball and ClimateWire
A growing feud over the use of American wood to fuel power production in Europe came into sharp relief yesterday as an environmental group staged a seafaring protest during a forest industry conference.
Participants at this week's Mid-Atlantic Forest Products Conference toured a deepwater export terminal near Norfolk, Va., owned by Enviva LP, a major wood pellet manufacturer and conference sponsor. The tour group was met by about 16 protesters on a party boat circling Enviva's Port of Chesapeake, brandishing a 16-foot banner reading "SOS—Save our Southern Forests" and waving smaller signs that read "Stop Enviva."
Organized by an Asheville, N.C.-based environmental group called the Dogwood Alliance, the protest is the latest move by activists to draw attention to the wood pellet industry's growth in the South, where they allege forests are being chopped down unsustainably so European nations can meet renewable energy targets.
"We shouldn't be exporting our forests to be burned for electricity in the U.K.," Scot Quaranda, a spokesman for the Dogwood Alliance, said before the protest Wednesday. "We need to find more ways to protect and preserve forests."
A spokesman for Enviva declined to comment on the protest. In a statement to ClimateWire, Seth Ginther, executive director of the U.S. Industrial Pellet Association, said, "We are disappointed to see these anti-biomass campaigns continue to spread mis-information about the biomass industry.
"Biomass is sustainably sourced from low-value wood fiber, and from by-products and residues of other forest products industries," Ginther added. "Governments in European countries that are importing biomass for energy have set strict sustainability standards and requirements for biomass, which the industry is meeting through forestry certifications and continuous third-party audits, ensuring the sustainability of the product, as well as providing data on the carbon benefits associated with replacing coal use with biomass."
Image Courtesey of Wikimedia Commons/ Luc Viatour/www.Lucnix.be
forbes.com | Article Link | by Tom Lindsay
There is a variety of opinions in the media these days regarding online learning. Depending on what you read, online education can appear to be either a cure-all or cancer. In an effort to cut through the smoke, here are the top eight established facts you need to know.
1) Online learning is here to stay. Since 1986, when the first online degree program from an accredited institution was offered (by John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California), growth has been exponential. Today, one-third of America’s 21 million enrolled students are taking some or all of their instruction online. The eleven-year study by the Babson Survey Research Group shows over seven million online enrollments in the fall semester of 2013.
2) There is no significant difference in learning outcomes. Some 30 years of research, including that of the U.S. Department of Education, has found no evidence that online learning is qualitatively inferior to that obtained in a traditional classroom. Unfortunately, those who have preached online learning’s “convenience” for so long have led many to believe that this means “easy,” which is not true. Online courses can be more or less rigorous depending on the instructor who develops the course and the academic department that reviews it.
At the same time, advances in information technology now make it possible to offer significantly more rigorous courses that don’t “feel” as difficult because of the design of the course and the support features that can be directly integrated. For example, one online provider, Excelsior College, sought to address the fact that its students, like most students, live in fear of anything quantitative. In response, Excelsior built access to the Khan Academy‘s tutorials into the lessons for its required courses. The result? Both grades and completion rates went up, with no dumbing-down required.
Image Courtesey of Wikimedia Commons/Everaldo Coelho and YellowIcon
nytimes.com | Article Link | Diane Cardwell
Expanding the notion of corporate benefits beyond discounted health club memberships and low insurance rates, a group of major companies is set to offer employees access to cheaper solar systems for the home.
Under an arrangement announced Wednesday, employees of the companies — Cisco Systems, 3M, Kimberly-Clark and National Geographic — will be able to buy or lease solar systems for their homes at rates substantially lower than the national average, executives said. The program, offered through Geostellar, an online marketer of solar systems, will be available to more than 100,000 employees and will include options for their friends and families in the United States and parts of Canada.
Conceived at the World Wildlife Fund, the program, called the Solar Community Initiative, aims to use the bulk buying power of employees to allow for discounts on home systems.
The program’s expansion is a reflection of the shrinking gulf between camps that were once considered mutually exclusive: environmental advocacy organizations and mainstream corporate America.
“Our objective was to make this as simple and cheap as possible,” said Keya Chatterjee, senior director for renewable energy at the World Wildlife Fund. After receiving discounts through a group program for employees last year, officials at the environmental group approached a few of their corporate partners, she said.
The program is consistent with the group’s approach of working closely with corporations, often quietly trying to nudge them toward change from the inside, rather than pushing from the outside through more confrontational tactics.
Image Couretesy of Wikimedia Commons/ Laslovarga