This Week in Eco News - September 6, 2013

We've got some issues this week in Eco News as the USDA leaned on funny (bad) math when refiguring the poultry inspection program, Northern California's beer boom is gushing pollutants downstream and the Fukushima nuclear crisis continues to confound experts. Check out some fun multimedia, including the fun (really!) video about H2O explaining its overall awesomeness and some gold ol'fashioned chem to boot. See a story we should share? Drop us a line at [email protected].

Best of the Web Video - Food

Movie Trailer: The Myth of Choice: How Junk Food Marketers Target Our Kids
We're joining Anna Lappé and the Food MythBusters in launching their latest animated movie taking on prevalent myths about the food system. This 6-minute short will expose how Big Food targets children and teenagers with aggressive and sophisticated marketing to manufacture demand for its unhealthy "food" products and how parents, communities, and teachers can fight back. You can be among the first to see the full video when it launches on September 25th at 8pm EST and join Anna for an online chat right after.

Take Action
:Watch the trailer and RSVP for the online launch event!


GAO Report Questions USDA Plans to Change Poultry Inspection Program
USDA officials say that the procedures for a new poultry-inspection pilot program will save money, better identify problems in poultry-processing plants and be more likely to limit Salmonella and other pathogens. But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) questions whether the USDA used bad information to justify their plans. [Food Safety News]

Parents Sue EPA for Continuing Failure to Protect Kids From Pesticides
Parents of students attending Latino public schools located near crop fields where fumigants are sprayed are still concerned about the levels of these chemicals 10 years after they filed the original civil rights complaint with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA still hasn't addressed the issue, so the parents are suing the agency for its continuing failure to protect Latino students. [Beyond Pesticides]

Surprising Reason Antibiotic-Laced Meat Could Be Making Us Fat and Sick
New research identifies a correlation between diversity of gut microflora and obesity, heart disease and cancer. If that is true, then our use of antibiotics, which could damage gut microflora, could be devastating. Between the overuse of antibiotics (often when people are young), and the constant stream of antibiotics fed to the animals we eat, we are contributing to our own health problems. [Alternet]

How China Got Approval to Process and Export US Chicken
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has determined that China has the go-ahead to start shipping processed chicken which originated in the US back to the US. This, after corrective actions were taken following the last audit in 2010. For now, 4 poultry processors have been approved. Will this lead to chicken raised and processed in China being shipped to the US? [Food Safety News]

Meatless Monday

Iran Joins the Worldwide Meatless Monday Movement
Tehran-based Omega Research Team (ORT) has taken the bold step of introducing Meatless Monday to the country. ORT wants to cut down on Iran’s current meat consumption, which is reported to be around 79 lbs per capita, a 60% increase since 2005. To engage Iranians and Middle Easterners, ORT launched its own Meatless Monday webpage and is using social media to spread the word. [Meatless Monday]


The Global Water Crisis - Why Water Politics Matter for Business Security
The UN has dubbed 2013 the "Year of Water Cooperation" and given that about 50 percent of all freshwater is shared across national boundaries, it has become imperative to businesses reliant on water (read: all) to promote political and economic cooperation as water-related risks multiply. Bottom line: playing nice over shared water resources is the only real option. [Guardian]

The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water
A study finds that the Ogallala Aquifer in the heavily irrigated High Plains has lost almost one-third of its groundwater because of thirsty crop choices (corn, alfalfa) and current farming techniques. If trends continue, by the year 2063 water levels may drop another 39 percent. However, a 20 percent reduction in water use now would sustain somewhat lowered agricultural production now and allow for increased production in the 2070s. The choice is yours: Less water today for more water tomorrow. [Mother Jones]

Do you wash your chicken before you cook? Don’t do it! (Our deepest apologies to Ms. Julia Child.) The likelihood is that rather than ridding the bird of bacteria you’re splattering it everywhere!

California North Coast Beer Boom Brings Water Issues
Along with all the beer flowing from the flourishing breweries of northern California comes even more wastewater full of sugar, yeast and proteins. The nutrient-packed wastewater would cause algae blooms if dumped untreated, yet wastewater plants often aren't properly equipped to do so, which has led to investments in capacity building and innovative green measures, like nutrient reuse and aeration ponds. [The Press Democrat]

Detroit's Water Renaissance: New Shorelines, Old Problems on the Detroit River
Here's a bright spot for Detroit amidst other woes: Cleaner river water. Many industrial facilities remain along the 32-mile Detroit River, although much of the heavy (heavy) industry has left and the sites have been cleaned up, which has also allowed for some concrete river bank removal. Still, under EPA supervision a lot of work needs to be done to remove abandoned buildings and to decontaminate sites. [Great Lakes Echo]


Japan to Spend Nearly $500 Million to Fix Fukushima Nuclear Crisis
Japan pledged half a billion dollars to help contain leaks and decontaminate radioactive water - enough to fill more than 130 Olympic-sized swimming pools - from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The cleanup is expected to take decades and will use unproven technology, including a plan to build an underground frozen wall around hastily-built tanks to keep the leaks from spreading. [Reuters]

The Best States for Residential Solar Energy
A new report ranked the 50 US states according to the potential for homeowners to install solar panels. The ranking is based not just on financial incentives, but the cost of electricity, how much sun the state receives and how much solar power the state already has. The top five: California, Hawaii, Arizona, Maryland and Delaware. At the bottom: North Dakota. [NerdWallet]

Wind Turbines Don't Hurt Property Values
Concerned that wind turbines could to ruin your neighborhood? Don't be, because a review by the Berkeley National Lab of 50,000 US home sales near wind farms found no impact to home values. [Grist]

Offshore Wind Lease Near Virginia Won By Coal Power Giant Dominion
It's great news that the fossil fuel industry is investing in an offshore wind lease near Virginia. The leased area has the potential to produce enough electricity for 700,000 homes which would normally require three large coal plants. Be prepared for a wait, though, as test turbines aren't expected until 2017, and installation by 2023. [Huffington Post]


This Photographer Is Documenting the Forgotten Female Faces of Farming
As the demographics of farming are changing, more women are joining - in fact, they are the fastest growing population of farmers! But our culture's outdated pictures of farms haven’t kept up with the times. Marji Guyler-Alaniz decided to do something about it and started documenting woman farming around the country online at FarmHer. [Smithsonian Magazine]

Water is Liquid Awesome: Crash Course Biology #2
See why water is one of the most fascinating and important substances in the universe in a downright entertaining, rollicking science video. [YouTube]

Don’t Wash Your Chicken - No Matter What Your Cookbook Says!
Do you wash your chicken before you cook? Don’t do it! (Our deepest apologies to Ms. Julia Child.) The likelihood is that rather than ridding the bird of bacteria you’re splattering it everywhere, as this nifty animation shows. [Slate]

The Downstream Effect
World Water Week is taking place this week (from September 1-6), putting the focus on the issue of water cooperation worldwide. In this photo essay, DW takes a look at some success stories and challenges involved in sharing fresh water between nations. [DW English]