This Week in Eco News - May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day! And happy Drinking Water Week - whether you relieve your thirst at a public water fountain or out of your home tap. Water is precious by any measure - just ask the farmers and frackers fighting over it in California right now.  Those of us with access should always be grateful. And as usual, if you see an Eco News story we should share, drop us a line at [email protected]!

Best of the Web Video - Food

Food Waste - The Lexicon of Sustainability
Did you know nearly 40 percent of food that's grown, distributed, and bought never gets eaten? Learn why "ugly" food gets a bad rap. Through actions like food rescue and redistribution, composting and eating head to tail, people are doing something to reduce the food we waste.

Take Action: Find out what you can do about food waste from our friends at Love Food, Hate Waste!


The Best Way to Keep Pesticides Out of Your Body
Switching from a nonorganic diet to a diet of at least 80 percent organic foods cut urine pesticide levels of participants in a recent study by around 90 percent. The study, which focused on detecting brain-damaging organophosphate pesticides, is on par with other studies that have found similar drops in bodily pesticide levels with greater organic product consumption. [Rodale News]

Organic Farming Factions Spat Over Synthetic Substances
You can rely on USDA organic products to meet certain guidelines, that’s the whole point of the organic label, but organic purists worry that big organic producers are becoming too influential in setting those organic standards. New procedures could make it easier for big companies to continue use of synthetic substances that were once set to phase out. [NPR]

Your Tuna Sandwich Might Be Illegal
A huge portion of US fish imports are illegal, unreported or unregulated, experts say, which means knowing what you’re eating, right down to the species of fish, can be difficult. Some countries are implementing bans and other regulations, but getting to know your fisherman or supplier could be the best way to find ethical, sustainable seafood that you can trust. [Munchies]

Deadly Virus Sparks French Ban On Live Pigs From US
The deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus has wiped out millions of piglets in North America since last year, triggering a rise in pork prices. Now, France has become the first EU country to ban live pig and related imports from the US and other countries experiencing PED, joining China and Japan in efforts to prevent spread of the virus. [NPR]

California Senate Advances Bill to Curb Antibiotics in Farm Animals
A California bill to restrict antibiotics use in farm animals for medical reasons only could become the first law in the nation to enforce FDA antibiotic guidelines. Up to 70 percent of antibiotics used by humans are also administered to livestock, which means abuse of antibiotics on farms can lead to deadly antibiotic resistant infections in humans. [Reuters]

Meatless Monday

Tastier Homemade Pizza Is Back With Meatless Monday's New Pizza Collection
Are you a pizza lover? (OK, silly question!) Great news: you can now download a new, free e-cookbook, "The Meatless Monday Pizza Collection: 10

Recipes from Top Cookbook Authors," just launched by The Monday Campaigns. Featuring exciting recipes from 10 of the country's most respected cookbook authors, including Mark Bittman, Ellie Krieger, Kim O'Donnel and Joe Yonan, there's a whole lot of delicious eating for us ahead. Yum! [PR Newswire]


Farmers And Frackers Wrangle For Water In Shadow Of California Drought
Oil and gas development brings from underground a lot of hydrocarbons and even more briny “produced” water. In parched California’s Central Valley, farmers are thirsting for the diluted produced water that oil companies want to sell to water districts, but it contains a lot of arsenic and other contaminants and is costly to filter and treat for use in irrigation. [NPR]

Lynchburg, Virginia, Oil Train Derailment Illustrates Threat to Rivers
Safety and environmental experts are anxious about crude oil spills on railways after the most recent incident in Lynchburg, Virginia, particularly because of its potential for waterway pollution. Rail routes are often constructed due to heavy-train suitable grades, and from New York’s Hudson River to Oregon’s Columbia River, crude-oil-by-rail seems risky to many. [McClatchy]

Irish Households Face Average Water Bill of €240 ($334 ) a Year
Ireland’s controversial plan for citizens to pay for their previously free public water supply will go into effect next year. Details of the plan have come out: residences are expected to pay an average annual total of $334 (US dollars), with charges to start only after the first 30,000 free household liters are withdrawn. A further free allowance of 38,000 liters will be given for each child under 18. [The Irish Times]


Tackling the Next Nexus: Food Waste and Energy
Food waste and energy are tightly linked, because there are high transportation and landfill costs associated with the disposal of wet and heavy food scraps. According to a new food industry toolkit, diverting food waste from landfills to fuel production could lead to significant fuel savings. [Triple Pundit]

China’s Thirsty Coal Industry Guzzles Precious Water
China's coal industry claims 15 percent of the nation's annual water withdrawals, and that thirst may be both its biggest liability and its biggest constraint to expansion. In 2012 a Chinese vice-minister declared that China's water use has "already surpassed what our natural resources can bear," yet new coal operations continue to be built. [Seattle Times]

State Energy Plan Would Alter New York Utilities
New York State may revolutionize how electric utilities operate by proposing that they buy electricity from hundreds or thousands of small generators – rooftop solar panels, small wind turbines and small generating stations using natural gas – and set prices for that electricity and for the costs of running the power grid. [New York Times]

Rare Earthquake Warning Issued for Oklahoma
California has seismic competition because there are almost as many earthquakes rattling Oklahoma as the Golden State this year. The recent increase in small earthquakes has led officials to warn Oklahoma residents of the risk of a damaging earthquake. Many researchers suspect the deep injection wells used for the disposal of fracking wastewater could be causing the earthquake activity. [Live Science]


Stanford to Purge $18 Billion Endowment of Coal Stock
Stanford is the first major university to join a nationwide campaign to purge endowments and pension funds of fossil fuel investments. At least 11 small universities have elected to remove fossil-fuel stocks from their endowments, but with Stanford's decision the pressure is on other major universities to follow suit. [New York Times]

What is Water Worth?
With regional droughts worldwide crimping water and food supplies as well as companies’ profits, leaders of government, NGOs and business are finally considering the true value of water. If it's so important, why is it so cheap? Water's characteristics make it difficult to commoditize because it is location- and climate-specific, hard to move and expensive. Be aware, financiers are attempting to make markets! [Fortune]

Is Underground Water Storage the Answer to Water Security?
Often undervalued, groundwater doesn’t get any respect (nod to Aquadoc). It has always been an insurance policy in water-scarce areas prone to overpumping and depletion. Yet aquifers might be a 21st century freshwater solution by storing scarce surface water underground, which has proven successful in bolstering water supplies and decreasing evaporation loss in dry climates. [CGIAR Ag. & Ecosystems Blog]


Energy-Water-Food-Ecosystems: Global Interdependencies and Trends
The DOE is showing the Food-Water-Energy Nexus some love in this wonky PowerPoint presentation. The main points are simple, though. The first we already know: energy, water, agriculture and ecosystems are all connected. Secondly, three robust, long-term, slow-to-change global trends are critical: population is increasing; consumption of all resources is increasing; and resource availability is decreasing. Seems simple enough to grasp but so complicated to change. [Sandia Labs]

Water is Quickly Becoming an Economic Issue for US Companies
Although many companies outside the US acknowledge that water poses real risks to their business, limited analyses exist to show how US companies perceive and respond to water risks. VOX Global and Pacific Institute conducted a survey of more than fifty US-based companies to better understand how they view water and its impact on their business. This infographic presents some of the study findings. [VOX Global]

The Tiny Creek That Connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans
There's a natural spring in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming that flows in two directions. One ultimately connects to the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. The other connects to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. It's a natural wonder called the Parting of the Waters. Check it out in this cool little photo and map display. [Neatorama]

Lessons Learned From a Year Without Showering
Okay, the title is a little misleading. As these photos show, the guy still bathed, he just did it in lots of natural settings like mountain lakes, creeks and during rainstorms. At any rate, his point is that there are a lot of ways to save water (just don’t do what he did and add soap and your body oils to aquatic environments that aren’t equipped to handle them). [Huffington Post]

This Restaurant Hasn't Taken Out the Trash in Nearly Two Years
Chicago restaurant owner Justin Vrany set a goal of running a "zero waste" restaurant from the day he opened his eatery, Sandwich Me In. As a result, he hasn’t emptied the trash in nearly two years of operation because he says there isn't anything to take out. Now, the restaurant is the subject of a new short film. [NationSwell]

Food Eco News contributed by Audrey Jenkins; Water Eco News by Kai Olson-Sawyer; Energy Eco News by Peter Hanlon and Multimedia content by Robin Madel.