This Week in Eco News - October 14, 2016

Video of the Week

Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman: Conservation Heroes of the American Heartland
Unfolding as a journey down the Mississippi River, Miriam Horn's "Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman," tells the stories of five representatives of today's most consequential environmental work: a Montana rancher, a Kansas farmer, a Mississippi river man, a Louisiana shrimper, and a Gulf fisherman. In exploring their work and family histories and the essential geographies they protect, Horn challenges pervasive and powerful myths about American and environmental values. [WWNorton]

Take Action: Learn about how farming in the Mississippi watershed affects water quality.

News From Around the Web

Why Tyson Foods is Investing in a Vegan Startup
On Monday, Tyson  said it had taken a 5 percent ownership stake in the California-based startup Beyond Meat, makers of a realistic plant-based hamburger. The investment, which underscores the growing consumer interest in meat alternatives, will help the smaller company expand its product portfolio and distribution. Beyond Meat professes its portfolio has high levels of "clean" nutrients and is better for animals, the environment and human health. [Fortune]

Farm Animals Actually Eat People's Leftovers - and It's Good for the Planet
An age-old practice that fell out of fashion in the 1980s is having a comeback: feeding food waste to farm animals. As the EPA's Food Recovery Hierarchy specifies, this strategy is one of the most effective ways to deal with food waste that cannot be used to feed people. Darden Restaurants, owner of national chains like Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse, is among the companies getting on board. They're sending scraps that can't be sent to food banks to be converted to animal feed and compost. [Huffington Post]

Missouri's 'Right-to Farm' Amendment Doesn't Apply to Marijuana Growers, St. Louis Judge Says
"Right to Farm" laws which block any restrictions on farming or ranching practices, including extreme animal confinement, have been passed in a number of states in recent years. The legislation is often introduced by agribusiness backed lawmakers and are intended to undermine popular animal welfare laws. Last week a St. Louis man claimed that under Missouri's 2014 Right to Farm law, he has the right to grow marijuana plants in his home. A Circuit Judge disagreed, and has sentenced the man to five years of probation. [STL Today]

What Obama Has Meant for Food
Where Bill Clinton, before he went mostly vegan, was famously an enchiladas and cheeseburgers kind of guy, and George W. Bush preferred grilled-cheese sandwiches made with Kraft Singles and white bread, Obama has proved himself an avid patron of the country's trendiest restaurants. But, during his final months in office, it's worth noting that Obama cannot be accused of being only an insufferable foodie: he and Michelle have also done more than any other First Couple to confront the problems that plague the American food system. [New Yorker]

Cheese Executive Sentenced to Food Bank for Fake Parmesan
An executive at a company that sold adulterated cheese fraudulently labeled as 100 percent Parmesan was sentenced to probation, ordered to pay a fine and carry out community service at a food bank or similar facility. [Bloomberg]

Scaling Up Animal Welfare on the Farm
Consumers are clamoring for better animal welfare and farmers want to oblige. One major problem that farmers face are the high financial costs necessary to make operational changes to end severe confinement and become more sustainable, so some foundations are stepping forward to make small but valuable grants, to help "foster the change we're all looking for," according to GRACE's own Executive Director, Scott Cullen. [Civil Eats]

Ethical Arguments Won't End Factory Farming. Technology Might
The factory-farming of animals for meat "is an insane system," says Bruce Friedrich of The Good Food Institute, which seeks to stop that industry. At the same time, Friedrich believes that it won't be strong moral or ethical arguments that will put an end to factory-farmed meat, rather offering solutions like reduced food waste, cultured meat and tasty plant-based "meats." [Vox]

Flooded North Carolina Farms are Likely Littered with Drowned Livestock
Hurricane Matthew produced immense amount of rain and terrible inland flooding, especially in North Carolina, where thousands of animals in poultry and hog factory farms have drowned in their contained facilities. Not only is it a devastating loss of animals, but there are concerns that water could be polluted from breached or inundated manure lagoons. [Washington Post]

Long Island Sound Water Quality Gets Mixed Grades
The report card for water quality in the Long Island Sound? It shows that parts of the sound are failing and need reprimanded, while others are faring well with a grade of A-. The second report card explains how nutrient pollution is getting into the sound from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, and farm and lawn runoff, which harms the sound's health and its fisheries, because the fish and shellfish depend on clean water. [CT Post]

Solar Powers Cheese Plant's Dairy Farm Near Atwater
Joseph Farms cheese hosts 7,840 solar panels to provide electricity for pumps, coolers and other equipment, and meets about half of the farm's demand. [Modesto Bee]

Monday Campaigns

Meatless Monday Announces Partnership With Matthew Kenney Cuisine
Meatless Monday and Matthew Kenney Cuisine are collaborating to help advance the knowledge and enjoyment of plant-based cuisine worldwide, leading to healthier lives and a more sustainable environment.


Super Size: The Dizzying Grandeur of 21 st Century Agriculture
Our industrialized food system nourishes more people, at lower cost, than any comparable system in history. It also exerts a terrifyingly massive influence on our health and our environment. Photographer George Steinmetz spent nearly a year traveling the country to capture that system, in all its scope, grandeur and dizzying scale. His photographs are all the more remarkable for the fact that so few large food producers are willing to open themselves to this sort of public view. [NYTimes]

World Water Week - In Pictures
More than 30 percent of the water sources on our planet are being over-exploited, in many cases to near exhaustion. World Water Week brings together experts and innovators from around the world to develop solutions for a sustainable water future. This year it took place in Stockholm and embraced the theme of Water for Sustainable Growth. [The Guardian]

Eco News contributed by Gabrielle Blavatsky; Kai Olson-Sawyer;James Rose and Robin Madel.

Image "Dawn On the Mississippi River" by  Kyle Brownon Flickr used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.