Okay, yes, sometimes corn is a vegetable. But most of the time, it’s something else entirely—highly processed corn syrup in a can of soda, for example, or a fast food burger made from a corn-fed cow. Sadly, today the average American is eating too much of those junk foods, and not enough fruits and vegetables. But while the impacts on public health are dramatic (see this recent report on the costs of diet-related heart disease, for example), that’s not the whole story. Read More
October 24th, 2013
August 20th, 2013
In a recent post, I wrote about the health benefits—and attendant reductions in health care spending—that could be achieved if public policies helped all Americans to eat healthy foods instead of subsidizing ingredients for junk food. While data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) consistently show that people in every state and at every income level are falling short of dietary recommendations for fruits and vegetables, low-income Americans have the steepest hill to climb.
They also have the most to gain. That’s why I was excited to learn recently about an innovative organization in New York City that is putting public and private funds to work to increase access to fresh, local fruits and vegetables for residents of some of the city’s most economically ailing neighborhoods. Read More
The $11 Trillion Reward (Or, How Congress Could Improve Health, Save Lives, and Shrink the Deficit in One Easy Step)
August 8th, 2013
It’s August in Washington, DC, and that means two things—the tomatoes at my farmers market are juicy and delicious, and Congress has cleared out and gone home. Both highly anticipated events, but this year, the two are linked in an unusual way.
You see, when Congress split last week, they left a critical piece of food and farm legislation to grow cold on their plate. And while you might think that the “Farm Bill” is mostly of interest to farmers, a new report unveiled by UCS this week shows that we all have a huge stake in what Congress does (or doesn’t do) with this legislation. Read More
May 28th, 2013
Ever wonder how your utility company sets your electricity price? Most of us don’t think much about our electric bills; we just pay them and figure there isn’t much we can do about it if the rates increase. However, once in a while there’s an opportunity for ordinary citizens to speak up and make their voices heard. At the moment, that’s especially true if you get electricity from Mon Power or Potomac Edison, which together serve a large part of West Virginia. Read More
November 20th, 2012
What with buttery mashed potatoes, cheesy macaroni, and pies begging to be topped with whipped cream or ice cream, Thanksgiving turns out to be a pretty dairy-heavy holiday. Which makes the findings of our new report, Cream of the Crop: The Economic Benefits of Organic Dairy Farms, particularly timely. Read More
October 17th, 2012
You’ve probably already heard the news this week about a clean energy company that received a government grant filing for bankruptcy. What you may not have heard quite so clearly is that clean tech is working, for the United States and our transformation to a better, stronger, cleaner energy future. Read More
August 15th, 2012
As an analyst and communicator at UCS, I know how difficult it can be to tell a complicated, nuanced story in our sound-bite-oriented media culture. So even though it was not totally surprising, it was still frustrating to find UCS’s position on the benefits of local foods mischaracterized last week in a USA Today article that called local food “trendy,” but asked whether it is “really more eco-friendly.” Read More
April 30th, 2012
Question: Which U.S. law that protects endangered species, tropical forests, and U.S. jobs is now in need of protection itself?
Answer: The Lacey Act.
For the last 100 years the Lacey Act has protected endangered species within the United States by making it illegal to transport them across state lines. In 2008, the act was amended to include a ban on the importation of illegally harvested timber from foreign countries. Now these amendments are under attack in Congress.
April 26th, 2012
Today I’m thinking about insurance. The point of having it is to protect the things we value most—like our health and our homes. But in U.S. farm policy, that logic has been turned on its head, and many of the crops we should value most are actually ineligible for insurance. Read More
April 11th, 2012
The third stop on our renewable energy tour of Germany was the state of North-Rhine Westphalia— the industrial, steelmaking, and coal mining center of the country—where we learned about the economic and social ramifications of Germany’s transition away from coal to renewable energy, and what lessons might be applied to the U.S. Read More