Thursday Roundup: The Food Wars

Fires sweep over New Mexico • Remembrances of Doc Watson • New York outlaws the Big Gulp • Is the EPA 'spying' on feedlots?

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The food wars continue. 

New York City is outlawing the “big gulp.” You know what we’re talking about — the bucket-sized soft drinks sold at convenience stores and movie theaters. The city will limit drink sizes to 16 ounces. If you want more than that, you’ll have to juggle two cups. 

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is worried about rising rates of obesity. More than half of the city’s population is overweight. About a third of New York City residents drink at least one surgary drink a day. 

“Obesity is a nationwide problem, and all over the United States, public health officials are wringing their hands saying, ‘Oh, this is terrible,’ ” Mr. Bloomberg said in an interview on Wednesday in the Governor’s Room at City Hall. “New York City is not about wringing your hands; it’s about doing something,” he said. “I think that’s what the public wants the mayor to do.”

And, in other news, the Food and Drug Administration rejected the Corn Refiners Association’s request that high fructose corn syrup be renamed “corn sugar.” The syrup has gotten a bad rep recently. (See the item above about Big Gulp drinks.) So the corn refiners thought a quick name change might help.

The FDA said no: it defines sugar as a solid, dried and crystallized food, not a syrup.

• Hispanics accounted for 65 percent of the population growth in Texas between 2000 and 2010, but the Washington Post reports that the state is “poised to add no Latino lawmakers to its congressional delegation, after primary elections this week dealt a blow to those hopes.” 

Two white Democrats won nominations Tuesday in districts that were fashioned for Hispanic representation. It’s likely that there will be five Latino lawmakers out of the state’s 36 Members of Congress come the fall — the same as before the new Census and redistricting.

• The latest polls find Mitt Romney and Barack Obama essentially tied in three key states: Iowa, Nevada and Colorado. 

• Missouri is investigating evidence that some National Guard troops looted goods found in Joplin after the town was decimated by a tornado last year. 

Memos from the investigation found that “one day after a devastating tornado struck Joplin last year, four soldiers assigned to look for survivors pocketed video game equipment and a digital camera they found at a ruined Walmart,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The soldiers, who have been demoted, say they believed the merchandise was going to be destroyed.

• Midwest livestock raisers (some of them) say the federal Environmental Protection Agency is spying on their operations by flying airplanes over feedlots to determine if they are complying with clean water rules. 

“The federal government has literally resorted to spying on producers,” said Kristen Hassebrook, natural resources and environmental affairs director for the Nebraska Cattlemen.

The EPA said the flights are just part of its efforts to enforce the law. “EPA uses over-flights, state records and other publicly available sources of information to identify discharges of pollution,” said a statement issued by the EPA’s Kansas City regional office. “In no case has EPA taken an enforcement action solely on the basis of these over-flights.”

• The comments that have appeared after the death of musician Doc Watson have told much about the generosity of the man. Here are two we found:

From the New York Times: I have a story of Doc that seems representative of his gentle spirit. One of my college friends at the University of North Carolina was originally from Boone and is an avid guitar player. While at Watuaga High School Doc played with the high school bluegrass band. Fast forward 20 or so years later and my friend is back in Boone visiting family and stops in at the local music store on King St. to check out a new guitar.

Doc was in the shop. My friend approached Doc and mentioned playing with him back in the late 70’s. Doc’s immediate response was “that’s twenty years too long, grab yourself a guitar and sit down and play with me.”

From Facebook: I remember sitting in the musicians room @ the old Birchmere, it was late afternoon the first weekend in Oct, 1985. Mandala was opening for Doc Watson. I’ll never forget when Doc came into the room. He sat there and listened to the sound check, leaning his head out the door when he heard them do Saint James Infirmary…”man these boys are really good.”

The conversation started and we spent the next few hours till show time talking about everything under the sun. But what I remember most was the joy he had in his heart that his son Merle had turned his life around, clean and sober and was home working the farm. He went on and on and more than once had me on the verge of tears.

Three weeks later I was headed to work at Ramblin’ Conrads and heard it on the radio…Merle had been killed in a farming accident. I had to pull the car over…it was just too much to take.

• We noted a New York Times story yesterday about the split between electric utilities and the eastern coal industry. Utilities are abandoning coal in favor of cheaper natural gas. 

Part of the story said American Electric Power had filed an application that would allow it to retrofit one of its plants with new environmental equipment that would allow it to continue burning coal. 

This was a big deal for the coal industry. But….hold on. We read in Coal Tattoo that the application has been withdrawn. AEP won’t go with coal. It will burn gas. 

 

 

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