October 5, 2016

Stop antibiotic resistance in livestock



Antibiotic use as a preventive measure rather than to cure an illness in livestock has become a huge concern for heath advocates. Currently drug-resistant superbugs kill 23,000 Americans each year and sicken 2 million. The overuse of antibiotics both for humans and animals are seen as the cause in rising rate of drug-resistant superbugs.

In 2014 the United Nations passed a World Health Assembly resolution (67.25 Antimicrobial Resistance), It urges countries to take urgent action at the national, regional, and local levels to combat antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance. It recognized the need for a global response to how we use antibiotics and how the overuse is leading to the rise of drug-resistant bugs.

In response to the UN resolution President Obama introduced The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. One of the addressed issues is that there are procedures put in place so that by 2020 the use of medically-important antibiotics for growth promotion in food-producing animals is eliminated. In the US Congress bills have been introduced several Congresses in a row but have never made it out of committee.

In October of 2015 Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that bans the use of medically important antibiotics to promote growth in cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals raised for profit. Meat producers will only be able to administer the drugs with the approval of a veterinarian when animals are sick, or to prevent infections when there’s an “elevated risk.” They can’t use the drugs “in a regular pattern.” The policy is more restrictive than the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s national guidelines, which don’t restrict use for disease prevention.

It is a start but more must be done. While California is taking the lead among states there is a need to see national legislation to help guide other states to create regulations that will protect the long-term health of our families. We can urge our national representatives to make sure policies are set in place to stop unnecessary use of antibiotics in our livestock.

Download the potluck kit to receive a petition to support the current versions of the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act and the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act. It is important to show our congressional members that faith communities want to protect the long term heath of our communities by restricting the use of antibiotic to when they are most needed.

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October 5, 2016

Iowa IPL’s Food • Faith • Climate program

Our food choices are connected to climate change. When we sit down to dinner, we may not think about global warming, but as much as one third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are connected to our food system.

Each of us, at every meal, can make a real difference that ensures a more climate-friendly food system. Fortunately the ethical choices are also pleasurable choices that will improve the health of the planet and our bodies!  Iowa IPL’s Food • Faith • Climate 90-minute workshop provides you with tools for Connecting the Dots in your home, congregation, and community.

We look at how our food practices contribute to climate change, and how our faith traditions call us to respond with practical solutions. Then we examine our own food practices and create a plan for more climate-friendly actions. Each workshop also features the opportunity to get to know the local farmers who provide a tasty sample of their wares.

In Feb of 2016, 100 people attended the Food • Fatih • Climate workshop in Dubuque, Iowa at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation. Young and old alike delved deep into discussion about the connections between our food practices and climate change, and examined their various faith traditions’ statements on the topic. All enjoyed the many booths of local food providers and tastes of fresh, local food, including local honey. It was a sweet event!

Here are some comments by Jake, a college athlete participant:
I learned that one very simple way to cut down on foods with a more negative impact on the climate is to consider taking part in Meatless Mondays! I know that not long ago, I would have thought that not eating meat for a day was ridiculous. I’d heard of fellow students on campus advocating for others to join them in committing to beginning their week without meat. I think my issue was simply: Why? What will that change? I am a person who needs to know why I am doing something before I do it.  After learning the positive impact that Meatless Mondays can have on the climate, I am convinced that a small, small change on my part can make a difference and I’m glad to do it.

Everyone went home with a personal action plan in hand to post on the fridge to remind them of their pledge to reduce their carbon foodprint. And Jake of course, pledged to eat vegetarian on Mondays!

Read more about the program in the Iowa IPL site


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October 4, 2016

Feast of St Francis



Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast day of one of the most loved and popular saints, St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis is know for his love and care for all of God’s Creation and is the patron saint of animals and the environment.

On November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul II declared St. Francis the Patron Saint of Ecology. He said “As a friend of the poor who was loved by God’s creatures, Saint Francis invited all of creation – animals, plants, natural forces, even Brother Sun and Sister Moon – to give honor and praise to the Lord. The poor man of Assisi gives us striking witness that when we are at peace with God we are better able to devote ourselves to building up that peace with all creation which is inseparable from peace among all peoples.” For a man of his era, a time when they did not have a word for environmentalist, he was the embodiment of the idea of Care for Creation.

Today we honor the works and care he had for the animal kingdom by reflecting on how our food system and our food choices affect the climate. More and more people are concerned about where our food comes from and how eating meat affects the climate.   For some people that means becoming vegetarian but for many others it is about making conscious choices about when meat is eaten and where it comes from. They don’t give it up completely but choose eat a little less meat and get healthier. We have substantial amount of choice now when it comes to choosing local, organic, and humane options.

According to a 2015 Chatham House Report “Changing climate, changing diets”, people in industrialized countries consume on average around twice as much meat as experts deem healthy. In the US the multiple is nearly three times. Adoption of a healthy diet would therefore generate over a quarter of the emission reductions needed by 2050!

Factory farms have shown to be a huge impact on our environment and our climate. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.

The good thing is now we have many alternatives. There are wide ranges of socially responsible, small-scale farms that produce locally. This alternative produces high-quality food, and supports farmers who produce healthy, meat, eggs and dairy products using humane methods.

Today on St. Francis Feast Day think about how you an make a few changes that will make us and our Earth a healthier place. We can make a difference we just need to take the first steps. In the words of S. Francis “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

The Cool Harvest Potluck Kit will help you find delicious, sustainable dishes with limited meat and animal products.

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October 3, 2016

Celebrating and reflecting on our food



Fall is upon us. As we prepare for the winter we reap the bounty of the season. Fall is a time to not only gather our harvest but a time to bring family and friends close to celebrate all the earth provides. This is also a time we reflect upon our food systems how they bring us together, how they affect the climate and what role we play.

This year Cool Harvest will spend the next two weeks exploring the topic of food and climate. It jump start conversations and inspire ways your faith community can make small changes in the way you interact with food to make a big difference in our climate.

Learn how:

– Faith communities built community gardens that brought local food to people in need and taught children about agriculture

– Learn about food swamps

– How antibiotic use in livestock is changing in this country and what we still need to do

– What has happened to food waste when we label produce as ugly

– How gardens can bring a community together

– Inspirational stories from our Cool Congregations Challenge


Come back every day for a new post about food and climate. Download a Cool Harvest Potluck Kit and host an event with family, friends, and your faith community to talk about what we all can do to change how we buy, grow, eat and share our food.

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October 2, 2016

A few Ideas of how you can reduce your food waste

Make careful decisions about what and how much you buy at the grocery store.

• Shop at stores that offer misshapen food at a discount.

• Purchase prepared meals at the deli or salad bar, which allows supermarkets to make use of imperfect produce.

• Buy frozen foods, which suffer fewer losses from farm to shelf.

• Shop often. Start with a large trip and then make smaller follow-ups to buy a few days’ worth of produce at a time.

• Buy fresh food at local farmers markets.

Americans spend about as much at restaurants as they do at grocery stores.

• Skip the cafeteria tray. Diners who use trays waste 32 percent more than those who carry their plates in their hands.

• Take home leftovers.

• Share side dishes to keep portions under control.

• Ask the waiter to hold extras such as bread and butter you don’t plan to eat.

• Encourage restaurants and caterers to donate leftovers.

Small changes in the kitchen can reduce the amount of food your household throws out.

• Use FoodKeeper or other apps for food-expiration reminders.

• Switch to smaller dishes to control portions. The standard plate is 36 percent larger than it was 50 years ago.

• Eat leftovers on a regular night each week.

• Give uneaten food a second chance. Freeze or can extras. Blend bruised fruit into smoothies.

• Try not to waste water-intensive foods like meat.

Businesses, schools, nonprofits, and governments can all find ways to dump less food.

• Bring back home economics classes to teach cooking, canning, and storage basics.

• Get your school to join the USDA Food Waste Challenge.

• Ask your local government for a curbside food-scrap collection service like that provided in roughly 200 U.S. communities.

• Share the bounty of your home garden with your community through ampleharvest.org.

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