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Writing Sample 1 (Katie Yancey)
Pass the Diacetyl – I Mean Butter – Popcorn
You know that Orville Redenbacher extra-buttery movie theater microwave popcorn you
ate while watching your DVD rentals this weekend? Turns out that that very bag of
yumminess is causing “popcorn lung” for the workers at ConAgra.
< http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/food/330230_popcorn05.html?source=mypi > Yep, that
butter flavor is made possible by the chemical diacetyl and is responsible for severe lung
disease – bronchiolitis obliterans to be exact – in workers. The buttery aroma may even
be toxic to consumers, too.
Matter of fact, lung specialist Dr. Cecile Rose recently diagnosed a consumer with
“popcorn lung”. When Dr. Rose notified the Food and Drug Administration, the
Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and
the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, advising them of the possibility that
people who pop microwave corn at home can be at risk, the news apparently fell on deaf
ears. So much so that the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy (SKAPP)
says that the failure of these agencies to respond lickety-split to this report indicates a
“disturbing decline in our nation’s public health system.”
Consumers have the right to eat food that won’t make them sick. Unfortunately, the food
industry often seeks to produce food in the cheapest and fastest way possible, but their
methods can spread disease. What can you do about this phenomenon? For starters, you
can peruse our information on food safety. <
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/foodsafety > And if you’re feeling particularly
lively, go ahead and check out our action alerts <
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/take-action > to promote safe food and water. Sign
up on our activist list <signup page> to get notified of important decisions as they
The good news is that ConAgra has decided to follow in the footsteps of Pop Weaver and
eliminate the use of this ewey-gooey “butter” chemical. (But do check out our farm bill
report <farm bill report> for one or two other issues with the agribusiness giant, like how
much they paid farmers for the corn.)
Writing Sample 2 (Katie Yancey)
Factory Farm Burgers For All
Can’t wait to chow down on those burgers and pork chops that you grilled tonight?
Ponder the likelihood that your dinner may have been unfortunate enough to grow up in a
factory farm. Industrial animal production, the practice of confining thousands of cows,
hogs, chickens, or other animals in tightly packed facilities, has become the dominant
method of meat production in the United States.
These factory farms < http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/factoryfarms > seriously
harm human health and the environment in the communities where they locate. Take, for
example, the fact that the millions of gallons of manure and other waste they produce
cannot be properly managed and often spill into waterways. They emit toxic chemicals
that can cause hazardous air and water pollution. People working in these animal
factories or those living nearby often suffer intensely from the odors and experience a
range of negative physical effects.
We’ve used USDA data to create a new map < www.factoryfarmmap.org > that shows
the regional concentration of these concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) but
people thousands of miles away from these facilities are not immune to their effects.
Consumers eating the dairy, egg, and meat products produced there are faced with the
consequences of antibiotic and artificial hormone use and other food safety problems.
Concerned? You should be.
Do something about it. Use our map < www.factoryfarmmap.org > to discover if factory
farms have encroached on your state or county. And, don’t forget to vote with your
almighty dollars by purchasing meat produced in a more sustainable way. Learn how at
< www.eatwellguide.org >.
Writing Sample 3 (Katie Yancey)
The Food Inspector in You
The Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company fiasco –– the largest meat recall in U.S.
history –– most certainly has you worried. Let’s not even mention that the last year and a
half has been a non-stop reminder of food safety problems. Let’s see, there was:
• Topps Meat recalled 21.7 million pounds of ground beef after the meat tested
positive for a deadly strain of E. coli bacteria. (Listen to our podcast
• China offered up many food safety woes, including tainted pet food, toxic
toothpaste and contaminated seafood.
• Several states have thought that it was a good idea to attempt to ban producers
from advertising that their milk was hormone–free.
• And to top it all off, FDA ruled that cloned meat is safe to eat and could be sold
without special labeling.
It's no wonder we want to know more about the derivation of our food.
Of course this bad news has us worried. In 2007, the Food Marketing Institute, a trade
group of food retailers and wholesalers, reported that the number of shoppers confident
that food at the grocery store was safe had dropped to 66 percent from 82 percent the
previous year. (Just 43 percent were confident about getting safe food at restaurants.) In a
GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media survey taken in November, only 50 percent of
respondents said they were confident that there were adequate food safety regulations in
place. < http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
So, what are you waiting for? Take your food safety questions to USDA’s very own
< http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/Ask_Karen/index.asp#Question >
We’re certain that she’ll be just as helpful as other USDA officials <link to recent letter>.
But seriously folks, it’s a sad state of affairs when the Washington Post runs headlines
like “New Food Inspector: YOU” < http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-
dyn/content/article/2008/01/29/AR2008012900741.html > but it’s not too far from the
truth. Peruse our food safety articles.
< http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/foodsafety > And be sure to use the Eat Well
Guide < http://www.eatwellguide.org/ > to find safe meat in your area and support local
farmers. You too can become the New Oxford American Dictionary’s 2007 word of the
year –– "locavore," a term for a person who seeks out locally produced food.