Politics of the Plate: Ducking a Bullet


Like thousands of scientists, environmentalists, farm workers, and concerned citizens, I waited nervously last week for news on whether the Environmental Protection Agency would actually approve the toxic chemical methyl iodide for applications as a pesticide for strawberries, tomatoes, and other fruit and vegetable crops. Inhaling the substance, which is applied to soil before planting, has been linked to fetal death, respiratory lesions, tumors, and neurotoxicity—to name but a few.

It was intended to replace another nasty chemical, methyl bromide, which is being phased out because it destroys the ozone layer.

Thankfully, (dare I say surprisingly?) it appears that for once the EPA listened to the outcry (which included the voices of no less than six Nobel Prize winners in chemistry) and decided not to proceed. My relief was tempered somewhat when the agency said it will reevaluate the highly toxic pesticide next year. Until then, at least, we can all breathe a little easier.

Good Sports

The gridiron may not be the greenest thing in the stadium this season, at least for select teams like the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers. Foodservice company Centerplate announced that fans of the professional football teams will soon be able to chomp on all-natural hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs from Niman Ranch, where all the beef and pork is humanely raised and sustainably produced. No official word on when the meats will hit concession stands, but come baseball season, the eco-friendly fare will also be available at San Francisco Giants games. Maybe Centerplate will take the concept one step further and select from the growing number of organic beers, so spectators can enjoy a bucket or two of sustainable suds along with their franks.

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