Is the Future of Grocery Shopping B.Y.O. Container? | EcoWatch

If you think this is going to be yet another column admonishing you for not doing enough to curb the amount of single-use plastic in our waste stream, you can relax. You don’t need a lecture at this point.

You might already know, for instance, that global consumer culture has generated more than 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic since the middle of the last century, and that we currently produce 300 million tons of it a year, half of which is made up of items used only once.

And you’re probably aware that roughly 8 million metric tons of this discarded plastic ends up in the ocean, where it threatens marine life of all kinds. It’s unlikely anyone needs to tell you that every year we throw enough plastic away to circle the planet four times, or that a mass of plastic waste floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is three times the size of France.

Source: Is the Future of Grocery Shopping B.Y.O. Container? – EcoWatch

Honey Bees Can Do Simple Math, After a Little Schooling | Smithsonian

Bees are impressive creatures, powering entire ecosystems via pollination and making sweet honey at the same time, one of the most incredible substances in nature.

But it turns out the little striped insects are also quite clever. A new study suggests that, despite having tiny brains, bees understand the mathematical concepts of addition and subtraction.

Source: Honey Bees Can Do Simple Math, After a Little Schooling | Smart News | Smithsonian

A Fight Against Food Insecurity, Hunger on College Campuses | US News

“I’ve always been resourceful since I was young,” says Leopo, 23, now a college student studying social policy and public service. “I’m independent. My parents (who are Mexican immigrants) are not able to give me the funds to support myself,” and college tuition, books and student fees are major financial strains.

So when it was time to transfer from two-year Santa Ana College to a four-year school for her bachelor’s degree, Leopo chose the University of California–Irvine – a campus that has a food pantry for students in need like her.

“It was one of the big reasons I transferred to UCI, to be honest,” says Leopo, a fourth-year student at the school who also works there part time.

“I know there’s stigma to (accepting donated food) and there was stigma for me applying for CalFresh,” a government program that helps feed low-income Golden State residents.

Leopo is part of a small but apparently growing segment of college students wrestling with food insecurity, the real-world problem of not having the money or resources to consistently get enough nutrition each day.

Source: A Fight Against Food Insecurity, Hunger on College Campuses | Healthiest Communities | US News

USDA Economists Seek to Unionize Amid Relocation Effort |

One Economic Research Service employee, who asked to remain anonymous citing potential retaliation, said they hope that with a union’s backing, they can shed light on the department’s process to relocate the agency.

“This whole relocation and realignment under the Office of the Chief Economist took us by surprise, and that was last August, and since then there’s been no engagement with staff,” the employee told Government Executive.

“There’s been no interest in finding out how this would affect our work, or what it would do to the stats we create on a weekly or monthly basis . . . Unionization helps in the sense that it requires the administration to talk to the employees or anything along those lines.”

The employee noted that although the Agriculture Department claims it has done a cost-benefit analysis that supports the relocation plan, officials have refused to divulge that study.

Another employee of the agency said that they suspect the plan is part of an effort to politicize what has been until now an unbiased research organization, something the first employee described as an “existential threat.”

Source: USDA Economists Seek to Unionize Amid Relocation Effort – Management –

Citizens are fed up with industrial agriculture |

We are at the End of the International Green Week in Berlin, an international exhibition of the food, gardening and agriculture industries.

While the businesses and marketing people were focusing mainly on digitalization and high tech, NGOs and civil society took the opportunity to raise the alarm about the real problems. The loudest voice could be heard during the protest march: we are fed up with industrial agriculture! (Wir haben Agrarindustrie satt!).

For the 9th year and this time supported by over 100 organizations and more than 35,000 people, the streets of Berlin were filled with demands for low-impact farming, animal welfare, climate justice and good food, for thriving family farms and rural communities, for biodiversity, for pesticide-free farming, for development cooperation based on ecological principles, and for a just and ecological reform of the EU’s farm subsidies, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Source: Citizens are fed up with industrial agriculture –

Chefs and Truck Drivers Beware: AI is Coming for Your Jobs

Robots aren’t replacing everyone, but a quarter of U.S. jobs will be severely disrupted as artificial intelligence accelerates the automation of existing work, according to a new Brookings Institution report.

The report, published Thursday, says roughly 36 million Americans hold jobs with “high exposure” to automation — meaning at least 70 percent of their tasks could soon be performed by machines using current technology. Among those most likely to be affected are cooks, waiters and others in food services; short-haul truck drivers; and clerical office workers.

“That population is going to need to upskill, reskill or change jobs fast,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings and lead author of the report.

Source: Chefs and Truck Drivers Beware: AI is Coming for Your Jobs

The Surprising Way To Resist Eating Junk Food | Time

In a series of experiments, the researchers found a surprising relationship between ambient scents and food choices.

Time after time, they found that people who sniffed indulgent foods, like pizza or cookies, were actually less likely to choose or purchase unhealthy foods than those who smelled nutritious options, such as apples and strawberries.

Source: The Surprising Way To Resist Eating Junk Food | Time

The EPA is letting environmental criminals off the hook | Vox

At his Wednesday confirmation hearing, Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler tried to make the case to senators on the Environment & Public Works Committee that enforcement is a priority. “In Fiscal Year 2018, EPA enforcement actions required the treatment, disposal, or elimination of 809 million pounds of pollutants and waste – almost twice as much as compared to 2017,” he said.

But according to government watchdog groups, under the Trump administration, the agency has seen big declines in both civil and criminal enforcement of environmental laws.

Source: The EPA is letting environmental criminals off the hook – Vox

Food Recalls Are Getting More Common. Here’s Why | Time

Lately, it’s felt like there’s a new food recall each week, striking everything from romaine lettuce to Ritz crackers.

And a new report from the non-partisan Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) says that phenomenon isn’t in your head: Food recalls are actually getting more common.

Source: Food Recalls Are Getting More Common. Here’s Why | Time

First European agreement on recycled fertilisers |

This new legislation was proposed by the European Commission in March 2016 as part of the Circular Economy Package. In particular, it introduces limits for contaminants, such as 60 milligrams per kilogram for cadmium (this limit will be further reviewed in four years), for both phosphate and organic fertilizers.

Moreover, fertilizers with less than 20mg/kg content will be able to use a voluntary low-cadmium label.

However, the 60mg/kg limit was described as “shocking” by Bérénice Dupeux from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). She believed that this puts “economic interests before citizens’ health and our environment” and “will worsen the concentration of cadmium in our soils and contribute to sea pollution.” The European Parliament also supported a lower limit, of 20mg/kg.

Source: First European agreement on recycled fertilisers –