It was two years ago today that the U.S. saw its largest meat recall in history. The USDA recalled 143 million pounds of beef distributed by Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company and said that the meat had been used in school lunches and food assistance programs. On January 18 of this year, Huntington Meat Packing Inc. of Montebello, CA recalled 864,000 lbs of beef because it may have been contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. This past weekend the recall was expanded to more than 5 million lbs of meat. Some of the products made from this meat appear to have been distributed through the USDA National School Lunch Program. Happy anniversary of the Hallmark recall, America! You were expecting flowers?
Rumors swirled that 1,200 people were expected at the Brooklyn Food Conference (BFC) on Saturday, May 2 at John Jay High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We were certainly surprised to find a projected 3,000 people in attendance and we even ran out of most of our materials!
It was an honor to be invited to speak on the panel, “Our industrial meat complex: Hazardous to our health and our habitat” moderated by Kerry Trueman (co-founder of EatingLiberally.org) and to present testimony at the Public Hearing on Food Policy and Implementation with State and City Elected Officials. Animal Welfare Approved staffer Brigid Sweeney presented on behalf of independent pasture-based and high welfare farmers before State Senator Eric Adams, State Assembly member Jim Brennan, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and City Council Member Leticia James. The public hearing was moderated by David Buckel, civil rights attorney and BFC volunteer organizer, who is determined to make Animal Welfare Approved’s voice heard for New York’s legislative agenda.
A few highlights from the public hearing:
• Senator Montgomery, a member of the Agriculture Committee, wants to strengthen the farming industry by connecting Upstate farmers to Downstate consumers in NY.
• State Assembly Member Jim Brennan wants to promote more food cooperatives, buying clubs, direct farmer to consumer exchanges and direct farmer to consumer marketing that will help farmers get into urban settings.
The whole conference was buzzing with determination and excitement. We met so many smart and engaged consumers, fellow nonprofits, activists and farmers. A clear message was spread throughout the conference that we all share similar goals of supporting local farmers, improving our entire food system in order to protect the environment, improving the treatment of our animals and promoting health and well being of society as a whole. BFC attendees are ready to work together to achieve these goals.
Special thanks to our volunteer, Jason Hershman, who dutifully staffed the Animal Welfare Approved table while Brigid Sweeney ran from workshops to hearings getting the Animal Welfare Approved message out.