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In the wake of regulatory threats against the makers of alcoholic energy drinks, some are calling for further scrutiny of nonalcoholic energy drinks promoted as mixers for alcohol. 

Last year, after the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission told the four biggest manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks the caffeine in their beverages was an unsafe additive, and that their marketing might be unfair and deceptive, the companies agreed to reformulate. 

Of course, that did nothing to stop people — especially young people — from adding alcohol to energy drinks as they’ve always done, but did call into question

Continue Reading Energy Drinks and Alcohol Still a Risky Mix

After working to block a fast-food franchise from opening on the University of California Berkeley campus, students opened their own cooperative market-cafe last year.

The Berkeley Student Food Collective has in turn spawned the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive, or CoFed, which now is working to train student leaders nationwide to set up similar cooperatively run markets at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, City College San Francisco, Humboldt State University, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, and the University of Washington.

The group’s five-year goal is 35 co-ops and 1,000 trained student leaders serving 700,000 students.

In Berkeley, the Student Food Collective

Continue Reading CoFed Crusades for Campus Food Co-ops

People who start drinking the soft drinks known as “energy” beverages early in life may be more prone to anxiety, depression, and addictive behavior later on, some research suggests.

Dr. Conrad Woolsey, an assistant professor of applied health and educational psychology at Oklahoma State University, has written several scholarly articles and lectured extensively on energy drinks.  He says the problem isn’t just that the drinks are packed with sugar and caffeine, but also with additives and herbal ingredients.

“Energy drinks are like a pharmacological Molotov cocktail,” Woolsey said.

He explains that because the human brain does not fully develop until

Continue Reading Can Energy Drinks Be a Gateway to Addictions?

Andy Bary is a soil scientist who manages the organic farm at Washington State University’s Puyallup research station south of Seattle.

Although the farm is primarily used for research, its crops are sold or donated to a local food bank.  So when Bary decided to identify areas in which he and his staff could improve or update their food handling operations, he put his farm through an audit and Good Agricultural Practices–commonly called GAP–workshop this past summer.

Based on the recommendations from the WSU experts, the Puyallup farm workers changed the way they wash their hands and sanitize the crates

Continue Reading Farm Workshops Teach Food Safety Practices

As hunger continues to be an increasing problem nationwide, some college campuses are opening food banks to help the growing number of students in need.

“Food Pantries on college campuses are unique because they seek an underserved population of students that many people may not be aware is struggling,” said Laura Pick, a graduate student and coordinator of Oregon State University’s emergency food pantry.

“[In] grade school through high school, students can receive free or reduced [priced] lunch, but when you get to college you don’t have those options,” Pick noted.

In 2009, more than 31 million children, ages

Continue Reading College Students Turn to Food Banks

Celia Hassan starts each day by reaching into her fridge and opening a can of Monster Energy.

“I crack one open every morning like clockwork,” said Hassan, a 21-year old political science major at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

At a time when national attention is being focused on energy drinks that contain alcohol, which have been banned in several states, the non-booze brands like Hassan favors are not getting much publicity.  But that hasn’t made them less widespread–or less controversial.

According to the Mintel International Group, non-alcoholic energy drinks are enormously popular.  The marketing analysts say 31 percent of

Continue Reading Non-alcohol Energy Drinks Questioned

Empty honey bee hives that set the media abuzz in 2006 were attributed to everything from cell phones to pesticides, but researchers now say many things interacting with each other are contributing to the decline.

“It’s not a single mystery thing that’s causing problems,” said Marion Ellis, professor of  entomology at the University of Nebraska. “There are probably lots of little components.”

For those who see bees as a bellwether, the stresses they face seem to echo the environmental consequences of contemporary, large-scale agriculture.

According to Ellis, the three biggest factors hurting hives are likely nutrition, pesticides, and parasites.  Poor

Continue Reading Bees May Be Bellwether of Food Supply Challenges

Some stores in Washington and Oregon have stopped selling certain alcoholic energy drinks, saying the blends may be unsafe.

Haggen Food & Pharmacy said Tuesday it was halting the sale of two brands of alcoholic energy drinks–Joose and Four Loko–from its 32 stores in Washington and Oregon.

Four Loko is the brand that Central Washington University officials said sickened nine of its students, who had been drinking at a party before being hospitalized earlier this month.

 The campus has since banned the drink. 

“The right thing to do for our communities is to immediately stop sales of Four Loko and

Continue Reading Alcoholic Energy Drinks Under Scrutiny

Much of what we eat and how we eat it is decided by politicians and on Wall Street, according to Marion Nestle.

Nestle, author and public health and sociology professor at New York University, discussed the corporate and political influences on American agriculture industry during a recent appearance at the University of Washington in Seattle, part of the school’s “Food: Eating your Environment” lecture series.

“You can’t understand anything about how people eat until you understand how the agricultural industry works,” Nestle said.

Summarizing the dramatic changes within the food industry in the last 20 years, Nestle said that after

Continue Reading In the Food Revolution, Vote with Your Fork

Pesticides–all the insecticides, weed killers and fertilizers spread on yards and farms–aren’t the only problem contributing to the decline of the wild Pacific salmon.

It’s the people who carelessly (or unknowingly) overuse these chemicals, says Prof. John Stark, an ecotoxicologist at Washington State University who specializes in risk assessment of threatened and endangered species.

Stark, director of WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center, was in Seattle, WA Thursday to deliver a lecture titled “Pesticides, Pollution, and Policy: New Strategies for Saving Pacific Northwest Salmon.”  

Stark and other WSU researchers, in collaboration with scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Continue Reading Synergistic Toxicity of Pesticides Hurts Salmon