February 2014

Newsbites – February 2014


Locally Sourced Food Top Restaurant Menu Trend of 2014

Each year the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the leading business association for the industry, surveys 1,300 professional chefs who are members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) to come up with its What’s Hot culinary forecast of menu trends.


Top 10 food trends for 2014:

Locally sourced meats and seafood

Locally grown produce

Environmental sustainability

Healthful kids’ meals

Gluten-free cuisine

Hyper-local sourcing (e.g., restaurant gardens)

Children’s nutrition

Non-wheat noodles/pasta (e.g. quinoa, rice, buckwheat)

Sustainable seafood

Farm/estate branded items

Today’s consumers are more interested than ever in what they eat and where their food comes from, and that is reflected in our menu trends research,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s research and knowledge group, in a press release. “True trends – as opposed to temporary fads – show the evolution of the wider shifts of our modern society over time.”

The chefs who took part in the survey understand that sourcing locally and environmental sustainability tie in with ongoing efforts to provide more-healthful foods for everyone, especially children,” said Thomas Macrina, ACF national president.

When asked which current food trend will be the hottest menu trends 10 years from now, environmental sustainability topped the list, followed by local sourcing, health-nutrition, children’s nutrition and gluten-free cuisine.
Food Industry Seeks Federal Legislation to Keep GMO Labeling Voluntary

The political battle over genetically modified foods has been heating up. The industrial food industry has long successfully opposed efforts in Congress to require labeling. In response to the growing consumer movement, the industry spent almost $70 million to defeat ballot initiatives in California and Washington State. The Grocery Manufacturers Association is currently pushing industry-authored legislation that would preempt any state labeling laws. Connecticut and Maine passed such laws last year. Labeling is now being considered in 26 states.


USDA Likely to Approve Herbicide in Food Supply

Last month the Obama administration said that it expects to approve corn and soybeans that are genetically engineered by Monsanto and Dow Chemical Company to tolerate the toxic herbicide 2,4-D. They are planning this approval despite the fact the herbicide is associated with increased rates of immune-system cancers, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, birth defects and other serious health problems. The approval of these crops will lead to vast increases in the use of this chemical, which researchers at Penn State University say will actually worsen an epidemic of superweeds that become resistant to herbicides. Scientists have definitively linked a catastrophic decline in monarch butterflies to herbicide use on GMO crops.

2,4-D was introduced in the 1940s, and became notorious during the Vietnam War as part of “Agent Orange,” a chemical weapon. Citing studies that predict dire consequences to both human and environmental health, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and part of Canada have banned 2,4-D. In the US, a coalition of 144 farming, fishery, environmental and public health groups has asked the USDA to not approve the 2,4-D-resistant crops, which are primarily used as livestock feed in factory farms. Through  Feb. 19, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is inviting public comments (Go to: www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=APHIS-2013-0042-0050). The USDA must then respond to the comments in a final environmental impact statement.


The Effects of Economic Status on Health in New Mexico

A New Mexico Department of Health report released last year on the state of health in New Mexico looked at the effects of economic status. Not surprisingly, the report suggests that less-affluent populations often experience more barriers in receiving preventative healthcare.

Twenty percent of the population is considered to be living in poverty in New Mexico, the second-highest percentage rate in the country. The national poverty level is 15.9 percent, according to the US Census.

Proper nutrition is also a problem. New Mexico leads the nation in child hunger with 30 percent of children experiencing “food insecurity.” The USDA defines food insecurity as reduced quality, variety or desirability of diet. New Mexico is also ranked No. 2 in the nation for adult hunger, with 20 percent of adults experiencing food insecurity.

One in four adults in New Mexico ages 45 and older has been diagnosed with two or more chronic diseases such as arthritis or cardiovascular disease. Most inpatient hospitalization among people 65 and older is due to heart disease, influenza and pneumonia. The Department’s report shows that teen smoking dropped from 30 percent in 2003 to 19.9 percent in 2011.

Suicide attempts have decreased since 2003, although the rate of suicide among Native American youth in New Mexico is nearly four times the national rate. Funds are being sought from the state Legislature and the governor for programs to address this.


Beehive Extract Arrests Prostate Cancer Cell Growth

According to a paper from researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center, an over-the-counter natural remedy derived from honeybee hives arrests the growth of prostate cancer cells and tumors in mice. Caffeic acid phenethyl ester, or CAPE, is a compound isolated from propolis, the resin used by bees to patch holes in their hives. Propolis has been used for centuries in natural remedies for conditions such as sore throats, allergies and burns.

The researchers found that CAPE arrests early-stage prostate cancer by shutting down the tumor cells’ ability to detect sources of nutrition. Fed to mice daily, tumors stopped growing. When that treatment was stopped, the tumors began to grow again at their original pace, according to Richard B. Jones, Ph.D., senior author of the study. “It doesn’t kill the cancer, but it basically will indefinitely stop prostate cancer proliferation,” said Jones.

To assess the impact of CAPE treatment on the proteins of cellular pathways involved in cell growth, Jones and his colleagues used an innovative technique called “micro-western array” to monitor hundreds of proteins at once. The CAPE experiments offer a precedent to unlock the biological mechanisms of other natural remedies as well. “Now we’ll actually be able to systematically demonstrate the parts of cell physiology that are affected by these compounds,” Jones said.


SF County Hearing on Mining La Bajada Mesa – Feb. 20

La Bajada Mesa is part of a historic landmark that has been culturally and environmentally significant for (at least) hundreds of years. This gateway to the city of Santa Fe from the south has been painted, drawn, photographed and filmed for generations.

An application to mine basalt and crush it for gravel on a 50-acre section of La Bajada Mesa for a 25-year period has been submitted to Santa Fe County by Buena Vista Estates/Rockology, an Albuquerque-based company. A letter from Santa Fe County Water Utilities expressing a willingness and ability “to provide bulk [hauled] water services for the project” was submitted with the application.

A Rockology application for the proposed mine site was withdrawn in 2008 because a permit was denied based on a “cadre” of issues, including impacts on historical and archeological resources. Development of such an industry on an otherwise open landscape could result in increased pollution from carbon emissions, dust from crushers and conveyors and heavy industrial traffic, along with blasting and night lighting.

The proposal will be heard before the Santa Fe County Development Review Committee on Feb. 20 at 4 pm (102 Grant Ave.), and then before the Board of County Commissioners in March. The applicant is seeking to rezone the 5,217-acre property (which is also for sale) from agriculture/residential to mining. If approved, the mining zone could be expanded.

The Rural Conservation Alliance, community organizations and individuals dedicated to preserving and protecting the Galisteo Basin, is encouraging citizen input at the hearing. The Alliance has also requested that letters be sent to the case manager, Jose Larrañaga: joselarra@co.santa-fe.nm.us


Water Quality Control Commission Votes Against Water Quality Protection

Last month the New Mexico Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) unanimously voted down a motion that would have prevented the Copper Rule, adopted by the commission in September, 2013, from being used in mine permitting decisions while the rule is under appeal.

The Gila Resources Information Project (GRIP), Turner Ranch Properties, L.P. and Amigos Bravos filed the motion. They argued that the case raises important legal questions that must be resolved by the Court of Appeals, and that irreparable harm to public water resources is likely if the Copper Rule is implemented. The rule marks the first time since the state Water Quality Act was adopted that the WQCC has adopted regulations that would allow contamination of groundwater by an industry.

The motion was supported by the NM Office of the Attorney General. It was opposed by the NM Environment Department (NMED) and multinational copper mining corporation Freeport-McMoRan. NMED and Freeport-McMoRan, which operates three large open-pit copper mines in Grant County, worked together to draft and advocate for the rule.

Bruce Frederick, NM Environmental Law Center staff attorney, said, “the law requires us to go to the WQCC before we can ask the Court of Appeals to stay the Copper Rule pending appeal.”


New Coalition Opposes Goldmine

A coalition of conservation groups and jewelers say that Santa Fe Gold Corporation’s proposed deep open-pit mine in the Ortiz Mountains would turn the area into a polluted industrial zone visible for miles, increase truck traffic along the Turquoise Trail, consume enough water to sustain thousands of households, and potentially endanger area water supplies by draining acidic runoff into groundwater.

The coalition, comprised of the Turquoise Trail Preservation Trust, Earthworks and Fair Jewelry Action, has released an analysis of Santa Fe Gold’s proposal. The report has been endorsed by one of the country’s leading scientists on the environmental impacts of gold mining, Dr. Glenn Miller of the University of Nevada, Reno. The report says that: the mine may annually consume the equivalent of water needs of between 4,600 and 7,800 New Mexicans; it would be similar to the nearby Cunningham Hill Mine, which is draining acid into groundwater; because the ore is low grade, mining each ounce will generate 169 metric tons of waste, creating a massive tailings heap; and that the mine would release hundreds of millions of pounds of greenhouse gases.

Santa Fe Gold recently merged with a Canadian mining company. The coalition’s report is available online at http://ortizreport.earthworkssaction.org


Lamy Says No to Crude Oil-Loading Facility

Pacer Energy and Santa Fe Southern have reportedly struck a deal to convert the rail facility in the unincorporated quiet village of Lamy, southeast of Santa Fe, into a transfer station for crude oil. Fifty-to-100 tanker trucks weekly may be barreling down the 285 corridor and in and out of Lamy on the recently paved 2-lane road, their engines idling as they wait to offload oil to railroad cars, possibly 24 hours a day. The cargo is to be transported to refineries near Albuquerque.


Crude oil shipments by rail have increased more than 400 percent since 2005. In light of recent freight train accidents across the US, last month the National Transportation Safety Board recommended strict new measures for transporting crude oil. A Santa Fe County woman is currently suing Western Refining because last February during a blizzard one of its trucks on US 84/285 lost control, jackknifed, struck and totaled her vehicle, spilling hundreds of gallons of fuel.


At a meeting of 275 people on Jan. 18, a couple of Pacer’s reps were unable to answer the many questions asked by outraged people from Lamy, Galisteo and Eldorado, who were there en force, united by a deep and urgent desire to protect their watershed and prevent air and noise pollution. Other issues of concern: safety risks, liability, possible storage facilities development, property values, road degradation, hazmat incidents, permeable soil, etc. The consensus: spills, accidents and wrecks are inevitable. Lamy’s community water well head is only 109 feet from the proposed transfer site. “No Crude Oil in Lamy,” a regional alliance, may pursue a legal injunction.


Renewable Energy Day at the Roundhouse—Feb. 16, 10 am-2 pm

Renewable Energy Day at the New Mexico State Capitol, rescheduled from January, will showcase the economic, environmental and community benefits of renewable energy and energy efficiency. A diverse group of advocates, including business associations, workforce development associations, public institutions, community groups and homeowners will have information tables set up. There will be hands-on electricity generation demonstrations, electric cars, solar ovens and ecological art.

A press conference at 2 pm will feature gubernatorial candidates Lawrence Rael and Alan Webber; Santa Fe mayoral candidates Patti Bushee and Javier Gonzales; Steve Cummins of the Los Alamos Smart Grid; David Melton of Sacred Power, and others who will share their policies and plans to help grow the renewable-energy industry in New Mexico.

Free parking is available in the parking garage at 420 Galisteo St. More information: 505.310.4425, esha@gotsol.org


New Mexico’s Solar Industry Growing

According to a new report, more than 1,000 New Mexicans are employed by the solar energy industry. The Solar Foundation (thesolarfoundation.org), a nonprofit solar advocacy foundation released the National Solar Jobs Census 2013, based on information culled by labor market analysts. As a result of the steady growth in megawatts of solar energy across the US, cheaper photovoltaic prices, new technology and tax incentives, the solar industry added over 18,000 jobs nationally from September, 2012 to November, 2013, according to the foundation. More than half of those jobs were as solar installers, averaging $20 an hour.

The cost of installing PV in New Mexico declined 15 percent last year. Seventy percent of people who have bought solar systems told surveyors that they did so to save money and because the price was competitive with power provided by utility companies per kilowatt-hour.


2014 Sustainable Santa Fe Award Nominations Sought

The city of Santa Fe is seeking nominations to recognize model sustainability projects that are helping Santa Fe reduce its ecological footprint, mitigate carbon emissions and build resilience in the face of climate change, in accordance with the Sustainable Santa Fe Plan. These annual awards, given since 2009, are limited to projects or programs with significant events that occurred during the 2013 calendar year or ongoing programs that haven’t yet been recognized. Award recipients will be recognized during a reception in association with Earth Day, which will be promoted on the Sustainable Santa Fe Facebook page and in local media outlets.

Award categories include:

Community Outreach, Environmental Advocacy; Environmental Justice; Food Systems; Climate Adaptation—Water, Climate Adaptation—Ecosystem; Renewable Energy / Energy Efficiency; Affordable Green Building / Building Systems; Green Economic Development; Low Carbon Transportation; Waste Reduction; Green Journalism; Youth-Led, and Other

Nominations will be accepted until March 15 and can be made online. A link to the nomination form can be found at: www.santafenm.gov/sustainable_santa_fe or at the website of any of the co-sponsors of the event, including Earth Care, the Santa Fe Green Chamber and Green Fire Times. Separate nominations must be made for each project, but you may nominate as many different projects as you wish. Contact Katherine Mortimer, Sustainable Santa Fe Programs manager: 505.955.2262, kemortimer@santafenm.gov



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1 thought on “Newsbites – February 2014”

  1. Thank you for your coverage of the proposed strip mine on top of La Bajada mesa. Letters of opposition will be most helpful if received by Febuary 12, so that they will be included in the report to the CDRC. After is ok, too, just won’t be as prominent. Case manager: joselarra@co.santa-fe.nm.us.

    For more information or to learn of any postponements of the February 20 meeting, go to http://www.savelabajada.org. Thank you! Don Van Doren