Dirty Farm Water Is Making Us Sick

Lettuce contaminated with pathogens have sickened and killed people. But the FDA has shelved Obama-era plans to test the culprit: farms’ irrigation water…

For more than a decade, it’s been clear that there’s a gaping hole in American food safety: Growers aren’t required to test their irrigation water for pathogens such as E. coli. As a result, contaminated water can end up on fruits and vegetables.

After several high-profile disease outbreaks linked to food, Congress in 2011 ordered a fix, and produce growers this year would have begun testing their water under rules crafted by the Obama administration’s Food and Drug Administration…

But six months before people were sickened by the contaminated romaine, President Donald Trump’s FDA – responding to pressure from the farm industry and Trump’s order to eliminate regulations – shelved the water-testing rules for at least four years…

Nothing’s changed, yet.

The FDA’s lack of urgency dumbfounds food safety scientists. Me? Not so much. A significant portion of our bureaucrats specialize in incompetence.

Barnum’s Animal Crackers

Original box circa 1902

Did you eat Barnum’s Animal Crackers when you were a kid or maybe you still eat them? Do you know why they put a string on the original boxes from 1902? Read the answer at the end of this post.

Do they still make Barnum’s Animal Crackers? According to Wikipedia the rotary dies are still used today. Barnum’s Animals Crackers are all produced in the Fair Lawn, New Jersey, bakery by Nabisco Brands. More than 40 million packages of Barnum’s Animals Crackers are sold each year, both in the United States and exported to 17 countries worldwide.

Today’s box…cages are finally gone

Today the box has changed and they have a handle instead of the string. About five years ago the animals on the box were freed from their cages as shown in the bottom picture. 

The original string was put on the box because it was meant to be hung as a Christmas ornament after the cookies inside had been eaten. 

Thanks to…


Haven’t noticed, yet? Drones already delivering pizza.

A self-piloting Zipline drone drops a package on a test flight

Drone deliveries could be dropping into your life, too, as the technology involved matures and expands beyond isolated test projects. In 2023, drones could replace vans and your own trip to the store when you need medicine, takeout dinners, cordless drill batteries or dishwasher soap.

Today, Alphabet Wing drones reach hundreds of thousands of people in Australia, Finland and Texas and will expand its service in 2023, according to Jonathan Bass, who runs marketing for the business. “I would expect those to go into the millions,” he said of the number of people Wing will be able to reach.

Today, Alphabet Wing drones reach hundreds of thousands of people in Australia, Finland and Texas and will expand its service in 2023, according to Jonathan Bass, who runs marketing for the business. “I would expect those to go into the millions,” he said of the number of people Wing will be able to reach.

Looking forward to the projected rapid expansion. With increased availability over recent years, our pickup and delivery orders have increased dramatically. Mostly grocery shopping. And I see every reason for this sort of option – if affordable – to increase share and frequency of deliveries.

Ice Pancakes!

Dozens of eerily perfect circles of slushy ice, known as “ice pancakes,” have been floating on the surface of a Scottish river after temperatures in the U.K. unexpectedly plummeted.

Callum Sinclair, project manager for the Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI), spotted the stunning circular sheets of ice Dec. 9 on the River Bladnoch in Wigtownshire, Scotland.

A little maple syrup and we rock for breakfast afloat.

Our morning rocket fuel

We’ve switched away from the couple of brands of coffee that have served as structural support for the first half of our family’s day for decades. Not that we’re saving chunks of change. It’s just been a spell since we looked around and tried new brands, new blends of coffee. We made a Happy Find. That is, Happy Belly. We get it from Amazon.

About the silliest name for a food product someone came up with; but, it’s great coffee as far as our palates, our central nervous system, are concerned. We buy their medium roast – most satisfying negotiated settlement within the Lot 4 crew. Already ground for our array of percolators.

Full-bodied. Satisfying depth of flavor – that survives a dollop of half-and-half for some. Straight-up black for the rest of the household. None of us uses sugar especially for anything. I’ve been known to add a touch of Truvia [a stevia product] to cup #4 in the morning.

Just a note: Ours isn’t half-caff. We’re enjoying some of the latest studies that say an added touch of caffeine in your diet is probably good for you.

The North Atlantic Diet

Vladimir Zuev/Alamy

Although less popular than the glamorous Mediterranean Diet, the North Atlantic Diet is a great option for staying fit and healthy. The North Atlantic Diet is more than just a health regimen; it’s a total health system based on the life styles of swarthy eighteenth-century sea captains, near-insane lighthouse keepers, and stowaways who think only of revenge.

The North Atlantic Diet offers plentiful food options with good fats, whole grains, and lots of cod. Fruits and vegetables are limited to the hardiest types—you can only eat apples that are as tough as the bark on your family tree, or potatoes (the wisest vegetables, as they know to hide underground and out of sight, where the cruelties of the world and its so-called God cannot reach them)…

This diet is a seafood-lover’s bounty: scallops, oysters, and mussels are just some of the many options you’ll find on the North Atlantic table. One daily portion of seafood is suggested, and two daily portions of cod are required. Lobster may be eaten once a week…If necessary, lobster may be replaced with more cod.

I grew up eating everything in this photo…(and even more variety). Never setting foot in a fishmonger’s emporium. My father, my kid sister and I fished every weekend. Pretty much every weekend of the year. Only put off by sea-ice or blowing snow. We were shore-birds; so, never enough cod to match specification. But, cod’s favorite cousin – hake – was a fine substitute. Catchable from pier or breakwater along the New England coastline.

The “rice capital of California” is now a wasteland

San Francisco Chronicle

Normally, by September, the drive north from Sacramento on Interstate 5 showcases vast stretches of flooded rice fields on both sides, farms bustling with tractors and workers preparing for fall harvest.

Not this year, said Kurt Richter, a third-generation rice farmer in Colusa, the rice capital of California where the local economy relies heavily on agriculture. “It is now just a wasteland,” he said.

As drought endures for a third year with record-breaking temperatures and diminishing water supplies, more than half of California’s rice fields are estimated to be left barren without harvest — about 300,000 out of the 550,000 or so in reported acres, provisional data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows. This year, rice is estimated to account for just 2% of total planted acres across the state…

The dramatic reduction in rice acreage will translate to lost revenue of an estimated $500 million, about 40% of which will be covered by federal crop insurance, according to UC Davis agricultural economist Aaron Smith.

Insurance only covers set amounts. Surviving the death of your livelihood, what may be the last breath of spirit from generations of working families, can drive folks away from everything that has been root and branch of their whole lives.