Hunger in the heartland: Iowans struggle with food insecurity

Jessica Chrystal shines a light on a widespread problem in a state that is supposed to be the bread basket of the world. -promoted by desmoinesdem

I spent part of last week attending events at the World Food Prize in Des Moines. When we think of hunger, we think of homeless people on benches in California. The Salvation Army bell ringer standing outside of Target during Christmas, or the glowing images from our tvs of starving children to donate to various charities overseas.

Rarely do we think of our neighbor next door.

Hunger is everywhere. She’s part of the fabric of every map dot town and big city across Iowa.

Continue Reading...

Keeping all our options open: A vision for a "new century farm" in Johnson County

Thanks to Kurt Friese for this perspective on a controversy that brings together concerns over land use, local foods, and affordable housing. Fellow Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan explained his vote on the proposal here. -promoted by desmoinesdem

It what might be called the most contentious vote of my time so far on the Board of Supervisors, on June 23 we chose one of three potential concepts for “phase 2” of the planning for the historic Johnson County Poor Farm. The concept, titled “New Century Farm,” is the most ambitious of the three, and is the only one of the three that keeps all our options open.

What it does not do is sell off public land to private developers, nor “pave the poor farm,” nor create urban sprawl. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, a little background.

Continue Reading...

Patty Judge enters the US Senate race in Iowa. It's about Citizens United.

A fourth Iowa Democrat joins the race to un-seat republican US Senator Chuck Grassley. Her name is Patty Judge. US Senate candidate Tom Fiegen — a Sanders Democrat — issued a warning to progressive Iowa democrats this week about the Big Money influence pulling the strings of this latest candidate to enter the race.

“I welcome Lt. Governor Judge to the race because of the contrast between us. Her political base is big money industrial agriculture interests where poisoning Iowa’s waters is part of the deal. The majority of Iowans want clean drinking water and small family farmers growing more fresh healthy local food. A majority of Iowans want Citizens United overturned. Make no mistake, this election is a choice between status-quo politics where everything is for sale to the high bidder and the politics of putting the needs of working people ahead of Super PACs.”

Continue Reading...

Why Not Just Feed Babies Arsenic? - Think Progress

The House of Representatives is currently considering a bill that would drastically cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and severely limit the agency’s ability to protect human health and the environment.

Known as the 2012 Interior-EPA Appropriations bill (H.R. 2584), it would delay critical clean air rules by more than a year and prevent the EPA from regulating toxic emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Our congressional delegation is generally pretty divided along party lines when it comes to major public health issues such as this – generally, Braley/Loebsack support the independence of the EPA and King/Latham oppose. Boswell is typically a swing vote. More below the fold if you are interested in taking action!

Continue Reading...

Muscatine Mother for Clean Air - Stories from Rural Iowa

From time to time I run across editorials, letters to the editor, and other random environmental news that I find interesting.  This piece I found particularly compelling and I wanted to share. It comes from a community activist in Muscatine, IA who is really fighting to improve air quality in Muscatine – and throughout the state. Her name is Michelle Marine and you can read her blog at: Simplify, Live, Love

By: Michelle Marine 

In 2006, my husband and I and our four children moved to his hometown of Wilton in Muscatine County. We've lived in lots of large cities, both in the US and abroad. We chose rural living for a variety of issues, one being for an overall healthier lifestyle. I was saddened to learn that the air quality here in rural Iowa is sometimes worse than in the big cities we lived in the past. I started a blog at Simplify, Live, Love.

The blog focuses on frugal living, homeschooling, grammar, and living green. I became interested in the air quality issue after realizing how badly the air smells at our house in Wilton some days. I researched the issue more in depth when Healthy Child, Healthy World asked for bloggers to blog on air quality.

I was shocked at what I learned about the air quality in Muscatine County. Muscatine County has the highest levels of particulate matter, a hazardous air pollutant. Our residents are exposed to the lowest air quality levels in the state of Iowa. And as we know, many of our friends and neighbors suffer from air-pollution related illnesses, including an unclassifiable upper-respiratory disease physicians have come to call the “Muscatine Crud.”

Continue Reading...

Mississippi River Floods -- The Branstad Connection

(State Senator Rob Hogg has been calling for more investment in watershed projects.   - promoted by desmoinesdem)

With floodwaters along the Mississippi River in the southern U.S reaching historic levels it’s time for Iowa to take a leadership role in helping prevent future flooding by investing in watershed improvement programs and conservation in Iowa.

Many people might not know what a watershed is. A watershed is basically a basin defined by highpoints and ridges that descend into lower elevations and stream valleys. A watershed carries water from the land after rain falls and snow melts. Drop by drop, water is channeled into soils, groundwaters, creeks, and streams, making its way to larger rivers and eventually the sea.

According to the EPA:

A watershed is the area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place. John Wesley Powell, scientist geographer, put it best when he said that a watershed is:

“that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds; including Hawaii Alaska, and Puerto Rico, there are 2,267 watersheds.

This is the connection between watershed and land management practices in Iowa and recent flooding on the Mississippi River. …more after the jump…

Continue Reading...
View More...