UC Food Observer chooses a handful of important stories for you to read as you finish your work week. On the menu, in no particular order: interest in home composting grows; scientists and record requests: the shadow side of sunlight laws; the Iowa ag summit; a food security frameworks report is issued for Africa; and the pizza lobby defends your right to eat a popular food.


1. “Wasting food is unfashionable.” It’s estimated that between 30-40% of our food is wasted. Food waste presents a variety of challenges: environmental, social, economic, and ethical. Some cities are tackling the issue head on, including Seattle, which is requiring residents to separate food waste from garbage. Seattle’s citywide compost program was started in January; sanitation workers who find food waste in garbage cans use red tags to identify the offenders. Composting is moving into the cultural mainstream quickly. And as Kim Severson of the New York Times writes, legislation such as Seattle’s represents a larger and deeper societal shift.


2. Why scientists hate record requests. Open records requests are designed to protect freedom of the press. But if ideologically driven, they can also be used to disrupt or delay research. This piece focuses on scientific research about GMOs. Anna Clark has written an incredibly intelligent and thought-provoking piece exploring “the shadow side of sunlight laws” for Columbia Journalism Review.


3. A dozen GOP presidential hopefuls will head to Iowa for a first-ever agriculture summit. Few doubt the importance of the Iowa caucuses in American presidential politics. And for the first time, an agricultural “caucus” of sorts – a policy summit – will be held. The event is slated for Saturday, March 7, and has been organized by agribusiness “mogul” Bruce Rastetter. It’s designed to promote discussions of farm policy (vital to Iowa’s economy). Helena Bottemiller Evich reports for Politico.


4.”Grow Markets, Fight Hunger.” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs has issued a new report, Roadmap for U.S.-Africa Trade Policies to Advance Food Security and Benefit U.S. Farmers and Agrifood Businesses. The report discusses strategies that focus on how “U.S. trade policy could advance food security in Africa and position American businesses to tap a burgeoning African agriculture and food market, which is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.”


5. Fighting for your right to eat pizza. It’s estimated that 41 million Americans eat a slice or more, each day. Increasingly, however, pizza makers are feeling pressure. New food nutrition standards for school lunches and menu-labeling rules have thrust pizza into the “nutritional axis of evil,” and threaten to cut into a piece of the pie. Andrew Martin pens a piece for Bloomberg Business about a particular food we love, and how public policies impact those who make it…and us. A fascinating view of how the food lobby works.