The Week in Review: Live Eagles, Illegal Lunches, Farms Face Cuts, Gas Prices Up

Had trouble keeping up with the news this week? Here's a review of the bigger stories, and overlooked info, we've been watching.

April 14, 2011
Farms cuts coming. We avoided a government shutdown, but talk of budget cuts dominated the news this week. Unfortunately, small organic and sustainable farms are on the chopping block. That includes programs that benefit minority and tribal farmers, rural development, and funds for farmers whose practices protect groundwater or prevent erosion. Are subsidies to factory farms and corporate farming conglomerates likewise being threatened? Take a guess.

Legalize it? Earlier this week, the governor of Montana vetoed a bill to repeal the state's medical marijuana law, keeping the state one of 15 (plus the D.C.) that allows medical use of the drug. But did you know that hemp products are perfectly legal in all U.S. states? And that the hemp plant, though related to marijuana, is not the same thing? Read our story on the benefits of hemp to find out more.

Brown-bag ban broken. A Chicago grade school banned homemade school lunches, only to backpedal once their decision gained national attention. But the idea's not as crazy as it sounds; given the epidemic childhood obesity problem, why not make sure kids get at least one healthy meal during the school day? Ban or no ban, parents can act to improve school lunches and serve healthy snacks and meals at home.

Pesticides don't stay on farms. New research finds that pesticides raise the risk of prostate cancer for men who live near farms, despite regulations that are supposed to ensure they're used "safely." That's just one reason to vote against chemical agriculture with your dollar, by buying organic food whenever possible. And here are 12 others.

Gas prices on the rise. What are you paying for a gallon of gas in your neck of the woods? A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found that more than 60% of Americans have cut back on other expenses, and reduced their driving, because of risking gas prices. Most of us are feeling the pinch, but there are some things you can do to improve your car mileage.

Raptor rapture. Anyone else been watching the bald eagles raising their eaglets, via the Project Decorah Eagle Cam? It's positively addictive. We don't even mind the advertising.

Don't shoot. Animal cruelty is unpalatable to most people, but should taking pictures of animals kept in cruel conditions be a felony? reports that Iowa state legislatures are considering a bill that would make "secretly taking photographs or videos of farm animals—or possessing such images—a felony." Several other states have introduced or are considering similar legislation. If food makers are afraid to let the public see what's going behind their walls, is it any wonder people are seeking healthy, humanely raise food elsewhere?