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Jonathan Kaplan, Director, Food and Agriculture Program, San Francisco

Jonathan Kaplan
I direct NRDC’s new Food and Agriculture program. In the old days, when people asked me what I did at NRDC I used to say “I’m the food and ag guy.” But now we have a whole team of people working on this critical issue! NRDC’s Food and Agriculture program focuses on reducing the health and environmental impacts from our food system, while promoting more sustainable alternatives. My own issue areas include pesticide use reduction, livestock antibiotic use reduction, and the promotion of farming methods that work with the natural environment instead of against it. In recent years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time working with industry leaders to find common ground and leverage the purchasing power of large food buyers to reward change. That means I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about standards and metrics to help us identify “sustainable” food in commerce. I also help our team advance legislation, litigation and strategic communications. And once every now and then I manage to post some thoughts below.

Recent Posts

Groups to Foster Farms: Come Clean on Antibiotics

Posted January 13, 2014 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment

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Company makes promises on cockroaches and Salmonella, but no pledge to prevent antibiotic resistant bacteria Foster Farms has been in the news lately because the company was linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds of people last year.  Last...continued

How did that MRSA get on my shopping cart?

Posted July 25, 2013 by Jonathan Kaplan in Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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Science Journal Nature Sounds the Alarm On Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Coming from Feedlots   Science journals typically report emerging scientific research without getting into a lot of advocacy.  But the prestigious journal Nature stepped out of that role this week...continued

Needed Farm Bill Reforms Take Shape

Posted May 14, 2013 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment

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Every five years or so Congress revisits our nation’s food and agriculture policies and right now its Farm Bill season again.  The Farm Bill is sweeping legislation that touches on everything from nutrition programs to energy development, to environmental conservation...continued

Kansas City Star "Drug overuse in cattle imperils human health"

Posted December 10, 2012 by Jonathan Kaplan in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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  Here at NRDC we consider ourselves seasoned experts when it comes to the problem of antibiotic misuse in animal agriculture.  But Mike McCraw’s investigative reporting of this issue today in the Kansas City Star is a real eye opener...continued

Disclosed: FDA's confidential strategy memos on (not) regulating antibiotics in livestock

Posted October 23, 2012 by Jonathan Kaplan in Curbing Pollution, Living Sustainably

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In private, agency sounds less confident about its voluntary approach in lieu of binding regulatory action It’s hard to explain the significance of newly disclosed FDA memos without first providing a refresher on the problem of antibiotics use in livestock:...continued

Attention shoppers: Potential biohazard in the meat aisle

Posted June 29, 2012 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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Take action: Tell FDA we need real controls on antibiotics in animal feedlots,  not voluntary “guidance” Take action: Ask Trader Joes to be even more of a leader on this issue. I hope that someone is sharing the new “Meat...continued

Food becomes an official NRDC interest area

Posted May 25, 2012 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment

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In the latest indicator of NRDC’s growing commitment to sustainable food systems, our communications team posted the first ever NRDC food page last week.  My favorite addition:  “Food and Agriculture” now appears on our drop-down menu of key NRDC “Interest...continued

Gigatons of fertilizer bypass crops to contaminate California groundwater

Posted March 23, 2012 by Jonathan Kaplan in Curbing Pollution, Environmental Justice, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming

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Two-thirds of all applied nitrogen became groundwater pollution instead of crop nutrient Farmers are losing costly plant nutrients while we gain a groundwater pollutant.  That was my read of a landmark report released last week by researchers at UC Davis...continued

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint By Eating Sweeter, More Flavorful Strawberries

Posted December 7, 2011 by Jonathan Kaplan in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment

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And help NRDC find next year's Growing Green Award winners by December 16. NRDC Growing Green Award winner Jim Cochran grows organic strawberries on the California coast. Those who have tasted them will confirm that Jim's berries are among the...continued

House Republicans Move to Weaken FDA's Oversight of Contaminants in our Food

Posted June 2, 2011 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment, U.S. Law and Policy

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The Washington Post today reported that on Tuesday night 28 Republicans and one Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to an appropriations bill that would hamstring FDA’s authority to keep toxic chemicals and contaminants out of the...continued

Applause and high hopes for California's new Secretary of Agriculture

Posted January 24, 2011 by Jonathan Kaplan in Living Sustainably

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Any way you look at it, California isn’t going to solve pressing environmental challenges without agriculture being part of the solution.  I can’t think of anyone better than Karen Ross to help make that happen. Agriculture matters.  Growers in our...continued

10 Days Left to Nominate Your Favorite Food Hero (or Yourself)

Posted December 1, 2010 by Jonathan Kaplan in Curbing Pollution, Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably, Solving Global Warming

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Growing Green Award nominations due December 10 Farmers and foodies, it’s time to nominate your favorite sustainable food hero for NRDC’s Growing Green Awards. For the third year in a row, NRDC is recognizing food producers, business leaders, researchers and...continued

Farmers aren’t the only ones who should be concerned about “superweeds” and the diminishing potency of a popular herbicide

Posted May 7, 2010 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment

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Earlier this week, the New York Times reported on an emerging threat facing farmers, rural communities and the environment: The proliferation of “superweeds” that are resistant to the widely used herbicide “Roundup” (also sold generically as glyphosate). First some background: ...continued

Deadline Extended! Apply by December 11 for the Growing Green Awards!

Posted December 4, 2009 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment, Living Sustainably

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After learning that the Huffington Post was writing a story about the Growing Green Awards, we decided to extend the deadline so any of you finding out about the award for the first time could still apply.  All deadline-challenged sustainable...continued

NRDC’s Growing Green Awards are back!

Posted October 5, 2009 by Jonathan Kaplan in Health and the Environment

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If you have a favorite farmer or sustainable food leader, nominate them for the 2010 Growing Green Awards. Applications are due December 4, 2009, and a $10,000 prize will go to the winning green Food Producer. When we announced the...continued

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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