For Immediate Release
The Food & Environment Reporting Network Launches
Independent, Non-Profit, Investigative News Organization to Focus on Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Health
NEW YORK - The Food & Environment Reporting Network, Inc., an independent, non-profit, non-partisan news organization that produces investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health for distribution to major media outlets, today launched with its first story in the award-winning western magazine, High Country News. The report takes a hard look at pollution by the powerful dairy industry in New Mexico and how one man became the driving force behind a movement that brought the state's mega-dairies to heel. The story can be found on www.thefern.org and hcn.org/milkandwater.
“Our stories will fall under the classic mandate of investigative reporting–to reveal corruption, abuse of power, and exploitation wherever it happens; to expose activities that the powerful work to keep hidden or to explore subjects that are just too complex for the breaking news cycle,” said Editor-in-Chief Sam Fromartz. “We’ve chosen to focus on food, agriculture, and environmental health specifically because we feel these are under-reported subjects that touch people’s lives every day.”
Several more investigative stories commissioned by the Food & Environment Reporting Network will break news in the weeks to come, appearing in mainstream publications, such as The American Prospect and The Nation magazines, as well as major daily newspapers. “Crucial to this work are the relationships we're forging with regional and national media partners, who are clearly interested in our model and the work we’re producing," Fromartz said.
“Over the past four decades, coverage of food and agriculture has waned in the mainstream press at the same time as the impact of a more industrialized food system on public health has become increasingly severe,” said Ruth Reichl, editorial board member of the Food & Environment Reporting Network, Editorial Advisor to Gilt Taste, Editor-at-Large at Random House, and former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine. “Without detailed investigations into food and agriculture, our understanding of humanity’s impacts on the environment is incomplete and related policy changes ineffective.”
The dairy industry is New Mexico’s largest agricultural sector and an influential lobbying force. The state’s dairies average 2,000 cows each, the largest mean herd size in the nation. In her piece, “Milk and Water Don’t Mix,” Stephanie Paige Ogburn reports for High Country News: “Although the state Environment Department has long worked with dairies to reduce pollution, change has been slow: Almost 60 percent of the state’s dairies have polluted groundwater with manure runoff, yet not one has begun the required cleanup.” Detailing how a self-described hermit named Jerry Nivens, his allies, and one Environment Department employee helped to pass some of the most progressive dairy-related water regulations in the West, Ogburn describes how New Mexico may now inspire other states to take the responsibility for limiting industrial farm pollution into their own hands.
About the Food & Environment Reporting Network
The Food & Environment Reporting Network experience in writing and publishing is represented by its Board of Directors, which includes Editor-in-Chief Samuel Fromartz, author, freelance journalist and a former Reuters business editor; Allison Arieff, a contributing columnist for The New York Times, contributing columnist for The Atlantic Cities, and editor of the Urbanist magazine for SPUR (San Francisco Planning & Urban Research Association); and Ralph Loglisci, a leading food policy media strategist. Former board members Katrina Heron and Naomi Starkman were involved in the organization’s founding and development. Tom Laskawy is the Executive Director and manages the organization; Paula Crossfield serves as the Managing Editor.
The Food & Environment Reporting Network’s editorial board includes Brian Halweil, editor of Edible East End and co-publisher of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan magazines; Katrina Heron, Editor-at-Large at Newsweek/The Daily Beast and previously Editor-in-Chief of WIRED and a senior editor at The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, and The New York Times magazines; Ruth Reichl, Editorial Advisor to Gilt Taste, Editor-at-Large at Random House, and former Editor-in-Chief of Gourmet magazine; Elizabeth Royte, author of the critically acclaimed books, Garbage Land and Bottlemania; and Charles Wilson, co-author with Eric Schlosser of the number one New York Times children’s bestseller Chew On This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food.
A registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation based in New York, the Food & Environment Reporting Network was founded in October 2009 and began operations in January 2011. It is funded by the generous support of the The 11th Hour Project, McKnight Foundation, Clarence Heller Foundation, Columbia Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.