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Food Agriculture & Environmental Resources (FAER) Division blog

In Memory of Cynthia Eastman

Cynthia Eastman headshot
By Bobbi Weaver

At the end of August, Cynthia Eastman lost her battle with cancer.  I worked with Cynthia on the former Environment & Resource Management Division (DERM) board.  She served as the division’s Chair in 2008-2009, and as the division’s newsletter editor for many years prior to her tenure on the Executive Board.

Cynthia was a champion of environmental conservation. Cynthia, Barbie Keiser and I co-authored the article “Breaking rules, building green bridges”, which was published in the April 2008 edition of SLA’s Information Outlook, prior to our 2008 annual conference in Seattle.

In recent years, Cynthia retired and DERM merged with the Food & Agriculture Division to become the Food, Agriculture and Environmental Resource Division.  Though Cynthia’s involvement in SLA subsided, we stayed in touch via Facebook.  Sadly, that is how many of us learned of her passing.

From the passage her friend wrote on Facebook, Cynthia continued her love for the environment in her retirement, and was a supporter of the “Goat Barn” at the Oakland Zoo.  Cynthia also enjoyed wall climbing as documented in this 2010 SFGate article

Cynthia contributed greatly to SLA and to the profession.  Our condolences are with her family and friends.

Cynthia Eastman presents award to Thomson Reuters in 2008

Cynthia Eastman (l.), then Chair of the Environment & Resource Management Division with then Chair-Elect, Michael Sholinbeck (r.), presenting a sponsorship certificate to Thomson Reuters, Scientific at the SLA 2008 Annual Conference in Seattle.


There are two travel grants, one for a new professional and one for a library/information science student to attend the 2019 SLA annual conference in Cleveland.

Travel Grant for New Professional to attend the 2019 SLA Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, June 14-18, 2019

The FAER Division of SLA will reimburse travel expenses up to $500.00 for a professional with less than 2 years of experience in the field(s) of food, agriculture, nutrition, environmental resources or agricultural information.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must be new to the field of food, nutrition, environmental resources or agricultural information (less than 2 years)
  • Currently working in a special or academic library with a subject focus in at least one of these fields
  • A member of the SLA FAER Division

Deadline for application

March 15, 2019

Application Guidelines

To apply, send a cover letter including name, address, e-mail and phone number, along with job title/description, place of employment, and length of time spent as a librarian working in the field(s) of food, agriculture, nutrition or environmental resources. Include a statement of approximately 200-300 words on why you would like to attend the conference and how you would like to be involved in the FAER Division.

Additional Requirements

  • The award recipient will be required to write an article for FAER blog reporting on his/her conference experience in general or serving as a reporter for one FAER event/session.
  • The recipient shall serve at least one year on a FAER Committee.
  • Travel grant will be applied only to the SLA 2019 Annual Conference.

Application Address

Please return the completed application by March 15, 2019 by email to: Anita Ezzo (ezzoa@msu.edu)

Notification

The successful applicant will be notified by March 26, 2019.


Travel Grant for Library/Information Science Student to attend the 2019 SLA Annual Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, June 14-18, 2019

The FAER Division will reimburse travel expenses up to $500.00 for a library or information science student interested in pursuing a career in the field(s) of food, nutrition, environmental resources or agricultural information.

Eligibility

  • Applicants must be currently enrolled in an accredited graduate level library or information science program during the current academic year or have graduated within the last six months
  • Be interested in pursuing a career in food, nutrition, environmental resources or agricultural information.
  • A member of the SLA FAER Division

Deadline for Application

March 15, 2019

Application Guidelines

  • Submit a statement of approximately 200-300 words on why you would like to attend the conference and what interests you in the field of food, nutrition, environmental resources and agricultural information. Indicate how you would like to be involved in the FAER Division.
  • This statement must be in English.
  • Include a signed letter of recommendation from either a faculty advisor or immediate supervisor on company letterhead
  • Include a transcript from your library school or other proof of current enrollment or program completion.
  • Include a current resume

Application Requirements

  • The award recipient will be required to write an article for FAER blog reporting on his/her conference experience in general or serving as a reporter for one FAER event/ session.
  • The recipient shall serve at least one year on a FAER Committee.
  • Travel grant will be applied only to the SLA 2019 Annual Conference.

Application Address

Please return the completed application materials by March 15, 2019 by email to: Anita Ezzo (ezzoa@msu.edu)

Notification

The successful applicant will be notified by March 26, 2019.

FAER Hosted session, Fewer Workers, Less Food

By James Edward Malin

Perhaps the most rousing session of those presented by the Special Library Association’s Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Resource Management Division (FAER) was Fewer Workers, Less Food: Immigration Policy Changes and Their Effects on Food Supply on Tuesday, June 12, moderated by FAER’s president and Michigan State University’s Food Science, Nutrition, Packaging Librarian, Anita Ezzo.

Featuring Howard Carrier, Social Sciences Liaison Librarian of James Madison University, and the World Agricultural Economic and Environmental Services’ Principal, Patrick O’Brien, the session detailed systemic issues in developed food systems that marginalize workers. As the session’s description states, “the U.S. government wants to limit entry of immigrants, many of whom come to work on farms in the United States. U.S. farmers depend upon these workers to produce food to feed Americans. Similarly, the United Kingdom depends on workers from Eastern Europe, but migration will be limited when Brexit takes effect.”

In particular, both O’Brien and Carrier discussed implicit cultural mores and explicit economic and political policies of national boundaries in the English speaking world. Both speakers described an agro-economic reliance on, but social enmity toward, foreign labor. In the US and UK alike, this animosity has contributed to recent political changes. Whilst O’Brien elucidated the realities of a long-standing conflict of legal and illegal migrant Mexican labor, (which currently holds the American spotlight after the recent border policy enforcement,) Carrier discussed the future probabilities of a similar outcome for Eastern European laborers in a post-Brexit UK.

As commercial entities, members of the agricultural community must maximize their profitability to compete with foreign imports. In the United States, the agricultural sector contributes about $180 billion (1%) of the gross domestic product, and for the United Kingdom, farming is about $18 billion USD (0.6-0.7% GDP). Today both nations rely on foreign labor to keep products affordable, and companies profitable. Willing and able legal and illegal Mexican farm workers cost farmers less than American citizens. In the UK, non-UK European Union laborers help minimize costs by supplying seasonal labor demand.  

However, the cultural perspective on both of these working populations has been stark dissension toward the alien “other”. Both countries contain populations that perceive these foreigners as stealing jobs, pilfering money, and creating dangerous and strange communities. To date, this point of view led to, as O’Brien describes, an extremely arduous process (for workers and farmers alike) to keep Mexican employment above board.  A similar viewpoint contributed to EU separatist movements in the UK. However the danger of these perspectives in the farm sector is not just in rising costs for agricultural businesses, but indeed a shortage in the US’ and UK’s food supply!  Although farming, agriculture, and food products are part of the economic markets, their outputs are necessary for individuals’ comfort and health. Without foreign migrant labor, how will food make it from the field to on our plates?

For some, the inclusion of this session at a library conference may have seemed strange. What does the social and political realm of the US and UK’s agricultural economy have to do with libraries? Well, libraries and librarians can do a lot to help change our food systems for the better!

The International Federation of Library Associations (of which SLA cross-pollinates much with) recently launched an International Advocacy Program that shows how libraries can impact and help each of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals that the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for. For goal number two, for example, “End Hunger, Achieve Food Security and Improved Nutrition, and Promote Sustainable Agriculture,” libraries can help by supporting “agricultural research and data on how to make crops more productive and sustainable” and “public access for farmers to online resources like local market prices, weather reports, and new equipment.” Another relatable example is goal number ten, to “reduce inequality within and among countries,” which libraries can support as “neutral and welcoming spaces that make learning accessible to all, including marginalized groups like migrants, refugees, minorities, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities” and providing “equitable access to information that supports social, political, and economic inclusion.”

I urge all librarians (not just those specialized in food, agriculture, environmental resource management) to continue to help learn, advocate for, and support greater cultural changes that greatly impacts our food system.

FAER Hosted session: Edible Pharmacopoeia: Culinary Herbs, Spices and Health

By Necia Parker-Gibson 

This detailed and fascinating talk dealt with the medicinal properties of a handful of well-known spices, which are commonly in the cupboard for culinary use. 


To start, Geo Giordano, MSc, RH (AHG), a registered Medical Herbalist, reminded us that medicinal plants were used in lieu of pharmaceutical drugs until 1925 or longer, depending on the disease, the drug and where one lived, both geographically and culturally, and then we entered the descriptions and discussion.

Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and fennel, among others, (including cacao, the source of chocolate, as a bonus) were pulled out as examples to draw from each to the broader health consequences of their use, including dosages in some cases. Sources were cited to document reported effects in the literature of specific active factors in the spices against chronic illnesses, including some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases like asthma. Many of the ones noted are anti-inflammatory, among other properties that vary by the spice.

There are also remedies among the spices for less deadly but trying problems, such as hot flashes (fennel seed is recommended) and athlete’s foot (powdered or stick cinnamon in water as a foot soak). In most cases, the amount of the herb or spice necessary for therapeutic effect is considerably larger than what one might typically use in cooking (1 teaspoon of cinnamon per serving of oatmeal a day, vs. a shake of cinnamon over the top, for example), and the source must be fresh (incentive to throw out the jar of cardamom from six years’ ago Christmas cookies). And many are more effective if consumed several times a day, no hardship with cacao/chocolate, as she cheerfully expressed. Ms. Giordano consults with doctors at Johns Hopkins University and at the VA on alternative medicine, so she is a well-respected expert. The registered herbalist program at Johns Hopkins, which she graduated from, is one of just a few in the country.

cinnamon-stickMany of the herbs or spices originate in tropical or semi-tropical areas of Asia and South America (the largest source of cinnamon is Ceylon, for example), which may be affected by climate change; costs and availability may change, or the crops may be planted in new areas if conditions allow. It can be noted that there is commentary to the contrary easily found about the medicinal or health benefits of some of the spices, such as the National Institute of Health’s flyer, Herbs at a Glance: Cinnamon which states that cinnamon is not effective against diabetes: “High-quality clinical evidence (i.e., studies in people) to support the use of cinnamon for any medical condition is generally lacking. An analysis of five clinical trials concluded that cinnamon does not appear to affect factors related to diabetes and heart disease.”. In fact, the description of the session from the program recognizes that “determining their bioactive properties and mechanisms of action within a nutritional context is challenging.” Probably time and research will resolve the questions.

This session was sponsored by ASCESS, on Wednesday, June 13 2018 at the annual SLA conference in Baltimore, MD.