The Good Samaritan: More Than Just a Biblical Story

An issue was brought up by a fellow classmate of mine this past week regarding a lack of food donation by massive food distribution companies, like the ones seen in our campus dining halls. The obvious reason for avoiding food donation of leftovers the risk of potential injury and lawsuit. However, my classmate brought to my attention a very interesting law commonly referred to as “The Good Samaritan Law.”

“The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act promotes food recovery by limiting the liability of donors to instances of gross negligence or intentional misconduct. The Act further states that, absent gross negligence or intentional misconduct, persons, gleaners, and nonprofit organizations shall not be subject to civil or criminal liability arising from the nature, age, packaging, or condition of apparently wholesome food or apparently fit grocery products received as donations.”

Source: USDA

This piece of legislation is absolutely necessary for the transport and donation of food that can supply thousands of soup kitchens and other non-profit food organizations. It is important that excess food be either composted or donated, but the latter is certainly more beneficial to society as a whole.

I hope that the university and other institutions take this piece of legislation and run with it, as it would benefit all parties involved.

For more information on this bill see:

The USDA’s “A Citizen’s Guide to Food Recovery”

CalRecycle’s article here

or his EPA article “Feed People– Not Landfills”


Coffee, caffeine, and the men who cultivate it.

When I hit the library last night around 10 pm, my first stop wasn’t the bookshelf… I headed straight for the source of the college student’s liquid gold: coffee.

Coffee has become much more than the average cup of Joe, or even a caffeine fix. It’s become a way of life in many cosmopolitan areas, and of course on college campuses. Coffee is practical, social, and delicious. But the last time you filled your mug, did you think about where it came from?

This article from The Guardian has a lot to say about how green the coffee industry is, bean sources, growing techniques, and the economics of growing your morning cup.
In the context of sustainable agriculture, and natural growing techniques, the coffee industry is moving more and more towards disaster. While coffee beans naturally grow under the canopy of trees, they are now being cultivated on open plantations- using vast amounts of forest land, fertilizers, and irrigation. “Sun cultivation” may appear to produce higher yields, but is the environmental cost worth it? Many coffee producing countries also have the highest global deforestation rates.

What about concepts of industry like Fairtrade? Starbucks advertises Fairtrade coffee, but how, exactly, are the growers of this coffee benefitting from the Starbucks empire? Many coffee brewers today are moving towards a goal of higher profits and stability for third world coffee farmers, and for more sustainable growing practices. As the coffee industry becomes more aware of the consequences of current trade and growth practices, we are likely to see the industry take a greater interest in the livelihood of coffee farmers and in stewardship of the environment.