Recent Stories

Pesticides and produce: Environmental group lists the cleanest and dirtiest fruits and vegetables

An environmental advocacy group is out today with its annual report on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables. Raisin lovers, take note. Nearly all conventionally-grown raisins are contaminated by traces of two or more pesticides, according to test data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture cited in Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, the report by the Environmental Working Group, based in Washington, D.C. The average sample contained more than 13 pesticides, and one sample tested positive for 26. Even most organic raisins sampled by the USDA tested positive for at least one pesticide. The environmental group recommends that consumers buy organic raisins when possible, or avoid raisins in favor of fresh fruits and vegetables with lower levels of pesticide contamination. According to the analysis, the 12 items with the most pesticide contamination were, from worst to best: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes.

Evans: Sick leave for all workers just makes good sense

There won’t be any shortage of lessons to take away from the coronavirus crisis that has sent Iowa and the rest of the United States reeling. One lesson that deserves plenty of discussion now, rather than months from now, involves sick leave for American workers. Paying employees to stay home when they are ill is not just an economic issue for employers and employees alike – although it certainly does involve dollars and cents. It’s just good sense. Paid sick leave – or, more accurately, the absence of paid sick leave – can be a full-fledged public health problem.

Coronavirus is poised to inflame inequality in schools

The threat of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, is forcing educators across the country to think about what they’ll do if they have to close their schools for weeks or even months at a time. State and federal agencies have advised schools to create online learning plans to minimize the disruption to student learning. For some schools, that’s a small leap. Their students have internet connections at home, laptops they can work from, teachers who know how to design online lessons and a strong foundation of in-school blended learning experience. But the fact is, these schools are rare.

Evans: There should not be a price tag to vote

Iowans take considerable pleasure in enumerating the various ways our state stands apart from the other 49 states – beyond our endangered first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. For many years, we pointed with pride to the fact that Iowa’s high school graduation rate was tops in the United States. We like to remind friends from other states that Iowa farmers
produce more corn, hogs and eggs than farmers anywhere else. Sports fans beamed over the University of Iowa wrestling team’s success from 1978 to 1986, when the Hawkeyes won the NCAA title a record nine consecutive times. That is a longer string of NCAA team championships than any other Division I university in any other sport.

Western monarch butterfly numbers critically low for second straight year

Monarch butterfly populations are at a critical low, according to the annual Western Monarch Count in California. In the fall and winter, western monarchs (Danaus plexippus plexippus) stop to roost along the Pacific coast in California. Here, under the direction of the Xerces Society, nearly 200 trained volunteers find and count monarchs for the annual Western Thanksgiving and New Year’s counts, now in its 23rd year. And for the second year in a row, the counts have generated troubling numbers. Fewer than 30,000 individuals were found — the number, researchers say, may be the tipping point for the population.