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Bonnie Azab Powell's Posts

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Sweetness, I was only joking when I said

Help the Corn Refiners rename high-fructose corn syrup

Yes, syrup, no syrup: Too bad "candy corn" is already taken, too.  Photo: ParlHigh-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the sweetener everyone now loves to hate, is getting a makeover, as Tom Laskawy wrote last week. The National Corn Refiners Association has announced it's changing the name of the industrially manufactured sweetener to the more natural-sounding "corn sugar." "Of course they want this change. HFCS is the new trans fat. Everyone thinks HFCS is poison," writes nutritionist Marion Nestle on her blog. She goes on to say that she doesn't think the sweetener is any more unhealthy than refined white sugar (although some scientists …

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I swear to tell the truthiness

Colbert to Congress: What would Jesus do about migrant farm workers? [VIDEO]

Kudos to Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert for spotlighting how schizophrenic Americans are when it comes to an unpopular issue -- immigration -- despite how these much-maligned migrant workers are the linchpin of America's beloved cheap-food system. Colbert appeared with United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo S. Rodriguez today to testify before Congress for a hearing called "Protecting America's Harvest" held by the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law. He testified in character about a day he spent working in the fields, having taken up the UFW on its dare to American citizens …

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Chewing the scenery

Stephen Colbert takes to the field — and the witness stand — for farm workers

Updated Friday, Sept. 24: Read about Colbert's performance before Congress here. Animal-rights groups have plenty of celebrity spokesmodels, most notably Alicia Silverstone. But labor rights, in particular for immigrant farm workers? Not the sexiest issue, apparently. That is, until Stephen Colbert decided to have some fun with it. In July, the Comedy Central faux-conservative host gave a national spotlight to the United Farm Workers' Take Our Jobs campaign, daring American citizens to sign up for field work and offering job placement services in California, Florida, and elsewhere. So far, as the United Farm Workers (UFW) reports, 8,600 people have responded, …

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Thicke talky

New Agtivist: Francis Thicke wants to lead Iowa agriculture to a greener future

Moover and shaker-upper: Francis Thicke, reform candidate for Iowa secretary of agriculture, on his organic dairy farm.Photo: Will Meredith There's a lot at stake in the 2010 mid-term elections. Democrats are biting their nails over the House and Senate races; Grist is highlighting the 37 governorships that are up for grabs. In this picture, the contest for secretary of agriculture in Iowa might seem a tad obscure to non-Iowans -- especially if you, like most people, would have trouble naming your own state's Ag Sec. But Iowa is the big kahuna when it comes to farming, producing a fifth of …

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Butter up

Meat eating can be an environmentally friendly choice, argues George Monbiot

As a meat-eater, I've long found it convenient to categorise veganism as a response to animal suffering or a health fad. But, faced with these figures, it now seems plain that it's the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue.-George Monbiot, "Why vegans were right all along," Dec. 2002 Guardian columnist and well-known environmentalist George Monbiot ate the above words yesterday -- with a dash of salted crow, one imagines. In a column titled "I was wrong about veganism. Let them eat meat -- but farm it properly," he tells how a book …

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Once there were parking lots

New Agtivist: Gene Fredericks is thinking inside the city’s big box

Seeing green: Gene Fredericks of Big Green Boxes imagines fish ponds, waterfalls, and racks and racks of edible greens and herbs in defunct spaces like this one. (Bart Nagel Photography) In our New Agtivist interviews, we talk to people who are working to change this country's f'ed-up food system in inspiring ways. They're the bane of urban and suburban areas alike: the vacant, boarded-up K-Marts and Home Depot Expos, squatting like concrete cowpies amidst a landscape of weedy parking lots. But where most people see blight and a waste of space, San Francisco Bay Area entrepreneur Gene Fredericks sees opportunity: …

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Trucks stop here

Three mobile vendors that are 'Feeding the City' one quick, guilt-free snack at a time

With the economy in full recession, yet the good-food movement swelling in size -- spurred in part by mass recalls of salmonella-tainted cheap eggs and listeria-contaminated sandwiches -- mobile eateries cooking up tasty, mid-priced meals from fresh, local ingredients are gaining speed. Emily Gertz recently reported on this trend for Grist's Feeding the City series; here's a closer look at three of these sustainably minded and social-media-savvy small businesses. Are there food trucks like these roaming your city? Give them a shout-out in the comments! Curb appeal: Primo's Parilla setting up for the lunch crowd in Emeryville, Calif.(Bart Nagel Photography) …

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Chewing the scenery

Michael Pollan on egg recall and the high costs of cheap food

Poor Michael Pollan. Every time there's a mass food recall -- which these days is pretty dang often, the latest being 380,000 pounds of Walmart deli meat -- every journalist and producer in America fills up his in-box with requests to comment. But that's because The Omnivore's Dilemma author still does the best job of anyone around in distilling complicated food-system issues into digestible soundbites. Here, CNN's Sanjay Gupta -- Pollan-interview lottery winner du jour -- asks him whether it's worth it to pay more for eggs. Since Pollan recently explained to the Wall Street Journal why $8 for a …

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Reality bites

Jamie Oliver wins Emmy for 'Food Revolution'

Amazingly, given the conspicuous absence of Snooki, dancing routines, or fat people competing to get thin, English chef and food activist Jamie Oliver won an Emmy Saturday for Outstanding Reality TV Program. Comprising just six episodes and ending in April, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution took place in Huntington, West Virginia, supposedly the most obese city in America, where he tried to promote healthy cooking as an alternative to crap food. Oliver defeated the sterling contenders Undercover Boss, Antiques Roadshow, Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D-List, and Mythbusters. "I cant believe it we won the Emmy for Food Revolution!! Thanks to …

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Spray it backward

More research linking pesticide exposure to ADHD in kids

Truck spraying pesticides.Last week, I was shopping at a Berkeley grocery store with a friend visiting from another country. She wanted to buy blueberries for her two toddlers, and grabbed a big carton on sale for just $2. Inwardly, I winced, and I couldn't help myself -- I blurted out, "Um, blueberries are on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list for pesticide residues. The organic section's over here ... " Over in the organic section, she was appalled. "These are three times as expensive!" I tried to explain. "The sweeter the fruit, the harder it is to grow organically, …

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