Bonnie Azab Powell

Bonnie Azab Powell was Grist's food editor until February 2011. A dot-com-bubble rider turned university refugee, Bonnie co-founded one of the first "food-politics" blogs, The Ethicurean, in May 2006 -- also coining that term to describe someone interested in sustainable, organic, local, and ethical (SOLE) food that also happens to be tasty.

Obsessed with our broken food system, she switched from writing freelance business and technology articles to SOLE food. Her work has appeared in a bunch of places printed on dead trees. She lives in the Bay Area, where she gardens half-assedly and cooks wholeheartedly while running two meat CSAs for small local farms. She loathes the word "foodie."

Buckle down

‘Farmers Market Desserts’ lets fruit, not sugar, be the star

Photos courtesy of Leo Gong/Chronicle Books Summer fruits from the farmers market are the supermodels of the produce world. Just like Heidi Klum doesn’t need makeup to be beautiful, a super-fresh White Lady peach or Seascape strawberry doesn’t need extra sweetening or seasoning to shine. But given the right recipe—one designed expressly for fruit and vegetables at their peak ripeness and flavor, not for their wooden supermarket facsimiles—they can really wow your tastebuds.   Just in time for June’s bounty of stone fruits and berries comes Farmers’ Market Desserts. Author Jennie Schacht and photographer Leo Gong visited dozens of farmers …

Chewing the scenery

A video smorgasbord of sustainable-food speakers

How we let our biology end up in the hands of Nestlé and Unilever and General Foods, we can leave to cultural historians to figure out, But we know now that in order to take back the ownership and responsibility for our health, and the biological integrity of our oceans and our land, we have to take back our mouths.…and take back our taste buds from those who would use them to accumulate financial capital and return it to those who create biological and social capital — away from people who steal the future and to those who heal the …

Pollan nation

Michael Pollan chronicles rise of the food movement(s)

(Watershed Media)In what is ostensibly a five-book review for the June 10 New York Review of Books, journalist Michael Pollan has an epic essay charting the emergence and character of the food movement. Or, as he puts it, “movements.” They are unified, for now at least, by little more than the recognition that industrial food production is in need of reform, “because its social/environmental/public health/animal welfare/gastronomic costs are too high.” (Pollan, of course, has been indispensable to the rise of this movement, even though he omits his 2006 best-seller, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, from his list of its catalysts — among …

'Wich hunt

Order up: Readers’ fave sandwich shops [PHOTOS]

(Jess Steinitz photo)We asked readers to nominate their favorite sustainable, locally owned sandwich shops — the ones sourcing their ingredients directly from nearby farms and turning them into “consistently and mind-blowingly good sandwiches,” as Grist’s Tom Philpott put it. Dozens of you shared your suggestions in the comments, but only two — Jess Steinitz and Nin Andrews — sent in their entries as requested via email with photos. (Both Jess and Nin nominated meatless restaurants, interestingly; we’ve noticed that vegetarians seem to have more energy than all you lethargic carnivores.) The crew of Ely’s to GoJess raves about VG Burgers …

Pop-Tart culture

Health risks of potassium bromate maybe not so ‘Fringe’

Fringe mad scientist Walter Bishop goes postal over potassium bromate The sci-fi TV show Fringe had a surreally satisfying sequence in the May 6 episode, available on, in which supposedly mad scientist Walter Bishop goes food shopping. Walter, who in the series spends a lot of time in alternate universes, is holding a box of Pop-Tart-like breakfast snacks when he suddenly glimpses the unpleasant parallel reality of the U.S. food system: Walter, picking up box of “Toaster Pastries” and muttering to himself: “Corn starch, soy lecithin, potassium bromate… potassium bromate?!!!! This supermarket is trying to kill us! You — …

Chewing the scenery

Oil spill may fatally wound Gulf fishing industry

Among the more than 600 animal species at risk from the massive oil spill in the Gulf are their bipedal predators. May usually marks the start of the Gulf fishing season, Capt. Kip Marquize tells the Natural Resources Defense Council in this video, but he and other Louisiana fishers are cooling their heels on the docks and rapidly running out of cash. Most fishers operate on thin margins, with only enough in the bank to buy equipment and ready their boats for May. “The spill could not have come at a worse time … We out of luck,” he says. …

Class act

CJR puts Philpott in the hot seat

(Bart Nagel Photography)Grist Food Editor and indefatigable reporter Tom Philpott recently spent some quality time on the other side of the tape recorder, for an in-depth Columbia Journalism Review interview about class and the U.S. food system. In the piece, titled “Food Fighter,” Philpott fields the de rigeur “is organic too expensive” question with aplomb and hits a few home runs about the structural economic underpinnings of cheap food, such as commodity and de-facto pollution subsidies, and the promise of intensive urban agriculture. He also reveals the inspiration for his getting actively interested in the food movement — Rudy Giuliani, …


The ‘femivore': New breed of feminist, or frontier throwback?

Playing chicken: Mad Men über-hausfrau Betty Draper and Bay Area poultry farmer Alexis Koefoed. Koefoed photo: Bart NagelHave locavores and feminists — factions that a few years ago, some bloggers believed to be fundamentally at odds — become allies? That’s what Peggy Orenstein suggests in her essay, “The Femivore’s Dilemma,” for today’s New York Times Magazine. The author of several best-selling nonfiction accounts of modern women’s life (and an acquaintance of mine), Orenstein thinks that “the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming [Mad Men housewife] Betty …


Websites that connect would-be farmers to land are blooming

A new website called the Midwest Farm Connection aims to connect new farmers with established farmland owners, and to the resources they need to get a sustainable operation up and running — from small-business advice to lists of possible funding sources. Farmers can also post classifieds with equipment for sale and internship opportunities. A project of the Illinois-based Land Connection, the site just launched, so there were only five listings of land available to start, ranging from 4.4 acres of former horse pasture near Madison, WI, to a certified organic 34-acre property in Indiana perfect for “a small holding farm, …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.