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Erik Hoffner's Posts

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Meat man

Heritage Foods’ Patrick Martins wants to put slaughterhouses back in the city [Q&A]

Rare breed: Patrick Martins moves old-school meat.(Les Meyers photo)After founding Slow Food USA in 2000, Patrick Martins went on to cofound Heritage Foods USA, a nationwide purveyor of meat from sustainably raised, heritage-breed animals, which he continues to head. And every Sunday, he records a radio show & podcast, The Main Course, from New York City. Knowing he's a man of strong opinions, Grist recently asked him by email for his take on some current trends in the sustainable food world. Q. When did your passion for good food begin? A. When I began eating three meals a day. As …

Read more: Food, Living

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Conservation Conversion

Russia’s public conservation lands under threat [updated]

The Khimki Forest Park.Photo: oDRussia[JULY 21 UPDATE] Some time during the third week of July, workers for the French construction company Vinci began cutting trees along the route of the proposed road. They were discovered by activists and when they could not produce a cutting permit, a fight broke out and the workers chased off. Activists have now set up a tent camp in the new forest clearing and have kept the company's saws and bulldozers at bay. However, a manager of the cutting crew drove into the camp late at night and assaulted the leader of the activists, Evgenia …

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The Greenhorns

Meet a young farmer leading a greenhorn ‘guerilla’ movement

Severine von Tscharner Fleming, farmer and director of the film The Greenhorns. Severine von Tscharner Fleming is the director of the forthcoming film The Greenhorns and founder of the crucial new young farmer organization of the same name. Here's her no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners perspective on the young farmers movement. Make no mistake, this woman is dedicated and smart -- and she's recruiting. Q. What is Greenhorns all about? A. It's about the community of young farmers in this country. We are a nonprofit organization that works to promote, recruit, and support young farmers. Mostly what we do is produce media -- …

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Old growth, slow gain

Change is often incremental. Good change, usually glacial. That describes the update I recently received from a friend in Poland, anyhow, whose work I had just profiled in Earth Island Journal, here. His group's efforts to win additional protections for the Bialowieza Primeval Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe's largest lowland old growth forest, had experienced a euphoric high this fall when the country's Environment Minister announced a plan to expand protections by an ambitious 300%, and called for a conference at the forest's park HQ. The backdrop was the forest itself, crowding in around the HQ in …

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Asian carp: battle or bait?

News of the impending Asian Carp invasion of the Great Lakes is sobering. But I have a solution. Are you listening, Maine Lobsterman's Association? These fish have been clogging waterways and outcompeting native fish up and down the Mississippi River system ever since they escaped the fish farms where they were used to clean tanks of unwanted algae. This according to a story in the Guardian which also says that 9 of every 10 fish in some stretches of the river are now carp, which "eat up to 40 percent of their body weight in a single day. By sucking …

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The sins of Syngenta

New report calls for atrazine review

An important new report on atrazine was published yesterday and it's about time. Pesticide Action Network and Land Stewardship Project have brought together the science and farming communities to make a strong statement about the need for a new review of the herbicide atrazine and to outline alternatives for its use. I've followed the atrazine issue since it was revealed as an endocrine disruptor; it is banned in the European Union but remains an incredibly common herbicide in the United States. According to this New York Times story, atrazine causes the feminization of frogs at 0.1 parts per billion and …

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36 years and countless converts later....

More power, less roadkill: How one professor’s landscape has shifted

I took Environmental Studies 101 during my first college semester 20 years ago with Dick Andrus, a professor who has just marked 36 years of teaching at Binghamton University. I thought it'd be good to check back with him and see what he's talking about in that class now. Q. What are your new Envi 101 students like? They coming to the class more 'eco-savvy' than my class did? Andrus at work: still planting seeds of wisdom after thirty-six years.Vic LamoreuxA. I don't think so. They don't seem to connect much with environmental issues. They've done a lot of computer …

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Ah, the sweet smell of composting putrescents

Black (fly) magic

Adult black soldier fly.blacksoldierflyblog.comBlack soldier fly larvae are all the rage in composting, and the star performer in a new kind of "ultimate vermicomposting" system. These critters will devour anything biological that you can throw at them, including items that normally cannot be composted and instead end up in the trash, so called 'putrescent' wastes like meat scraps and dairy. And what you wind up with is big fat delicious grubs, perfect food for chickens or fish in a charming and tasty backyard closed loop system. And on a larger scale, their culture could help towns and cities deal with …

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Octopus(sy) Galore

James Bond calls for more marine protected areas

There was unfortunate news from PEER recently that the Obamans/NOAA Chief Jane Lubchenco have no plans to consider new marine protected areas. She cited lack of funds as the reason. Hum. In an era where oceans are under so much pressure, we need to prioritize efforts proven to bring life back to the seas, like MPAs. They work. As Jennifer Jacquet points out at the Guilty Planet blog: Research by Callum Roberts et al. (2001) published in Science found: a network of five small reserves in St. Lucia increased adjacent catches of artisanal fishers by between 46 and 90%, depending …

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Bioreactor reaction

Gulf dead zone fix falls flat

It's good to see a big Midwest "land grant" agricultural program that's concerned about the Gulf Dead Zone, and upper Midwest farms' large contribution to it. But this release about a study underway at Iowa State University aiming to reduce nitrogen entering the Mississippi River from farm fields falls flat when you realize it's just a technical fix for the status quo of over-fertilized conventional commodity crops. Half of the nitrogen that makes it to the Gulf is from commercial fertilizer, and 15 percent is from livestock manure. The rest comes from wastewater treatment plants, industry, and rainfall, according to …

Read more: Food