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Paula Crossfield's Posts

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Why laying off ag reporter Philip Brasher is bad for food

Philip Brasher.Well-known D.C.-based agriculture reporter Philip Brasher was recently let go by the Des Moines Register. His reporting also often appeared in USA Today; both papers are owned by the parent company Gannett. The loss is a reflection of the climate in journalism today, in which most mainstream media is forced to make cutbacks to editorial and reporting staff due to losses in advertising revenue. But here is why you should really be concerned about the future of food and agriculture policy in this country. Journalism is necessary to inform the public and maintain our democracy. The agriculture beat was …

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Growing bolder

The (not so) New Agtivist: Joan Gussow, mother of the sustainable food movement

A version of this post first appeared on Civil Eats Joan Gussow in her garden.Photos: Chelsea GreenFew would argue that Joan Dye Gussow is the mother of the sustainable food movement. For more than 30 years, she's been writing, teaching (she is emeritus chair of the Teachers College nutrition program at Columbia University), and speaking about our unsustainable food system and how to fix it. (This excellent article by journalist Brian Halweil showcases her work in detail.) Now more than ever, her ideas have wings. Michael Pollan, for example, has said, "Once in a while, when I have an original …

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Tower of strength

New Agtivist: Jenga Mwendo grows community in New Orleans

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. 

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For sale: Ivory tower, needs new foundation, video

The 'Troubled Waters' of Big Ag’s academic influence

Last month, the University of Minnesota caused a stir when it decided to postpone the release of a film that focuses on the effect agriculture is having on U.S. waterways from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Troubled Waters -- a film directed by Larkin McPhee for the University's Bell Museum of Natural History, part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences -- was held up, according to University Relations (the university’s fundraising and PR office) to "allow time for a review of the film’s scientific content." Yet ace reporting by Molly Preismeyer at the Twin Cities …

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Aerie faerie

New Agtivist: Urban farmer Annie Novak aims sky high

Basket case: Annie Novak prepares to harvest some of Eagle Street Farm's bounty.Photo: Yann Mabille 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. For the next few weeks, as part of the Feeding the City series, we'll be focusing on urban agtivists. Urban farmer Annie Novak is on a mission to inspire New Yorkers to grow, cook, and eat good food -- and to nurture the relationships that make it all possible. Born in Chicago, she is the oldest daughter of an artist mother and a …

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Pen and stink

‘CAFO Reader’ editor Daniel Imhoff on the ills of factory ‘farms’

The CAFO Reader -- a new book featuring essays by farmers Wendell Berry, Becky Weed, and Fred Kirschenmann, Republican speech writer Matthew Scully, journalist Michael Pollan, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., among many others -- gives a full picture of the environmental, social, and ethical implications of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), and includes a section of essays on "Putting the CAFO Out to Pasture." A CAFO is an Environmental Protection Agency designation for a farming facility that keeps numerous animals raised for food in close confinement, with the potential to pollute. These facilities often produce extreme amounts of waste, …

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Vilsack in Copenhagen

Getting at the roots of unsustainable U.S. ag policy

Cross-posted from Civil Eats. Around one third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the way we produce, process, distribute, and consume the food we eat according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Meanwhile, farmers the world over will be the most affected by climate change, as higher carbon in the atmosphere and higher temperatures increase erratic weather patterns, pests, and disease occurrence, while decreasing water availability, disrupting relationships with pollinators and lowering yield and the efficacy of herbicides like glyphosate (aka Round-Up) -- all detailed in a revealing new report from the USDA called The Effects of …

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A new direction on research at the USDA?

Last week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack gave a speech on the role of research at the USDA at the launch of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the research arm of that agency formerly referred to as the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES). Vilsack had this to say in his kick-off speech: The opportunity to truly transform a field of science happens at best once a generation. Right now, I am convinced, is USDA's opportunity to work with the Congress, the other science agencies, and with our partners in industry, academia, and the nonprofit …