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Samuel Fromartz's Posts

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Organic coffee deep-sixed

Due a recent decision over at the USDA's National Organic Program, organic coffee, in the U.S. at least, may be a thing of the past. I wrote about this decision on Salon and did not shout it out to Gristies right away (mea culpa), but I am now. The USDA decision, which affects the way small farmer cooperatives in the Third World are certified, will also dry up supplies of organic cocoa and curtail bananas. So eat your organic Dagoba bars now while they're still available. It doesn't look like there's a solution right away, though a friend over at …

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Still got the ‘mmmm’ factor

Over at Chews Wise, one of our contributors attended a book party in New York last night that featured a tasting of "gourmet" Twinkies, organic-vegan Twinkies, and the off-the-shelf commercial version. She declared the organic vegan version the winner: "It's much less sweet-tasting than the original, but still retained the 'mmmm' factor when it hit my mouth," she says. Just shows, you don't need an industrial food system to produce a Twinkie, just a damn good recipe.

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Foodie kisses all around

We've got a pretty funny take over at Chews Wise on what went down at the Mackey-Pollan debate last night: It turned out to be more of a mutual love fest than a smackdown. Hungry (and penniless) graduate students rubbed shoulders with well-heeled foodies, including superstar chef Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, nutritionist and best-selling author Marion Nestle, and Bill Niman, co-founder of Niman Ranch meats. Of course you're wondering what there was to eat. Aside from the foodie tidbits, the writer, Carmel Wroth, got to the core of what these guys were about. Read the full post here.

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Also, ew

Denise Caruso, author of Intervention: Confronting the Real Risks of Genetic Engineering and Life on a Biotech Planet, has an excellent op-ed that explains the deep concerns about animal cloning. If you have doubts about this issue, or want to be better informed, this piece is a good place to start. She makes the point that the FDA has not assessed the real risks of these animals -- not enough is known about them. More importantly, the subject of the FDA risk assessment was extremely limited. In the case of cloned meat and milk, for example, the FDA focused on …

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And also: ew

After the Washington Post published a long (and I would say incomplete) thumb-sucker on whether cloned livestock could be organic, the USDA shut the door on that possibility. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) issued a statement on its web site today that says: Q. Is cloning as a livestock production practice allowed under the NOP regulations? A. No. Cloning as a production method is incompatible with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and is prohibited under the NOP regulations. Q. May animals produced using cloning technology, or clones, be considered organic under the NOP regulations? A. No. Animals produced …

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A special series on the biz angles

Reuters is pumping out stories from its "biofuels summit," looking into all the biz angles of the story from the U.S., Asia, and Europe. In a previous life, I woulda been editing this stuff ... and Tom Philpott reporting it. It's straight news, so I leave the sage commentary to you Gristies.

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Bits from an interview with Whole Foods co-president

Bonnie Powell, aka "DairyQueen" over at Ethicurean, has posted snippets from an in-depth interview with Walter Robb, co-president of Whole Foods. Here's a couple of bites from the full interview. On media: If media were to start talking about sustainability in business, and start talking about it as if it was a given, and asking "Why aren't you?" as opposed to saying "is this really true" or "is this a fact," you could begin to shift the dialogue to where businesses would not think about operating any other way. On consumers: It's not a one-way dialogue from brand to consumer …

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How the internet is changing news consumption habits

I've made a living for two decades in the media business, and at times have subscribed to three newspapers, along with countless magazines. But now I'm wondering: Is it time to ditch the hard copy, save those trees, and avoid the weekly chore of recycling a bundle of papers? This obviously won't help the newspaper business, which is hemorrhaging subscribers, nor my friends who still work in the ink biz, but I'm realizing I no longer need paper. Newsprint's a dinosaur. A few years ago, I'd often plop down on the couch with two newspapers and a cup of coffee. …

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Cough up a little dough for a cute cause

The birth of an organic calf on Dec. 12 wouldn't be news, except for the fact that it was the first organic calf born on the nation's first organic dairy research farm at the University of New Hampshire. Now, for a price, you can name the cute little heifer -- a worthwhile expense, if you follow the research money in organic ag. Last time I looked, the USDA spent over $2 billion on conventional ag research. Right now the Organic Farming Research Foundation is drumming up support to get an additional $3.1 million added to the $2 million appropriated for …

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Consumer Reports finds chicken riddled with bacteria

I didn't catch this two-day-old story until now, but it's causing me to reheat my homemade chicken broth to boiling. Consumer Reports found a stunning 83 percent of all chickens it tested harbored campylobacter or salmonella, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne disease. And that was up from 49 percent of chickens tested just three years ago. Even more troubling, it found much of the bacteria was resistant to antibiotics. Why is this an issue? Because the Centers for Disease Control estimates 40,000 people get sick and 600 die each year from salmonella. Campylobacteriosis is estimated to affect over 1 …

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