Samuel Fromartz

Samuel Fromartz is author of the recently published Organic, Inc.: Natural Foods and How They Grew. See excerpts and background at his website.

An organic House

… or at least one representative

The House of Representatives held its first Ag committee hearing ever on organic agriculture today. I attended the hearing and found out Rep. Dennis Cardoza, the California Democrat who chairs of the House subcommittee on horticulture and organic agriculture, belongs to an organic CSA! For a full report, see the post on Chews Wise.

The last organic latte

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 PCC -- in Grist's backyard of Seattle -- tells me the solution might be to build certification organizations in local markets. In the meantime, however, certifiers, coffee farmers and NGOs that work in the Third World are perplexed and upset. I'll be updating over at Chews Wise blog and post any big moves here.

And you thought a Twinkie was junk food?

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.

Pollan-Mackey smackdown turns lovefest

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.

Cloned meat: at what risk?

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.

USDA to cloners: This 'animal' can't be organic

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.

Reuters boffo on biofuels

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.

Whole Enterprise

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:

Should I ditch my newspaper?

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.