Tom Philpott

Tom Philpott was previously Grist's food writer. He now writes for Mother Jones.

Ethanol: the net-energy debate returns

Is ethanol skeptic Pimentel right after all?

In 2004, the USDA came out with a study (PDF) claiming that corn-derived ethanol delivers 67 percent more energy than it consumes in production. For many observers, including green-minded ethanol critics, the study delivered a …

The Mustache trumpets 'clean' coal

Tom Friedman, erstwhile Great Green Hope

Tom Friedman of the NYT gets a lot of love around here as the green movement’s great popularizer, someone whose plain-spoken pronouncements can convince politicians and plain folks alike to act on climate change, etc. …

Thoughts from a small farm during the midwinter lull

Before I became a farmer three growing seasons ago, I lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., and reveled in the array of top-flight local produce available from mid-spring to late fall. Long about January, though, a kind …

Make way CAFO-diesel

The latest beneficiary of biofuel subsidies: industrial feedlot operators.

So far, a huge amount of the government’s lavish support for biofuel has ended up on the bottom line of Archer Daniels Midland, the king of industrially produced, environmentally ruinous corn. Now another type of …

Why The Economist’s recent assault on “ethical food” missed the mark

Last month, the influential British newsweekly The Economist took the measure of the sustainable-food movement and found it wanting. “There are good reasons to doubt the claims made about three of the most popular varieties …

What we’ve learned from the biofuels series

Future or folly? Photo: iStockphoto After spending much of the last several months thinking about the biofuels boom and its implications in preparation for this special series, we’ve come to a few conclusions. Like other …

What Brazil can teach the U.S. about energy and ethanol

In 2006, Brazil officially achieved “energy independence” — that is, its oil exports came into line with imports and cancelled them out. No longer beholden to foreign suppliers for its energy needs, the nation theoretically …

It’s time for a real ‘food vs. fuel’ debate

Can U.S. farmers keep filling the nation’s bellies as they scramble to fuel its cars? Given its evident gravity, the question has drawn remarkably little debate. Like it or not, though, more and more food …

A thunderous 'No!' to faux guacamole

A Krafty concoction of hydrogenated goo gets its day in court.

Do I live in an ethanol bubble? Yes I do, for another day or so. But I'm coming up for air for long enough to give the finger to Kraft, the world's largest branded food conglomerate, for ripping off and desecrating one of the world's greatest food items. Kraft's heinous Guacamole Dip contains about 2 percent avocado, which is a little like marketing a Martini with 2 percent gin and the rest, well, corn liquor (ethanol). A woman in California is suing Kraft, arguing that the "guacamole" claim fraudulently promised an avocado-based concoction, and instead delivered, well, industrial goo designed to look avocado-y. Does she have a case?

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