Twilight Greenaway

Twilight was Grist's food editor from 2011-2012. Follow her on twitter.

Farm Bill

Hacking the Farm Bill

A slide from the winning entry. Rebecca Klein wasn’t expecting a lot when she signed up to attend last week’s Farm Bill Hackathon. This public health expert from the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University had never heard of a hackathon — a gathering of computer programmers who lock themselves in a room to tackle epic projects with unrestricted creativity — until around two weeks before the event. While the idea of bringing together other sustainable food advocates with computer programmers interested in helping them build tools appealed to her, it also seemed a little ambitious. The …

Food

Fair trade lite: Fair Trade USA moves away from worker co-ops

Maya Vinic Co-op in Chiapas, Mexico. Photo: Courtesy of Peace CoffeeCompared to so many other purchasing decisions — like which humane meat label to trust, for instance — the “Certified Fair Trade” logo has made buying ethically produced coffee a relatively simple choice. Most of us either buy fair trade or we don’t.   But that’s all about to change. As The New York Times reported earlier this month, Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) is breaking away from Fair Trade International, its global parent, and creating new, less stringent standards. For American coffee drinkers, this will soon mean two fair trade …

Industrial Agriculture

Pesticides on trial [VIDEO]

On Dec. 3, the 27th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, anti-pesticide advocates are bringing the six largest pesticide companies to trial. Or rather, to something called The Permanent People’s Tribunal, an international body that “officially facilitates the trial, lacking any set of binding national laws.” According to a recent press release from the North American branch of Pesticide Action Network (PAN), a group of attorneys, witnesses, and jurors will approximate a process that puts the companies — Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, and Dupont, or the “Big 6″ — on trial, for what PAN calls “their crimes against humanity, including …

Urban Agriculture

Talking vertical farms: An interview with Dickson Despommier

Your classic vertical farm rendering. Rendering: Blake KurasekIf you haven’t seen the slickly rendered architectural models of farms growing in skyscapers, you probably live under a rock. When I first I saw one — this was a few years back, they’ve been making their way around the internet for years — I got a little tingly. Had the clean, green future of food really arrived? Since then, I’ve come to wonder about how realistic these models are, how likely it is that we’ll ever really move farming out of rural areas and into skyscrapers, and whether it’d really be any …

Ready to Talk Turkey?: Join us for a live Twitter chat on Tuesday, Nov 22

Where: The Twittersphere (and Grist.org) When: Tuesday, November 22 at 1 p.m., East Coast /10 am, West Coast Who: People with things to say about turkey, Thanksgiving, and aggressive napping Why: Who gets any real work done in a holiday week, anyway? This Thanksgiving, the hard choices begin well before Uncle Bob hits the whiskey. In fact, they start on the plate: Should you buy heritage bird? And why, as a Grist reader asked recently, are there so few “other alternatives between $7.50/pound heritage breed and $0.75/pound conventionally-raised turkeys.” This is a time when the whole nation comes together around …

Farm Bill

The Farm Bill: The view from the grassroots

The odds that most of us laypeople will have any opportunity to influence this year’s Farm Bill process are looking awfully slim. Sure, there’s still a chance the current, nearly opaque supercommittee process, and the piece of it now known as “the Secret Farm Bill,” could break down. If that happens, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) said last week: It could proceed under a more normal legislative process through both the House and Senate committees early next year, or the current farm bill could be extended for a year, with the committees coming back to work on a new …