Business & Technology

Farm team

It takes a community to sustain a small farm

A local grocery store in Pleasantville, Iowa.Wikimedia Commons These days it seems the most popular person to be in the food system is the “local farmer.” Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and their size and popularity grow all the time. Local food is trendy–even the First Family is in on it. But as anyone who has ever raised grain or livestock can tell you, the farmer is not the only person in the chain of players from her farm to your fork. In addition to producers, your food chain includes processors, distributors or transporters, and retailers. In other words, …

The Second Decade

The world in 2020: China, the U.S., the global South, and the planet

This was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission. As the second decade of the twenty-first century begins, we find ourselves at one of those relatively rare moments in history when major power shifts become visible to all. If the first decade of the century witnessed profound changes, the world of 2009 nonetheless looked at least somewhat like the world of 1999 in certain fundamental respects: the United States remained the world’s paramount military power, the dollar remained the world’s dominant currency, and NATO remained its foremost military alliance, to name just three. By the …

Gayer's prayers

Economics as pathology, part two

The other day I complained about an article by Brookings economist Ted Gayer. So did Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, Ryan Avent, and Ezra Klein. As I am a nobody writing on an obscure website, I was roundly ignored by all parties, but Gayer has responded to the others. His response only reinforces the impression that he sees the world entirely in terms of platitudes from Economics 101. Gayer’s basic shtick in his response is to set up a dichotomy: either people and businesses behave rationally or they don’t; either “firms are better at identifying profit-making abatements” or “regulators are better at …

New Year Resolutions

Lose 10 pounds? Get a new job? It’s that time of year again and carbon could make your New Year's resolutions much more successful - - and profitable.

marriage of convenience

Can GMO seeds be ‘sustainable’?

The New York Times has another piece encouraging a flare-up in the cage match between organic farmers and those in favor of genetic engineering as the solution to future food needs. This one is centered on the “unlikely” but happy marriage of a plant geneticist and an organic farmer: Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak have every reason not to get along. Ronald, a plant scientist, has spent her past two decades manipulating rice from her lab bench, bending the grain’s DNA to her whim. Adamchak, meanwhile, is an organic farmer, teaching college students the best practices of an environmentally gentle …

The quintessence of Mackeyism

John Mackey and the limits of “conscious capitalism”

John Mackey: will the unfettered market bring him down? Photo: JOEM500, via Flickr Author’s note: In the original version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that Mackey had resigned from the Whole Foods board. Actually, he resigned from the chairmanship of the board, but retained his seat on the board. I regret the error. ———– Under pressure from a variety of shareholders, Whole Foods founder John Mackey has stepped down as chairman of his company’s board of directors. He will continue serving as CEO. Just before the announcement, The New Yorker ran a long and entertaining profile of Mackey by …

Reality bites

The coming climate panic?

One morning in the not too distant future, you might wake up and walk to your mailbox. The newspaper is in there and it’s covered with shocking headlines: Coal Plants Shut Down! Airline Travel Down 50 Percent! New Federal Carbon Restrictions in Place! Governor Kicked Out of Office for Climate Indolence! Sometimes change is abrupt and unsettling. History shows that societies in crisis too often leap from calm reaction to outright panic.The only thing your bath-robed, flip-flopped, weed-eating neighbor wants to talk about over the fence isn’t the Yankees, but, of all things … climate change. Shaking your head, you …

You ought-a know

Top green stories of the ’00s

POP ‘TIL YOU DROPCelebs and movies and magazines and TV go green Everyone who’s anyone made a show of going green during the ‘00s — sometimes literally. Cameron Diaz had her Trippin’ series on MTV, kicking off a trend later embraced by stars like Brad Pitt and Adrian Grenier. Leonardo DiCaprio whipped up both a TV show and a documentary, the Discovery Channel launched Planet Green TV, and NBC declared that “Green Is Universal.” Countless other celebs “went green” in their own little (sometimes very little) ways. The media jumped all over this trend, with Julia Roberts and George Clooney …

Chicken or Egg – – Health Care or Climate Change?

President Obama, who will personally participate in the Copenhagen climate talks this week, said last Sunday that he expects to get a health care bill on his desk before Christmas. The barriers to meeting that deadline may revolve around the answer to an age-old question: which comes first – – the health care chicken or the climate change egg? Senators who were previously close to signing onto his health care package are hesitating for several reasons, but most of them revolve around cost. That’s not just  worry about the overall price tag, but also a question of how much Congress …

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