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How to make healthy, safe food-bank donations 

In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. --------------- Time to green the canned-food drive.From the Grist Twitter feed: Looking for healthy safe nonperishable foods to donate to food banks. Ideas?  -- Janieo  
  Dear Janieo,  Thanks so much for this question. I must admit that sometimes I feel like I'm fiddling while Rome burns -- prattling on about the merits of artisan chocolate while people go hungry. To understand the issue of hunger better, I contacted …

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Antibiotic-resistant salmonella, school lunches, and Cargill’s dodgy California beef plant

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. --------- Oh, dear. This case of salmonella poisoning seems to be resisting treatments.  • The USDA reports that a notorious California beef-packing plant run by agribusiness giant Cargill has yet again had to recall ground beef tainted with antibiotic-resistant salmonella--or, as the agency described it: This particular strain of Salmonella Newport is resistant to many commonly prescribed drugs, which can increase the risk of hospitalization or possible treatment failure in infected individuals. Treatment failure...isn't that a fancy way of saying death? The USDA press release …

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Can delicious crepes create a buckwheat revival?

Just add Paris: buckwheat crepes in their glory.April McGregerMy love for buckwheat first blossomed in the Soba-ya shops of Japan. Years later, that love was rekindled on the sidewalks of Paris eating Galletes de Sarrasin, or Breton-style savory buckwheat crepes, washed down with hard apple cider in stoneware cups. I found the deep, pleasantly bitter, and earthy flavor of buckwheat satisfying and nourishing. The soba noodles were delicate and wholesome; the crepes were lacy yet substantial. Buckwheat is a curious and misunderstood food. It's not a grain, but is treated like one. It's actually a shrub, related to rhubarb, and …

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FDA moves to reform nutrition labels

Still smarting over the industry's shenanigans over the "Smart Choices" label, the FDA has decided to pick up the pace of change. Marion Nestle dug up a set of proposed new front-of-package nutrition labels that the FDA is studying, one of which may ultimately get the agency's final approval. Here they are: My faves are the "Nutrition Tips" label with colors and the last one, dubbed "Waitrose," with the traffic light label. It's worth noting that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is already on the record as supporting the traffic light system -- it's currently in use in the UK and …

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As the economy withers, thoughts on an inequitable food system

When my info-larder gets too packed, it’s time to serve up some choice nuggets from around the Web. ---------------- Get 'em while they're hot.  • Grist contributor Tom Laskawy did us proud with his participation in this New York Times "Room for Debate" forum on food stamps. Here's how he starts: Anti-poverty programs in this country currently operate from the premise that poor people cannot be trusted with cash benefits and as a result such programs come with strict eligibility and performance requirements. Food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) have been politically sustainable precisely because they …

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In a Minnesota project, free-range chickens spell broad-based economic development

Ecomomic splendor in the grass. I just completed a profile of one of the most exciting food production ideas I have seen in a long time.  Hillside Farmers Co-op. in Northfield, Minnesota, initiated by Latino immigrants, raises free-range chickens on scattered small, one-quarter acre sites.  This makes it a great model for urban farmers as well as rural. By staying small, co-op leader, Regi Haslett-Marroquin told me, Latino farmers will be able to start a farm even though they have very little capital to work with.  In just a few weeks, each farm can sell about a thousand chickens.  That …

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The ‘small problem’ with GMOs and Africa

Drought in Ethiopia.The Des Moines Register's Philip Brasher is in Africa reporting on the potential for GMO crops to help alleviate hunger in the developing world. The current focus is on drought-tolerant crops for obvious reasons: I grew up in western Texas and covered the Midwest's devastating drought of 1988. I know what a drought looks like, but I've never seen anything like the devastation to a portion of the Rift Valley near the Tanzania border. The savanna, where locals said the grass should be as much as 2 feet high, is barren except for scattered acacia trees and cattle …

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Are the oceans the future of food?

If the the future of food is hazy right now due to overconsumption, globalization, and climate change, the future of seafood is even murkier. The global fish catch topped out sometime in the 1990s, leaving many fish populations more or less permanently overstressed. Aquaculture has grown to satisfy rising global demand - but fish farms have brought environmental devastation to many a coastal zone. Is the answer to pack up those coastal operations and move fish farming offshore? That's the question I attempt to answer in this Yale Environment 360 piece. I started out with the assumption that, whatever the …

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A quarter-century later, lessons from the world’s deadliest agrichemical disaster

Today is the 25th anniversary of the Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) leak at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India. The number of people affected, injured, and killed has been the subject of debate. But it seems clear that a half a million were exposed to some degree to MIC and other chemicals released and approximately 40,000 people died either immediately or from injuries directly related to the accident. MIC was a key ingredient in India's petrochemical Green Revolution -- an intermediate chemical in the production of a number of insecticides, some still in use today. On site of the former …

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The localization of agriculture

In the United States, there has been a surge of interest in eating fresh local foods, corresponding with mounting concerns about the climate effects of consuming food from distant places and about the obesity and other health problems associated with junk food diets. This is reflected in the rise in urban gardening, school gardening, and farmers’ markets. With the fast-growing local foods movement, diets are becoming more locally shaped and more seasonal. In a typical supermarket in an industrial country today it is often difficult to tell what season it is because the store tries to make everything available on …

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