Salad spinner

With House food-safety bill a done deal, questions remain [UPDATED]

Healthy appetizer — or public-health menace.[The House Food Safety Bill passed overwhelmingly Thursday afternoon. See more at bottom of post.] ————- The House will vote today on a momentous, controversial plan to overhaul a large swath of the nation’s food-safety system. The vote comes amid yet another round of recalls. On Tuesday, the FDA announced the voluntary recall of “one lot” of salmonella-tainted cilantro, distributed by a company called Frontera Produce. The agency did not define how much cilantro makes up a lot, but it must be, well, a lot, because “the lot in question, 118122, was distributed to two …

Notable quotable

On the origin of ‘superweeds’ and the chemical treadmill

“There is no telling how many articles I have written with the theme of ‘Roundup every Monday morning until there is nothing out there but soybeans’ or ‘the best tank mix partner with Roundup is more Roundup.’ That made soybean farming so easy that even I could probably have done it.”–Ford L. Baldwin of Arkansas-based Practical Weed Consultants, writing about the emerging problem of “superweeds” resistant to Monsanto’s blockbuster herbicide Roundup.

Notable quotable

Dow Agrosciences: farm like there’s no tomorrow!

“If you’re going to farm a piece of land, you ought to farm it for all its worth.”–Tim Hassinger, commercial vice president at Dow AgroSciences, quoted in an AP story called “Chemical makers go on the offensive in agriculture.”

Choice nuggets

From “sexy meat” to fabulous ice cream, tasty morsels from around the web

When my info-larder gets too packed, it’s time to serve up some choice nuggets from around the Web. ———— • Fascinating–and elegantly done–graphic depiction of British food consumption since the 1970s. (Via Internet Food Association.) • You know that nasty industrial meat I’ve been writing so much about lately? Turns out it’s sexy–according to the National Corn Growers Association blog. • The Wall Steet Journal on why both the agribusiness giants and some small-scale farmers are mobilizing against the current House food safety legislation. (More on this soon.) • Kurt Michael Friese recently reported here on an egregious case of …

Triclosan or treat?

Saying goodbye to a common–and toxic–antimicrobial chemical

Triclosan: a toxic chemical that shows up in the damndest placesIn 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. ——————— Dear Grist,I have been getting contradictory information about triclosan. Organic Consumers Association says danger, beware, don’t use. Other sources say no problem. I trust you. Precautionary principle says don’t use. What do you say?Love,Steve Dear Steve,I say, the good old precautionary principle has a point this time. In fact, I’d make like a teenager looking to impress …

Scammin' salmon

Chilean salmon industry plunges into an abyss of pesticides and antibiotics

Down on the farm: most salmon consumed in the U.S. comes from industrial aquaculture. Ninety percent of the salmon consumed in the United States comes from factory-style farms–most of it imported. Until very recently, our biggest supplier was Chile–whose salmon industry is in a state of collapse, ravaged by a virus called “infectious salmon anemia.” Like U.S. factory meat farms, Chile’s salmon cages veritably runneth over with antibiotics. Earlier this year, the Pew Environmental Group obtained some damning FDA documents about the Chilean salmon industry. The documents revealed that: Three Chilean salmon farming companies, including the two largest producers of …

Meat wagon

Antibiotic-resistant salmonella burgers, with a side of flame retardants

A Colorado company recalled the equivalent of 1.86 million Quarter Pounders. In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages of the meat and livestock industries. ————————————— Sometimes I think I write a little too much about the meat industry. But the news it generates is so consistently grave, and so generally underreported, that I can’t resist. Moreover, outbreaks of E. coli and MRSA  are really ecological markers–feedback that our way of producing meat is deeply unsustainable and really quite dangerous. We ignore these news flashes from our ecoystem at our peril. So I scribble on. Here’s the latest: In …

A shot in the farm

USDA study finds that climate bill will benefit farmers

Photo: Dog CompanyThe climate and energy legislation that the House passed in June would increase revenues for farmers, according to a preliminary analysis released by the United States Department of Agriculture on Wednesday. The study contradicts claims from some major agriculture groups that the bill would be economically catastrophic for farmers. Instead, the study predicts that farmers and foresters would benefit directly both from pollution-permit revenues allocated to the sector and from selling offsets to polluters. The report estimates that from the allocation of pollution permits, farmers will bring in an additional $75 million to $100 million each year from …

Jewels of summer

Reveling in the season’s tomato bounty, from pasta sauce to easy preserving

The jewels of summer, in their glory. Photo: April McGreger Would a summer without garden-grown tomatoes really be summer at all? For me, summer is: tomatoes ripening on the windowsill; picking the hornworms off the tomato plants; a huge bowl of tomatoes on the kitchen counter; tomatoes at every single meal; farmer’s markets so packed with dazzling tomato colors and sensual shapes, they outshine the fresh-cut flowers. I relish the first tomatoes of the season in their purest, raw form: tomato sandwiches, BLTs; cucumber-tomato salads; classic panzanella salad of tomato-drenched crusty bread, scented with intoxicating fresh basil and briny with …

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