Food

Shooting in the dark

Solving obesity all depends on what you mean by the word “solve”

Ezra Klein, WaPo blogger and now food columnist, has, of late, been particularly dour regarding attempts to address obesity. His “Gut Check” piece today on the limited policy tools available to fight the obesity epidemic confirms it: Over the past 50 years, however, some privileged humans have been faced with a largely novel problem: the consequences of too much food and drink. For a while, the primary impact seemed to be extra lumps of flesh, which had their downsides so far as mating went but, overall, weren’t too bad. But in recent years, the problem has become much worse. In …

Salmon, run!

Taras Grescoe on factory salmon farming

  An endangered chum salmon attempts to jump a small dam on the Deschutes River in Washington. While researching my post on Cheesecake Factory, I came upon contradictory information on how many pounds of wild fish it takes to create a pound of farmed salmon. Industry sources like this one paint a (relatively)  rosy picture: “Every pound of salmon requires one-and-a-half pounds of fishmeal, a ratio far more efficient than other farmed animals.” That’s a much better feed conversion ratio than you get from beef (10 pounds of feed yield one pound of beef) or pork (5:1). But then you …

The kitchen garden strategy

Plotting Michelle Obama’s next food move

The First Lady and friends get busy in the garden. For anyone still doubting the food-related ambitions of First Lady Michelle Obama, the WaPo’s Jane Black wishes to disabuse you. In an article that charts the internal strategizing over how best to leverage the success of the White House Kitchen Garden, Black indicates that the First Lady and “the White House [are] grappling with the very issues that have challenged the so-called good food movement for decades: How do you simplify and sell a new way of eating?” Firstly, let me say, “Welcome to the club, Mrs. Obama!” And secondly, …

Miso salmon? Me not-so hungry

Why the Cheesecake Factory really is gross

Down on the farm: most salmon consumed in the U.S. comes from aquacultureIn a post on his group blog, the Internet Food Association, Washington Post blogger and food-politics columnist Ezra Klein poses the philosophical question, “Is the Cheesecake Factory Gross?” The context is a bet involving the highly regarded cookbook writer Michael Ruhlman, who recently chided another writer for praising a dish offered by the Cheesecake Factory called “miso salmon.” (By the way, when did cheesecake factories start churning out fish dishes? Are salmon farms going to start whipping up cheesecakes?) Accepting a challenge from the Cheesecake Factory-loving writer, Ruhlman …

The Root of the Matter

A tasting of nine “natural” root beers yields surprising results

Nothing hits the spot on a hot day like an icy glass of all-American root beer. (Okay, if you want to split hairs: Nothing hits the spot on a hot day like an icy glass of all-American root beer when you must stay sober.) The problem is that when you take your wilting self to the cool respite of the beverage aisle, you discover that nothing in this life is simple. Perhaps, like me, you go with the simple criterion of avoiding anything produced by Big Soda and loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. Ha! If only it were this straightforward. …

Meat wagon

E. coli and Campylobacteriosis: Why Obama’s USDA food-safety pick is so important

Side of E. coli with that burger?In Meat Wagon, we look at the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. —————————– As I reported Friday, a man with a Big Ag background has emerged as the frontrunner for a still-empty USDA post called “undersecretary of food safety.” The holder of this position oversees the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which has the nearly impossible task of ensuring that our gigantic, factory-scale slaughterhouses produce safe meat. (The USDA handles safety issues around meat; FDA oversees safety for all other foods.) An excellent piece by Bill Tomson in Friday’s Wall …

Scales of justice

Privatize the seas? If only solving overfishing were so easy

School of hard knocksIn this month’s Atlantic, Gregg Easterbrook writes that privatizing the seas through use of individualized transferrable quotas (ITQs) is the solution to the grave problem of overfishing. Recently, NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco came out strongly (PDF) in favor of ITQs (which the agency is calling “catch shares”), and has committed her agency to “transitioning to catch shares” as a solution to overfishing. Would that the solution to overfishing were so easy! Today, fisheries managers set a “total allowable catch” (TAC) for open-access fisheries. A fishery is open until that TAC is reached. Not surprisingly, there is often …

HAVEN'T GONE COUNTRY

Farm City author cuts the foodie-elite snobbery from urban farming

Food writer and urban farmer Novella Carpenter is everything the elitist, foodie stereotype is not: she squat-farms near downtown Oakland, Calif., dumpster-dives to feed her rabbits, and offers to show anyone who still thinks otherwise exactly “what urban farming smells like.” Novella Carpenter and cute baby animals today, dinner tomorrow.Photo: Courtesy of Novella CarpenterIn Seattle while touring for her new book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, Carpenter took a few minutes to give Grist the low-down-and-dirty on the up-and-coming trend of urban farming. From roof-top gardens to city chickens, an increasing number of city slickers are becoming …

Gates swinging in new direction?

Worldwatch gets $1.3 million Gates grant to look at sustainable ag in Africa

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been roundly criticized in sustainable-ag circles for throwing its considerable girth behind a “New Green Revolution for Africa.” According to critics (including me), the “green revolution” approach promotes high-tech, expensive solutions to Africa’s agriculture woes — ones more suited to the interests of a few agribusiness giants than millions of smallholder African farmers. In a move that may be a response to such criticisms, the Gates Foundation recently announced it was awarding a $1.3 million, two-year grant to Worldwatch to look at low-cost, low-tech techniques for improving ag productivity in Africa. From the …

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