Food

Catch my drift?

With a gust of wind, an Iowa crop duster can squash an organic farm

A crop duster in action.Photo: Roger Smith via FlickrGrinnell Heritage Farm is 152 years old. Andrew Dunham is the fifth generation of his family to work this land about 50 miles east of Des Moines. He is a direct descendant of Josiah Grinnell, founder of the town and the man Horace Greeley once famously quoted as having said, “Go west, young man, go west.” Andrew and his wife Melissa are a few months shy of receiving their formal certification as an organic farm. Across the road, due north of their land, is a field of corn that is managed by …

The Peter Principle

USDA may get Dennis Wolff for food safety post because Gov. Ed Rendell doesn’t want him anymore

Wolff at the Dickinson College farm in Pennsylvania.Here’s a little rumor-mongering for fun, if not profit. Yes, as Tom Philpott reported, Dennis Wolff is for sure heading the list of candidates for the top food safety post at the USDA. But that’s not the fun part. The fun part involves the reason Dennis Wolff is heading the list of candidates for the top food safety post at the USDA. It’s long been known that Wolff’s main backer for a USDA post has been his current boss, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. Many folks in the food policy world have wondered why …

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 …

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