Food

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 …

Wolff guarding the henhouse?

Rumor: Obama pondering big-ag man for key USDA meat-safety role [UPDATED]

Safe enough for ya?UPDATE at bottom of story. ———————————— I normally don’t write about rumors or inside information. I aspire to be like the late journalist I.F. Stone, who scorned the dubious allure of insider “access” and kept his nose in government documents, where useful information leaks out. Today — as in its own time — Stone’s work makes much more worthwhile reading than that of his contemporaries who chummed up to insiders. But I just got hold of a rumor that’s so weird, and from such a credible source, that I can’t resist writing about it. I am given …

Urban Gardens

San Francisco to get more urban gardens.  Thanks, Gavin. And here’s a how-to that I look forward to reading.

Berry delightful

Cobbling together a delicious and easy summer dessert

Life’s a big container of cherries.All photos by April McGreger I’m bored by chocoholics. Don’t get me wrong; I very much appreciate good chocolate. But after attending four cookouts in the past month without a fruit-based dessert in sight I have had enough. Had the scent of perfectly ripe peaches somehow escaped my hosts? Are they unaware of the painfully short cherry season–whose end is near? What about all the bramble berries that line the ditches and roadsides this time of year? What sort of person does not delight in these things? Please, hold the chocolate cupcakes. It’s summer–the season …

Swing low, revolving door

Monsanto’s man Taylor returns to FDA in food-czar role

Michael TaylorIn a Tuesday afternoon press release, the FDA announced that Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto executive, had joined the agency as “senior advisor to the commissioner.” If the title is vague, the portfolio (pasted from the press release) is substantial–a kind of food czar of the Food and Drug Administration: • Assess current food program challenges and opportunities• Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities• Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources• Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011• Plan implementation of new food safety legislation Taylor’s new position isn’t his first in government. He’s a veteran …

all you can eat

Rethinking food production for a world of 8 billion

In April 2005, the World Food Programme and the Chinese government jointly announced that food aid shipments to China would stop at the end of the year. For a country where a generation ago hundreds of millions of people were chronically hungry, this was a landmark achievement. Not only has China ended its dependence on food aid, but almost overnight it has become the world’s third largest food aid donor. The key to China’s success was the economic reforms in 1978 that dismantled its system of agricultural collectives, known as production teams, and replaced them with family farms. In each …

food for thought

Not much convenience in “convenience foods”

Among all the responses to the new data showing we’re getting sicker and fatter, I was most struck by Kerry Trueman’s comment at Civil Eats that what we are really suffering from is “kitchen illiteracy.” Now, that’s the kind of insight which seems easy to dismiss. We all know it’s not about a lack of interest or knowledge — it’s about a lack of time, right? As I once asked, how can you fix the food system when you have to fight convenience? Working parents are forced by circumstances outside their control to buy processed food because cooking real food …

Bubble-gum apples and pre-fab cheeseburgers

What’s become of school lunch

Where’s my bubble-gum-flavored apple? Photo: dancing chopsticks Remember back in April, when I bemoaned Obama’s choice of an industry-friendly school-lunch overseer? The job of administering the USDA’s school-lunch program went to Janey Thornton. She had made her name serving in several capacities for the School Nutrition Association–a conglomeration of school cafeteria managers who have never seen a Tyson chicken nugget they didn’t try to serve to a kid. Now the great new blog School Lunch Talk, co-edited by “renegade lunch lady” Ann Cooper, has delivered an inside look at just what the SNA is all about: Imagine if Las Vegas …

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