Choice nuggets

Obama garden drama, and other choice morsels from around the Web

The First Lady helps create the world’s most famous kitchen garden. When my info-larder gets too packed, it’s time to serve up some choice nuggets from around the Web. A high-profile urban garden, two writers, and some vile sludgeAndrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety is one of our most important critics of industrial agriculture. (Here’s a brief video interview with him I did last fall.) Eddie Gehman Kohan of Obama Foodorama is quickly establishing herself as an important food-politics blogger–deceptively serious despite her blog’s sometimes-frivolous obsession with all intersections of food and the Obamas. Both are fervent supporters …

Meth of the matter

New book looks at economic devastation in an Iowa meat-packing town

An Iowa house, no longer neededPhoto: McMorrIt’s become axiomatic that to peer deep into our reliance on fossil energy is to gaze upon human wreckage: bombed-out Baghdad slums, desolated Nigerian townships, or Appalachian communities eviscerated by the removal of mountaintops. The food system has its own war zones, its own spaces of suffering and despair. Like the energy giants, food corporations generally manage these scenes off-stage, as hidden as possible from public view. Consider thousands of Florida tomato pickers living in poverty and, occasionally, slavery; or meat-packing workers, toiling in conditions so dire that Human Rights Watch was not long …

Jolly green giant

Must-read: urban farmer Will Allen in the NYT Magazine

Will makes soil–and you can, too.Source: The New York TimesAnyone who wants to understand the paradoxes and promise of urban agriculture must read the luminous profile of Growing Power’s Will Allen by Elizabeth Royte, online now and forthcoming in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. I could gush about the elegance of Allen’s farming system or the brilliance of Royte’s prose; but it’s the afternoon before a long weekend, and I want to get outside. Read the damn thing–it might make you want to get your hands in the dirt, too! But let me get to what I think is the …

Lunch-hour follies

As GOP politicians take the school-lunch debate to new lows, perk up with berry ice cream

Stick a spork in it: Is this really the best we can do?Photo: bookgrlA few years ago I was asked to serve on the Wellness Committee that was being formed by the Iowa City School District, under a federal mandate to improve the health of school children. Having made lunch every morning for my kids because I’d seen the “food” they were served in the cafeterias, I was pleased to have the opportunity. The result of my nearly two years of banging my head against the brick wall of district bureaucracy was the living example of the old Upton Sinclair …

Notable quotable

Et tu, Al? Franken gulps the ethanol-spiked Kool-Aid

“I’ve looked at this a lot, and it seems to me that ethanol already helps our carbon footprint and it’s only getting more efficient in the way it’s produced. Corn ethanol is a step on the way to cellulosic ethanol, which is also going to benefit Minnesota. I’m in the pro-ethanol camp.”– Sen. (elect) Al Franken, D.-Minn.

Edible media

The WaPo serves up a food-politics column

Ezra KleinLindsay Beyerstein“Edible Media” takes an occasional look at interesting or deplorable food journalism on the web. Welcome to the table, Ezra Klein When I first started writing about food politics in 2005, the topic area was highly stratified–and still a little obscure. There was Eric Schlosser’s groundbreaking Fast Food Nation (2001) illuminating the topic and pointing to new avenues of inquiry; you had Michael Pollan writing big essays in The New York Times Magazine (Omnivore’s Dilemma didn’t appear until 2006); and people like Marion Nestle, Gary Paul Nabhan, and Anna Lappe writing provocative books for relatively small audiences. In …

Weight of the world

No healthcare reform without food-system reform

The AP reports on a new state-level study of obesity rates. And the news is, well, terrifying: Obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states over the past year and didn’t decline anywhere, says a new report from the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation …[W]hile the nation has long been bracing for a surge in Medicare as the boomers start turning 65, the new report makes clear that fat, not just age, will fuel much of those bills. In every state, the rate of obesity is higher among 55- to 64-year-olds – the oldest boomers …

Size does matter

Starbucks brews global green-building plan, renovates Seattle shop

Photo: Sarah van SchagenStroll into the newly renovated Starbucks coffeehouse in Seattle’s University Village and the décor may feel more familiar than you’d expect. The menu boards are made from the chalkboards you may have scribbled on at nearby Garfield High School; the shelving is from old bleachers you may have sat upon; the leather accents near the bar are from your old shoes and car seats; and the ash-wood community table that stretches the length of the store and patio (one-third of it is outside) is salvaged from a tree that fell in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood. It’s part of …

Where's the beef?

Food-safety legislation leaves gaping hole for meat giants

Yesterday’s post about JBS’ massive beef recall got me to thinking about the food-safety legislation creeping through the House: the other Waxman bill, H.R. 2749, or the Food Safety Enhancement Act The bill recently passed the passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee and awaits consideration on the House floor; no vote is currently scheduled. Because of my recent fixation on the ag aspects of Waxman’s cap-and-trade bill, I haven’t been following his food-safety bill closely. The excellent Food & Water Watch, a group that that watches out for the interests of both consumers and small-scale farmers, has issued …

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