Food

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 …

Heavy on the Ice, Light on the Cream

A review of six non-dairy ice creams

This is part two of a two-part series on organic ice cream; see our previous review of conventional, dairy-based ice creams by Tom Philpott. Cow juice alternative?The Sheppard family has what you might call an ice cream problem. When I was 8 and my brother was 5, we went to Disney World. After a day of themepark excitement, my brother started walking with a pronounced limp. My mother asked him what was wrong. “My leg hurts,” he replied. “I need Mickey Mouse ice cream.” Another time, when I was about 12, my father lurched up from his chair in our …

Meat wagon

E. coli O157 comes back with a vengeance, and other nasty toxins in meat

Tainted burger, coming soon to a plate near you? In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. ——————————— (This is the first Meat Wagon column in months. No, the meat industry hasn’t suddenly become socially and ecologically responsible. I’ve just been distracted by other topics.) Where’s the tainted beef?If you regularly eat fast-food burgers or unlabeled supermarket beef, you’ve almost certainly consumed a JBS product in the past month. That’s because Brazil-based JBS is the globe’s largest beef producer–and the third-largest U.S. beef packer. And what a month it’s been for this emerging …

A Can of Worms

California is new front line of BPA fight

The following is a guest post submitted by Elisa Odabashian, Director, West Coast Office and State Campaigns, and Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Technical Policy, Consumers Union. It’s the stuff of a good Hollywood movie-a potentially toxic chemical lurking in the bodies of most unwitting Americans; a decade of mounting but scuttled scientific evidence; government inaction; undue influence and public denials of harm by the powerful chemical industry; congressional inquiries; a crescendo of outcry by consumers demanding that something be done-and still, the battle to ban bisphenol A (also known as BPA) in food and drink containers rages on. Now, …

Irrational Corn Growers Association

Farm lobby: Shoot the climate bill, but keep the Peterson goodies

Give me the loot–then I’ll shoot! I got mugged in Mexico City once. Guy whirled me around and pointed a gun at me. He had a crazed look in his eye–like he might be on familiar terms with a crack pipe or a glue tube. He demanded my wallet with a grunted threat to shoot. I handed it over. We went on our ways, both reasonably satisfied. He got some cash, and I got to live. I’ve been thinking about that relatively straightforward transaction as I ponder the the farm lobby’s stance on the Waxman-Markey vote. Their man Collin Peterson …

More sin taxes, please

USDA food-desert report points to need for a soda tax

Obesity machine? The USDA released a new report on food deserts yesterday and the blogosphere lit up like a Christmas tree. Which, honestly, saves me a lot of trouble. Jill Richardson pulls out some excellent data nuggets here. To summarize: Food deserts are areas where residents lack access to supermarkets and other outlets selling a broad, range of healthy food. It turns out that only a small percentage of Americans — 2.2% — live in true food deserts. At the same time, research indicates that there’s little correlation with access to healthy food and low Body Mass Index (BMI, used …

Don't panic ... offsets for organic?

The bad and maybe not-so-bad of the Waxman-Peterson deal

Take this, Collin! Language of the Waxman-Peterson compromise has been released (full text here; and here’s a summary)–and in some ways it’s worse than I originally thought, and in some ways potentially better. The bad part involves the provision around indirect land-use change and ethanol. It would, for the next five years, prevent that the EPA from considering international indirect land-use change when assessing the GHG footprint of ethanol. Yesterday, I declared it a travesty, but added that it didn’t change much on the ground, since the 2007 Energy Act already grandfathered in 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol–a huge …

Our Oil Obsessed Civilization

The oil intensity of food

Today we are an oil-based civilization, one that is totally dependent on a resource whose production will soon be falling. Since 1981, the quantity of oil extracted has exceeded new discoveries by an ever-widening margin. In 2008, the world pumped 31 billion barrels of oil but discovered fewer than 9 billion barrels of new oil. World reserves of conventional oil are in a free fall, dropping every year. As I note in my latest book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, discoveries of conventional oil total roughly 2 trillion barrels, of which 1 trillion have been extracted so far, …

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