Food

Bread winners

Against the grain of industrial agriculture, truly local bread stages a comeback

David Bauer of Farm and Sparrow BakeryPhoto: April McGregerOn a recent vacation to Asheville, North Carolina, I headed to the market to get a loaf of bread. Asheville is home to a large a number of small-scale bakeries, many of which sell primarily at tailgate markets and wholesale to nearby specialty food shops. I found the market shelves stocked with lovely loaves of ciabatta, baguette, marble rye, and challah, but I was most intrigued by a few loaves that I knew at first glance were special. Packaged in brown paper bags with a hand-stamped wood-cut logo, the loaves were not …

Crunchy, but not granola

Lay’s: the locavore’s junk food?

Coming soon to farmers markets nationwide? A couple of years ago, a student group formed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to reform the campus’ dining halls. Calling the group FLO Food (FLO=fair, local, organic), the students wanted flavorsome, freshly cooked food — and preferably not from abused animals or exploited workers. They noted that Chapel Hill lies in a robust foodshed, with plenty of small- and mid-sized farms churning out delicious food. Why not get some of that local fare into the dining halls? The administration’s first response was priceless: to paraphrase, hey, we buy lots …

Flour power

A farmer speaks: no to GMO wheat

Editor’s note: Several weeks ago, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) issued a press release proclaiming that 75 percent of its member farmers support the rollout of genetically modified wheat seeds. According to NAWG, wheat farmers are clamoring to follow their corn and soy counterparts toward a biotech-dominated future. Todd Leake, a wheat farmer and NAWG member, has a different viewpoint. ——————— Since the Nixon Administration, farmers have been told that their survival was dependent on the ability to compete in the global marketplace. Wheat producers have been particularly mindful of the need to grow a product that meets …

Truth in advertising?

Monsanto targets public radio to spread false biotech messages

Editor’s note: This post originally focused on NPR; but we’ve since found that the Monsanto ads run on Marketplace, produced by American Public Media, which isn’t directly affiliated with NPR. We regret the confusion. —————- Monsanto’s ad blitzFor years my alarm has been set to public radio so I can lie in bed for five minutes and have a grasp on the day’s news before I even get up. I, like many other Americans, rely on NPR and other public-radio shows for news that is what I deem to be as unbiased and fair as possible. But this morning my …

The what revolution?

NPR: Industrial ag and India’s ‘cancer train’

Spraying pesticides: how green a revolution? Last month, NPR’s excellent Dan Zwerdling filed two reports (here and here) on the ecological and economic upshots of industrial agriculture in India. Starting in the 1960s, U.S. agronomists–backed by U.S. foundation cash and blessed by the Indian government–introduced farmers in India’s then-fertile Punjab region to the glories of monoculture, imported petrochemical inputs, and heavy irrigation. The adoption of chemical agriculture in India became known as the “Green Revolution,” and is still hailed today in some circles as a great success. But 40 years after the Green Revolution took root, Zwerdling showed in his …

News of the beard

Seattle chef Maria Hines wins James Beard Award for her organic creations

Photo: Ron WurzerSeattle chef Maria Hines has cooked up an award-winning recipe for success: serve sustainable, organic foods from your local area in a welcoming atmosphere with a neighborhoody feel. The resulting dish? Tilth. Nestled in small green home in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, it’s only the country’s second restaurant to receive organic certification from Oregon Tilth, a distinction that promises 95 percent organic offerings and eco-responsible business practices. And its savory sups just won Hines a coveted James Beard Award — essentially the Oscars of the foodie world. Curious about her strong commitment to sustainable foods and her advice for …

The water we eat

Drought, fish, and our fruit-and-veg problem

High and dryIn the United States, when people say “eat your veggies,” they are essentially urging you to take a bite out of California — or, more to the point, take a a big swig of its increasingly scarce water supply. How much do we rely on California for fruits and veg? With its rich soils, variety of microclimates, long growing season, and huge geographical footprint, California should be a major ag producer — certainly a regional food-production hub for the southwest. But its sheer dominance of U.S. fruit and veg production (numbers from the the California Department of Food …

Fox in the Henhouse

Close friend of Big Meat may be put in charge of food safety

USDA chief Tom Vilsack is once again on the verge of stepping in it regarding his pick for food safety czar, i.e. the head of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Some may recall that back in March the Obama administration nearly appointed Dr. Michael Osterholm to the post only to back off when his views on meat irradation (aka “Zap the Crap”) proved too hot to handle. Ironically, Osterholm — who has ties to the meat industry, biotech heavyweight Monsanto and defense contractor 3M — is also a legitimate expert on pandemic preparedness, a skill which might’ve come …

Follow the herd

Another symptom of swine flu: instant amnesia

Photo illustration by Tom Twigg / Grist Swine flu: how very two weeks ago. Sure, H1N1 transmission is “still on the upswing” in the United States, and the World Health Organization warned that as much of a third of the globe’s population could eventually catch it, Reuters reported last week. But the disease is turning out to be little more virulent than the common flu. It resists older anti-viral treatments, but fortunately, new ones like Tamiflu have its number. For now, anyway. “We all pray this remains sensitive to antivirals,” CDC chief virologist Rubin Donis recently told Science — not …

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