Food

Calling for Real Reform

Food safety in the 21st century

Just when America thought it was safe to go back into the grocery store, another food outbreak wakes us up to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with its food safety system. This time it’s Nestle Toll House cookie dough with E.coli, a treat that nearly every kid in America reaches for a few times a month during the summer. This is yet another reminder why it’s important to get the new food safety legislation, currently winding its way through Congress, right. Last week a new food safety bill passed unanimously out of the House Energy and Commerce …

Notable Quotable

Marion Nestle takes on the “organics are elitist” meme

“[P]lease don’t blame organic producers for the high prices. Until the latest farm bill, which has a small provision for promotion of organic agriculture, organic farmers received not one break from the federal government. In contrast, the producers of corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton continue to get $20 billion or so a year in farm subsidies. …Dealing with the elitism implied by the higher cost of organics means doing something about income inequities. If we want elected representatives to care more about public health than corporate health, let’s work to remove the corruption from election campaign contributions. If Congress were …

We don't want to know about your crap

Factory farms get the ultimate handout

Since the beginning of climate change legislation this session in Congress it has been clear that big agriculture would not be a part of a cap and trade program.  Yet, while the Waxman Markey bill has been making its way through Congress, the EPA has also been pushing forward its own agenda of climate related regulations, including the mandatory reporting of GHG emissions from factory farms.  Yet, yesterday the House Appropriations Committee undermined this progressive proposed regulation by passing the 2010 Interior and Environment spending bill. An amendment in the bill will prevent the EPA from requiring factory farms to …

Going bananas

Can we be ‘green’ and eat tropical products, too?

In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. ———————- Is your green cred slipping? Dear Checkout Line,We try to buy local food whenever we can. Some things just seem doomed to have air miles on them, though. Is there anywhere in the U.S. that can grow bananas? Or coffee and tea?Best,Pat Dear Pat,Personal confession: If frequent-flyer miles were assigned to my coffee habit, I could probably commute from New England to Tibet for free. After doing …

Reality bites

UPDATED: Never mind! Lead levels in White House soil “ridiculously low” for an urban garden

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the Bancroft Elementary School for the garden harvest of the White House in Washington on June 16, 2009Offical White House Photographer Samantha Appleton [MORE UPDATES:] Obamafoodorama looked into the issue in depth. Now the story is there’s no story. Here’s an expert commenting on the 93 PPM figure: that number is “ridiculously low” for any urban garden, according to Dr. Gabriel Filippelli, chair of Geology at Indiana University, and associate chair of the Center for Environmental Health. Dr. Filippelli spent a lot of time chuckling during a recent conversation about the White House Kitchen Garden, …

Jam session

I find my thrill in blueberry preserves–and so can you

As we approach the summer solstice, long, hot days spur a growth frenzy in the garden. That explosion of fertility produces the excesses that I live for. I love being swamped by 100 pounds of the fragile soft fruits of summer. It is a race against time. I must work quickly in order to get the fruit processed while it is at its prime. There is no satisfaction quite like turning the problem of too large a harvest, bound for the compost heap, into a prized condiment that will brighten the rest of the year. Have you pancakes and eat …

GMO job

In which I go toe to toe with H. Clinton’s science czar over GMOs

Seed blinded me with science. The questions were shamelessly loaded: Why do many environmentalists trust science when it comes to climate change but not when it comes to genetic engineering? Is the fear really about the technology itself or is it a mistrust of big agribusiness? When do you plan to stop beating your wife, or start taking science seriously, you fear-mongering hippie? But I couldn’t resist taking the bait on a Seed Magazine forum on science and GMOs–mainly because Nina Fedoroff, science and technology adviser to the US Secretary of State and to the administrator of USAID, was also …

Fundamentally unserious

The climate bill is about more than shaking the money tree

Shake it, but please don’t break it.While Tom Philpott has been following the cage match between the House Ag Committee and its chairman Rep Collin Peterson, and Rep. Henry Waxman, author of the Waxman/Markey climate bill currently before Congress, the latest doings seem to have broken through to the broader blogosphere. Maybe it’s because the prospect that a handful of farm state representatives might really be able to kill our chance to address climate change. Or maybe it was because Peterson declared today that global warming is, all things considered, fine by him. After all, as he told the WSJ, …

Climate change=more corn!

House ag chief Peterson: what, me worry about a warming planet?

Peterson, right, with combine rep: With climate change and big diesel-guzzling combines, we can grow lots of corn!After researching my story last week about the ag lobby’s attempt to turn Waxman-Markey into a cash cow for the agrichem and ethanol industries, I assumed that Waxman would quietly make some unspeakable deal with House ag chief Collin Peterson (D.-Corn) and call it a day. After all, Peterson has been quite credibily threatening to rally farm-state democrats to vote against the bill–unless it turns into a cash cow for the agrichem and ethanol industries (and a thus disaster for everyone else). And …

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