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 …

Farm Crisis 2009

Stand up for rural America while you still can

The assault on rural America continues unabated. For the past six months dairy farmers across the country have suffered a historic drop in milk prices while operating costs remain high. Since December 2008, the price that farmers are paid for the milk they produce has plunged over 50 percent, the largest single drop since the Great Depression. While organic dairy farmers have faced a decrease in overall sales due to the recent world financial meltdown and tight budgets on the home front as a result, the current drop in milk prices is impacting mainly conventional and small to mid-size family …

Desert Blooms

NYC sends veggie carts to underserved areas — and they’re a hit

New York City took a baby step recently towards a state role in distributing healthy food. It significantly expanded a program to bring fruit and vegetable “carts” to low-income neighborhoods that lack good food options — so-called “food deserts.” And if the early response as reported by the NYT is any indication, the program looks to be a rip-roaring success: …[O]n Wednesday afternoon, an urgent line formed at a cheery new produce cart that had materialized at the corner of East Fordham Road and Decatur Avenue near Fordham University in the Bronx. “These strawberries look great, and they’re a bargain,” …

Short Answer: Yes

Quiz: Should I see the critically acclaimed documentary ‘Food, Inc.’?

A quiz, dear Grist reader, to determine if you should see the new documentary ‘Food, Inc.‘ (You start with 0 points. Total your points as you answer the questions.): Farmer Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm in Virginia.Photo: Food, Inc. Do you eat food? Yes, three-square meals a day. Add 1 million points. No, I’m not into that right now. Subtract 50 points. Have you read The Ominvore’s Dilemma? Yes, I loved it.  I own a signed first edition, and I have a poster of Michael Pollan in my bedroom. I can probably recite the text of the 2008 Farm Bill …

Go deep, organic!

Coleman’s elegant year-round vegetable production blueprint

The June National Geographic features a story The End of Plenty which starts off saying that even though humans produced a record amount of grain last year, we still had to dip into stockpiles from past years to feed ourselves. Sobering stuff. But then for solutions it goes deep on the same tired green revolution song and dance, and notes GMOs and the Malawi Miracle (hybrid seeds and a bag of fertilizer for every farmer) as points of hope. But at least it notes all the ways Borlaug’s theory has failed and gives time later in the piece to Vandana …

Running dry

Time to save our nation’s dairy farmers

This post orginally appeared on The Ethicurean. ——————— Did you see that movie Flash of Genius? It follows the unlucky Robert Kearns, played by Greg Kinnear, as he spends his life (and his savings) perfecting the intermittent windshield wiper, only to have his idea snared and used without credit by the Ford Motor Company. He pursues lawsuits against Ford and other car companies out of principle, he says: It is simply not fair that all of his hard work enriches Detroit’s Big Three while leaving him and his family virtually penniless. I’ve been thinking about that movie a lot lately …

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