Make a list, check it twice

Pare down the pesticides

Tip #7: Be a picky eater. Pare down the pesticides in your diet (without cutting too far into your food budget) by focusing your organic purchases on the “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies that tend to be chem-laden to the core. Buying local and organic as often as possible is a good way to help the planet and, more importantly, your health, but that doesn’t always mean it’s the easiest on your wallet. Organic foods can cost twice as much as conventional goods, but not all organics are created equal. Put a paltry paycheck to good use by being picky …

Gates of power

Breaking: Gates Foundation ag official gets USDA post

Rajiv ShahPresident Obama has named Rajiv Shah, the Gates Foundation’s director of agricultural develpopment, as Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics at the USDA. The Gates Foundation’s agriculture efforts have been criticized for ties to Monsanto, the globe’s largest seed company and dominant purveyor of genetically modified seed traits. In 2007, the Gates Foundation named Rob Horsch, a long-time Monsanto VP, deputy director of its agricultural development initiative. I’ll have more on this story soon.

What a load of manure

Stop the environmental subsidy for factory farms

  North Catolina hog-waste lagoon: Smells like CAFO spiritDefMoIn one of the most deliciously perverse (not to say Orwellian) twists in our deliciously perverse (not to say Orwellian) system that is US agricultural policy, the prime beneficiaries of one of the USDA’s main environmental programs are beef, pork, and poultry factory farms. This money, of course, comes on top of the monetary benefit that these vast (literal) cesspools of industry reap from an almost total lack of government oversight (a benefit which the GAO has estimated to be in the billions of dollars). Even subsidies to corn and soy farmers …

Food is the new green

Earth Day reflections on food as an environmental issue

Courtesy Stewart via Flickr Michael Pollan ended The Omnivore’s Dilemma with this line: “we eat by the grace of nature, not of industry, and what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world.” Sustenance, it seems to me, has always been humanity’s most persistent and direct link to the landscape. But at least since the rise of agriculture 10,000 years ago, class relations have had the power to obscure that link. It’s doubtful, for example, that Queen Victoria knew very much about what it took to supply her table, which (telegraphing today’s food-miles debate) …

Green Devolution

NPR: Industrial ag in India on the verge of collapse

Field of screamsIn a glowing Atlantic profile back in 1997, Greg Easterbrook declared Norman Borlaug the “Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity.” Borlaug is the intellectual father of what became known as the “Green Revolution,” the concerted effort by the U.S. government, leading foundations, and large agribusinesses in the 1960s and ’70s to deliver the gift of industrial agriculture to the global south. With Borlaug cheering them on and the Ford and MacArthur Foundation providing cash, farmers in the fertile Punjab state — the subcontinent’s answer to our midwest — state turned shunned traditional crops and turned to high-yielding strains of wheat …

Mama always said

Eating your veggies doesn’t have to be scary

Tip #5: Eat your vegetables. Save some moolah (and Ma Earth) by switching out meat for veggies at least one day a week. Don’t let them sense your fear.Jeremy E.W. Fredericksen via Creative CommonsIt’s tried and true advice, from the USDA to First Lady Michelle Obama to your mom: Eat more veggies. Considering 78 percent of Americans aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies, it sounds like someone isn’t listening. Instead, Americans are chomping away at a record 222 pounds of meat a year (as of 2003). That’s 45 percent more meat a day than the USDA thinks is a very …

The Fishery That's Too Big to Fail

This is a guest post by John Hocevar and Jeremy Jackson. Jeremy Jackson is the William E. and Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography at the Scripps Institution. John Hocevar is a marine biologist and the director of Greenpeace’s oceans campaign. If you like seafood, you’ve probably eaten Alaska pollock, the tender white fish used in most frozen fish sticks, McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, and the imitation crab meat found in California rolls. But the pollock – the world’s largest food fishery – is on the verge of collapse. The most recent data from the National Marine Fisheries Service show the …

Troubled waters

Report: Mediterranean bluefin tuna on verge of collapse

Bye-bye, big fishPhoto: Tom PuchnerOh-oh. From The Times of London: The fishing season opens today in the Mediterranean spawning grounds of the “king of sushi” — the bluefin tuna — with a grim warning that current catch rates mean it will die out in as little as three years. In my recent exchange with the food writer Mark Bittman on seafood, a debate broke out about fishery scale. Which are better stewards of fish stocks: small-scale fishermen who range around coastal waters, catching fish for nearby markets; or fleets of large, high-tech boats zipping about the seas, catching mass quantiies …

Reheat and serve

Obama’s school-lunch chief not much of a reformer

Note: This essay was written with Kate Adamick of Food Systems Solutions LLC and Beth Collins of Lunch Lessons LLC. Supersize me.Photo: bookgrlToday, 30 percent of American children are over-weight or obese. For children born in the year 2000, one out of every three Caucasians and one out of every two African American and Hispanics will contract diabetes in their lifetime, the CDC warns. Recent research has shown that the average age of children with kidney stones is ten, and that food additives and colorings contribute to ADD and ADHD. In short, we’re failing to feed our children well. For …

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