Food

Sorrel of the story

From a zingy spring herb, a soup for sipping on the porch

Leaves of sassbeckyannisonGardeners and gastronomes fawn over sorrel — and almost everyone else ignores it. That’s a shame. An early-spring green with brash lemony flavor that comes from an abundance of oxalic acid, sorrel is a powerful addition to soups and sauces, and tasty in salads when picked young. The herb is classified in the genus Rumex, and its origins lie somewhere in what is now Russia, where the Ural Mountains divide Asia from Europe. It was well known in Roman times, though not cultivated since it was plentiful in the wild. Culinary historians find it falling in and out …

Diversity in the field, and at the table

A multicolored good food movement

Photo courtesy of M J M, via FlickrAs the good food movement matures, its members have begun discussing its inclusiveness. This week, at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s ninth Food and Society Conference, speaker after speaker touched upon the topic of race and access to good food.  “Who is at the table?” asked Anim Steel, Director of National Programs for The Food Project, a Boston-based organization that works to engage youth in sustainable agriculture. Steel’s rhetorical question referred to a growing conversation among members of the sustainable food movement about helping the movement grow and include all people, not just those …

Yielding to reality

Biotech’s history of overpromising and underdelivering may be catching up with it

GMOs: false promise?km6xoTom Philpott’s post on USDA chief Tom Vilsack’s comments regarding biotech deserves a bit more attention. Vilsack was speaking at the first ever meeting of the Group of Eight agricultural ministers. I guess we have to consider it progress that the top ag officials from the eight largest industrialized nations finally decided it was worth getting together despite the fact that there’s no consensus on what to do about food. It doesn’t help that when Tom Vilsack leaves the country — the meeting was held in Italy — he goes from being “Farmer Tom” to “Salesman Tom.” His …

We Soaked In It

A test of green(er) dishwasher detergents

Like the thorn under the rosebud, big piles of dirty dishes symbolize the tragedy of existence: pleasure (e.g., the pleasure of eating and cooking) invites pain. But dishes are more than just a symbol; they also (unfortunately) need to be done, day in and day out. The question becomes: how to do them as painlessly — and harmlessly — as possible? Thankfully, Grist’s own Umbra Fisk has signed off on the automatic dishwasher as the greenest option. “Dishwashers have been proven, again and again, to be more efficient than the typical hand-washer,” Umbra writes.  The choice of detergent matters, Umbra …

Techno beat

Vilsack: biotech will solve our ag problems

USDA chief Tom Vilsack has been in Italy at the G8 meeting, talking ag policy with reporters. As the global hunger crisis lingers and climate-change and population fears fester, Vilsack is using the opportunity to push agri-biotech as the solution to the globe’s food needs. Here is the Financial Times: Mr Vilsack said the challenge to boost output to feed the world’s population – expected to reach 9bn by 2050 from today’s 6.5bn – was compounded by climate change. For that reason, he called on the G8 to back the use of science in agriculture, including genetically modified organisms, to …

the usda's newest hire

Vilsack names former head of Iowa’s Health and Human Services as new USDA nutrition chief

Phil Brasher at the Des Moines Register is reporting that USDA chief Tom Vilsack has named Kevin Concannon the new Undersecretary of the Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services, i.e. the head of the federal food and nutrition programs — which include food stamps and the national school lunch program. Concannon ran Iowa’s Department of Health and Human Services — responsibile for administering the state’s Medicaid and nutrition programs — from 2003-2008. The USDA post is typically held by a former state health department administrator — the main question will be what, if any, reformist credentials Concannon has. According to Brasher, …

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 …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×