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 …

Lunch money

Vilsack makes an industry-friendly pick to head the school lunch program

Processed junk … again? Photo: dancing chopsticks USDA chief Tom Vilsack has repeatedly said that improving child nutrition will be one of his priorities. One key place to start would be the National School Lunch Program. Because of miserly federal funding for ingredients and kitchen equipment, the cafeteria kitchens in our nation’s public schools have largely becoming reheating centers — and what gets reheated tends to be processed junk from the likes giant food corporations like Conagra and Tyson Foods. Here are a few examples of the kind of stuff that Tyson, the world’s largest meat processor, peddles to school …

Terror in the grass

Locavores are ruining food and free range pork will kill us

Get thee to a CAFO!Photo: pubwvjIn a recent op-ed, in The New York Times gravely informed its readers that free-range pork is deadly stuff. Despite evidence that incidence of trichinosis is very rare in the US–about 40 cases a year, and mostly caused by eating wild game (usually bear)-James E. McWilliams says that pork laced with the deadly parasite is just one example of how locavores are “endangering the future of food.”  Mr. McWilliams, a history professor at Texas State University also wrote in the Times 2 years back that measuring food miles was bunk and that they were not …

lies, damned lies and statistics

Adventures in the FUD-osphere

Don’t FUD it upImage: psdFDR must have been talking about the Internet when he famously said that we have nothing to fear but fear itself. Everywhere you turn there is another study raising some new hazard and questioning some baseline assumption about how our society lives, eats or fuels itself. And then in short order, another study appears questioning the conclusions of the first — leaving us all full of nothing but FUD. FUD, of course, stands for the bedrock principles of a depressingly large segment of corporations (and politicians) — Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. The concept may go back as …

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