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<em>Vanity</em> is Green

Digging into the relationships between business and environmentalism

Admittedly, this is more of a link dump than a true blog post, but sometimes the green goodness is too good to pass up ... As Sarah and David have mentioned, the May edition of Vanity Fair is their third annual green issue. Featuring, ironically, the material girl on the cover, it's crammed with features that will enlighten, illuminate, and ... disturb. Pulitzer prize-winning journalists Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele investigate Monsanto. ("We've never written about a company where some of its own customers are scared of it," they said.) Donald Trump and Michael Forbes duke it out …

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Notable quotable

"We'll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals." -- CNN founder Ted Turner, on what will happen if global warming is not quickly addressed (video under the fold)

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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Up, up, and away: corn edition

Corn hits a new record — $6 a bushel

At the end of February, I blogged on a Fortune article that had the subhead "The ethanol boom is running out of gas as corn prices spike." That article noted: Spurred by an ethanol plant construction binge, corn prices have gone stratospheric, soaring from below $2 a bushel in 2006 to over $5.25 a bushel today. As a result, it's become difficult for ethanol plants to make a healthy profit, even with oil at $100 a barrel. Just six weeks later, we have an AP article with the subhead "Corn Prices Jump to Record $6 a Bushel, Driving Up Costs …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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Why Michael Pollan and Alice Waters should quit celebrating food-price hikes

As their grocery bills rise, Americans should take comfort: the price they're paying for industrially produced food in the supermarket is starting to approach that of artisanally produced food at the farmers' market. And that might make more of them choose healthier, less environmentally destructive diets. At least, that's the message of an article in Wednesday's New York Times titled "Some Good News on Food Prices." Michael Pollan. Photo: Ken Light To make her case, reporter Kim Severson turned to two Berkeley-based icons of the sustainable-food movement, author Michael Pollan and restaurateur Alice Waters. "Higher food prices level the playing …

Read more: Food, Politics

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Who owns your tomato?

Another big horticultural seed company bought by Monsanto

When Monsanto buys into a market, they buy in big. In 2005, Monsanto's seed/genetic trait holdings were primarily in corn, cotton, soybeans, and canola. That year, they purchased Seminis, the world's largest vegetable seed company (see And We Have the Seed) specializing in seed for vegetable field crops. Now their takeover of the vegetable seed sector continues, as they have announced the intent to purchase the Dutch breeding and seed company, De Ruiter Seeds. This purchase diversifies Monsanto's seed holdings in vegetable field crops (Seminis) to "protected culture" fruits and vegetables (primarily tomatoes and cucurbits produced greenhouse, hothouse, etc). Analysts …

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Against the grain: What are they thinking? Part 2

Time bashes grain ethanol

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- All that glitters is not gold. And all that grows is not green. That is the belated realization about grain ethanol -- in fact, about any ethanol whose feedstock is grown on cropland. Joe Romm has done a good job posting on this issue, including his report on the recent studies featured in Science magazine. I'd like to weigh in with a few additional points. The folly of grain ethanol moved this week from Science magazine to Time in a cover article …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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The U.S. never had small government

Taxes and public investment: less intrusive than alternatives

Occasionally, as happened on one of my posts, someone will mention the early 20th century and before as a happy era when small government was the rule. These people are confusing low taxes with small government. Government has played a huge role in the U.S. since it became a nation. It's just that for much of its lifespan, the U.S. used military force to wipe out Native American nations and take their land. That extremely valuable land was then used to subsidize development. Trappers, loggers, cattle barons, settlers, and miners were all handed resource rights or land, the majority of …

Read more: Food, Politics

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The Age of Asparagus dawned in Roman times, but the time to eat it is now

Asparagus may be associated with spring, but there's nothing new about it. It's been gracing tables -- to the joy of some diners and the horror of others -- for at least two thousand years. In the earliest known cookbook, De Re Culinaria (circa A.D. 100), proto-foodie Marcus Apicius recommends pounding asparagus tips with black pepper, lovage, coriander, savory, onion, wine, oil (presumably from olives), eggs, and a kind of fermented, fish-flavored sauce -- all then to be baked, then seasoned with more pepper. Look who's stalking. Photo: Kurt Friese Sounds like a sort of dip, ancient Rome's answer to …

Read more: Food, Living

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U-boat sightings

European biodiesel industry being bankrupted by loophole

They call them U-boats because they pull into a port just long enough to do a U-turn and head off to Europe. They stop just long enough to blend a touch of fuel into the tank so they can claim the government subsidy. Let's say you have a million gallons on board from, say, a palm oil plantation in Indonesia, or a soybean operation in South America. An hour or two after your arrival, your pockets are bulging with just short of a million U.S. taxpayer dollars. From the Guardian: ... the European Biodiesel Board, has uncovered the trade as …

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Got food?

Farmworker Awareness Week is a chance to recognize the people whose labor means we can eat

This is Farmworker Awareness Week, a time to support the millions of farmworkers whose labor puts food on every American table, and who work and live in some of the worst environmental conditions in our nation. It's estimated that 2 to 3 million farmworkers plant, tend, and harvest American crops every year. Many farmworkers in the U.S. are migrants who move from place to place following the harvest. Where I live, in North Carolina, migrant farmworkers are the majority. The average annual income for a farmworker in the United States is about $11,000, or about $16,000 for a farmworking family …