Means to an end

Umbra on mean drivers and other questions

Dear Umbra, Your kindness article inspired a question: Is it possible that pesticides make people mean? Perhaps because their bodies sense that they are under attack? The parking lot behavior at regular food stores versus organic stores serves as my non-scientific database. Pedestrially yours,Pat G.Albuquerque, N.M. Dearest Readers, RoundUp rage? iStock Back again for another day of Spring Inbox Cleaning, in which we go over a few questions that I have let molder away in the Inbox Closet. These are queries for which I have no legitimate answer, either because there is no answer or because I am left speechless. …


Pepsi makes good choices, or at least good PR hires

Dudes, what’s up with Pepsi? In the last few weeks the company has released at least three splashy sustainability stories touting its: testing of green vending machines in D.C. (30 out of 4-5 million, but hey) introduction of Eco-Fina, an Aquafina bottle that uses 50 percent less plastic (still plastic and still bottled water, but … hey) marketing of limited-time Throwback versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew that contain real sugar instead of the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup (still rots your teeth and gut, but … hey?). The efforts are apparently part of PepsiCo’s “Performance with Purpose” sustainability initiative — …

Speak food to power

The food movement needs to hone its political skills

I haven’t had a chance to weigh in on the issues raised by Andrew Martin’s recent NYT feature on the food movement. Despite the giddiness that comes with hearing that “a prominent food industry lobbyist… said he was amazed at how many members of Congress were carrying copies of ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma,'” some felt that the article, with its focus on Alice Waters — who becomes more controversial by the day — and Michael Pollan as food movement “leaders,” was a hit piece. Personally, I think of it as a reality check. Obamafoodorama is on to something in seeing that …

Why it will be very hard to save sharks from extinction

Here’s a video from a restaurant in Hong Kong which illustrates how much trouble the world’s sharks are in. If this woman’s reaction to the kitchen being ‘all out’ of shark fin soup is representative of the expectations of people in just Hong Kong, then sharks are in for a lot more senseless finning in the years ahead.

'Food Fight' breaks out in Seattle

Food-movement doc screens March 28 in Emerald City; Philpott, Alice Waters to attend

So, I’m featured as a talking head in a documentary on the sustainable-food movement called Food Fight. Other folks who appear include Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Dan Barber.  Food Fight will be screening this coming Saturday, March 28, 7 pm,  in Seattle as part of Green Festival. I’ll be attending the screening, and moderating a panel afterward featuring Alice Waters and the film’s director, Chris Taylor. Grist-reading Seattle dwellers should attend — you don’t need a Green Festival badge to get in. The showing will take place at the Seattle Town Hall, located at 1119 8th Ave. And for …

Egg-streme Flavor

Springtime is peak time for naturally raised eggs — and bread puddings and meringues

Before moving on to the more glamorous spring harvests of asparagus, sweet peas, and strawberries, let us first praise the pastured farm egg. That’s right: Eggs, too, have a season. Spring has long represented the beginning of a new cycle, and eggs are the epitome of rebirth.  Easter egg huntshave their origins in ancient Pagan spring traditions associated with the Goddess of Fertility. In natural conditions, hens’ egg production is dependent on hours of daylight. During short winter days, egg production slows down drastically or even stops. Come spring, longer days spur egg production. Plus, increased sunlight means lots of …

Water out of fish

Why the foodie press needs to do better work on seafood

I recently finished Taras Grescoe’s wonderful, vitally important book Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood. Everyone who loves seafood and would prefer to be able to enjoy it in 20 years must read it. Basic message: overfishing, pollution, climate change, and abusive aquaculture practices threaten to turn the oceans into vast pools of jellyfish, seaweed, slime and little else,  within our lifetimes — unless we change things fast. And changing things fast means being hyper-conscious about what seafood we eat. For Grescoe, that means focusing mainly on so-called “trash” fish — utterly delicious, low-on-the-food-chain stuff …

Here Comes the Airplane

Putting organic baby foods to the test

Mmm. When I had my son last year, I wasn’t lulled into thinking his body was a pure, unsullied canvas. I knew that babies are born polluted and that breast milk is full of rocket fuel. Still, it’s nice to maintain the illusion of purity, so as not to go completely insane. So I buy organic baby food, and I’m not alone: by 2007, parents were spending $116 million on organics for their babies, a 21.6 percent increase from the previous year alone. Though that’s still a small slice of the $3.6 billion baby food pie, it’s nothing to sneeze …

Food, class, and the new, new agrarianism

Using food as a tool of development, not extraction

When Michelle Obama plunged a shovel into the White House lawn last Friday, she wasn’t just preparing a productive vegetable-garden bed. She’s was also tilling fertile ground for debate about  new directions for the food system.  In the New York Times, Andrew Martin helpfully got the ball rolling in a recent piece called “Is a Food Revoution Now in Season?” I want to focus here on one small part of Martin’s piece, one that I’ve been fixated on since I started to write about food politics a few years ago: the class issue. Specifically, who gets access — who deserves …

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