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 …

The meat complex: Fox News gets it, do you?

Fox News story advocates for reducing meat consumption to combat global warming

This week, as I sorted through my inbox and overflowing number of “google alerts,” one particular story from Fox News caught my attention. In a decidedly personal yet informative piece, Andy Kroll of Fox News outlined the reasons why he was going to reduce his meat consumption by 75 percent in the upcoming months. The tipping point for him? The significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal production globally. What is so inviting and simultaneously exciting about Andy’s article is the realistic and informative approach he takes to a very complicated issue. He notes the United Nations figure …

Garden party

Michelle Obama to Oprah: There will be a White house veggie garden

It’s official, because it’s been etched in the pages of our most sacred national chronicle. No, not the Federal Register — I’m talking about O Magazine. Here’s the scoop: the Obamas will plant a veggie garden in the White House lawn. The First Lady of the United States told the Queen of the Universe as much, in an interview published in the latest edition of O. The excerpt available online doesn’t include the garden stuff, but Daily Green has the money quote: We want to use [the garden] as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious …

Big Oil [hearts] biofuels

Update [2009-3-19 12:37:25 by Tom Philpott]:Also on the theme of Big Oil loving biofuels: Valero Energy, the largest U.S. oil refiner, just snapped up seven ethanol plants from bankrupt ethanol maker Verasun for $1 billion. To get the plants, Valero beat out corn-processing giant Archer Daniels Midland, which had bid $700 million. ——————- From  Reuters: Oil Major Royal Dutch Shell Plc doesn’t plan to make any more large investments in wind and solar energy in the future and does not expect hydrogen to play an important role in energy supply for some time. But … Shell’s future involvement in renewables …

Three squares

Following USDA dietary guidelines can be hazardous to your health

Jill Richardson flagged this op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle co-authored by a nutritional biochemist and a doctor. In their commentary, they indicate that current government dietary guidelines might be an eensy bit flawed: Here is a daily diet that meets those nutrition guidelines: Breakfast: 1 cup Fruit Loops; 1 cup skim milk; 1 package M&M milk chocolate candies; fiber and vitamin supplements. Lunch: Grilled cheddar cheeseburger. Dinner: 3 slices pepperoni pizza, with a 16-ounce soda and 1 serving Archway sugar cookies. This helps explain why 12-year-old schoolchildren develop thickening of their carotid arteries to the brain, and 80 percent …

Czange we can believe in

Salmon czar could coordinate better protection, rule over peasant salmon

Because nothing signals a democracy on the mend like a profusion of czars, salmon defenders are now calling for a federal salmon czar. According to Wikipedia my deep and nuanced understanding of Russian history, we can expect a salmon czar to quickly go drunk with power, lord over peasant salmon, and assassinate political rivals in fits of paranoid rage. Or, you know, coordinate various government bureaucracies and administrate a sensible management plan. “It would be better to have one Washington, D.C. office with real power to deal with salmon issues, instead of the highly dispersed and dysfunctional mish-mash that now …

More farmers, less market

Farmers markets need rules if we want them to help the food system

Daniel Duane in Mother Jones warns you about farmers markets becoming “farmers markets”: In 1994, there were 1,755 farmers markets in the United States; by 2008, there were 4,685. In the big scheme of things, this is terrific news; it means Americans are learning to feed themselves properly. But not all parts of the country have seen commensurate explosions in the number of small-scale local organic farmers. And the driving force in opening a farmers market is less often the organic revolution than it is economic revitalization, maybe a local chamber of commerce hoping to tempt people back to Main …

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