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Have an organic, free-range, local Thanksgiving

If you've waited 'til the last minute to buy ingredients for your Thanksgiving feast, allow us to suggest that you seek out turkeys of the organic, grass-fed, free-range, local, and/or heritage variety. Because no one's thankful for pesticides in their gristle (or for butylated hydroxytoluene, for that matter). Apples, celery, and potatoes are all high on the best-to-gobble-organic list. And don't forget to prepare the food safely, says food-safety expert Sam Beattie: "You do not want your family or guests ho-ho-hoing in the bathroom." Um, wrong holiday, dude. But point taken.

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Revenue insurance is a promising option for farm aid

This is a guest post from Britt Lundgren, an Agricultural Policy Fellow at Environmental Defense. It is part of a recent conversation on agricultural policy. ----- Fixing farm policy, which has been the single largest influence on the shape of agriculture in the U.S. since the Dust Bowl, is not easy. "Not easy" will seem a drastic understatement to anyone who has followed the endless debate on the Senate floor over the past two weeks, which has produced much hand-wringing and rhetoric about our "safe and abundant food supply," but no actual Farm Bill. Tom Philpott has argued in recent …

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USDA orders Tyson Foods to stop using antibiotic-free labels on poultry

Tyson Foods will no longer be allowed to use its "raised without antibiotics" label that the U.S. Department of Agriculture originally approved in May, due to a mix-up at the agency and disagreement over whether a medication used in Tyson's chicken feed should be classified as an antibiotic. Tyson launched a $70 million ad campaign in June touting its fresh chicken as antibiotic-free and labeling it as such. But early this month, the USDA notified Tyson that it had made a mistake in approving the label as the agency had ignored its own longstanding policy of classifying a drug Tyson …

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Why gutting commodity subsidies should be the focus of Farm Bill reform efforts

Thomas Dobbs is Professor Emeritus of Economics at South Dakota State University, and a W.K. Kellogg Foundation Food & Society Policy Fellow. ----- Tom Philpott wrote an article in which he challenged some of the key assumptions underlying Farm Bill reform efforts of the past year ("It's the Agronomy, Stupid"). He contended that gutting commodity subsidies would not solve the U.S.'s long-standing oversupply problems, and that we need the money currently in the "commodity" title to remain available for eventual support of conservation and other measures reformers hold dear. The following day, a guest post by Britt Lundgren appeared in …

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Moving toward responsible agriculture

North Dakota senator Kent Conrad calls the farm bill a "legislative battleship that you cannot turn around quickly." As of mid-November 2007, this year's $286 billion farm bill appears to be having engine trouble. It is stalled in the Senate, and there is talk of a presidential veto. Should farmers be able to receive more than $250,000 in subsidy payments? What should the funding be for biofuels, for school lunches? Most of these arguments are about the speed of the battleship, or which flags it should fly, not the direction. For generations, that direction has been the maintenance and continued …

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In which we attempt to calculate how much an organic feast would cost

There's something about Thanksgiving that seems to prompt people to think about where their food comes from. Maybe it's all the cornucopias and sheaves of wheat depicted in supermarket circulars, or maybe it's the focus on the harvest. Visions of farmers bringing in the crops may lead people to think about how food gets to their table, and whether it would make sense, or even make a difference, to try to buy organic food for the holiday meal. The Grist editors asked me to create a Thanksgiving menu and compare the costs of using organic ingredients versus using conventional ones. …

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Practice of composting animals raises red flags for greens

A growing number of states are allowing farmers to bury their deceased horses, cattle, and chickens and allow the remains to decay into compost. Environmentalists are leery of the practice, concerned that livestock pumped up with antibiotics and growth hormones might leach chemicals into groundwater as they decompose. Growth hormones in the water, growth hormones in the milk -- watch out, orange juice. You're next.

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Readers share instructions for tasty Thanksgiving treats

Try your hand at reader recipes. Photos: iStockphoto A couple of weeks ago, we asked you, dear readers, to send in your favorite Thanksgiving recipes. We got a smorgasbord of replies, from Dilly Dip to The Best Pressed Pie Crust In the World -- and nary a hint of tryptophan in sight. We've collected your scrumptious ideas here, and welcome more from the rest of you in the comments section below. Bon appetit! Appetizers/Sides/Sauces/Stuffing Dilly Dip Cointreau Cranberry Sauce Sherried Leek and Wild Chanterelle Sauce Cranberry-Orange Relish Tempeh and Wild Rice Stuffing with Toasted Hazelnuts Quinoa Stuffing Entrees/Veggies/Soups Sweet Potatoes …

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Locavore is New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year

The word "locavore" has received the esteemed honor of being the New Oxford American Dictionary 2007 Word of the Year. For you non-locavores, the word is defined as "a person who endeavors to eat only locally produced food." It was coined about two years ago by four San Francisco women who popularized the idea of the 100-mile diet. The eco-friendly terminology beat out such worthy contenders as "tase" (to stun with a Taser) and "cougar" (an older woman who romantically pursues younger men).

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A recipe for no-boil pumpkin lasagna

For most of my adult life I've been anti-lasagna. It's not that I refuse to eat it. Quite the reverse! I love to eat lasagna. I just refused to make it. The idea of boiling giant, unwieldy sheets of pasta always got on my nerves. It didn't seem worth it, no matter how delicious the result. For years, a little depiction of a pan of lasagna superimposed with one of those internationally recognized "No!" circles occupied the part of my brain where enthusiasm for making lasagna should reside. Recently, though, I heeded the siren call of no-boil lasagna noodles. It's …

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