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Bittman on meat

In case you’d forgotten, industrial meat is a friggin’ nightmare

It's a little weird that no one on Gristmill has yet pointed to Mark Bittman's stellar NYT piece on the environmental ravages of industrial meat. Philpott, where you at? Anyway, it's amazing. Go read it. Here's a taste (ha ha): Growing meat (it's hard to use the word "raising" when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it's a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth's ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that …

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Will peak oil force the localization of agriculture?

Stuart Staniford says no. Sharon Astyk says yes. Jeff Vail also says yes.

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GMOs as environmental pollution

Schmeiser to play David to Monsanto’s Goliath again

Most of you will recall the high-profile battle fought by Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser when he was sued for growing their GM seed without tithing to the corporation for the privilege. Schmeiser insisted that Monsanto's patented DNA blew onto his land, but he lost an acrimonious fight in Canada's Supreme Court anyway. Now Percy's back for more. Schmeiser has filed suit against the agribusiness giant in his Bruno, Saskatchewan, small claims court for C$600, claiming damages when Monsanto's GM seed blew onto his land, which he had to pay to have removed so that he could plant mustard. His contention …

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USDA food-safety czar: Ethanol waste causes tainted beef -- and that's okay

Let cows eat vaccines along with distillers grains

In December, a study came out suggesting a link between distillers grains -- a waste product of the corn-ethanol process -- and a spike in cases of beef tainted with the deadly E. coli 0157 virus. You see, the government-mandated ethanol boom has dramatically pushed up corn prices. To cut costs, feedlot operators have been substituting cheap distillers grains for pricey corn. Thus in the past year or so, we've seen an explosion in use of distillers grain as livestock feed, especially for cows. When I heard about the possible E. coli 0157 link, I put two and two together …

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Eco-Farm: California dreaming

Notes on California’s big sustainable-farming conference

Note: This is another in a series of posts from Eco-Farm, the annual conference held by the Ecological Farming Association of California. At Eco-Farm, some 1,400-1,500 organic farmers, Big Organic marketers, and sundry sustainable-ag enthusiasts pack into a rustic, beautiful seaside conference hall an hour-and-a-half south of San Francisco to talk farming amid the dunes. Satan gave me a taco: Harvesting talent at Eco-Farm. Photo: Bonnie Powell, Ethicurean Eco-Farm is a bit like summer camp for sustainable-ag nerds. You wind up outdoors a lot, wandering from activity to activity, often pelted by rain. I loved it. No brain-sucking hotel conference …

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Eco-Farm: Buzz kill

A long-time beekeeper’s take on colony collapse

Note: For the next few days I'll be reporting from Eco-Farm, the annual conference held by the Ecological Farming Association of California. At Eco-Farm, some 1,400-1,500 organic farmers, Big Organic marketers, and sundry sustainable-ag enthusiasts pack into a rustic, beautiful seaside conference hall an hour-and-a-half south of San Francisco to talk farming amid the dunes. Long-time California bee keeper Randy Oliver gave an interesting session on apiary in an age of colony-collapse disorder. According to Oliver, "everything you've heard in the media about colony collapse is wildly exaggerated or wrong." He says there's no reason to go looking for a …

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Full-time athlete <em>and</em> full-time vegan

Is it possible for an NFL star to go meatless?

Grist recently published my interview with Rory Freedman, one of the authors of vegan diet book Skinny Bitch. The finished piece is just a selection of the topics from our conversation (we had quite a long lunch), and one of the questions that didn't make the cut was about responding to critics who say veganism is unhealthy. Freedman said it's a "non-argument" and referenced the work of a number of scientific organizations (the American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, etc.) saying that a well-planned vegan diet can be very healthy. Sure, if you're a …

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An interview with Rory Freedman, coauthor of vegan manifesto Skinny Bitch

It would be impossible to make it through an entire lunch with Rory Freedman without realizing this simple truth: The bitch loves food. Excuse my language -- or actually, don't. Freedman wouldn't say it any other way. Rory Freedman (left), with coauthor Kim Barnouin. Photo: Tim VanOrden After all, she and former model Kim Barnouin are coauthors of the New York Times best seller Skinny Bitch -- a title that only hints at the sassy writing style within: "You cannot keep eating the same shit and expect to get skinny," the book opens. "Use your head, lose your ass" are …

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Orange County opens recycled-water plant

A sewage reclamation plant officially opened today in Orange County, Calif., and will, sure enough, reclaim treated effluent and turn it into drinking water. Recognizing that its growing population -- currently 2.3 million -- is likely to outpace its supply of fresh water, O.C. is relying on the facility to turn 70 million gallons of water from disgusting to drinkable every day. Officials hope that the plant could eventually churn out up to 130 million gallons per day of water sans bacteria, viruses, carcinogens, hormones, chemicals, heavy metals, fertilizers, pesticides, and pharmaceutical remnants. The reclamation process uses less energy than …

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Eco-Farm: Seeds of ignorance

Investigative journalist reveals serious safety concerns about GM food

Note: For the next few days I'll be reporting from Eco-Farm, the annual conference held by the Ecological Farming Association of California. At Eco-Farm, some 1,400-1,500 organic farmers, Big Organic marketers, and sundry sustainable-ag enthusiasts pack into a rustic, beautiful seaside conference hall an hour-and-a-half south of San Francisco to talk farming amid the dunes. I've been writing about genetically modified food since I first took up food-politics writing back in 2005. My lens has always been corporate power and biodiversity. I saw GM seeds as yet one more way corporations siphon profit out of the food system, brazenly claiming …

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