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What's the skinny?

What would you ask a ‘Skinny Bitch’?

As our resident foodie Tom Philpott noted a few weeks ago, the bitches behind Skinny Bitch -- "a no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous" -- are back. Tomorrow afternoon I'll be lunching with one of them, and I'm curious what y'all would ask her -- besides, of course, "Are you gonna eat that?" Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, the self-described "pigs" behind Skinny Bitch, shook up the diet world with their foul-mouthed vegan manifesto about the horrors of the food industry. Once the book was spotted in the hands of …

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The book pigs hate even more than <em>Lord of the Flies</em>

Why Omnivore’s Dilemma should be avoided

If I was a pig, and I was president, the first thing I'd do would be to ban The Omnivore's Dilemma. I have a friend -- let's call him PJ -- who'd been a vegetarian for over a decade. Then he read The Omnivore's Dilemma -- which, if you haven't read it, is manifesto of the local-food movement that culminates in a self-sourced meal starring a locally shot feral pig -- and in short order got a hunting license, bought a gun, and started learning how to make salami, bam bam bam. A couple weeks ago, PJ and my other …

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Countdown to the 2008 Farm Bill: Part II

A livestock title for fair and competitive markets

This is the second in a series of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Want more details on all of the sustainable agriculture provisions in the next Farm Bill? Go here (PDF) for a matrix that shows the status of provisions in the House and Senate versions. A shrinking number of companies dominate the nation's food supply, exerting market power over the entire supply chain from farm gate to dinner plate. In the livestock sector, the increasingly concentrated market has left farmers and ranchers in a position to negotiate with corporations that have far greater bargaining …

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Miracle grow

Cargill’s well-connected fertilizer unit wows Wall Street, dumps on Florida

As I wrote last week, the real winners in the ethanol boom aren't corn growers or even ethanol makers (though the latter will do just fine). Rather, it's the companies that make the inputs needed for growing vast quantities of corn. Photo: iStockphoto Monsanto, the world's dominant producer of genetically modified seed traits as well as the No. 1 herbicide maker, demonstrated that principle with its quarterly profit report last week. It harvested quarterly profits fully three times higher than it did a year earlier. Mosaic, the No. 1 U.S. fertilizer maker, put that performance to shame. Mosaic is a …

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A food writer looks back at 2007, from supermarket monstrosities to organic-garden epiphanies

While I peeled the apples for Apple Brown Betty recently (see recipe below), I had time to think about the food-related highs and lows of the past year. What was my most disconcerting food experience of 2007? Three interactions with the industrial food system vie for first place. We're holding out for grape-sized apples. Photo: Digital Visions 1) Last week I was in a large supermarket in Cambridge that shall remain nameless, and I saw some apples labeled as "grapples." Now, I know what a grappling hook is, and I know what it means to grapple with an issue, but …

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Tabling the presidential discussion, part I: Follow the money

How Obama and Clinton stack up on food and ag

Now that the Democratic campaign has narrowed to two clear front-runners -- each of whom has managed a surprise victory over the other in a major primary -- the time has come to take a look at how they stack up on food and ag policy. If elected, would these prospective presidents kowtow to Big Food interests -- or work to rebuild local and regional food systems? To gain insight, over several posts I'll compare and contrast Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on three fronts: campaign contributions; ties to agribusiness; and their own campaign material. Here's part one. Follow the …

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Countdown to the 2008 Farm Bill: Part I

Supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers

This is the first of five farm bill fact sheets from the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. For the diehard policy wonks out there, you can also download the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's matrix (PDF) showing the status of sustainable agriculture priorities in the House and Senate versions of the farm bill. Soaring demand for organic and local foods means exciting market opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers, but the current public policies required to support their entry are woefully inadequate. The future health and vitality of agriculture, the food system, and rural communities depends on policies in the 2008 Farm Bill that …

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News flash: Industrial food is really, really bad

‘Men’s Health’ uncovers some real whoppers

Not so smooth. Photo: iStockphoto Industrial food is really vile stuff -- even when it's been tarted up by marketers to sound "healthy," "natural," and "fresh." This is an obvious point, but it bears revisiting in a culture predicated on quick fixes. Is industrial food killing you? Don't stop eating it -- try these "new and improved" versions of old favorites! Men's Health magazine writers David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding slayed this hoary dragon yet again by dragging a bunch of fast-food delicacies back to their place of origin: the laboratory. Here is some of what they found. Thinking you …

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Shiny plants will save the climate, say researchers

You thought fighting climate change was going to be hard? Pssh -- all we gotta do is plant some peppers and we'll be home free. OK, it might not be that easy, but California scientists say they've hit on an unusual climate-change solution: shiny plants. Encouraging farmers to plant foliage that reflects the sun's heat back into space could reduce maximum daytime temperatures in agricultural regions by as much as 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, claim researchers, who say their idea will be published in an academic journal later this year. At which point, no doubt, the shiny-plant subsidies will begin to …

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GM crops reduce emissions and could be used as carbon offsets, says biotech company

Money paid to offset greens' sins by emission could go toward planting of genetically modified crops in China, if biotech company Arcadia Biosciences gets its way. Arcadia says its rice requires less nitrogen fertilizer, and farmers planting it should be rewarded with carbon credits for reducing their emissions of greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. The company has not yet convinced the Chinese government to allow farmers to sell genetically modified rice, nor swayed environmentalists skeptical of biotechnology.

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