Food

Organic dairy update

Proposed new USDA rule generates controversy

What are you seeking when you shell out extra cash for organic milk? Some folks aim to avoid the synthetic growth hormones and genetically modified, pesticide-treated feed U.S. dairy cows typically find in their rations. As currently written, USDA organic rules deliver that. But what about access to pasture? Cows evolved as grass eaters; forcing them to feed on grain for a significant period of their lives is a relatively recent experiment. USDA code requires dairy farmers to give their cows "access to pasture," but doesn’t spell out precisely what that means. In one way, that’s good. In truly ecological …

Say (artisanal) cheese!

Not all fermented dairy products are created equal

In Checkout Line, Lou Bendrick cooks up answers to reader questions about how to green their food choices and other diet-related quandaries. Lettuce know what food worries keep you up at night. Blessed are the cheese makers. Dear Checkout Line, In our search to eat local, we’ve uncovered some lovingly handmade local cheeses. They certainly have more variety — sheep, goat, wallaby (well, maybe not wallaby) — and are definitely lots more expensive than the shrink-wrapped yellow plastic squares of cheddar. But are they actually any better for you? Isn’t one half-pound hunk of hard fat just about the same …

Monica Segovia-Welsh’s Chocolate Panforte

Photo: Justin Russell Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Visions of sugar plums dancing. A partridge in a pear tree. The holiday season is rife with gastronomic traditions, as well as delectable memories of shared meals past. To get in the spirit, and perhaps encourage a few new traditions, we asked some all-star sustainability-minded chefs — including our own food columnists — to share their favorite holiday recipes. So grab a cup of organic ‘nog and dig in! Dan Barber & Blue Hill’s Dairyless Fennel Soup Deborah Madison’s Steamed Persimmon Pudding with Silky Persimmon Puree Andrea Reusing’s Lion’s Head Meatballs …

Umbra on homegrown meat

Dear Umbra, I try to eat as many vegetarian meals as possible, but I haven’t “gone all the way” yet, mostly because my in-laws (whom my husband and I live with at the moment) raise beef, chickens, and hunt deer; and my husband and I end up with a lot of free, locally produced meat. How does this fit in with eco-friendliness? Would it still behoove (no pun intended) me to continue to push for vegetarianism? I am by no means a meat-lover and it’s fairly easy for me to pass it up, except when it comes to eating and …

Ring in the new with a ‘natural’ bottle of bubbly

Fewer chemicals in our sparkling wines? We’ll drink to that. Nothing says festive quite like the pop of a chilled bottle of bubbly. But while sparkling wine delivers a party in a glass, things are typically less thrilling out in the field. Like most wine, bubbly tends to come from grapes grown in large monocrops — vines as far as the eye can see. And they’re more likely to be swathed in a cloud of pesticide spray than in a farmer’s careful attention. These grim conditions generally hold sway at all price points, from $5 headache bait to the brand-name …

Breaking: Major sustainable-food foundation collapses

The Fair Food Foundation crumbles under weight of the Madoff Ponzi scheme

For a couple of years, there has been lots of buzz in the sustainable-food world about the Fair Food Foundation of Ann Arbor, Mich. Fair Food was founded recently by Oran Hesterman, under whose leadership the Kellogg Foundation became the key funder in the sustainable-food space. Kellogg has been pulling back from that space; Fair Food, which was gearing up to begin giving $20 million per year, was expected to fill the void. Today brings a stunning announcement: Fair Food is closing down. In an email message I obtained from the Comfood listserv, Hesterman wrote that the funds of the …

Sweetness in Seattle

Theo Chocolate is the country’s first organic and fair-trade chocolate-maker

Photo: Sarah van Schagen Stroll into Theo Chocolate in Seattle’s artsy Fremont neighborhood, and you’re bound to feel all warm and cozy. From the freshly made confections beckoning from behind the counter to the welcoming brick fireplace and mugs of hot cocoa (a new addition this winter), the storefront offers a respite from the winter chill. But descend the stairwell into the belly of the chocolate factory on one of their daily tours — adjusting your blue hairnet along the way — and you might end up more than a little disappointed. For starters, there are no chocolate waterfalls. There …

On the first day of Gristmas, my true love gave to me ...

A roundup of savory holiday links from Grist

Since it’s the holiday season, it’s time for a trip down candy cane Grist archive lane to revisit some festive links that are, uh, evergreen: Decorations Deck your halls with a sprinkling of mistletoe trivia, like that “mistletoe” means “dung on a twig.” That’ll get your lips wet. And Umbra explains why LED holiday lights rock so much harder than traditional ones. The downloadable Yule log demonstrates yet another reason iPhones win at life, or you can gaze at Stephen Colbert’s version. Christmas trees Sarah van Schagen looks at the issue of pesticide-drenched trees, and Umbra dishes on finding an …

Lab-ulous

Best Burger Ever discovered in tiny Ballard eatery

I was originally going to write this in an email to Tom Philpott, but I decided the Gristian masses deserve to know as well, in case y’all ever make it up to Seattle. I bring you an important announcement: the quest for the Best Burger Ever is over. Call it off. We’re done. Finito. On Friday I had lunch at a dingy little hole-in-the-wall in the Ballard district of Seattle called Lunchbox Laboratory (excuse their epically awful website). Though occasionally daily specials stray (a pasta here, mashed potatoes there), basically the place is about burgers and fries. But that’s like …

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