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Edible Media: Deep south

Edna Lewis, late doyenne of traditional southern fare, in Gourmet

Edible Media takes an occasional look at interesting or deplorable food journalism on the web. The January issue of Gourmet is devoted to the food of the U.S. south -- probably our sturdiest regional culinary tradition. I adore southern cooking, and the issue had my stomach grumbling from start to finish. I can think of few dishes that sound as satisfying as "simmered greens with cornmeal dumplings" (page 37). Beyond the enticing recipes and food-porn photos, what really makes the issue work is the presence of the late Edna Lewis (1916-2006), the great food writer, chef, and canonizer of southern …

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Me Huckabee, you Jane

GOP (and Dem) candidates: red-meat-lovin’, veggie-hatin’

From a compilation of responses given to AP reporters throughout the year: FAVORITE FOOD TO COOK DEMOCRATS: Clinton: "I'm a lousy cook, but I make pretty good soft scrambled eggs." Edwards: Hamburgers. Obama: Chili. Richardson: Diet milkshake. REPUBLICANS: Giuliani: Hamburgers or steak on the grill. Huckabee: Ribeye steak on the grill. McCain: Baby-back ribs. Romney: Hot dog. SHUNNED FOOD ITEMS DEMOCRATS: Clinton: "I like nearly everything. "I don't like, you know, things that are still alive." Edwards: "I can't stand mushrooms. I don't want them on anything that I eat. And I have had to eat them because you get …

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Feedlot meat production: nothing if not profitable

Tyson Foods chief nets $10 million — oops, no, $24 million

Update [2007-12-28 10:14:4 by Tom Philpott]:According to AP, Tyson CEO Richard Bond made total compensation of $24 million in 2007, not $9.88 million, as reported by Bloomberg. Here's how industrial meat production works: you stuff animals into pens, feed them genetically modified, nutritionally suspect corn and soy (along with growth hormones), and force them to wallow in their own waste while keeping them alive with regular lashings of antibiotics. Then you haul them to vast death factories, where de-skilled, low-paid workers, under immense time pressure, dismember them and pack their flesh into little shrink-wrapped styrofoam packages. There's plenty to be …

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Chicago will levy bottled-water tax, Big Bottle plans to sue

Beginning Jan. 1, Chicago will levy a 5-cent tax on bottled water; shortly after it goes into effect, an alliance of food and beverage retailer associations plans to sue.

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European biodiesel: riding on empty?

Unlike the U.S., European governments are cutting back on agrofuel goodies

European biodiesel makers have entered a rough patch. The price for their main feedstock, rapeseed, has risen more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year. But the price of the final product, biodiesel, has plunged, because producers are churning out far more biodiesel than the market can absorb. Similar conditions hold sway among U.S. ethanol makers: heightened corn prices combined with an ethanol glut. But U.S. producers are celebrating while their European counterparts exude gloom. Why the difference? That's an easy one. In the U.S., the government is playing Santa Claus, while in Europe, governments are responding to …

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Swine, feedlots, and flu

No holiday cheer from the meat industry

This isn't what you want to hear about in the wake of the holiday feast, but here goes. From a meat-industry trade journal: A new strain of swine influenza -- H2N3, which belongs to the group of H2 influenza viruses that last infected humans during the 1957 pandemic, has been identified by researchers. However, this new strain has a molecular twist: It is composed of avian and swine influenza genes. Yikes: Bird and pig flus, combined into one that can infect humans. As the trade journal puts it: These findings provide further evidence that swine have the potential to serve …

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The hands that feed

Let the nativists try eating their words

The prognostication game is a tricky one, but here are two wild guesses: 1) Lou Dobbs will enjoy a robust meal today; and 2) he'll issue some stark platitude, either to chortling table mates or millions of viewers of his CNN show, denouncing the "illegal aliens" who sneak in to "leach America's prosperity" or some such. And here's a third prediction: While Dobbs enjoys his victuals and other fruits of his witticisms, millions of Mexicans and Central Americans will continue doing the hard work of feeding (I'm channeling Dobbs here) "the greatest nation on earth." And they'll do so under …

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U.S. EPA proposes easing reporting requirements for factory farms

The U.S. EPA has proposed a "better approach" to making factory farms report their levels of air-polluting emissions -- don't make 'em report them at all! Under a proposal put forth today, commercial livestock operations would not have to report hazardous chemical pollution if the source was animal waste. The rule change, which would exempt Big Ag from three separate laws, would "reduce the burden on the regulated community of complying with ... reporting requirements," says the EPA. Oh, the poor burdened agriculture industry! "Residents have a right to know when these factory farms spew health-threatening air pollution in their …

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The underground food movement gains force, plus lots of bad news

Top green food stories of 2007

"...to make whole what has been smashed..." -- Walter Benjamin, Theses on the Philosophy of History All over the country, communities are organizing to establish food sovereignty. From low-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee to Detroit and Brooklyn, to the very heart of industrial agriculture, people are getting their hands dirty and building up their own alternatives to industrial food. In a nation with billions of dollars invested in growing, processing, distributing, and marketing horrible food, these efforts seek to establish food as a force for pleasure, environmental stewardship, and community economic development. And that, I think, is the most important green …

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Why “the end of cheap food” isn’t automatically a good thing

A decade ago, a barrel of oil fetched little more than $10. While the bargain-priced oil gushed, SUVs roared out of dealer lots and carbon emissions rose steadily. To a lot of people concerned about climate change, the time seemed ripe for a steep jump in oil prices. We're in for some roughage. Photo: iStockphoto The end of cheap oil would usher in a new era in which people learned to value energy, understand the ecological costs of burning it, and conserve. Pricy oil would send a "market signal," teaching us profligate Americans to consume less, and more thoughtfully. Or …

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