Talk turkey to me

Smaller breasts are better, and other advice for holiday-bird quandaries

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. May I suggest a nice ham this year?   Dear Checkout Line, Let’s talk turkey. I want to green my Thanksgiving table, but have it be delicious, too. No more Butterball! But from there, should I mail order a heritage turkey, or buy a pastured one from a nearby farmer? Or buy an organic one from the supermarket? What sort of deliciousness/sustainability trade-offs are we talking about here? …

When farmers and activists get together, food culture ferments like delicious sauerkraut

  The Carrboro Farmers Market in North Carolina.     Photo: North Carolina Cooperative Extension   “Thank God, she’s not another one of those community activists.” I was at Terre Madre, Slow Food’s biennial international meeting of farmers, food producers, academics, cooks, and youth delegates in Turin, Italy. I had just introduced myself to a couple of meat farmers from Oregon at the communal dinner table at our hotel. I was at Terra Madre as a food producer — a jam and pickle maker from North Carolina. Actually, I am an activist, but in the same way that I’m a …

Ethanol industry struggling

Big Ethanol, once all the rage, is tanking under the triple threat of inconsistent corn costs, the shaky economy, and falling prices for the product. Plans for new plants have been put on hold, and several companies have filed for bankruptcy; many analysts say significant consolidation is in the cards.

New EPA rules let factory farms police themselves on water pollution

Factory farms can skip getting a pollution permit if they don’t think they’ll be mucking up nearby waterways, according to new U.S. EPA requirements. Enviros are unimpressed; notes Eric Schaeffer of the Environmental Integrity Project, “It literally puts the foxes in charge of their gigantic henhouses.”

Umbra on composting with worms

Dear Umbra, I recently moved into a studio apartment in an urban area. I used to compost in my backyard but don’t have that option anymore. I looked into getting a worm bin to use inside my apartment, but the cheapest ones seem to run around $200 and don’t hold very much. Can you recommend something for someone in a tight space, on a tight budget, that holds a lot of food scraps? Lauren L. St. Louis, Mo. Dearest Lauren, Red wiggler worms and their decompository companions make excellent compost, and a worm bin is pretty much the only choice …

Safety dance

Will a new administration give us the ‘safest food supply in the world’?

How many times have we been told we have the safest food supply in the world? Do we really? I suppose it depends on the comparison. Somalia? Kenya ? Eritrea? In developing countries, close to two million children die every year from contaminated food and water. These countries don’t have much of a food supply, safe or otherwise, so compared to them, we do quite well. How do we fare compared to other industrialized countries? The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions estimates that there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness yearly in the U.S. — roughly 1 out …