Food

Two takes on World Food Day

Distributing industrial-ag commodities vs. reviving local-food economies

Across the globe in various ways, people are observing the U.N.’s "World Food Day." (Over on the Washington Post, Kim O’Donnel has a pointed "by the numbers" take on the event.) I’d like to compare two World Food day ceremonies, one in Des Moines, the other in Mozambique. In Des Moines, former U.S. Senators Bob Dole and George McGovern are being honored with the annual World Food Prize. Started by Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug — the world’s most distinguished champion of industrial agriculture — the prize recognizes "the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, …

World Food Day 2008: Cooking and food preservation come to the table

Age-old cooking and preserving techniques could relieve food insecurilty worldwide

Today is World Food Day, and it’s time to assess the prospects for the short- and long-term future of our food. As I write this, there are more than 100 million new starving people in the world since last year. As I write this people in Iceland, one of the world’s richest nations, are wondering whether there will be any imported food coming into their country. As I write this, one out of every 11 Americans — and as many as one in seven in states with high levels of poverty — require food stamps to be able to eat. …

More than one way to raise a hog

Hog farms can benefit rural agriculture and community

I spent last Thanksgiving on a 320-acre farm in Pocahontas County, Iowa where Jerry Depew grows corn and soybeans, and for more than 10 years, has also raised hogs. Jerry never has more than several hundred hogs at a time, and while this used to be commonplace on Iowa farms, most small and mid-sized hog operations in the state were lost during massive industry consolidation over the last 15 years. Jerry’s hogs remained because he raises them differently. The hogs I saw on Jerry’s farm lived in hoop houses. These pole-supported buildings have a partial concrete floor (the rest is …

From Iowa’s apple orchards, a delicious heirloom and a recipe for stuffing

This column is an excerpt from Friese’s new book A Cook’s Journey: Slow Food in the Heartland.   Truly scrumptious: the “red delicious” apple’s heirloom antecedent.     Photo: Kurt Michael Friese   One cool spring morning about 1880, a farmer in Madison County, Iowa, named Jesse Hiatt was walking the rows of his young orchard when he noticed a chance seedling growing between the rows. An orderly man, he preferred that his trees grow in an organized fashion, and he chopped the seedling down. The seedling grew back the following year, and so he chopped it down again. When …

Green groups to release sustainable sushi guides

Three conservation groups will release their guides to sustainable sushi next week in an effort to inspire sushi consumers to take ocean and species health into consideration when deciding what to eat. “Every sushi restaurant serves some sustainable items. We’ve created the tools so people can find those good choices — and enjoy them!” said Seafood Watch’s Sheila Bowman. “If you care about the future of the oceans, you’ll want to use the pocket guides and avoid red-listed sushi.” Blue Ocean Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium have already released general sustainable seafood guides, but the sushi-only …

Chicken not-so-little

The hyper-consolidated poultry industry might consolidate even more

Just four companies — Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson, Perdue, and Sanderson Farms — slaughter and pack nearly 60 percent of the meat-chickens raised in the United States, reported [PDF] the researcher team Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan.  That dominance gives these corporate giants what economists call monopsony power — the leverage to dictate to their suppliers (farmers) how chicken is grown and at what price. For a luminous explanation of how monopsony works, see Barry Lynn’s essay on Wal-Mart in the June 2006 Harper’s. Hendrickson and  Heffernan report that the share of the poultry market controlled by the top four players …

Salt savvy?

Try skipping the Pringles

Looking for political information on CNN.com, a headline caught my eye: “How to be sodium savvy.” Since I recently developed some concerns in that area I clicked the link. The story was written by a chef named David Hagedorn for Cooking Light Magazine, a part of the CNN/Time/Warner empire. What I found at the outset was some fairly basic but useful information about why too much salt is bad, how much salt is acceptable, and that the less salt we consume the less we crave. It then told me that most of the salt Americans consume is from processed food …

Roni Neff explains how the media miss the story on food’s connection to climate change

In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization published a 390-page report called “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” The dense document came to a startling conclusion: Livestock production — including land-use changes for pasture and crop production — contributes more to global warming than every single car, train, and plane on the planet. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, recently reiterated this point. He called eating less meat “clearly the most attractive opportunity” to quickly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. “Give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there,” he urged. Roni Neff. Photo: …

Starbucks addresses water wastage following tabloid indictment

As John Edwards always said, never underestimate the power of a tabloid. Following the revelation in British rag-mag The Sun that constantly running dipper wells waste a humongous amount of water, a Starbucks spokesperson confirms, “Stores will be instructed to switch off the dipper well tap and will wash spoons after use.” And the plot thickens: According to PRWeek.com, a senior-level source at an unnamed PR agency claims, “We warned [Starbucks] several years ago that their usage of water was not good for their environmental credentials and could be a potential problem for them. They listened, but they didn’t do …

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