Food

Tour de pig

If you can’t stand the smell, tough luck

Duplin County, N.C. stinks. And no wonder. Its human population is just under 50,000 people, but it is also home to 2.2 million [PDF] of North Carolina’s 10 million hogs [PDF]. Last week, I went on a bus tour of Duplin County as a part of the Politics of Food Conference to see how confined animal feeding operations impact rural communities. It was not pretty. Our guides on this tour were Dr. Sacoby Wilson, an assistant research professor at the University of South Carolina, and Devon Hall, a community activist for Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help. Each was quite …

Weighing Obama’s and McCain’s stances on food and farm policy

Will the next president be tough enough to defy the wishes of agribusiness? Apologies to Grant Wood Last month at Slow Food Nation, Michael Pollan made an interesting point about food policy and presidential politics. Food issues won’t likely play much of a role during the campaign’s stretch run, Pollan said, but the winning candidate will almost certainly be forced to confront them directly over the next four years. That’s because burgeoning crises in climate, energy, and health care can no longer be ignored — and food policy plays a central role in all three, Pollan said. I wish I …

ReGeneration Roadtrip: Buffers and biomass

Streamlining the agricultural process in Iowa

This is a guest post by my travel partner, Todd Dwyer, head blogger for Dell’s ReGeneration.org, where this post originally appeared. —– I have a shocking piece of news for you. You may want to sit down for this: Agriculture is big business in Iowa. Did I say “big?” Maybe that’s an understatement. Of the state’s 35 million acres, 31 million are used for agricultural purposes, and Iowa stands amongst the world’s most altered land in the world. What was once described by our forefathers as an ocean of tall grass and prairie land is now almost entirely made up …

Dispatches From the Fields: My ride in a combine

How commodity grain farmers have sown the seeds of their demise

In “Dispatches From the Fields,” Ariane Lotti and Stephanie Ogburn, who are working on small farms in Iowa and Colorado this season, share their thoughts on producing real food in the midst of America’s agro-industrial landscape. —– A field of dried soybeans ready to be combined. Although “that time of year” in corn and soybean country is a few weeks late, it has finally arrived. Whether starting up their new $300,000 capital investment for the first time or pulling out their trusted and infinitely tinkered-with machine, farmers are taking to the fields in one of industrial agriculture’s greatest creations: the …

How to turn black walnuts into a delicious dish

When I was growing up in central Ohio, school began right after Labor Day. This was advantageous compared to today’s August start, and not just because of the longer summer break. The extra time also allowed the black walnuts to ripen just in time to give us something to hurl at each other as we walked to school that first morning. Front-yard bounty. They littered the ground all through the streets on my route to elementary school. It was customary to announce your approach behind fellow students by pelting them with the large green orbs. The nuts seemed to have …

Trick or treat?

As Halloween nears, beware of the ‘fat-free’ candy corn

It’s the beginning of October and as the cooler temperatures and colorful leaves start to make an appearance, every retailer in America is switching storefronts to include pumpkins and of course, Halloween candy. The orange and black packages are cropping up in drugstores and supermarkets nationwide, and the glycemic high that lasts from Halloween through Easter has certainly begun. Since the lipid-phobia of the late 80s, high-sugar candies like gummy bears, gum drops, and candy corn have marketed themselves as “fat-free,” but, because most candy contains high-fructose corn syrup, recent research might make you reconsider those “fat-free” claims. In June, …

Sour milk

The Environment Report naively pushes Monsanto-related study praising rBGH

I don’t know much about Environment Report, a non-profit producer of radio reports about, uh, the environment. But I can’t say I’m impressed by its recent piece on recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), the genetically modified "feed enhancer" for dairy cows that Monsanto recently sold to Eli Lilly. In it (transcript here), reporter Shawn Allee sets up a contrast between a Chicago health-food store owner and a Cornell scientist. The health food guy cites the precautionary principle for his opposition to rBGH: People have been drinking milk for thousands of years from animals that didn’t have have rgbh in them, …

Erring on the side of 'heirloom'

Greenwashing our vegetable modifiers

A few weeks ago, I was having dinner at a renowned restaurant in San Francisco, when I noticed something a bit troubling on the menu. According to the description, the “Heirloom Tomato Salad” was made with a mix of Sweet 100 and Sungold tomatoes — both of which are hybrid varieties. OK, big deal, they made a mistake. Well, two weeks later, I stopped at a farm stand advertising heirloom tomatoes, and sure enough, the alleged heirlooms were hybrids. All this falsity in advertising has me wondering if the term “heirloom” is becoming just another one of those previously meaningful …

Cutting meat and milk consumption cuts CO2 emissions, study says

Happy World Vegetarian Day! Just in time for the festivities, a new study from the Food Climate Research Network finds that cutting down on meat and milk consumption can help cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The four-year study focused mainly on the U.K., concluding that dramatically cutting the average Briton’s weekly meat and milk intake could help reduce emissions since about 8 percent of the country’s greenhouse gases come from meat and dairy production. The study also boldly recommends citizens cut alcohol from their diet — which has little nutritional value but contributes some 1.5 percent of overall emissions — as well …

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