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Animal-rights groups point out the climatic effect of meat-eating

With which instrument do you cause more greenhouse-gas emissions: your car key or your fork? It's a question asked in an advertising campaign by the Humane Society, which, along with other big animal-rights groups, is striving to open consumers' eyes to an oft-overlooked connection: the climatic impact of eating meat. Bolstered by a recent United Nations report stating that the livestock business spews more GHGs than all forms of transportation combined, animal-rights groups say greens aren't stressing the point enough. "Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.'s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate," says …

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Interior Dept. plans huge water giveaway to Big Agribiz

Brad Plumer points to this, which tells the story of how the Interior Department is planning to give away gargantuan amounts of water to Big Agribiz in California. If you'd like to dig into the background details, check out some posts we ran by Lloyd G. Carter, president of California's Save Our Streams council -- here, here, and here. It's mind-boggling.

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Small protest may be start of agrodiesel’s biggest nightmare

A link to John Cook's Venture Blog in the Seattle P-I via a post by Glenn Hurowitz brought my attention to a guy named Duff Badgley (not to be confused with Duffman or Ed Begley). Duff is an old-school, grassroots, car-free, long-haired, bleeding-heart, dirty hippie environmentalist. His protests may very well turn out to be Imperium's worst nightmare. From an article about the filing of Imperium Renewables' IPO (initial public offering) where they must, by law, warn potential investors of known potential risks: In its filing, the company said that palm oil is the cheapest feedstock available and noted that …

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Grass Backwards

Carbon dioxide contributing to un-grassing of grassland, says new study Thanks in part to rising levels of carbon dioxide, the world's grasslands are turning into woody shrublands, says a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When researchers artificially doubled CO2 levels over sections of the Colorado plains, they observed a fortyfold increase in the growth of fringed sage, which takes over the prairie flora that serves a crucial purpose as a livestock buffet. Grasslands, which are also in danger from overgrazing and wildfire suppression, cover 40 percent of the earth's land surface; some projections hold that current CO2 …

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Umbra on singles and CSAs

Hi Umbra! I've held back from joining a CSA because 1) I live alone and am worried about wasting food, and 2) I'm worried I'll get so much oddball stuff, especially in the winter, that I won't know what to do with it. I figure I can overcome No. 1 by seeking out some sufficiently hip neighbors and seeing if they want to share (although someone cautioned me that it gets hard to split the choice stuff -- she mentioned an incident with six strawberries). But I'm more concerned about the second. I work a lot, and don't have a …

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Radiation breeding of plants is way better than it sounds

Think two wrongs don't make a right? Meet radiation breeding, a method of modifying crops by zapping them with gamma rays. While "radiation" and "modify" are unpleasant words to many, "I'm not doing anything different from what nature does. I'm not using anything that was not in the genetic material itself," says plant breeder Pierre Lagoda. The practice -- which is to be thanked for red grapefruit, black currants, and whiskey-bound premium barley -- leaves no residual radiation and is an entirely different process than genetic modification, which splices foreign genetic material into plants. Radiation breeding is widely used in …

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How to stick it to the ice-cream Man

I've written a lot about the consolidation of U.S. food markets, and have become jaded to facts such as: just four firms slaughter 83.5 percent of cows, and so on. But I actually gagged on my ice cream when I read this bit in BusinessWeek: The days of mom-and-pop parlors and local brands are fading fast. Today, the $59 billion ice cream industry is dominated by two global giants: Switzerland's Nestlé (NESN.DE) and Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever (UN). Together, they control more than one-third of the worldwide market -- and half of ice cream sales in the U.S. -- and they're …

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Urban agriculture does more than provide healthy food for those who need it

Phoebe Connelly and Chelsea Ross have a detailed and incredibly heartening story on urban agriculture in In These Times. It focuses on urban ag projects that target inner city "food deserts," where liquor stores outnumber groceries 20-to-1 and the most easily available food is fried. It's not just about food, though: "We are what most folks would consider organic, but we're not certified," the Food Project's Burns says. "That's not as important to us. We're in the community; folks can just come by and see our practices. It's about transparency." Accessibility is at the heart of what these groups call …

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Starbucks vows to make 100 percent of its milk rBGH-free

If you haven't been ordering that double whipped Frappuccino at your local Starbucks with soy milk, you've likely been gulping down Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH). It makes cows produce more milk, but it's thought to increase the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in humans (if only they could come up with something to make cows squirt machiatto directly from their udders). But now, after two years of pressure from the organization Food and Water Watch, Starbucks has announced that it's going to go rBGH free by December 31, 2007. Moo-chas gracias, Starbucks! (photo: Tami Witschger) Whew! Now …