Food

Umbra on food-waste collection

Dear Umbra, Are any communities collecting food waste — potato peels, meat scraps, corn husks, etc. — for recycling? Is there a market for such material? Wendy S. Far Hills, N.J. Dearest Wendy, Yes and yes. Multiple communities collect food waste, in a variety of ways. Which is great, considering that food makes up about 12 percent of our garbage discards and is perfectly recyclable. You don’t have to be hardcore to recycle food scraps. The proper end to food scraps is rebirth as compost, wherein the nutrients stored in the foods will be returned to the soil and made …

Going up? Part 4

Michael Pollan and other food authors and activists offer their elevator pitches for Obama

We asked a number of leaders in sustainable food and agriculture to imagine they found themselves in an elevator with the president-elect — giving them one minute of his undivided attention. Here are their messages to Obama about how he should approach environment, energy, climate, and food policy. (For more perspectives, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of our elevator-pitch series.) —– Michael Pollan. Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food: “I would urge the new president to appoint a Food Policy Czar in the White House. Why? Because, as I’ve written recently …

Going up? Part 2

Sustainable food and ag folks offer their elevator pitches for Obama

We asked a number of leaders in sustainable food and agriculture to imagine they found themselves in an elevator with the president-elect — giving them one minute of his undivided attention. Here are their messages to Obama about how he should approach environment, energy, climate, and food policy. (For more perspectives, check out Part 1, Part 3, and Part 4 of our elevator-pitch series.) —– Anna Lappe. Anna Lappé, author and co-founder of the Small Planet Institute: "President Obama, you have inspired millions by your call to all of us to become part of the change we want to see …

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.

California OKs measure requiring more humane treatment of farm animals

California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 2, which will require that egg-laying hens, calves raised for veal, and pregnant pigs be given enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, and turn around freely. Get the background on this groundbreaking ballot initiative.

USDA aims to tighten grazing standards for organic cows

Three moos for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is aiming to close a loophole in organic standards for livestock. Under the proposed rule, organic cows must be let out to graze in a pasture at least 120 days per year, and must get 30 percent of their feed from such grazing. The old rules merely said cows must have “access to pasture” — which, undefined, allowed some “organic” operators to cut corners.

Umbra on compost and climate

Dear Umbra, I was explaining to my neighbor (who doesn’t even recycle) why he shouldn’t throw out a bag of leaves with his trash. Just to clarify, he asked what to do with it. I explained composting; he doesn’t want to. I explained the energy expended in transporting his leaves and that landfills emit greenhouse gases as the materials break down. It got me thinking. Why is it better for my kitchen scraps and leaves, etc., to break down in my compost pile vs. in a landfill? Doesn’t it emit greenhouse gases at home? Continually composting, Sue R. St. Paul, …

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