Exposure to pesticides in utero linked to obesity, study says

Exposure to pesticides in utero can double a child’s chances of becoming obese, a new Spanish study has concluded. The study, published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, measured the level of the internationally banned (yet still freakishly persistent) pesticide hexachlorobenzene in the umbilical cords of over 400 children born on the Spanish island of Menorca. It found that the kids with the highest levels of HCB before birth were twice as likely to be obese at age six and a half. Previous studies have linked bisphenol A exposure to obesity in animals, and other studies have linked phthalates to obesity …

Slow Food Nation interview: Eric Schlosser

Fast Food Nation author says the sustainable food movement should consider labor

Few Grist readers need an introduction to Eric Schlosser. His 2001 book, Fast Food Nation, helped galvanize interest in the politics and ecology of food production. Since that time, he’s used his increasingly high profile to illuminate one of the most shadowy crannies of the food system — working conditions in the vast monocropped fields where most of our fruits and vegetables grow. In this short interview recorded last week at Slow Food Nation, Schlosser talks about why he thinks labor issues have to be a central concern for the sustainable-food movement going forward.

Eleven organic breakfast cereals get put to the spoon

The scene was surreal … I mean, cereal. I awoke from deadline-anxiety dreams one Sunday morning, and crept down to the kitchen at the farmhouse where I work. There I found a dozen people chomping breakfast cereal, scribbling down notes, and trading bon mots. Coincidentally, the farmhouse had been packed with guests that weekend, including a crew of cereal-loving Germans. We also had some visitors of the banjo-playin’, fiddlin’ variety — and they, too, took great relish in the cereal-tasting task. To my eternal delight, I heard one of the Germans regaling the fiddlers between bites with tales of his …

U.K. former chief scientist: Green activists 'impoverish Africa'

Only GMOs and agrichemicals can ‘feed the world,’ don’t you know?

People involved in the sustainable food movement have been debating the best ways to promote what Wendell Berry recently called “local adaptation” with regard to food and agriculture. The point is to shift away from a paradigm of relying on a fossil fuel-powered agriculture system to feed people living far away from the actual farms where the food is grown. On the other side of this conversation are powerful interests who, under the guise of the imperative to provide food and nutrition to the world’s poor, want to consolidate the grip of industrial agriculture over the global food system. Echoing …

U.S. bottled-water guzzling is slowing

Americans’ seemingly insatiable thirst for bottled water seems to be slowing, according to new industry stats. Annual U.S. bottled-water consumption shot up nearly 46 percent between 2002 and 2007, to an average 29.3 gallons per person. But the Beverage Marketing Corporation predicts that bottled-water guzzling will grow only 6.7 percent in 2008, the smallest increase this decade. The editor of Beverage Digest isn’t concerned: “If the economy improves and consumers begin to feel better, we’re going to see at least some increase in the growth rate of bottled water again.” Adds an industry spokesperson: “We have enjoyed meteoric growth in …

Kelp on the way

Seaweed is the best garden amendment, hands down

My wife and I have been living in a beach house for the last two weeks, and have been blessed with an incredible run of perfect summer weather. The exclamation point came with the passing of tropical storm Hanna on Saturday whose winds piled fresh seaweed high on the beach — a literal windfall for this organic gardener. I collected sacks of it. Any gardener living near the Northeast or Northwest coast, where kelp grows, ought to consider collecting some. It’s the best seaweed for the garden. It’s a trick I learned from my grandparents which helps me grow enormous …

Slow Food Nation interview: Raj Patel

Stuffed and Starved author on the myth of consumer choice

Raj Patel, author of the searing book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, is one of the most trenchant critics of industrial food. According to Patel, one billion people in the world don’t have enough to eat, while another billion suffer from the consequences of too many low-quality calories. The phenomena are the result of a food system rigged to work for a few multinational corporations. In the video interview below, Patel talks about the deceptive nature of the food system as experienced by most people living in developed countries:

Slow Food Nation was magnificent in many ways, but overshot its mandate

Photo: karmacamilleeon Slow Food Nation — that grand, sprawling culinary event that seemed to permeate San Francisco over Labor Day weekend — has passed. Now we can ask: What was it? A brazen display of foodie elitism, as some critics charge? A transformative moment in an ongoing effort to overthrow the industrial food system, as its organizers sometimes hinted? Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion. Photo: Eater SF First, the grandeur of the gathering — organized by Slow Food USA — has to be acknowledged. Slow Food Nation’s Taste Pavilion, dramatically located at San Francisco’s bay-side Fort Mason, deserves a place …

Slow Food Nation interview: Dan Barber

New York chef urges people to get back in the kitchen

Dan Barber is one of the most highly regarded chefs in the United States. Back in the late 1990s, his small Manhattan restaurant Blue Hill got lots of buzz for Dan’s innovative cooking. But even while he was dazzling diners with his technique, Dan was already haunting Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket for ingredients, before many New York chefs bothered. He was also bringing in produce from his family’s farm in the Berkshires. In 2004, Dan launched what must be any ingredient-obsessed chef’s dream — a restaurant on a beautifully run, diversified organic farm. Stone Barns, situated on 80 acres of …

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