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 …

Muddy waters

Bottled water is a sham answer to low-quality tap water

Speaking of bottled water, get this, from Environmental Working Group:  The bottled water industry promotes an image of purity, but comprehensive testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed, including toxic byproducts of chlorination in Walmart’s Sam’s Choice and Giant Supermarket’s Acadia brands, at levels no different than routinely found in tap water. EWG is making an extremely important point here. Yes, our tap water is full of nasty substances, but the answer isn’t to essentially privatize our drinking water by buying little plastic bottles of supposedly purified …

Yo! No GMOs!

Non-GM seed and feed make a comeback

I recently met with members of Japan’s Seikatsu Club Consumers’ Cooperative (SCCC) in my office in San Francisco to discuss how to overcome the difficulties of obtaining certain non-GM products for its 1 million members. The 14-person delegation — comprised of pig, chicken, cattle, and dairy producers for the co-op — came to the U.S. in search of stable supplies of non-GM corn to feed its animals. Like the 600 or so other co-ops that flourish across Japan — providing food to more than 22 million people nationwide — SCCC is dedicated to offering wholesome, non-GM foods at reasonable prices. …

How to green your Halloween

The economy may have gone to pot and the country’s future leadership may be wildly unclear, but there’s one thing we can count on: Halloween. Yes, October 31 is a holiday of certainty, full of ringing doorbells, sweet treats, and tiny ghosts and witches (or, more likely, Kung Fu Pandas and Hannah Montanas). But All Hallow’s Eve has a spooky flip side, laced with refined sugar, vinyl costumes, and other horrors that can give you the eco-shivers. If you want a greener fright night, here’s how to start. Level One: The Baby Steps Fright, not light. Nothing simultaneously creeps out …

Straight off the farm

McCain and Obama need to talk real farm policy

John McCain and Barack Obama need to start talking farm policy. With less than a month before the November elections in a year marked by a world-wide food crisis, energy shortages, climate change, and an international credit crisis, agriculture should be a prominent issue in every media event. Current farm policies are more about corporate agribusiness and globalization than local food production and shortening the food supply chain. While the farm vote may be viewed as insignificant, the importance of agriculture to the economy, or the food in one’s belly is quite significant. Many consider rural America “fly over” country, …

Oprah takes on Big Chicken, today!

TV queen shows 10 million viewers the dark side of Chicken McNuggets

The chicken industry has had a rough year, its wings clipped by pricey feed, reduced demand, and financial trouble. Even after a recent rally, Pilgrim’s Pride — which slaughters and packs 24 percent of U.S. chicken — has seen its share price plunge nearly 90 percent. As if the industry didn’t have enough to squawk about, enter Oprah Winfrey, whose show today at 4 p.m. EDT peers into the dark heart of industrial poultry production, reportedly contrasting it with the organic, free-range system at Natural Acres Farm in Pennsylvania. This is potentially massive news for the sustainable-food movement. The talk-show …

Growing a new agriculture in Poland

Old breeds, new ideas are helping small farms

I just returned from a 10 day photo assignment covering the efforts of Heifer Project — Poland to return heritage/locally-adapted breeds of chickens, geese, cattle, and pigs to small farmers struggling to keep a foothold in this changing country. These breeds in many cases are already making a difference. One of these, the Polish Red Cattle, requires very little feed to produce milk with a super high cream content — an important attribute in regions like this with harsh climates. This program is a spot of good news for this heavily agricultural country — it has the highest percentage of …

'Food fighters'

NYT Magazine features Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Maverick Farms, Anna Lappé, and more

You know the Sunday New York Times Magazine issue I blogged about a few days ago, the "food issue" featuring a major essay by Michael Pollan? It also highlighted the farm I help run, Maverick Farms, in a section on "food fighters." We’re extremely flattered and delighted to be included in the same list as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group at the forefront of putting social justice at the center of the food movement. Grist contributor Anna Lappé is also featured along with her writing partner, Bryant Terry. You can also peer inside our fridges as we describe …

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