Food

Dispatches From the Fields: Mowing -- and re-growing -- the grassroots

Now that farmers have gotten big or gotten out, it’s up to alternative farmers

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. —– Since the early 1970s, if not before, U.S. farm policy has hinged on the mantra, “get big or get out.” Larry Bee got big. He currently farms 5,000 acres in North Central Iowa and produces over 600,000 bushels of corn and about 90,000 bushels of soybeans. To do the work, he owns a fleet on farm machinery big enough to make any gear …

Riau wow

Indonesian province puts moratorium on rainforest destruction

I just started as Greenpeace’s media director, in part because I wanted to help Greenpeace save the world’s rainforests, a topic I’ve written a lot about at Grist and elsewhere. Within a week of starting the job, I knew I’d made a good decision when I got this news release from our Southeast Asian office: Indonesian province of Riau has pledged to halt the destruction of its forests and peatlands; a move that will prevent billions of tonnes of carbon from entering the atmosphere. At a ceremony in the provincial capital Pekanbaru, Riau Governor Wan Abu Bakar announced the temporary …

Common chemical in food containers not a health threat, says FDA

Food containers made with common chemical bisphenol A pose no health threat, according to a draft assessment by the Food and Drug Administration. More than 100 government- and university-funded studies have linked BPA to cancer, diabetes, behavioral disorders, and reproductive problems, and an April report from the National Toxicology Program declared there was “some concern” about infant exposure to the chemical. But relying largely on two industry-funded studies that say the chemical is just peachy, the FDA found that “an adequate margin of safety exists for BPA at current levels of exposure from food contact uses.” Advisers will review the …

Australia continues to deal with epic drought

Longstanding drought has wreaked havoc across Australia, drying up lakes into shallow, acidic puddles and threatening drinking-water supplies. Unable to coax rain from the sky, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has fast-tracked a plan to buy back water entitlements from the heaviest irrigators in the Murray-Darling basin, an agricultural stronghold which produces all of the country’s rice, nearly all of its oranges, most of its pigs, half of its wheat and apples, and much of its cotton. The region covers 14 percent of the Australian continent but consumes 52 percent of its water. Environmentalists applaud Rudd’s plan on paper, though point …

A prince's dream: Far-fetched fairytale or a real future of food?

Prince Charles sparked controversy when he expressed doubt in GM crops

The British royal family is no stranger to controversy and media attention, but Prince Charles caused a new kind of worldwide media flurry on Tuesday when he sat down for an exclusive interview with the Telegraph (U.K.). This time around, though, it seems unlikely the media story will be covered by the British tabloids since the Prince of Wales didn’t discuss his sons, his love life, or even his future reign as king. Instead, the Prince talked about genetically modified organisms, our food supply, and the future of food security for the globe. Simple enough, it seems: A soon-to-be global …

Superweeds: ready for Roundup

In Arkansas, a new GMO/herbicide solution to a problem created by an old one

I’ve written a couple of times about the rise “superweeds” in the Southeast and mid-South. In Arkansas, horseweed and Palmer amaranth now choke fields planted with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready cotton and soy — engineered to withstand heavy doses of Roundup, Monsanto’s broad-spectrum herbicide. Fifteen years ago, horseweed and amaranth weren’t problem weeds. </p Back in March, Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service officials were pushing farmers to supplement their Roundup applications with doses of Reflex, a broad-spectrum herbicide made by Monsanto’s rival, Syngenta. Now the agribiz-friendly extension service is hotly promoting the wares of another Monsanto rival, Bayer Crop Sciences, Delta Farm …

School of fish

Amid collapsing fisheries and factory-farmed salmon, how to choose sustainable seafood

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. Hello Grist, The food worry that keeps me up at night is how best to buy fish. Should I buy “wild caught,” with the world’s fishing fleets using giant nets that scoop up all sorts of sea wildlife in one fell swoop, drowning the fish they wanted to collect along with many varieties that they will just dump back in the water dead? Or “farm raised,” with the …

More on markets and 'choice'

The food system as ‘largest quasi-public utility in the world’

Apropos of the recent debate on Gristmill sparked by James Galbraith’s polemic on free markets, I got to thinking about something I recently read in Paul Roberts’ book The End of Food (which I reviewed here): [D]uring the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Congress created a vast system of of support for food production: a department of agriculture, whose mission was the provision of affordable food; a system of publicly funded farm programs, meant to maximize output while protecting farmers from market failures to market crashes; a construction campaign of dams, irrigation canals, and other reclamation projects to bring agriculture …

Solving the apartment dweller's dilemma

Urban gardening for the rest of us

  Photo: lucy and her dent via FlickrAbout a quarter of the U.S. population lives in apartments or condos, according to the 2000 census [PDF], and most Americans will live in one or the other at some point in their lives. But apartment dwellers don’t have to miss out on the joys of growing their own food.   You don’t need a yard to garden. All you need are some pots. “Container gardening” makes it possible for just about anyone to grow their own tasty, fresh, organic, local food — and save on grocery bills. If you plant several crops …

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