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Helping U.S. farmers transition to organic

Organic food has take criticism lately, because a portion is flowing from overseas. (All those food miles, all that lost support for American farmers.) Well, there's a reason that trend is underway: Not enough American farms are growing organic crops and fewer still are converting, so demand is exceeding supply. With the Farm Bill, attempts are underway to address that problem. The organic farming community is seeking a few tender morsels off the Congressional table, to help farmers get into the organic sector. I explained these on Chews Wise, with links to more in-depth documents, but the main points are …

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PETA announces sexiest veggie celebs of 2007

PETA has announced this year's winners of their annual "Sexiest Vegetarian" contest. This year's hottest plant-eaters? Tonight Show band leader Kevin Eubanks and American Idol-crooner-turned Grammy-winner Carrie Underwood (who won in 2005 as well, but dropped to runner-up last year). This year's runners up include our favorite babe teenage sleuth Kristen Bell (who knocked Underwood from the top spot last year), Spider-Man 3's Bryce Dallas Howard, the studly Joaquin Phoenix, hottie Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes, and rocker/actor Jared Leto. Says Underwood: "I quit eating beef when I was about thirteen. I do it because I really love animals and it …

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A nifty video

Quantum Shift TV has made a video about the coming farm bill called "Soil: The Secret Solution to Global Warming." It opens with Canadian superstar farmer Percy Schmeiser, and segues into a smart discussion of farm bill politics. It's about 9 min. long. Check it out:

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Greenies read the NYT

Interesting (?): Three of the four top emailed NYT stories today (or at least, at this moment) have an environmental bent. "Waiter, There's Deer in My Sushi" is about Japan's quest to sushify various non-fish meats -- deer! duck! horse! -- as restrictions have gone into place to combat overfishing of tuna. "Enjoy Your Green Stay" is about the hotel industry getting on the environmental bandwagon. And "At Home Depot, How Green Is That Chainsaw?" discusses the DIY store's eco-labeling decisions. I think we all know what we've learned here.

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Moscow on the Cud Sign

Russian capital introduces label for GM-free food Now you can have your GM-free borscht and read it, too: next week, the city of Moscow will debut a groundbreaking label for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients. Under the leadership of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, the city has devised a voluntary system of testing and labeling that will allow products to carry a GM-free label for a year at a time. While the European Union requires producers to label food containing more than 0.9 percent GM ingredients, Moscow's plan is, say observers, the first of its kind: "It's very important …

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Time to kick it old school on the farm bill.

The terms of debate around the 2007 farm bill's controversial commodity title have gotten rather narrow. On the one hand, you've got the House subcommittee on ag commodities, which essentially cut and pasted commodity language from the subsidy-heavy 2002 farm bill into the 2007 version now being drafted. On the other hand, you've got a chorus of critics, ranging from Oxfam to the Cato Institute to the Environmental Working Group, demanding an end to ag subsidies. This group would like to see an unfettered market work its magic on agriculture. Straddling in between we find the Bush administration, which chastised …

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Orange You Glad We Didn’t Say Switchgrass?

Fruit may be the latest source for biofuel madness Could your kumquat power your Kia? A team of U.S. scientists has made a low-carbon fuel from fructose, the sugar in many fruits. It could be a better bet than ethanol, with 40 percent more energy, less vulnerability to water, and more stability; since it can also be made from plant cellulose, it could also skirt the food-vs.-fuel debate. DMF -- 2,5-dimethylfuran, the result of mixing fructose with salt water, hydrochloric acid, a solvent, and a copper-coated catalyst -- "should be a great fuel," says James Dumesic of the University of …

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Don’t blame farmers for the farm-subsidy mess

Agricultural and food products are not like other commodities. Their price is that of life, and below a certain threshold, that of death.-- Marcel Mazoyer and Laurence Roudart, A History of World Agriculture from the Neolithic Age to the Current Crisis Last month, after Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini dared question the virtue of certain U.S. farmers, many sustainable-agriculture proponents lashed out in fury. Ken Cook. Photo: agri.astate.edu More recently, another high-profile observer, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook, also made remarks about farmers that could be read as unkind. But while Petrini had to face down angry questioners and …

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I’m lovin’ it

I've got an interview over at Salon with Charles Clover, a British journalist who has been covering the oceans for 20 years and has a book out, End of the Line. Among his more startling revelations: that McDonald's fish sandwich is more sustainable than Nobu's menu (the restaurant for the stars), because it is sourced from an Alaskan fishery certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. McDonald's, though, does not advertise the MSC label because then it would have to pay a licensing fee.

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Arguments supporting government subsidies of agrofuels are getting polished

This is my formal rebuttal to David Morris's "case for corn-based fuel." I'm using my access to the bully pulpit to pull it out of the comments field. How did the use of ethanol end up alongside tyranny and torture as an evil to be conquered? That's easy. A whole lot of real smart people have been giving corn ethanol a lot of thought and have found that "an evil to be conquered" isn't a bad description. In smaller quantities, it does smaller amounts of damage, but as quantities increase, so does the damage. I mean, what's not to like …

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