Amazon deforestation soars, Brazil blames its own land-reform agency

The 100 individuals or companies most responsible for Amazon deforestation since 2005 were listed Monday by Brazilian Environment Minister Carlos Minc, and Brazil’s own land-reform agency took the top spot. The Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform was said to be culpable for the deforestation of 850 square miles of Amazon rainforest in the last three years. Everyone on the list, most of whom are Brazilian farmers and ranchers, will face criminal charges, according to Minc. Satellite data show that Amazon deforestation is up sharply after a few years of decline: At least 300 square miles was destroyed in August …

Like lambs to slaughter?

Smithfield, Pilgrim’s Pride, and other meat giants get credit-crunched

As I’ve written so many times before, a very few companies essentially control U.S. meat production. Their business model is crude, but for years has been effective: You place lots of animals in a tight space (or "contract" with farmers to do so), stuff them with corn and soy (made cheap chronic overproduction mandated by U.S. farm policy), boost their growth with all manner of hormones and antibiotics, and move these unhappy creatures to vast factory-like slaughterhouses, to be done in by some of the lowest-paid, least-protected workers in the U.S. All down the line, the model relies on the …

Umbra on shifting to vegetarianism

Dear Umbra, I recently became a vegetarian for environmental reasons. Everyone says I should start eating soy products and tofu. But doesn’t soy come from evil industrial farms in Iowa? I thought the idea was to increase biodiversity, not just eat the same thing 20 different ways. Also, can I keep eating eggs and milk? Ben T. New Hampshire Dearest Ben, Why are people so dang bossy about food? There’s a vein of “food as personal savior-ism” in the U.S., and it can be quite annoying. Umbra is no exception, admittedly, but we hope to limit our bossiness to environmentally …

ReGeneration Roadtrip: Victory is ours

Visiting the Victory Garden outside San Francisco City Hall

  This is a guest post from my travel partner, Todd Dwyer, head blogger for Dell’s, where the piece originally appeared. —– Sarah and I have been having a blast so far learning about what people are doing right now to save the planet. Not only have we been treated to the new ways of thinking and innovations being made to this end, but we have also spoken to people who are looking to past generations for more environmentally responsible practices that we may have lost along the way. There wasn’t a huge global environmental movement then providing impetus …

Cocoa loco

Will chocolate replace coffee as the foodie’s bean of obsession?

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. —– Dear Grist: So what’s the deal with this “bean to bar” thing I hear about with chocolate? People are calling chocolate the Next Bean (coffee apparently being the equivalent of last season’s fashion), but is it really worth my time — and money — to pay attention to where my chocolate comes from and how it was treated? Thanks!Crocker Dear Crocker, The tasty, trendy treat of which …

Clif Bar’s husband-and-wife CEO team talk about staying independent in a Big Organic world

Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson. Photo: Bart Nagel Walk into Clif Bar’s Berkeley headquarters, and you might think you’ve entered greenie-nonprofit world: multiple recycling stations, cruiser bikes kept for employees’ lunchtime use, and a fridge that serves as a pickup point for a local farm’s community-supported agriculture program. Vending machines peddle Amy’s Organic frozen meals and healthy snacks and drinks. A Coke machine provides the exception that proves the rule: Sustainability is a priority here. Hard to believe this is the headquarters of a company with estimated revenues north of $150 million last year. But Clif Bar’s atypical in lots …

Drinking at the public fountain

The new corporate threat to our water supplies

This is a guest essay by authors and filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman. Their book Thirst exposed how the corporate drive to control water has become a catalyst for community resistance to globalization. This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission. —– In the last few years, the world’s largest financial institutions and pension funds, from Goldman Sachs to Australia’s Macquarie Bank, have figured out that old, trustworthy utilities and infrastructure could become reliable cash cows — supporting the financial system’s speculative junk derivatives with the real concrete of highways, water utilities, …


Why factory farming must be stopped

This is sobering: single concentrated animal feedlots that create more waste than a large U.S. city. There is only one word for this: insane. If you’re going to eat meat, don’t support industrial meat operations.

Gates Foundation wants to boost local agriculture in developing nations

Local agriculture in developing nations will get a boost under an initiative unveiled Wednesday by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Nations World Food Program. Under the Purchase for Progress initiative, the WFP will supplement food aid with surplus crops bought at competitive prices from poor farmers. WFP currently purchases 80 percent of its food in developing countries, but only a very small amount of that comes directly from small farmers. Starting as a five-year trial program, Purchase for Progress aims to raise the incomes of 350,000 farmers in 21 countries. “Developing new ways for WFP to purchase …

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