Food

A side of gamma rays with my salad, please

Starting today the FDA will allow producers to use irradiation on lettuce and spinach

The better part of this summer seemed to be dotted with stories of continued salmonella and E. coli outbreaks. First, the FDA thought the problem was with tomatoes; but, it turns out peppers were the culprits that caused more than 1,400 people in 43 states to become sick with salmonella Saintpaul. This marks yet another incident where the FDA has failed to ensure the safety of the American public and our food supply. Now, the FDA has decided to allow use of a controversial method to combat microbial contamination of foods: irradiation. Starting Friday, the FDA will allow producers to …

When the tomato harvest gets out of hand, the tough get canning

Too much of a good thing? Photos: Kurt Michael Friese For a tomato-loving gardener, what’s the only thing more frightening than a failed crop? Try an overabundant one. You become terrified that any of these jewels will go to waste. The specter of fruit flies congregating on the compost heap brings regret of over-ambitious spring garden planning. Even in my restaurant garden, which has the advantage of a commercial outlet, the burden of preserving it all can be heavy. Well, take heart, gentle reaper: There is plenty that can be done with all that red, green, and gold bounty. This …

Monsanto finds a buyer for its rBGH business

Pharma giant Lilly snaps up Posilac for ‘at least’ $300 million

A week or so ago, commenting on news that Monsanto was looking to unload its much-despised bovine-growth-hormone business, I offered this nugget of wisdom: Whatever company buys it probably won’t have Monsanto’s deep pockets. Hmmm. What’s that word again? Oh, yeah — W-R-O-N-G. (Hat tip to Jill of La Vida Locavore.) Today, Monsanto announced that Eli Lilly, one of the biggest of the Big Pharma companies, had bought Posilac (brand name for rBGH) for $300 million. AP reports that Monsanto could get additional cash for Posilac down the road, if it turns out to be a winner for Lilly. And …

A creepy new use for rBGH

Putting cow hormones into fish food makes them balloon

Update [2008-8-22 13:20:9 by Tom Philpott]:I was alerted to the rBGH-tilapia news item by this blurb in the Organic Consumers Association news feed on Aug. 19. But when you click on the link provided by OCA, you’re taken to a source dated 2003. Unlike reader Mr. Mean, who (very cordially) comments below, I sloppily didn’t notice how old this “news” is. I emailed E. Gordon Grau, the Hawaii-based scientist who performed the study on rBGH and tilapia, to ask him if there was anything new to report. He replied that there was no new data, and that his institute was …

South Central Community Farm: Not dead yet

In L.A., Mayor Villaraigosa plays footsie with Forever 21 over site of former farm

Photo: loudtiger When I lived in New York City, I used to marvel at the weeds that would force their way up through sidewalk cracks. What a will to live, I thought: From clumps of dirt crammed between concrete slabs, these vigorous shoots fended off the hard, slapping heels of a thousand rushing city dwellers, just to claim a place in the sun. The effort to save South Central Community Farm in Los Angeles reminds me of those defiant survivors. Stepped on by the city, evicted two ago years by a developer who gained title to the land in a …

How to start composting

Dig in to get the dirt on composting. Composting is a lot like sex. It’s a healthy, natural process involving fertility, tumbling around, and — when it’s going right — steaminess. On top of that, some people call it dirty. It’s not our fault we’re squeamish. Most Americans are praised from an early age for taking out the garbage — not hoarding it and keeping scraps of it in our kitchens. Toss in the false mythology that composting is complicated, smelly, and wormy, and it’s understandable that we’ve wrinkled our collective noses at it. But no longer. Today, growing legions …

California won’t ban BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups

With 22 legislators abstaining, the California Assembly voted 31-27 Monday not to ban chemical bisphenol A in baby products. BPA is one of those things you’d like to keep out of your kid; the bill would have banned it from bottles, sippy cups, and other containers for tots. Legislators also voted 36-33 (with 11 abstentions) against a bill that would have banned equally icky chemical PFOA from food packaging. The Food and Drug Administration released a draft report Friday concluding that BPA in food containers poses no health threat, and critics questioned whether it was timed to influence California legislators. …

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 …

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