Food

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 …

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 …

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