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 …

Corn guzzler

What it means to put 4.1 billion bushels of corn into our gas tanks

The USDA just raised its projection for how much corn it expects the ethanol industry to burn through this year by 150 million bushels. It now expects a total of 4.1 billion bushels of corn to be turned into liquid fuel.  That’s about double the amount of corn that went to ethanol in 2006 (2.1 billion bushels), and a third again as much as last year (3 billion bushels.) The USDA now expects the ’08 corn harvest to hit 12.3 billion bushels. That means that 33 percent of the U.S. corn harvest will go to car fuel. The USDA projects …

Corn chronicles

USDA says crops have shaken off flood damage

In early June, heavy storms and floods pounded the Midwest, threatening the 2008 corn and soy harvests. With heavy U.S. and European biofuel mandates in place, any major shortfall in these key crops would cause food prices to spike.  Anticipating a poor harvest, investors bid corn and soy prices to all-time highs. Certain food-politics writers penned grim columns about what it all meant. Since then, however, the Midwestern weather has transformed from way-too-wet to near-ideal. And farmers’ efforts to replant flood-damaged fields and reapply fertilizers that washed away in the storms appear to have paid off. On Tuesday morning, the …

Dispatches From the Fields: Whatever happened to organic?

The limits of consumption-based food movements

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. This Olathe Sweet Corn is regionally renowned, entirely local, and grown entirely conventionally and industrially, meaning farmers use large amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Its locality has become a selling point; should this be the case? Photo: Stephanie Paige Ogburn A few years ago at farmers markets here and around the country, most customers would ask a farmer how she grew her vegetables …

Meat Wagon: Whole Foods edition

The natural foods giant stumbles into an E. coli outbreak

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Suddenly, Whole Foods can’t get a break. Its share price has plunged about 70 percent since the end of 2005. Its marketing execs are scrambling to shed the company’s reputation for premium-priced offerings — a market position they once reveled in. The natural foods titan used to wow Wall Street with seemingly endless announcements of new-store openings. Now it’s scaling back expansion plans. Amid these ill tidings comes news that Whole Foods is embroiled in an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak. The Washington Post reports that seven people …

Umbra on diet soda

Dear Umbra, My name’s Jon and I’m a diet pop addict. My diet right now is 70-80 percent local, organic, or both, but I just can’t help myself when it comes to getting my fix. I drink several 20-ouncers a day of diet and just can’t seem to stop. Is my habit hurting the earth? Common sense says that water from my stainless steel canteen is a whole lot better than chemicals from a plastic bottle, but my addict brain is grasping at straws, hoping that diet pop is one of those rare exceptions. Jon B. Lakewood, Ohio Dearest Jon, …

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