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Sausage fest

NYT dating advice: Eat more flesh

This makes me want to barf, on so many levels: Martha Flach mentioned meat twice in her Match.com profile: "I love architecture, The New Yorker, dogs ... steak for two and the Sunday puzzle." She was seeking, she added, "a smart, funny, kind man who owns a suit (but isn't one) ... and loves red wine and a big steak." The repetition worked. On her first date with Austin Wilkie, they ate steak frites. A year later, after burgers at the Corner Bistro in Greenwich Village, he proposed. This March, the rehearsal dinner was at Keens Steakhouse on West 36th …

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On blueberries, zucchini, and dragon slime

A few years ago, a friend served me some blueberry-studded gingerbread that she had bought at a local bakery. It was fine, but the spices in the gingerbread really obscured the flavor of the blueberries. On the other hand, I find plain blueberry muffins boring and bland. While I've had delicious lime-blueberry muffins and lemon-blueberry pound cake, sometimes I want something more substantial -- so I decided that someday I would create a recipe that was more flavorful and heartier than a muffin, but which would still let the blueberry flavor shine through. It must be summer. Photo: iStockphoto I …

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Umbra on prioritizing organic purchases

Hi Umbra! I just recently became a stay-at-home mom. Life is bliss, except for the one-income household we now have (my husband brings home the tofu-bacon). Now that we have very limited funds I cannot afford to buy all organic food. Sometimes organic food is nearly double the price of conventional food ... yikes! I looked around and could not find a great website for foods you need to buy organic. I know that some conventional foods are not so pesticide-laden as others, but I'm not sure which. Could you please tell me this: if you could buy only some …

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Biofuels fueling conflict

The need for good research

The rush to put biofuels in our gas tanks has given people analyzing natural resources and conflict some work to do. How are European and American policy mandates to dramatically increase the use of biofuels affecting the places that grow biofuel inputs? It seems fair to say that little consideration has been given to the potential conflict and equity impacts of this surge in demand for palm oil, sugarcane, and corn. After President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, which called for massive increases in biofuels, we heard stories of skyrocketing corn tortilla prices and resulting social disruptions. Now …

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Environmental charity

Fairness tradeoff?

Sven Wunder, a researcher with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), notes the following trade-off [PDF] for the kind of environmental charity where people are paid not to pollute. His conclusion: we are better off paying the moderately bad guys than the really bad guys or the good guys. I'm going to post this without further comment, because either you see hidden assumptions and problems with this, or you don't: From the February 2007 issue of Conservation Biology: Consider a hypothetical example from the Brazilian Amazon. Assume a global biodiversity fund sets aside US$100,000 for a pilot PES scheme …

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New food book

Where your dinner is mined

A friend sent me Tyler Cowen's thoughts on a new food book from Steve Ettlinger. I don't know who Tyler Cowen is, but he made me want to read the book: There are entire companies which do nothing but break eggs open for other companies; the largest such egg-breaking company is based in Elizabeth, New Jersey. That is from Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats, by Steve Ettlinger. So far this is my pick for the best food book of the year. …

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Reducing food miles is good for the environment?

Think again

This article in today's NYT highlights new research that shows that locally produced food in some instances may actually be more energy intensive than food imported from hundreds or thousands of miles away. While this may surprise many environmentalists, it shouldn't. A lot of factors contribute to the total energy/carbon footprint of food, and the distance the food travels is only one dimension. But there are many other reasons to question the "local is always better" logic. For example, importing grains can be an amazingly efficient way for areas lacking in water to conserve water resources. Dried grain is light, …

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Subsidizing healthier freedom fries

Yet another distortion to correct a distortion

Anybody who closely follows U.S. agricultural policy appreciates the journalism of Philip Brasher and his team at the Des Moines Register. One of Mr. Brasher's recent articles highlights a feature of the farm bill recently passed by the House of Representatives that probably few people have heard of: the "Healthy Oils Incentive Program." According to the website of freshman Congressman Nick Lampson (D-Stafford, Texas) -- who recently underwent quadruple heart bypass surgery -- the Healthy Oils Incentive Program would create a "one-time incentive" to encourage development and commercialization of certain oilseeds and healthy oils to replace the use of trans …

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I'd tap that

Water, that is

Take a few minutes to drink up this NYT editorial on the virtues of tap water. It's one of the most emailed stories on the NYT site, so maybe you've already seen it. This bit is particularly relevant ... Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles …

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Hit 'em where it hurts!

Climate change impacts on wineries: Could this be the last straw for some?

Many of those opposed to action on global warming might change their tune if they knew that it would actually affect their beverage of choice. That's right, global warming might change wine. For more info on this, check out this story from KQED Public Broadcasting in San Francisco.

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