More on the World Bank and food prices

Why the Bank itself bears its share of responsibility for the global food crisis

Last week, I posted about World Bank economist Don Mitchell’s controversial report on biofuel and food prices. According to Mitchell’s calculations, U.S. and E.U. support for biofuels accounts for 70 to 75 percent of the recent rise in global food-commodity prices — one that could force an additional 100 million people worldwide into poverty conditions, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. The jump in food prices has an ecological component, too. With commodity crops like corn, soy, and wheat trading at or near all-time highs, farmers are scrambling to take advantage by putting as much land as possible …

How to green your grocery list

Make your list and check it twice. Lately, the world news has been filled with stories of hungry people struggling to feed themselves as food prices rise dramatically. Even in the U.S. and other wealthy countries, where the situation is not as dire, people have been altering their eating and spending habits to adjust to the higher bills. It can be hard to focus on eating greener when the very staples you need cost more than usual. Fortunately, there’s a veritable cornucopia of ways to green your grocery list while keeping your costs in check: everything from prioritizing organic purchases …

Urban farming gets its day in the sun

Amid climate crisis and rising costs, big media discovers city-grown food

Back in 2006, a Los Angeles developer, Ralph Hurwitz, bull-dozed a highly productive 13-acre farm in the city’s South Central neighborhood. In its place, he intends to plunk down a vast warehouse designed to facilitate trade in goods shipped in from Asia destined for our great nation’s big-box stores. (I wrote about the South Central Community Farm saga at the time here; for an update, check this out.) At the time, I think, urban farming generally seemed like a “low-value,” fringe activity. Some 350 families, nearly all of them under the poverty line, grew food at South Central Farm. That’s …

Whole Foods tries to shake its elitist reputation

Whole Foods Market, with its gleaming displays of organic produce, antibiotic-free meat, and vegan baked goods, has long branded itself as a high-quality grocery retailer — thus earning the nickname Whole Paycheck and a reputation for elitism. But with the economy sagging — bringing with it, according to some analysts, consumer interest in organic food — Whole Foods is aiming to tout itself as affordable. The store is promoting discounts, adding lower-priced generic brands, focusing its advertising to the budget-conscious, and taking customers on value-focused store tours where they’re whisked past the $39.99 triple-cream goat cheese to the $1.50 tofu. …

Dumpster diver

Trash becomes treasure for this freegan

We’ve written about freegans many times before, but this video shows exactly what kind of treasures are sometimes thrown out with the trash:

Author Claire Hope Cummings dishes the dirt on genetically modified food

One of the most encouraging things about the sustainable-food movement is how effortlessly it crosses traditional political-party, religious, ethnic, and other lines. The right to good, clean, and fair food, to borrow Slow Food‘s shorthand, seems to unite people who’d never otherwise find themselves chatting at the same party: Home schoolers and dreadlocked hippies, libertarian DIYers and heartland moms. Claire Hope Cummings. Photo: Bart Nagel But there are little pockets of polarization where brawls can break out. One of them is the so-called elitism of such food. The biggest hot-button issue by far, though, is that of transgenic crops. The …

Good news for modern farm animals

From New Jersey, bad news for factory farms

Thomas Hobbes famously described life in a “state of nature” as “nasty, brutish, and short.” The U.S. meat industry appears to have taken Hobbes’ statement as a prescription for proper animal husbandry. Every year, millions of farm animals are slaughtered without ever knowing anything besides life in a grim, crowded cage. Many are subjected to painful mutilation, as in the case of “tail docking.” In a sense, cows may have it worst of all. They typically spend the first six months outdoors, munching the pasture they evolved to eat. It must be a shock when they’re loaded into trucks and …

Biofuel bombshell

World Bank finally releases ‘secret’ report on biofuels and the food crisis

Remember a few weeks ago, when The Guardian leaked word of a “secret” World Bank report that essentially blames U.S. and (to a lesser extent) E.U. biofuel policies for causing the global food crisis? You know, the food crisis that continues to generate excoriating hunger in the global south? Well, the World Bank quietly released a modified version of the report this week. Actually, The Guardian posted the original bootleg version, dated April 8, a week after its scoop; I missed it at the time. Well, now I’ve read both versions, which are substantially the same (the new version has …

More on 'lazy locavorism'

Edible landscapes can outgrow the elite

Monday's New York Times had a great opinion piece about My Farm's Trevor Paque -- the same guy recently profiled in the Times' Style section. In fact, I had to look twice to make sure it was the same T. Paque because the two articles emphasized such different aspects of the urban CSA mission. Kim Severson, in the style piece, describes it thus: Call them the lazy locavores -- city dwellers who insist on eating food grown close to home but have no inclination to get their hands dirty. Mr. Paque is typical of a new breed of business owner serving their needs. She devotes so much time and script to the eco-chic aspect that I, like Tom Philpott, was initially put off by the idea of armchair gardening. But just like Tom, who later posted that he was "too hard" on it, I softened after reading Allison Arieff's opinion piece. She writes:

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