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Too, Too Sullied Flesh

Meat production spews more greenhouse gases than a three-hour joyride The next time you chomp a hamburger, think of this: the process of getting that beef to your bun may have spewed more greenhouse-gas emissions than leaving all your house lights blazing while taking a three-hour joyride in your car. Researchers looked at beef production in Japan and its impact on climate, water, and energy, and came up with sobering statistics. Wanna hear more? Not including transportation of meat from farm to store, production of 2.2 pounds of beef (OK, yes, that's a big burger) also spews the same amount …

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Why the FTC is right to block Whole Foods’ buyout of Wild Oats

John Mackey. Photo: Whole Foods Market In a high-profile exchange with Michael Pollan last summer, Whole Foods Market CEO and founder John Mackey took an avuncular approach to farmers' markets that might take business from his company. "Whole Foods Market is committed to supporting local farmers' markets across the United States (and also in Canada and the U.K.)," he wrote. Elsewhere, the executive has displayed a zeal to crush competition that might make his counterparts at Microsoft blush. Last spring, Mackey sent a blunt email to the Whole Foods board, explaining his intention to buy Wild Oats -- Whole Foods' …

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Your media at work

The continuing quest to find something, anything to bash Gore with

People magazine reports that Al Gore's daughter Sarah just got married, revealing in the course of the article that Chilean sea bass was served at the rehearsal dinner. In the Daily Telegraph, Australian Humane Society Rebecca Keeble writes that "only one week after Live Earth, Al Gore's green credentials slipped." Why? Because Chilean sea bass is endangered. ABC politics columnist Jake Tapper, smelling the kind of vapid, gimmicky story upon which his profession thrives, asks, "could this be seen as the environmentalist version of Sen. David Vitter's public sanctimony/private enjoyment of love with a red-lit glow?" Blogger Digby points out, …

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Deader Than Ever

Biofuels could contribute to historically big Gulf of Mexico dead zone Still think corn-based biofuels will save the world? Here's another piece of the no-they-won't puzzle: Researchers say more intensive farming of more land in the Midwestern U.S. -- in part a result of the push for more corn production -- could contribute to the largest-ever "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico this summer. The zone is created when fertilizer and other runoff find their way down the Mississippi River and into the gulf, encouraging algae to grow. The algae's decay process sucks up all the available oxygen, leaving …

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Enough already, China! You're killing me!

A scary/funny post from China

I found this in my Google Reader feed this morning, a post from a British blogger named Charlie living in Beijing. Three weeks after it was reported that the Chinese government convinced the World Bank to suppress a report that over 700,000 Chinese citizens die every year of pollution-related ailments, due to the fact that it may lead to revolution social unrest among the populace, Charlie's post reads like a bittersweet valentine to the city he's lived in for four years: I woke up this morning and ate some baozi. They were disgusting! I'm sure I they were made of …

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Gulf Dead Zone: Bigger than ever

Thanks in part to that ‘green’ fuel, corn-based ethanol

U.S. farmers planted 92.9 million acres of corn this spring, a 15 percent-plus jump from last year. If you lumped all that land together -- not too hard to imagine, given that corn ag is highly concentrated in the Midwest -- you'd have a monocropped land mass nearly equal in size to the state of California. The jump in corn acreage is excellent news if you own shares in mega meat-processing firms like Tyson and Smithfield. These firms have been complaining bitterly that the price of corn, driven up by the government-induced ethanol boom, will eat into their profits. (Corn …

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Restoring rural roots

How legislators can help the rural

In a recent trip through the small town of Walthill, Nebraska, the phrase "rural revitalization" took on a whole new meaning. In this case, it was the lack of any kind of prosperity that made it obvious to me why rural communities are in need of revitalization. Main Street looked painfully deserted, with two recent arsons adding fresh scars to the once-active storefronts. As we drove around the residential area, most houses looked to be in some state of disrepair -- so much so that it was difficult to really tell which were homes and which had already been abandoned. …

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Airing on the Side of Caution

Chemical dangers to air-breathing animals overlooked, researchers say A new study in Science says regulators have overlooked the effects that thousands of chemicals could have on air-breathing organisms. Such as, for instance, people. In general, regulators study how chemicals accumulate in aquatic-based food chains; they look at how toxics dissolve in water and fat, but not at how easily they're expelled from lungs. Canadian researchers say that's a problemo: as many as a third of the roughly 12,000 chemicals under review in Canada could accumulate in air-breathing animals. The pesticide lindane, for example, doesn't build up in fish -- but …

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Myth: Subsidies keep food prices low

A guest essay from ED’s Scott Faber

The following is a guest post from Scott Faber, Farm Bill campaign director for Environmental Defense. (Scott also has a blog.) --- Congress is in serious negotiations over the next version of the Farm Bill. The debate is fertile ground for food policy myths and misconceptions. Perhaps the best (or worst) example is that old chestnut that farm subsidies keep food prices low. Here's why that's just a myth. Most of the corn and soybeans grown in America end up in either a pig (as pig food) or a pump (as biofuel). So if farm subsidies really lead to cheaper …

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All you need for summer seafood splendor

As you might imagine, people often ask me what species of fish are the best to eat in terms of environmental and health concerns. I usually respond by saying, "OK, how much free time do you have? Are you sitting down? Do you have access to the internet? Do you have a cold compress for your forehead? Are next-of-kin present and available to care for you if you keel over from information overload and/or frustration?" Grills just wanna have fun. Photo: iStockphoto If the answer to all of the above questions is yes, then it's time to play "Do You …

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