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That’s it for me and industrial meat

The other day I went to Costco with my older boy -- during the Super Bowl, for stealth. It took a bit of persuading to get him there, so I told him about the ladies who stand around and hand out food samples. Everything was going fine. A mozzarella ball, yum. A little square of pizza, delish. Even the chicken taquito was tolerable. Then I made the mistake. A hunched lady with a bright red cart was handing out small pieces of chicken breast in teriyaki sauce. Or rather, "chicken" "breast" in "teriyaki" "sauce." I had just enough time to …

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Bush’s farm bill “reform” proposal falls woefully short

Note: This is the third of a three-column series on the 2007 farm bill. The first two columns are here and here. The author promises not to return to the topic for at least a few weeks -- but will likely backslide from this pledge in his Gristmill blog posts. Can Bush point the way for America's farmers? Photo: whitehouse.gov/Eric Draper In this series, I promised to lay out new models for federal food and farm policy. But after two long columns, I still haven't catalogued the full depth of the failures of current policy. Doing so is a necessary …

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Popping your (organic) cherry

Hello again, fair, broke readers. Sorry to tease you with my column intro and then leave you hungering for more for all these weeks. Your resident brokeass took an unexpected journey to Utah to steal swag from well-heeled, earth-friendly-ish corporations and stalk eco-savvy celebs -- and then returned and promptly got sick. So, the long-awaited second column, in which I actually answer some of your questions: Dear Brokeass, I'd love it if you could help clarify what sort of food I should be getting. Historically I've tried to buy organic food, even though it put a dent in my bank …

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Is anyone still taking this stuff seriously?

President Bush's recent pledge to raise the Renewable Fuel Standard to 35 billion gallons by 2017 dropped with a bit of a thud. David Roberts made a pretty good case that all the recent hype around ethanol may soon prove quaint: that, in essence, the ethanol craze will eventually likely crumble under its weighty political, agricultural, and technological contradictions. Maybe so. Meanwhile, though, farmers are planting a shitload of corn, dozens of ethanol plants are sprouting up across the land, and the government is planning to plow ever more cash into research on cellulosic ethanol, a technology whose commercial viability …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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It’s only natural

About twice a day, an email from a mystery man/unflagging anti-ethanol crusader named Ray Wallace appears in my inbox, chock full of excerpts from the latest ethanol slams and, on lucky days, choice quotes from politicos and the like sounding less-than-smart about the whole business. I'm not sure how I got on his listserv, and I can't quite say how you can (but if you'd really like to, let me know and we can probably work something out). Anyhow (I'm getting to my point), I mention Ray so as to credit him for alerting me to this quote, contained in …

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There’s nothing healthy about the American Dietary Association’s addiction to corporate cash.

Hey, the American Dietetic Association is having a big convention in Philly next fall. The ADA, which represents 65,000 dietitians, claims to ... ... serve the public by promoting optimal nutrition, health and well-being. ADA members are the nation's food and nutrition experts, translating the science of nutrition into practical solutions for healthy living. Ah, the experts are getting together! Maybe they'll take a critical look at soaring diabetes and obesity rates, and perhaps brainstorm ways of linking consumers directly to fresh-food sources. Then again, probably not. The conference, it turns out, is funded by major food conglomerates, which will …

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Where farm subsidies came from, and why they’re still here

Note: This is the second of a three-column series on the 2007 farm bill. The first article is available here; the third here. Last week, I argued that it makes sense for society to support farming. Everybody needs to eat, and most would prefer to do so without devastating the environment or exploiting labor. Well, no one can accuse the United States of failing to commit significant resources to agriculture. Between 1995 and 2005, the Environmental Working Group calculates, the government paid farmers $164.7 billion. That averages to about $16 billion per year -- substantially more, for example, than the …

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The Airspeed Velocity of an Uneaten Swallow

Food imported by air may lose organic certification in Britain Foods imported into Britain by airplane may not qualify as organic if the country's main certification body has its druthers. On Friday, the Soil Association announced it will spend a year considering a proposal to factor flight distance into its organic standards. While it will ponder different labeling options, fair-trade schemes, and carbon offsets, Director Patrick Holden says there is "a pretty strong chance" that the association will end up giving the boot to flown-in foods. The Soil Association certifies more than 70 percent of organic produce sold in Britain; …

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Lettuce Eat Veggies

An occasional meat-eater faces the brutal truth Upon reading about the history of vegetarianism in the new tome The Bloodless Revolution, food writer and occasional meat-eater Tom Philpott wonders: will the consumption of sentient animals one day be widely denounced as immoral? It's not inconceivable, he says -- but for now, Americans eat a stunning three-quarters of a pound of meat per day. While large-scale agricultural production may deserve more ire than meat itself, Philpott says in his latest Edible Media column, it's still time to cut back -- and encourage others to follow our lead.

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Why the vegetarian critique of meat-eating should make meat-eaters squirm

Edible Media takes an occasional look at interesting or deplorable food journalism on the web. It's been a rough couple of months for meat eaters. In late November, the FAO issued a startling report claiming that livestock production emits fully 18 percent of global greenhouse gases -- more than all the automobiles in the world. Then out comes a big book: The Bloodless Revolution by British scholar and proud "freegan" Tristram Stuart. The book seeks to trace the "cultural history of vegetarianism from 1600 to modern times." The existence and long history of vegetarianism should make us meat-eaters squirm a …

Read more: Food, Living