Amazin' maize

Corn tries to look a little too sweet

This week's $4.8 billion merger of Corn Products International and Bunge Ltd. probably didn't catch your eye, but with revenues projected to increase 29 percent this year to $4 billion, you might consider paying attention -- for the sake of your belly and the environment. Corn syrup manufacturers are going on the offensive -- and that includes a charm offensive. The Corn Refiners Association -- an industry trade group -- launched a new marketing campaign yesterday that coincided with the announcement of the multi-billion dollar merger.

Iowa’s chefs and their farmer-suppliers get busy recovering from disaster

Roads and restaurants may be closed, but Iowa is getting back on its feet. Photo: Kurt Michael Friese The weather here in Iowa City has been gorgeous for more than a week. Is Mother Nature trying to make amends? While she smiles on us, she’s still causing trouble for our friends to the south. The horrendous flooding continues, breeching nearly every levee it encounters in Missouri and Illinois, and leaving behind a litany of statistics that indicate the millions of lives affected. In Iowa alone, we’ve got 36,000 new homeless folks, and 3 million inundated acres of farmland. And then …

Nitrogen madness

The costs of unsustainable agriculture

Here's a guest post from Rodale Institute CEO Tim LaSalle. ----- Tom Philpott is right to highlight the tremendous ecological debt we've built up by depending on nitrogen fertilizer to run our crop production system. Depending on mined and fossil-fuel produced nitrogen for our food is no more sustainable than depending on peaking oil and mountain-top removed coal for our energy. There's no more "cheap" food and fuel, because, really, there never was. The huge irony -- currently obscured by the psychological jolt of widespread shortages of food and fuel -- is that we were just learning of how not cheap industrial food has been:

Climate change ideas for On Day One

Day three of the UN Dispatch-Grist collaboration

The UN Dispatch-Grist collaboration continues today with a discussion of the top user-rated idea on On Day One: 'Eat the View,' by Roger Doiron. This idea was so popular, it even found its way into The New York Times. Here's what he suggests: Announce plans for a food garden on the White House lawn, making one of the White House's eight gardeners responsible for it, with part of produce going to the White House kitchen and the rest to a local food pantry. The White House is "America's House" and should set an example. The new President would not be breaking with tradition, but returning to it (the White House has had vegetable gardens before) and showing how we can meet global challenges such as climate change and food security. Kate Sheppard, David Roberts, and Timothy B. Hurst respond below the fold.

Florida will buy out sugar company to restore Everglades

Nearly 300 square miles of sugar plantation in the Everglades will once again become marsh, as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced Tuesday that the state will buy the land from U.S. Sugar Corp. If all goes to plan, the $1.75 billion deal may be the largest environmental restoration in the history of the United States. Environmentalists have long lamented the sugar industry’s role in diverting and polluting the Everglades’ water supply; the River of Grass is only half the 11,000 square miles it was in the early 20th century. U.S. Sugar, which has farmed the Everglades for nearly 80 years, …

Mayors resolve to phase out city spending on bottled water

The U.S. Conference of Mayors passed a resolution Monday to phase out city spending on bottled water. “Cities are sending the wrong message about the quality of public water when we spend taxpayer dollars on water in disposable containers from a private corporation,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, adding, “The fact is, our tap water is more highly regulated than what’s in the bottle.” Millions of barrels of oil go into plastic-bottle manufacturing, and cities spend some $70 million annually on bottle disposal. Though the new resolution is not binding, it received strong support, and more than 60 mayors …

Pyongyang syndrome

Agriculture and energy solutions to avoid the fate of North Korea

John Feffer has a good article over at Asia Times Online. It points out the deep danger we're in -- how teetery both the world and America's food and energy systems are. It is well worth a read, particularly because of its clear articulation of the bind we're in -- the strategies we've used in the past to get out of disaster will only accelerate collapse in the long-term.. The tools we're using to get more food out of the ground take food from the future.

Me, at the Organic Summit

What should I ask — or tell — the (organic-cotton) suits at a fancy Colorado confab this week?

Later this week, I’ll be reporting from the Organic Summit in Boulder. Judging from the attendees list on the homepage, the summit brings together the shakers and movers behind what Michael Pollan has called “industrial organic” — the large-scale producers and processors that stock the shelves at Whole Foods and the organic sections at Wal-Mart, Safeway, etc. But the organizers seem intent on shaking things up. The speakers list ranges from Brahm Ahmadi of Oakland’s excellent urban-ag project, People’s Grocery, to Jim Thomas of the GMO watchdog ETC Group to Shelley Rodgers, who’s making a documentary called What’s Organic About …

Food tip of the day

Don Lee Farms veggie patties are the shizzle

I’m probably going to get in trouble for this, since it’s not organic and it comes from some anonymous frozen-food manufacturer, but the discovery of a veggie pattie that doesn’t suck is good news that must be shared with the world. As you’re probably aware, most "veggie burgers" taste like cardboard. Most real veg-heads I know stay away from them because a) who wants a hamburger when you’re a veg-head? and b) the cardboard thing. But get thee to Costco and pick up a package of Don Lee Farms veggie patties. They’re fresh, not frozen, and they taste like … …

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