No country for poor (wo)men

Higher food prices likely mean more health problems for low-income folks

I doubt if many people really believe that the recent spike in food prices will, as a New York Times piece put it, “make organic food more accessible” and force people into healthier eating patterns. (I wrote about this topic in a recent Victual Reality column.) For those who do, I offer this remark from Adam Drewnowski, an epidemiologist from the University of Washington, quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer: The food crisis will make obesity and attendant diabetes even more rampant. Fruits, vegetables, and fish are becoming luxury goods completely out of reach of many people. Consumption of cheap food …

Siding with the Bushies?

Why a Bush veto of the farm bill is bad for the food movement (and the world)

My former boss in D.C. once said that if she ever found herself on the same side of an issue as the Bush administration, it was time to go back and look more closely: There must be a hidden agenda. That was the thought that struck me as I contemplated the administration's farm bill veto threat on Friday. I understand the calls from some in the sustainable-ag community to veto the farm bill (and thank Tom Philpott and the comment crew for outlining them). The argument appears to be that, while there were important wins, this farm bill does not include most of the bigger reforms we want, and the community would do better to support a veto and try again anew. I don't happen to agree; some of the reasons why are also outlined in Tom's post and the comments. But I respect the sustainable ag organizations that take this position. It all gets more complicated, though, when these groups find themselves on the same side of the veto issue as the Bush administration, which is not known for caring much about sustainability in any sense of the word. It gets extra-complicated when the phrase "subsidy reform" passes the lips of spokespeople from both the farmers-market complex and the agribusiness-industrial complex. This strange coalition of convenience was highlighted recently in a San Francisco Chronicle article by Carolyn Lochhead: "It is the rarest of moments: President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are on a collision course over a giant farm bill, but it is Bush who is broadly aligned with liberal Bay Area activists pushing for reform, while the San Francisco Democrat is protecting billions of dollars in subsidies ..."

Umbra on plastic bottles and BPA

Dear Umbra, I’ve been hearing a lot in the news lately about the dangers of certain kinds of plastic bottles. What’s the lowdown? Thirstily, Ginger Littleton, Colo. Dearest Ginger, Always happy to be your source for the lowest lowdown around town. Today’s lowdown: Don’t use plastic bottles, and avoid canned food. All the latest plastics hullabaloo is over bisphenol A, a component of many plastic products. Serious Gristoholic Readers have known for years now that BPA, in its role as an endocrine disruptor, probably poses threats to public health. These readers have been easy to spot at recent cocktail parties: …

Congress (almost) passes a farm bill; Bush vows to veto

How should sustainable-food advocates respond to the latest farm bill proposal?

For months now, the 2007 farm bill has been in limbo, tied up in reconciliation negotiations between the House and the Senate. On Thursday, the bicameral Farm Bill Conference Report agreed on a final proposal. The latest version will go to the larger House and Senate next week for approval; if all goes well, it will finally go to President Bush’s desk. But since this wouldn’t be the 2007 farm bill without a final dose of drama, negotiations seem far from over. “The President will veto this bill,” USDA chair Ed Schafer bluntly declared in a Thursday afternoon communique. The …

How to use extra-virgin olive oils, from the extraordinary to the merely wonderful

I met with my friend, chef Didi Emmons, on a recent spring morning for breakfast in Harvard Square. We met at the Hi-Rise Pie Company, where we bought a loaf of potato bread and crept up the stairs to the little rooms filled with ancient chairs and tables. Peak oil. Didi pulled a dark green glass bottle from her rucksack. I wondered what the other patrons thought, since it was a bit early in the day for a tipple. But once we tore our loaf of bread into pieces and started dipping it in the liquid that we poured out …

Tasty justice

People’s Grocery is rebuilding food connections in West Oakland

Global Oneness Project has finished a great new series of interviews with Brahm Ahmadi, co-founder/director of People's Grocery. Their food justice work is crucial to Oakland: like many cities, there are usually lots more opportunities to buy beer or smokes on every block than fresh, healthy fruits and veggies. Check out this inspiring 8-minute film to get some new ideas for how we can reconnect urban populations and the planet through food. The sidebar clips are great, too, as are all the short films on this site I've viewed.