Nalgene, Wal-Mart back away from BPA

Bottle manufacturer Nalgene will stop using plastic containing bisphenol A in response to concerns from the National Toxicology Program and the Canadian health department that the chemical probably shouldn’t be sucked on by kids. Nalgene says it still believes its clear, hard plastic bottles “are safe for their intended use” but says it’s responding to customers who “indicated they preferred BPA-free alternatives.” Wal-Mart also announced it would pull all baby bottles made with BPA from its shelves by early next year.

What the world needs now

Three million more acres of industrial corn?

According to USDA projections, U.S. farmers will plant 86 million acres of corn in 2008. At any time in the last 50 years, that would be plenty. Since 1958, USDA figures tell us, farmers have broken 80 million acres only ten times. In fact, if farmers meet expectations, 2008 will rank as the second-largest planting of corn since 1949. If you own shares in a fertilizer company — corn being an extremely fertilizer-intensive crop — you’re celebrating. Indeed, shares of Mosaic, a fertilizer giant two-thirds owned by Cargill, have more than doubled in value over the past six months. And …

Who's cashing in on the high price of food?

With food riots raging, let’s open the books on the finances of Big Ag

When we talk about the crisis in food prices, we should scrape below the surface to explore who's actually benefiting from the crisis. Unless you've had your head stuck in the freezer at Dean & Deluca, you've heard about the food crisis across the planet. A recent Financial Times displayed this staggering map of the globe: Black dots marked each of the countries were food riots have been sparked in outrage against the rising prices of food. Thirty dots in all. A recent CNN report noted that "Riots, instability spread as food prices skyrocket." These surging costs, warns World Bank President Robert Zoellick, "could mean 'seven lost years' in the fight against worldwide poverty." With the food crisis as front page news, I couldn't help but notice which agribusiness company has just reported an 86 percent jump in its quarterly earnings.

How does <em>your</em> garden grow?

A bright trend for dark times: kitchen gardening

Last week, we ran a guest post about a topic dear to my heart: serious home vegetable gardening. In that piece, Bill Duesing argued that the USDA should take home food production seriously, by providing research and extension services to gardeners. Now Anne Raver, the veteran New York Times garden writer, has come out with a great column on what’s looking like a nascent revival in home veggie gardening. The venerable Raver describes the pleasure of tending one’s little patch: It’s hard to describe the flavor of something so alive, hardly 10 seconds out of the earth. I want to …

Notable quotable

"It's a crime against humanity that food should be diverted to biofuels." -- Palaniappan Chidambaram, India's finance minister (via)


Bush and farm policy ‘reform’

In the farm bill debate, the Bush administration has joined Environmental Defense Fund, The Environmental Working Group, and other Big Green groups in taking a “reform” position: subsidies are bad, so let’s cut them. I’ve been arguing that this position amounts to no reform at all, because it doesn’t address the underlying problem of U.S. farming: the relentless pressure on our farmland from chemical-intensive agriculture — an arrangement that in the end benefits agrochemical makers much more than farmers, consumers, or the environment. Indeed, while Bush is cheering the hearts of Big Green groups with his anti-subsidy positions, his mindless …

An earthy recipe for treading lightly on earth and pocketbook alike

As Earth Day approaches this year, it seems that people are thinking more about food’s price than its ecological footprint. A simple trip to the grocery store tells the same story we’ve been hearing on the news: it’s getting more and more expensive to feed ourselves. The morel of the story. I’ve been thinking a lot about food prices, too. After holding off for almost a year, I raised the prices at my restaurant. I was able to avoid it longer than some of my fellow restaurant owners, partly because I have relatively low overhead: a small space and a …

Coke: 'it' with the foodies?

Yes, according to a new ‘artisanal’ restaurant in Atlanta

A press release heralding a new restaurant in Atlanta crossed my email inbox recently. Everything seemed pretty standard at first: Holeman and Finch Public House, opening April 14, intends to serve “food and drink … with unrivaled quality and care.” The chef evidently revels in “whole-animal preparations” and plans to make his own “charcuterie such as coppa, bresaola, and tom thumbs.” Photo: Samuel Wong Sounds good to me. I applaud nose-to-tail cookery, as well as the move toward small-scale artisanal sausage making. All very trendy, and not a bad thing at all — as long as the meat is sourced …

Poll: Rising food prices

Are you spending more money on food?

Food prices are soaring around the globe. Have you felt the pinch? Take our poll and tell us. You can vote below the fold. And read recent Grist content on the topic: • Why Michael Pollan and Alice Waters should quit celebrating food-price hikes• How expensive is food, really?• Higher food prices mean crappier cafeteria fare for kids

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