California officials yank controversial urban spraying plan

California officials have announced that they will not spray the urban Bay Area with a pheromone this summer, delighting activists who had campaigned strenuously against the plan. The pheromone with the ominous name CheckMate LBAM-F …

Get thee to the farmers market

Now’s the time for scapes and green garlic

Food headlines hardly bring comfort these days: tales of lost harvests, hunger riots, agrichemical runoff, tainted pork and tomatoes.  A society’s foodways surely reveal something about its quality of life. From studying the industrial-food system, …

One expensive cocktail

The toll of the shrimping industry on Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia would have fared better during the tsunami and the recent cyclone if the majority of the region's coastal mangrove forests were intact. Everyone accepts that. But many of the mangroves have been cut for firewood, largely to make way for shrimp farming. The cost of the mangrove-loss to coastal fisheries is great, since much of the food chain spends its early years amongst the trees' roots. But the human cost, besides those lost in the flood waters, is also great: Labor abuses in the farmed shrimp industry are rampant. Read "The True Cost of Shrimp" (PDF) for details on the child labor, human trafficking, beatings, torture, and murder associated with these farms. There are also toxins that farm workers get to enjoy spraying into the shrimp pens to keep the critters from succumbing to infections. So, what to do?

Notable quotable

Vegan food ain’t Badu

“Vegan food is soul food in its truest form. Soul food means to feed the soul. And, to me, your soul is your intent. If your intent is pure, you are pure.” – Erykah Badu, …

Flood money

Midwest woes a boon to fertilizer companies

The recent Midwestern floods have caused all manner of misery: Burst levies, lost homes, ruined crops, higher food prices, a gusher of agrichemicals and god know what else flowing into streams. One way to soothe …

Food Network star Alton Brown adds a pinch of sustainability to the pot

Alton Brown: Boy meets salmon. Photo: Studio Chambers The Portola Café and Restaurant, the fine-dining venue within the Monterey Bay Aquarium, is an airy, light-filled space surrounded by windows on three sides. The soothing, understated …

Missouri mystery

Why are sperm counts so low in the show-me state?

Surrounded by agriculture powerhouses Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Illinois, Missouri sits at the southern edge of the heartland. Are the region’s titanic annual lashings of agrichemicals — synthetic and mined fertilizers, as well as poisons …

Humans have a hand in Midwest flooding

Photo: Mark Hirsch How much responsibility do humans have for the floods disastrously deluging the Midwest? Of course the rain poured for days, but it fell on plowed-up prairies, drained fields, altered streams, no-longer-wetlands, and …

Rotten tomatoes

Latest health scare exposes a frayed food-safety net

Salmonella-infected tomatoes have made headlines over the course of the last week, but there's nothing new about the problem that tainted tomatoes reveal.This outbreak has put more than 25 people in the hospital and sickened hundreds, but it is just the latest in a long line of sickness and recalls. Salmonella in tomatoes, spinach, and lettuce, eColi in peanut butter, beef from downer cows; all throw into question the legitimacy of agency claims that the U.S. has the best food safety apparatus in the world. The facts are clear: after years of budget and staffing cuts, America's food safety net is frayed past the point of effectiveness.

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