A bumper crop of corn

Malawi celebrates, but for how long?

So while the U.S. Farm Bill is out to pasture until 2008, it looks like most commodity subsidies will remain untouched. Agricultural price supports may be the law of the land here, but it's certainly not what we've been advocating abroad. A bittersweet story on page one of today's NY Times documents how Malawians are pulling back from the brink, largely because -- going against the wishes of the World Bank -- they've begun to reinstitute government crop subsidies:

Our challenge: surviving the rule of economists

"Ending famine simply by ignoring the experts" heads the encouraging story of Malawi's turnaround on hunger ... What's strange is that the "experts" in the piece are U.S. and British economists who advocated the standard imperial liberal solution (grow cash crops for export to us, and buy your food from us). Thankfully, the people of Malawi ignored such expertise and concentrated instead of the physical reality before them. There is very little time for us to stop seeing our manifest crises in the physical and biological world through the lenses of "experts" who are themselves totally untrained in those fields of study.

Gristmill community chastised!

The global nature of global warming

This is my formal rebuttal to Brooke Coleman (director of the Renewable Energy Action Project), specifically to comments found in Tom Philpott's latest corn ethanol article. I'm using my access to the bully pulpit to pull it out of comments, like I did the last time a corn ethanol enthusiast joined the discussion. Welcome to the best environmental blog on the planet, Brooke. You don't seem to have a very high opinion of this community, but maybe you'll warm up to us. I don't speak for the whole community of course, I'm just one of the many who come here to learn and engage in reasoned debate. You seem to think that anything is better than oil. But believe it or not, in the real world, we sometimes have to pick between the lesser of two evils, at least until something better comes along. Plowing under the world's remaining grasslands and forests to grow industrial agrofuels dwarfs the damage done by oil spills. What happens when you take grain off the world food market and stuff it into American gas tanks? I'll tell you. Someone somewhere on this planet takes advantage of the high prices to plant more of it to fill the hole in the human food chain. Where is the arable land they need to do that? It is under an existing carbon sink or has another crop on it already. The second leading cause of global warming is deforestation. How hard is that concept to understand? Global warming is global. What we do here screws everybody.

Pesticide use on crops drops in California, but fumigant use up

Agricultural pesticide use dropped by 10 million pounds in California last year — a bit of progress offset by an increased use of fumigants by strawberry growers. In addition, application of commercial pesticides for uses …

A plate for vegetarians

Judge it for yourself.

Organic bourbon

The New York Times says that bourbon is having its day in the sun, with small-batch, high-end distillers popping up all over the place. They’re shooting for the young connoisseur crowd, the same folks buying …

Bitter fruit

How corporate control of produce markets squeezes workers, farmers, and consumers

As most Grist readers know by now, a few giant corporations essentially control the meat industry — they lock up the bulk of the profits and impose harsh terms on farmers, workers, livestock, and the …

Building an eco-home from a favorite holiday sweet

When my friend Deanna told me that she wanted to make a gingerbread house this year — and, in particular, to do so on Black Friday, aka Buy Nothing Day — I immediately asked if …

Will conservatives eliminate farm subsidies?

A clip from the Republican YouTube debate

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you small-government conservatism:

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