Industrial Agriculture

gleaning your plate

Ask Umbra on how much food Americans waste, and what to do about it

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Do you have a reliable source/figure for the total amount of food wasted by Americans?  I read somewhere that up to 40 percent of the food we buy may be thrown away. That means people spend an additional 66 percent on food products they don’t/can’t actually consume. Most of this “subsidy” goes to food processors, not to mention packaging, transporting, fertilizer, and, of course, agro-corps like Monsanto. Do you know if those figures are accurate? Professor IkeWichita, Kan. Someone has too much food on their plate …Photo: jbloomA. Dearest Ike, It’s true …

panda burgers

World Wildlife Fund gets in bed with McDonald’s, gives birth to darling sustainability program

McDonald’s is going to be less bad for the future of life on Earth, it promises. With the help of the World Wildlife Fund, the 32,000-store chain has pledged to do the following to improve its sourcing of raw materials: Ban beef that comes from within the “Amazon Biome,” aka Brazil’s rainforest. No more soy from the deforested remnants Amazon Rainforest, either. Soy is used in chicken feed. (The bad news is, we’ll still be eating chicken nuggets that were originally soybeans.) “Coffee and wood fibers for product packaging will also be sourced from third-party certified, sustainable sources.” Switch from …

Meat wagon

Think tainted Chinese pork is scary? Check out the nearest supermarket meat case

Now, what dodgy stuff did Philpott say was on this? In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. ——— Over in China, the nation’s burgeoning pork industry has been been busted for churning out meat tainted with an illegal and quite dodgy growth-enhancing chemical, The Washington Post reports. The banned chemical, clenbuterol, is said to “reduce a pig’s body fat to a very thin layer and makes butchered skin pinker, giving the appearance of fresher meat for a longer time.” When people ingest it from eating the resulting pork, they suffer “symptoms such …

Just like how granny didn't do it

Forget farmers markets — I want to sell my pastured meat at Price Chopper

This pastured piggy went to Price Chopper.Photo: Kevin SteeleIt is time to make local passe. It is time to make regional the new local. Enough of farmers markets, CSAs, and direct on-farm sales. Yes, they are exciting — they feel like they are getting us somewhere. And, to be honest and give them their due, they have gotten us somewhere. The reality, however, is that they will never get us there, whither goest we must if we want to make a change — real change. I will say it as straight as I can: I want to see my pork …

Cereal comedy

Breakfast is not so gr-r-reat when your only option is Frosted Flakes

Breakfast cub: Tony the Tiger says start your kid’s day with big bowls of sweetened corn.Photo: Jim BarkerOne in four children goes without breakfast each morning, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a tragedy to be sure — but are Kellogg’s breakfast products the solution? Last week, Kellogg announced its new project called Share Your Breakfast, part of a national advertising campaign. The project asks Americans to upload their breakfast photos to the website shareyourbreakfast.com, and Kellogg Company will donate up to $200,000 — the equivalent of 1 million school breakfasts to help feed children from food-insecure households. Feeding …

Hole in the Middle

To make local food more accessible, time to revive mid-sized farms

Today is National Agriculture Day. Have you hugged your farmer yet? To celebrate this special day, I’ve dug this column out of the archives, originally published three years ago this spring. It’s a tribute to mid-size farms, which don’t make nearly as much cash as their industrial-scale brethren and don’t get nearly the love lavished on small farms. I argue that reviving the health of mid-sized farms is a critical task if we’re going to create a just, fair, and green food system. ——– Most people probably don’t think of Carrboro, North Carolina — a bustling town just outside of …

Frosted Flakes are (sort of) Grr-r-een!

How two 15-year-old Girl Scouts (and Grist readers) changed Kellogg’s

It’ll take some willpower, but don’t have “samoa” until they stop harming the planet.Photo: Laura TaylorWhen Kellogg’s announced this week that it is moving to limit the deforestation caused by the palm oil it uses to make Frosted Flakes, Keebler cookies, Rice Krispies, and Girl Scout cookies, it represented an enormous achievement for two 15-year-old girls from Michigan. You may remember Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen from my article two weeks ago, “Are Girl Scout cookies killing orangutans?” They’ve been working for several years to get Girl Scouts USA to switch from palm oil to more planet-friendly and healthier alternatives …

Muckbreaking

Another week, another attempt to shield factory farms from public scrutiny

Above: Last spring, a Humane Society of the United States investigtor, posing as an employee, got a camera into an egg factory to film conditions there. If Iowa lawmakers have their way, such muckraking will be illegal. ——— It’s not just Florida. In what appears to be a growing movement, industrial farmers have convinced Iowa state lawmakers to move an anti-whistle-blower bill through the state legislature. This bill, unlike the rather clumsy and probably unconstitutional Florida bill aimed at photographing farms, focuses on undercover attempts to film inside industrial livestock facilities (via ABC News): Angered by repeated releases of secretly …

Country cousins and city cousins

It’s the ‘burbs, stupid: on the Ezra Klein/Tom Vilsack dustup

Carried away: Ezra Klein and Tom Vilsack ride an imaginary “raft of subsidies.” This week, an interesting — and, I think, bizarre — argument broke out between Washington Post political blogger Ezra Klein and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The topic was whether rural residents deserve what Klein called a “raft of subsidies,” when in fact, “we still need cities.” Klein’s contributions to the debate were widely hailed as “brilliant” and Vilsack’s were widely deplored (see here and here); but I was left wondering what precisely the two were arguing about — and whether either one of them actually knew what …

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