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The savory challenges of being a sustainable chef in Big Ag country

Fifteen years ago, I left a great job teaching at a prestigious northeast culinary school to move back to Iowa and be an executive chef at a Holiday Inn. It was difficult to find people, in Vermont or Iowa, who did not think I was certifiably insane. Those who thought they knew Iowa claimed, "There's no there there!" And those who did not asked, "Iowa? Isn't that where they grow potatoes?" Because I had spent my undergraduate years in Iowa, I was accustomed to the rest of the country, especially folks from the coasts, referring to it as one of …

Read more: Food, Living

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Want environmentally conscious effervescence? DIY

If you're a fan of sparkling water but feel guilty about having to buy it bottled, you might enjoy this NYT story about home seltzer makers that provide "environmentally conscious effervescence." Myself, I don't care for the bubbly stuff, but I did find this part amusing (emph. mine, obvi): Plain tap water has become the surprise food fashion of the year. A growing number of restaurants are offering it in place of bottled water, which is much more lucrative and whose popularity had made the free-flowing kind seem déclassé. On the street, it is not uncommon to see people toting …

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Umbra on tossing food waste

Dear Umbra, I am a college student. I eat a lot on the go. Not fast food or boxed meals, but when I leave my dorm I usually grab an apple, banana, or other fruit/veggie to eat as I walk to my destination. I don't compost, instead I just throw the banana peel or apple core into the bushes. I like the thought that maybe one day my apple core will become an apple, or that my banana peel will help nourish that piece of ground/animals in the area over ending up in a landfill. To me this eco-littering is …

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Group will do organic lawn care outside Capitol

Nonprofit SafeLawns.org has received permission to use organic gardening techniques on a portion of the National Mall for a two-year trial period. Can environmentally friendly soil treatments be embraced at the site of battling over a Live Earth concert? You could cut the tension with a spade.

Read more: Living, Politics

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A journey into the heart of industrial agriculture

  Americans live in a post-agricultural age. Today, fewer than two of every 100 U.S. citizens owe their living primarily to the land. A century ago, two of every five did. Yet even though very few of us contribute to food production, we all still eat -- and food comes from somewhere. But where? In a sense, the answer is: Iowa, buckle of the farm belt, heart of the heartland. Do you know where your food comes from? Illustration: Keri Rosebraugh Accounting for less than 2 percent of the U.S. landmass, Iowa churns out a fifth of U.S. corn and …

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A Grist special series on food and farming

You know where babies come from, sure -- but do you know where Tater Tots come from? In this two-week series, we'll take you on a behind-the-scenes tour of your very own diet. Everybody eats, every day, but we tend to gloss over the details. Things like the work that really goes into putting food on our plates, the environmental impacts of food production, and how we can make the best choices -- for our bodies and the planet -- when it comes time to chow down. So take a seat at the Grist table as we venture to the …

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Publisher will produce first eco-friendly Bible

Coming soon to a hotel room near you: the first green Bible, expected to hit the scene later this month from publisher Thomas Nelson. The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Daily Bible -- which perhaps includes the 11th commandment "Thou shalt be principled"? -- will be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and contain recycled fiber. Says Tyson Miller of the Green Press Initiative, which is working with Thomas Nelson to green the Holy Book: "The Bible is the most widely circulated book on the planet and Thomas Nelson's leadership and use of environmentally responsible paper is a living legacy …

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A recap of Seattle’s Green Fashion Week runway show

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." -- Coco Chanel Upon arriving at the runway show capping off Seattle's Green Fashion Week, the first thing I noticed was the green carpet. Then the scaffolding and spotlights. And the runway backlit with green bulbs and surrounded by rows of white chairs -- four of which were ours. Three glamorous Grist gals and I had come dressed to the nines -- which in our case meant the best little …

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Heat shuts down Chicago marathon

Sweltering humidity and 88-degree temperatures forced yesterday's Chicago marathon to shut down early for the first time in its 30-year history. One runner died, more than 300 were hospitalized, and thousands were really irritated.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Like they do it in Italy

From Der Spiegel: It's not easy to be punctual for a meeting with Stefano Cimicchi. Parking places are hard to come by in Orvieto, even if cars are still legal. Cars in the city center stick out like a sore thumb among strolling pedestrians, who move to the sides of the streets with studied slowness. After a couple of twisty laps though the narrow medieval alleyways of the old town center, you might find a parking place on the edge of the small Umbrian town -- and pay handsomely for the privilege of parking. Cimicchi was mayor of Orvieto from …

Read more: Cities, Living