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Heritage livestock: Milk ‘em for all they’re worth

A Guernsey calf. (Photo by Tricky.) As heirloom produce gains a growing cult following among eaters, the more under-the-radar interest in heritage livestock breeds may see a resurgence, too. The first National Heirloom Exposition in California last month featured heritage farm animal breeds in addition to the fruits, veggies, and seeds that get foodies excited. Cheese devotees, especially, should take note -- buying and enjoying cheese made from the milk of certain rare breeds of cattle helps ensure their survival. Over on the blog It's Not You, it's Brie, cheese enthusiast Kirstin Jackson collected notes from dairy farmer and veterinarian …

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As the 99 Percenters gather, 1 percent could make a difference

Will Etling's "Sustain," originally for GOOD magazine and contributed to Green Patriot Posters.I've been watching the protests on Wall Street for the past few weeks with some interest. I'm all for speaking out and, on occasion, for putting your feet to the pavement and taking to the streets in peaceful demonstration. There is more than a little to demonstrate about today on Wall Street and in Washington. But when it comes to anger, scapegoating, and class-warfare-baiting, I say: Put a fork in it. No, better: Put your hands in it. Put your hands in the soil -- literally and metaphorically: …

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North by Northwest [VIDEO]

The Pacific Northwest is the perfect place for seaside adventures. On this leg of our cross-country trip, we forage for sea beans with Hank Shaw, dig for a giant clam called a geoduck with John Adams and Langdon Cook, and make our own salt with the young locavore chef from a restaurant called Herbfarm. We cook it all up in the kitchen of a new friend, all the while refraining from making dirty jokes about the geoduck (watch and you'll see why this wasn't easy):

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Irene's damage not 'overrated' for farmers

A flooded Vermont corn field.Photo: putneypicsWith flood waters receding and the Irene clean-up well underway, now's the time to check in on how farmers fared in the face of this monster storm. The answer is: pretty bad. But it could have been even worse. The produce trade paper The Packer spoke to agriculture officials in various states. According to New Jersey's assistant secretary of agriculture, damage was "sporadic," but will likely still cause some supply problems. Some newly planted crops were washed away and flood waters caused damage to crops on the vine, but there will still be enough time …

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Waters runs deep: Chez Panisse at 40

Alice Waters.I don't know Alice Waters. Yet I often feel like I know Waters' public self -- the lilting voice, the distinctly emotive diction, the studied bohemianism -- a little too well.     So I wasn't surprised when I picked up Waters' latest book, 40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering, and felt like I was holding a personal scrapbook.  It's a lovingly crafted book, full of rare photographs and intimate details that chart the history of the restaurant. In addition to pages of photos, menus, and highly stylized event posters documenting the restaurant's milestones (including the 10th, 20th, …

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Teen acres [VIDEO]

This week's installment finds us in Portland, Ore., where I really wanted to make a Portlandia-inspired episode. It didn't quite happen, but there were plenty of moments that reminded us of the show -- like getting free valet parking because we were driving a hybrid. We also decided to visit an ultra-practical and amazing farm project called Janus Food Works, where we found young people from Portland getting paid to farm (it's about time) and selling the produce they'd grown. After filming with the kids, we created a meal with their crop for the Plate and Pitchfork farm dinner series. …

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Too many markets or not enough farmers?

Too much of a good thing?Photo: Clyde RobinsonOn the heels of the USDA announcement that farmers markets are sprouting up at a swift pace comes a contrarian article in The New York Times suggesting that this phenomenal growth might represent too much of a good thing: Farmers in pockets of the country say the number of farmers' markets has outstripped demand, a consequence of a clamor for markets that are closer to customers and communities that want multiple markets. Some farmers say small new markets have lured away loyal customers and cut into profits. Other farmers say they must add …

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More farmers markets mean more jobs

A delicious investment. The USDA released its latest Farmers Market Survey last week, showing 7,175 farmers markets across the country, up 17 percent from last year. This news led USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan to declare: The growth in farmers markets is a sign that the local and regional food system is robust and thriving. More farmers markets mean more opportunities for small and midsize farmers -- especially beginning farmers -- to diversify their farms, sell their products, and grow their businesses. More farmers markets mean more local economic stimulation to more communities which, in turn, mean more job opportunities. …

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California gleaning [VIDEO]

Northern California is a land of plenty -- so plentiful, in fact, that there are often leftovers. This isn't uncommon for most farms; in order to make way for bad yields, bad weather, and unexpected disasters, (or just to make sure they have enough to satisfy their customers), most farms will end up with more than they can sell. What happens to all that extra produce? One town has it figured out: In Healdsburg, Calif., an organization called Farm to Pantry picks it, packs it up, and delivers it to several in-need locations. It's selfless, necessary, and wonderful. Watch this …

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Let them eat dandelions

Leda Meredith shows that foraging is another healthy function of city parks.Photo: Kethevane GorjestaniCross-posted from OnEarth. Fans of dandelion greens, mushrooms, and other wild edibles in New York City, take heed. After years of unofficially tolerating foraging in parks, city park rangers are now cracking down on the increasingly popular practice, chasing off foragers and issuing summonses, as detailed in a recent front page story in The New York Times. Why? Some sources report wild ginger, ramps, and even entire cherry trees being uprooted and swiped from city parks. The Central Park Conservancy says it is concerned that its native …

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