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Organic Food

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Say Earthalujah! Reverend Billy preaches the green gospel

The Reverend wants you to believe the Earth can be saved! Amen.Photo: Brennan CavanaughThe Reverend preaches: "It's not easy for Americans to slow down their consumption. No, it ain't! We've got to help each other out. Give each other the power. Yes we do! To back away from the product. To turn. To escape the big box. The hypnosis of corporate greed! Amen, hallelujah." And the choir sings: "Eartha-lu, Eartha-lu, Eartha-lu-jah! Eartha-lu, Eartha-lu, Eartha-lu-jah!" "This force is inside each of us," the Reverend continues. "It's in the air. It's coming through the floorboards. Earthalujah. Yeah, yes, amen. Give us the …

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Produce industry wants Americans to eat their pesticide-laden veggies

For years, the Environmental Working Group has warned consumers away from "The Dirty Dozen," the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the most trace pesticides. But the produce industry has had enough of this anti-vegetable propaganda!  A consortium of food groups, from the American Mushroom Institute to the National Watermelon Association Inc., is mounting a campaign to reassure consumers that it's perfectly safe to eat pesticide-laden products. Industry groups are writing to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to ask him to publish data about pesticide residue with context explaining that the amount of pesticides found on their products really isn't that …

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How does my garden grow? With the aid of a pretty good digital planner

Steph Larsen's digital farm plan takes shape in the material world.Photo: Steph LarsenWhat's black and white and dirty all over? My garden plan! Last year's was, anyway. Most farmers I know will say that keeping good records and plans is fundamental to farming success. By no means am I what you might call a natural planner -- I lean towards the "organized chaos" style of living. But when it comes to growing things, I'm convinced that adding a healthy dose of order to the garden chaos is a necessity. There are just too many variables to consider otherwise. Garden plans …

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Factory farms the only way to ‘feed the world’? Not so, argues Science paper

To "feed the world" by 2050, we'll need a massive, global ramp-up of industrial-scale, corporate-led agriculture. At least that's the conventional wisdom. Even progressive journalists trumpet the idea (see here, here, and here, plus my ripostes here and here). The public-radio show Marketplace reported it as fact last week, earning a knuckle rap from Tom Laskway. At least one major strain of President Obama's (rather inconsistent) agricultural policy is predicated on it. And surely most agricultural scientists and development specialists toe that line ... right? Well, not really. Back in 2009, Seed Magazine organized a forum predicated on the idea …

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Bounty hunting: an inside look at a successful farmers market operation [VIDEO]

Last spring, I had the pleasure of following the farm-to-market process with one of the "successful" upstart organic farms in Minnesota. Laura and Adam from Loon Organics let me film and work through their Friday-Saturday operation. I had been idealizing the idea of starting a farm: seeing the beautiful produce stacked up at the market made me want to take out a loan, buy 50 acres, and start my own little operation. But after a day with the folks at Loon Organics, the frantic reality of running a diversified farm comes into focus:

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Will the real food movement please stand up?

Image: Will Etling's "Sustain," originally for GOOD magazine and contributed to Green Patriot Posters. Farmer Bob Comis recently suggested that the food movement is suffering from "multiple personality disorder." He argued that several vocal factions -- foodies, locavores, and "smallists" -- tend to dominate the food movement discussion, unrealistically distracting us from our ultimate objective: bringing affordable, organic food to all as part of a broader commitment to social justice. For decades now, organic farmers and sustainable food activists of all stripes have been vexed by the question: Is this a movement? Can it scale and have meaningful impact? At …

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Strawberry grower shows how to make a profit without poisons

Jim Cochran on the farm in 2004.Photo: Swanton Berry FarmThis story was written by Laura Fraser. Along California's rugged coastal Highway One, just north of Santa Cruz, a yellow vintage pick-up truck and tidy rows of strawberries mark the entrance to the Swanton Berry Farm. Inside the cheerful farm stand, decorated with old photos of the region and fluttering United Farm Worker flags, locals gather at blue picnic tables, sipping coffee, eating strawberry shortcake, and chatting with Jim Cochran, the owner. The air is scented with the first berries of the season. They're fresh and sweet, intensely red and fragrant, …

Read more: Food, Organic Food

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Organic agriculture: deeply rooted in science and ecology

Coleman's Four Season Farm: Start with biodiversity and well-nourished soil, add some appropriate technology, then harvest lots of healthy food. Photo: Barbara DamroschOrganic farming is often falsely represented as being unscientific. However, despite the popular assumption that it sprang full born from the delusions of 60s hippies, it has a more extensive, and scientifically respectable, provenance. If you look back at the first flush of notoriety in the 1940s, the names most often mentioned, Sir Albert Howard and J. I. Rodale, rather than being the initiators, were actually just popularizers of a groundswell of ideas that had begun to develop …

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The food movement’s multiple-personality disorder: Let’s move beyond foodies and localists

It's time for people who care about food to quit navel-gazing.Photo: Jared WongThe food movement has a case of multiple-personality disorder. One of its personalities is the foodie, who approaches the movement as a vehicle to increase sensual-aesthetic pleasure. Another of its personalities is the localizer, who views the movement through the lens of the foodshed radius and food miles. Another is small-is-beautiful -- small farms, small artisan processors, small distributors. Two more of its personalities are the food-justice advocate and the broadener, who want the movement to expand to a robust, durable, fair, and deeply embedded system that really challenges …

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Choose the right sweetener with this handy, snarky flowchart

From aspartame to ZSweet, the number of sweeteners available today is staggering. This flowchart gives you the Sweet'N Lowdown on which kind to use: