Sustainable Farming

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 …

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 …

Chewing the scenery

Dairy cows frolic in meadow to celebrate spring [VIDEO]

Still trying to keep it positive! One thing that that makes it easier is that spring really has arrived up here in the North Carolina mountains — it must be 70 degrees, and the arugula we planted a few weeks ago in cold frames is taking off. Evidently, it’s spring-time in England, too. I dare you to watch this video and not share the delight of these dairy cows getting their first taste of fresh grass after a long winter being cooped up and eating hay:

Greener pastures

Forget the gloom — new ways of living and organizing our economy are flourishing

Despite a flurry of bad news recently, good things are spouting up.Photo: Judy Merrill-SmithThe last couple of days have been gloomy ones. I kept checking in with the vague and dire reports from the nuclear-power bleeding edge in Japan. For part of the time I was also immersed in a post about truly awful things going on in the U.S. poultry industry. While digging into the industry’s routine abuse of farmers and reckless endangering of public health, I was haunted by the thought that these were the folks on whom we’re supposed to be counting  to “feed the world” going …

Small is ornery

Maine towns reject one-size-fits-all regulation, declare ‘food sovereignty’

Photo: Chewonki Semester SchoolIn 2009, Maine farmer Heather Retberg learned that new regulations prohibited her from bringing her chickens to a neighbor’s approved slaughtering facility. She’d have to invest some $30,000 she didn’t have to build her own facility. So Retberg shifted her focus to raw dairy instead, selling directly to local neighbors. When she received a notice last year from the Maine Department of Agriculture that she needed a permit, requiring investment way above what she could ever hope to justify with her minimal sales, she’d had enough. She got together with four neighbors similarly upset with the new …

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 …

Eat your words

I’ve got a good food story to tell: yours [VIDEO]

The Perennial Plate has been creating weekly videos about real food in Minnesota for the past year. Today, we released our 52nd video: a trailer for our upcoming project. This spring, I will be travelling across the country for six months, documenting stories about good food in America. Each week we will be filming, editing, and releasing unique short films about sustainable eating … and for that we need your help. We want this cross country film project to be made up of the stories you tell us. So, do you have an opinion about what good food is? Submit a story. Know of an …

Flyover country

I’m a rural resident. Where’s my subsidy check?

The view from Washington, D.C., of the rural Midwest: quaint scenery on the way to the West Coast. Photo: Scorpions and CentaursI’ve spent the majority of my life living in cities, albeit mostly small ones in Wisconsin that New Yorkers might not call metropolitan. Before I moved to Lyons, Neb., I lived in Washington, D.C. I truly appreciate the virtues of both urban and rural living. So it’s hard to understand why some urbanites criticize rural folks because we choose to make our home in a place without traffic where you can see the stars. My brow furrowed a bit …

I love it when you call me big crop-pa

Our favorite hipster farmer band names [SLIDESHOW]

We here at Grist love us some Twitter. So it should come as no surprise that when we recently tweeted about the rise in farming hipsters, the hashtag meme #hipsterfarmerbands was born like a lamb in spring. From Pjörk to Pretty Girls Make Grains, we raked in some fantastic faux farmer band names. All of this would not have been possible without friend-of-Grist @michael_k. May we suggest you follow him immediately? He’s got taste. In his honor, we created concert tees for our top five favorite #hipsterfarmerbands: Name by @honestfarm