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Sustainable Food

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China's ordering take-out

Can the United States feed China?

China is worried -- and rightfully so -- that it might not be able to feed itself.Photo: Jerrold BennettIn 1994, I wrote an article in World Watch magazine entitled "Who Will Feed China?" that was later expanded into a book of the same title. When the article was published in late August, the press conference generated only moderate coverage. But when it was reprinted that weekend on the front of the Washington Post's Outlook section with the title "How China Could Starve the World," [$ubreq] it unleashed a political firestorm in Beijing. The response began with a press conference at …

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Getting sappy

What’s the season between winter and spring? Maple time! [VIDEO]

Spring doesn't seem like it would be maple syrup time (based on the pictures on Vermont syrup bottles), but so it is. At the cusp of freezing and melting snow is when the sap is running. And while the rest of the country is praying for warmth, the maple farmers are wishing for cold. The longer it stays cold, the longer the syruping season lasts. Last year, the season here in Minnesota was short, but I made it out just in time to spend the day with Chris Ransom. His operation is based on his backyard trees as well as …

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Chomping at the Bittman

Live chat with New York Times food columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman

New York Times food-politics columnist and cookbook author Mark Bittman dropped by for a live chat on March 22. The chat was hosted by Grist's own Tom Philpott, who says he's been cooking under Bittman's wing since the early 1990s when Bittman wrote for Cook's Illustrated magazine. Check out a transcript of the chat: Tom Philpott: Hi everyone, and welcome, Mark Philpott: How are things in NYC -- you guys get some snow? Mark Bittman: Hey Tom. Hey everyone. Here we go. Philpott: hey there Philpott: Welcome to the chat! Philpott: Don't mind the tech glitches Bittman: Forgive the chatter …

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Choice nuggets

Radiation-tainted milk in Japan, Pollan on food movement elitism, and more

When my info-larder gets too packed, it’s time to serve up some choice nuggets from around the web. --------- Nuke disaster hits Japan's food supply Note to planners: Don't plunk highly volatile industrial projects onto rich farmland. Doing so ensures that industrial disasters will quickly cascade into food crises. Tragically, Japan's Fukushima region isn't just a source of nuclear-derived electricity. It's also a major source of milk and vegetables -- and its farmland has already been impacted by the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. From Saturday's The New York Times: As Japan edged forward in its battle to …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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:

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meals to go

Here’s why you can’t afford food anymore

Food prices jumped 3.9 percent in February, the largest one-month increase since November 1974. It's turtles all the way down: Grocery prices are up, wholesale food prices are up, prices for staples like corn and grain are up. Here's a few things you won't be affording in the future: Bacon. The retail price for bacon went up 17 percent. Will this make Etsy sellers shut up about it? Maybe we can engineer a drastic price increase for mustaches. Bananas: Is that a banana in your pocket, or is it NOTHING? Before bananas go extinct they're going to make us go …

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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 …