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Sustainable Food

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To make local food more accessible, time to revive mid-sized farms

Today is National Agriculture Day. Have you hugged your farmer yet? To celebrate this special day, I've dug this column out of the archives, originally published three years ago this spring. It's a tribute to mid-size farms, which don't make nearly as much cash as their industrial-scale brethren and don't get nearly the love lavished on small farms. I argue that reviving the health of mid-sized farms is a critical task if we're going to create a just, fair, and green food system. -------- Most people probably don't think of Carrboro, North Carolina -- a bustling town just outside of …

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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 …

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Irish scientists help Guinness go green

Photo: Simon HuckoJust in time for St. Patrick's Day, scientists at the University of Limerick have developed a biodegradable alternative to that plastic widget that keeps Guinness foamy. It turns out that coating the inside of the can with biodegradable, natural cellulose would do an even better job of putting nitrogen into the beer (which is what the plastic balls are for -- nitrogen is used to make stout bubbly). So on some future St. Patrick's Day, even your beer could be wearing green. Read more: "New Technology Creates a More Eco-Friendly Head on Your Guinness," GOOD

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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 …

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How to not buy anything ever again

Photo: Toban BlackNeither a borrower nor a lender be? Stuff it, old man. Shareable has collected a primer on "collaborative consumption," i.e. the fine art of consensual mooching. At the risk of sounding like a dangerous commie: It turns out there's basically no reason to be the sole owner of anything ever again. Among the things Shareable shows you how to go splitsies on: Housing. If you can handle a housemate, sharing living quarters reduces your rent and can make your utilities usage more efficient. Our favorite: The cohousing directory, which helps you find communities with cooperative home ownership. Food …

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How to save the world’s oysters — and eat them, too

Consider the oyster -- carefully. Photo: Wally GobetzCross-posted from Cool Green Science. The headlines were enough to make you throw away your shucking knife: "More than 85 percent of [oyster] reefs have been lost due to overfishing, according to a new study," said The Independent. Foodie bloggers panicked over the news -- was it suddenly an eco-crime to belly up to the oyster bar? Would oyster eating be forced underground, like those little birds the French eat with napkins over their faces? Could you ever again enjoy shelling out for these delicious bivalves with a clear conscience? Yes, you should …

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Teaching kids to make ice cream — with snow [VIDEO]

This video has a lot going for it: cute kids, a grass-fed dairy farm, backyard chickens, and -- most compelling of all -- a recipe for ice cream. But there's an added gimmick: this isn't ordinary ice cream -- it was made with snow, not some fancy kitchen device. So watch the video and, while the snow lasts, whip up some ice cream outside with your kids (or cousins, as was the case with me). And use the best-quality milk you can find! Outdoor Milk Ice Cream "Fleur de Lait" 2 cups heavy cream 2 cups milk 1 cup sugar …

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Finally, the USDA names names in its dietary guidelines

The USDA says to eat more of this stuff.Every five years, the USDA formulates new dietary guidelines -- advice for Americans on what to eat. And every five years, the guidelines are greeted with a chorus of derision. Critics like Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle have long argued that the agency backs away from directly challenging the food industry -- instead of focusing on actual food, the agency fixates on the vague concept of nutrients. For example, rather than "eat less meat," the agency has been more inclined to trot out abstractions like, "reduce consumption of saturated fat." In that …

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World’s dollar menu will now cost $1.50

Image: Bloomberg TV USFood is more expensive than ever, says the U.N. We're talking revolutions in the Middle East, food riots on The Glenn Beck Show-level expensive. Globally, food prices are up by a third since December 2010, putting them well above their last record high, in 2008, when there were food riots from Bangladesh to Egypt. If you're in the U.S., you probably haven't noticed: The average American spends less than 10 percent of their income on food. Ben Bernanke, head of the U.S. Federal Reserve, wants you to know that exploding commodities prices are expressly not his fault. …

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Fed-up college kids take food buying into their own hands

Someone's forming a co-op, my lord: college students organize to create the food system they want. Photo: Kitty BolteSay you're a college student ready to eschew the standard pizza-burrito-pretzels-beer diet and start eating more whole, sustainably produced foods. Say you want to take it a step further and work to make healthy and ethical food widely available on your campus -- without having to pay gourmet grocery store prices. Well, you might consider starting a co-op. "There are so many students learning the theory behind food systems who are itching to put it into practice, and co-ops are the way …