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Sustainable Food


Stick a pitchfork in it

When are we going to stop seeing farmers as rubes and hayseeds?

Is this really what farmers look like? Our culture abounds with images of farmers. Sadly, many of them are insulting. Stereotypes tell us that farmers are male, white, uneducated, dirty, backwards-thinking, and talk with a funny accent. Farmers don't get off the farm much, they like chewing on the ends of long stalks of grass, they wear overalls, and they have large wives named Helga and lots of children. If you don't believe me, do a Google image search for "farmer." The cartoons are especially instructive on how society views farmers. Collectively, we don't think of farming as an occupation …

Read more: Food, Sustainable Food


Flip the bird

How to cook and eat a whole duck [VIDEO]

Nose-to-tail eating sounds like a trend, but it's really just good practice. Indeed, even before British chef Fergus Henderson made "whole beast" cooking popular, the whole animal was getting used. Slaughterhouses big and small make sure to use every bit of every animal -- that's how they make their money: livers go into dog food, bones get made into gelatin, etc. The real treat of nose-to-tail is more about getting the whole animal onto your plate. And that comes down to a matter of supporting your farmer. They make more money selling a half a pig or a few ducks …


fishy business

Costco agrees to stop ravaging the oceans

Photo: Sharon MollerusIt only took eight months for pressure from Greenpeace to make food-hoard purveyor Costco stop selling threatened fish. Twelve species that appear on Greenpeace's "red list" were also appearing on Costco's shelves. Activists finally made the wholesale giant revise its seafood policies, but first they had to open up economy-sized whoop@ss: Over 100,000 people took action online -- sending messages to Costco's CEO demanding real progress. Thousands of concerned citizens downloaded our activist toolkit and participated in surveying Costco stores across the country. And, that's not all -- hundreds of phone calls were placed to stores, the Greenpeace …



Your guide to a great green weekend in Portland

Portland's swanky Sapphire Hotel.Photo: Sarah Gilbert Can you think of a greener city than Portland? Nope, didn't think so. The City of Roses occupies a warm, squishy spot in the hearts of many a biker, climate hawk, and nature-lovah. We asked you to share your fave local breweries, organic cafés, and green hangouts, and compiled your best ideas into a car-free guide to a great green weekend in Portland. Friday night Click to enlargeFrom the Amtrak or Greyhound station, arm yourself with $2.05 and follow these directions to the Portland Hawthorne Hostel (they work if you're coming from the airport …


Reef(er) Madness

Scientist: 75 percent of coral reefs are threatened — but there’s hope!

Bleached coral in waters off Phuket, Thailand.Photo: AeyseaCross-posted from Cool Green Science As anyone who's ever snorkeled off of a Caribbean island knows, coral reefs are strange, beautiful structures housing a dizzying diversity of sea life. Coral reefs occupy less than 1 percent of the ocean floor, but provide habitat for as much as a quarter of the world's sea species. But just like their terrestrial rival in biodiversity, rainforests, coral reefs have been under siege from human activity for some time. Back in 1998,  a report called Reefs at Risk jolted scientists and policymakers alike with its gloomy findings …


Snow 'shrooms!

When the going gets cold, mushroom hunters get going [VIDEO]

Finding stories about local and sustainable food in Minnesota has been easy and enjoyable. But as another foot of snow drops on this very cold state (and so many episodes have already been done about root vegetables and meat), I have begun to stretch for ideas of other winter foods. I've often thought that there is nothing growing in this frozen tundra. But there's always an obscure mushroom laying dormant out in the woods, waiting to be broken from its home on a birch tree, ground up into a powder, and made into an earthy and healthy tea. That is …


Milking it

Palin and Bachmann trash Michelle Obama’s breast-feeding advocacy

Photos: Roger H. Goun, Lord Mariser, and Gage Skidmore Once again, the Tea Party heavyweights are using food to cast First Lady Michelle Obama as a proponent for an all-controlling nanny state. Last month, the first lady's efforts to rein in the junk-food industry drew the ire of right-wing scolds. More recently, her promotion of breast-feeding, particularly among African-American women, drew controversy. At around the same time, the Internal Revenue Service announced that breast pumps would be eligible for tax breaks. Strangely enough, some conservatives leapt to attack the simple notion of encouraging breast-feeding -- which has been shown in …


Thank you very mulch

Bayview Greenwaste provides fertile ground for San Francisco’s urban agriculture revolution

Hayes Valley Farm is flourishing where a freeway ramp used to be. (Photo by Zoey Kroll.) Just a few years ago, they were abandoned freeways, dilapidated back yards, and institutional dumping grounds. But today, thanks to San Francisco's urban agriculture renaissance, many of these pockets of underutilized land are being transformed. And one local company -- Bayview Greenwaste -- is playing a key role, by transforming waste into mulch, and giving it away. The city's largest agricultural experiment to date may be the Hayes Valley Farm, which is growing on the former site of a freeway ramp. The ramp was …


DIY Culture

Ask Umbra on making yogurt at home, with or without electricity

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I bought a yogurt maker in Germany eight years ago that consists of a glass jar and a sturdy styrofoam container. It cost about $20, works wonderfully, and doesn't require electricity. Why can't I find a similar product in the U.S.? KatherineCupertino, CA DIY that's easy to digest.Photo: Johnny StilettoA. Dearest Katherine, It’s not every day someone writes to ask a homemade yogurt question. DIY yogurt has some hippie stigma around it. It’s as if yogurt-making is something only crunchy types who make their own granola do. (Also an unfortunate stigma, as homemade …



Dear media: Quit the ‘manly vegan’ trend pieces

A "hegan" in his natural habitat?Photo: ekornblutEvery year or so, a media outlet has the shocking realization that -- ready? -- not all men eat meat. Gasp! First, there was the New York Times piece about vegan firefighters, which boils down to "Wait, how can burly dudes who put out fires eat anything other than steak?! Cray-cray!" Actual numbskull quote from a former firefighter, on his brawny brethren: "They're dinosaurs, they're big meat eaters." (Why would we have dinosaurs extinguish fires? Their arms are so short! But I digress ...) Then a year ago, The Boston Globe attempted to coin …