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New Melbourne restaurant runs on your pee

Melbourne’s Greenhouse restaurant wants your patronage. But more importantly, it wants your pee.

That’s right -- this pop-up restaurant, which is open from March 2 through the 21st in honor of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, wants you to get all up in its custom-made toilets. The green eatery is collecting human urine and using it to fertilize soybean and canola crops. The restaurant, which is designed by Joost Bakker who is clearly a maniac, then uses unrefined canola oil to generate electricity for all of its operations.

Urine may seem an unorthodox energy source, but it is actually a great source of fertilizer when diluted. According to Bakker, “Urine is incredible for nitrogen, it’s so valuable -- you only need the urine of 25 people to provide fertilizer for a hectare of crop.”

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Campbell’s to ditch BPA from soup cans

Photo by Antonio.

Attention, shoppers: Campbell’s (FINALLY) announced plans to eliminate hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol-A from the linings of its soup cans. And it only took consumer outrage, countless nonprofit petitions, concern from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and hundreds of independent studies linking BPA to a hodge-podge of horrifying health maladies!

Campbell's Soup Co. spokesman Anthony Sanzio said Monday the company has been working on alternatives for five years and will make the transition as soon as "feasible alternatives are available."

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Publix humiliation: Workers, students fasting for fair food

Photo by Juan Barredo.

On March 5, dozens of Florida farmworkers will stop eating. In a week-long Fast for Fair Food, they will sit on the grassy swards of Publix Supermarket headquarters in Lakeland, Fla., their weary bodies on display to the upper management of Florida’s largest private corporation. Those managers and chiefs have refused to sign something called the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), an agreement which would stop the company from purchasing tomatoes from suppliers who abuse workers, and pass on an extra penny per pound of tomatoes directly to the workers. After over two years of emails, petitions, letters, massive marches, and demonstrations, the farmworkers will turn to this most basic of arguments: we are real people, with vulnerable bodies that do not deserve the abuse they receive. And we are fiercely committed.

In a recent post, Barry Estabrook has clearly set out what is at stake for the farmworkers in this fast. He writes:

A strength of the Fair Food Agreement is that it links all levels of players in the tomato business in a unique partnership to improve working conditions: the men and women who pick and pack the fruits, the agricultural companies that operate the farms and packing facilities, and -- critically -- the end buyers of the tomatoes. Restaurant chains (including such giants as McDonald’s and Burger King) and food service providers support the agreement, which calls on them to pay an extra penny per pound directly to the workers, a raise of nearly 50 percent. But with the exception of Whole Foods Market and now Trader Joe’s, not a single grocery chain has agreed to participate.

Read more: Food, Sustainable Food

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Soup & Bread: Inspiring a community of giving [Recipes]

Soup & Bread is a way to bring community together in the dead of winter, and raise money for those who don't have access to healthy food.

Who doesn’t love soup? It’s nutritious, inexpensive, and there are so many kinds! Soup can be an earthy meal in a chipped pottery bowl or an elegant palate cleanser frothed into a porcelain cup. It can showcase the explosive flavor of fresh spring peas or provide refuge for tired celery and stale bread. Soup soothes the sick, it nourishes the poor -- and it tricks children into eating their veggies. And perhaps more than any other food, soup can be a powerful tool for building community.

I learned all this and more when I launched Soup & Bread, a free weekly gathering in Chicago, during the bleak winter of 2009. Back then I was broke, bored, and bartending at a music club called the Hideout. The recession was hitting hard; my friends and neighbors were losing their jobs. At times, when I looked around, it seemed the whole city could use a nice bowl of soup. So I thrifted a bunch of Crock-Pots and invited a handful of people to come by the bar to eat.

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Getting homemade foods off the black market

Photo: Gregory HanThere’s no doubt a homemade food renaissance has taken root. All around the country, home picklers, jammers, and bakers have been looking for ways to transform hobby food production into small artisan businesses. In many states, however, selling food you’ve made in your home is against the law.

In California, for instance, it's currently a misdemeanor for home artisans to sell their goodies in the open marketplace. Case in point: Last June, Department of Public Health officials in San Francisco shut down ForageSF's popular Underground Market, which featured mostly home producers, because its sellers were not compliant with local and state regulations.

Read more: Food, Sustainable Food

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Into the woods: Seattle plants a public food forest

Photo by Vamapaull.

There’s a stretch of arterial in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood that I’ve traveled probably thousands of times without giving a second thought to the empty, grassy hillside it parallels. When I heard about plans to create a seven-acre urban food forest there, I had a hard time picturing the sloped field covered over in rich soil and filled with a tangle of fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, and vegetable patches. It seemed like an edible ecosystem too wild to spring from such an unremarkable urban space. But within the next few years, this slice of land adjacent to a city park and golf course will transform from an unofficial off-leash dog run and occasional sledding slope into the Beacon Food Forest, which some say will be the largest of its kind in the U.S.

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Dr. Vandana Shiva: Occupy our food supply!

Photo by Ajay Tallam.

Today, Feb. 27, is an Occupy Our Food Supply day of action. The following essay is just one of several related posts that will be appearing around the internet to mark the day.

The biggest corporate takeover on the planet is the hijacking of the food system, the cost of which has had huge and irreversible consequences for the Earth and people everywhere.

From the seed to the farm to the store to your table, corporations are seeking total control over biodiversity, land, and water. They are seeking control over how food is grown, processed, and distributed. And in seeking this total control, they are destroying the Earth’s ecological processes, our farmers, our health, and our freedoms.

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Will organic free trade really do a world of good?

It’s official: Organic food certified in the European Union will now be treated as equivalent to food certified here in the U.S., a fact that will now make trade between the two regions much easier. Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the new agreement on Feb. 15, several media sources have lauded it for opening up new overseas markets for organic farmers.

The agriculture press has called it a win for organics, and even Food Safety News focused almost exclusively on the positive trade implications of the agreement.

Mark Lipson, organic and sustainable agriculture policy adviser for the USDA, agrees. “It builds more trust,” he says, adding: “It will give more heft to organic overall.”

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Clammed up: Digging for local, sustainable protein on a muddy beach

The elusive Pacific razor clam, in all its glory. (Photo by Ted Alvarez.)

You know what would make supermarket food taste better? Making grocery shopping more like clam digging. Imagine having to paw through a bin of wet sand to find your onions, or thrash through icy waves for a chunk of Parmesan. Challenging, yes, but think of the feeling of accomplishment as you sit down to dinner.

I thought about this last Sunday as I stood knee-deep in the Pacific, wind-whipped and sandblasted. I’d come to Washington’s Roosevelt Beach on the second clam-harvest weekend of the year to up my foraging game: Having already tackled blackberries, mushrooms, and dumpster donuts, the coveted Pacific razor clam seemed the logical upgrade. The animal kingdom is a whole new ball game, even if the animal in question does look kind of like a stray pancreas.

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Urban farming in Detroit gets the documentary it deserves

Urban Roots is a documentary about farming within the city limits of Detroit, and as such, it’s a handy way to get an education on the subject in something like 90 minutes.

It's showing March 6 at the San Francisco Green Film Festival.