Edible Radio podcastI now have a regular podcast about food politics called Victual Reality, part of the Edible Communities project Edible Radio. Look for me there every other Tuesday — and for other terrific podcasts. I’ll also be posting my ‘casts here on Grist. 

In my latest one, which went live this morning, I talk to Richard Charter, an authority on how offshore drilling affects coastal ecosystems. When the Deepwater Horizons oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana last month, Charter’s expertise became invaluable to anyone trying to understand what the ongoing spill meant for the Gulf of Mexico, one of the globe’s most productive fisheries and vibrant ecosystems. Charter was one of the first commentators to raise questions about the heavy use of chemical dispersants to mitigate the effects of the spill. “There is a chemical toxicity to the dispersant compound that in many ways is worse than oil,” he told ProPublica reporter Abrahm Lustgarten, for a groundbreaking article that spurred my own investigations (see here and here) into the chemical dispersants being used.

The senior policy advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife and chair of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, Charter has 30 years’ experience working on offshore drilling issues with local and state elected officials and the conservation community. For this episode of Victual Reality, we talked about what past oil disasters have meant for ecosystems, just what the hell is in those dispersants, and how the spill might affect the Gulf fishery.

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My first podcast, an interview with Patty Lovera, ran two weeks ago and I inexplicably neglected to post it here on Grist. A real policy wonk, Lovera is assistant director of the D.C.-based Food and Water Watch, one of our most rigorous watchdog/advocacy/think-tank groups on food policy. (Among the many worthwhile reports from Food and Water Watch is this 2009 blockbuster on the scarcity of meat-processing infrastructure for small farmers.) Its researchers have been closely following the hot-button issue of food safety legislation — and Lovera is the point person. We discussed the current food safety legislation bouncing around Congress and what’s at stake in the food safety debate.