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  • Umbra on getting a job in the “eco-field”

    Dear Umbra, I’m a conscientious baby boomer who would like to do things to help the planet. I’m simultaneously enjoying a midlife crisis. I have spent more than eight years in college, studying to be a psychologist/chef. Where in the eco-field is there a place for a reformed business owner/computer teacher/chef with years and years […]

  • Umbra on washing produce

    Dear Umbra, Does one really need to wash produce off the shelf or out of the bag? I’ve been eating vegetables as they are for years. Does it really do any good to wash them? If they are contaminated internally, then washing the outside won’t help, will it? JaneSteubenville, Ohio Dearest Jane, Please wash your […]

  • Umbra on eco-friendly meat

    Dear Umbra, While I’m not a vegetarian, I try to choose my foods based on their environmental impact. For me, most non-organic meat doesn’t make the cut: It uses too much water, land, and other resources, and it pollutes our land and water. I know this because I know about CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations), […]

  • Umbra on organic food and farming

    Dear Umbra, I try to buy organic food where possible, but I notice that there is often a tradeoff with other factors. For example, organic food has often been shipped further and/or is more heavily packaged. How do I assess those tradeoffs? EllenWatertown, Mass. Dearest Ellen, As I’ve mentioned before, the USDA national organic standards […]

  • A former stock trader learns how to really pick 'em

    It’s an overcast day outside of Stoughton, Wis., the village that claims to have invented the “kaffee break.” But a warm cup of java seems far, far away from Pleasant Hill Market Garden, where farmer Rob Baratz fights off the early morning, chilled wind with gritted teeth and a hand-rolled cigarette. Baratz, up on the […]