The blog Cheap Healthy Good recently noted an unusual op-ed: a farmer's defense of industrial farming. Titled “The Omnivore’s Delusion: Against the Agri-intellectuals,” it’s one family farmer’s attack on what he sees as a ridiculous effort to encourage farmers to turn back the clock. Granted, Blake Hurst’s article was published by the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute, but it’s interesting to hear a farmer point out that “there are environmental and food-safety costs to whatever kind of farming we choose.” Meanwhile, another farmer/writer, Grist’s Tom Philpott, appreciates some of the questions Hurst raises in his piece, even as he disagrees with most of Hurst’s points. And over on Civil Eats, Chris Bedford also pens a response, in which he urges us all to help “small and mid-size farmers like Blake Hurst escape the industrial system.”
Back to school means back to school lunch. According to a blog at the Los Angeles Times, Ann Cooper, who helped transform Berkeley, California, school lunches and now is based in Boulder, Colorado, where she will attempt to do the same, is partnering with Whole Foods Markets to promote better lunches for school children across the nation. Cooper will join Whole Foods’ co-president Walter Robb in Washington, D.C., where they’ll try to convince lawmakers that the Child Nutrition Act — which is up for review — could be improved. Meanwhile, Slow Food USA is in the thick of its Time for Lunch campaign — also to improve school lunches. Supporters can sign a petition and attend a Labor Day Eat-In in their area. Finally, for more on school-lunch policy, check out the blog that tackles that very subject.
Newsweek magazine — which recently underwent an editorial overhaul from news magazine to analytical rag — has published interesting takes on two ongoing American problems: the social aspects of obesity, and the challenges facing California's San Joaquin Valley. Why should you care? Because we’re all getting fatter, and because so much of our food is grown in California’s Central Valley.
Time magazine recently ran three articles detailing the bigger picture behind several food-related trends: why honey bees are dying, what food really costs, and why exercise doesn't necessarily help you lose weight. Much of the reporting isn’t really new — the bees are likely dying from a cluster of problems, cheap food isn’t really cheap, and exercise often just makes you eat more — but it’s good to see it given such prominence.
For those of you who thought that (a) “Julie and Julia” was just a chick flick, and/or (b) that anybody who goes to see it must already own a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, think again. The movie, released earlier this month, has pushed Child’s classic cookbook to the top of the national bestseller lists. And for those who think that the old-fashioned paper book is dead, take heart from the fact that a 48-year-old doorstop with more than 700 recipes costing 40 bucks is suddenly popular.
It’s tricky to find its articles online, but the current paper issue of Good magazine is all about water. No, the issue doesn’t really look at water from the beverage angle, but it’s nevertheless a broad assessment of the health and quality of the liquid substance that’s one step behind air in our absolute need for it.
Every dog has its day — even in the dog days of summer, which feel like right about now. So it makes sense that today, August 20, is National Lemonade Day. Add fresh mint leaves to your homemade lemonade, or basil, or rosemary, or strawberries, or even rosewater. The only bummer? Waiting for it to get cold enough to drink.
Both articles were tied to the current health-care-reform debate in Congress. That boycott of Whole Foods? It came about as a result of CEO John Mackey’s public stance against the Obama administration’s attempts to reform health care. And gluten intolerance? Well, if you have celiac, it can cost you plenty in buying gluten-free foods — none of which is covered by health insurance in the U.S.
Eager to catch Willie Nelson at October’s Farm Aid benefit concert? Enter your best family-farm photo in the Farm Aid Photo Contest, and you might win a trip for two to the festival. Here’s what to aim your camera at:
We’re looking for photos of farms, farmers and farm families, tractors and barns, the perfect tomatoes you bought at a farmers’ market, or your favorite farm animals — anything and everything that shows the vibrancy and beauty of the American family farm.
Attention radioheads: There’s a list of 11 "green food radio shows" over at MNN — The Mother Nature Network — plus a few more suggested in the comments. Some may be familiar — Evan Kleiman’s Good Food has been on the air for more than 10 years — while others are just up and running. Tune in.
Home cooking it’s not, but what a summer-vacation highlight: When Adam Roberts, aka The Amateur Gourmet, dined recently at Spain’s famous El Bulli — and blogged about it in wonderfully graphic detail — we were mesmerized. It’s a post not to miss, even if this kind of cooking is, for most of us, beyond special occasion.
Want another taste? Here’s a portion of a Food Network video of Anthony Bourdain at the restaurant:
For mobile users, you can find the YouTube link here.
Reaction to Pollan’s latest piece was all over the place. »
Plus, Salatin will speak this week in Portland, Oregon. »
Today is National S'mores Day. Should you not happen to be camping, you can always slap together this gooey outdoor dessert over a back-yard grill or, in a pinch, over a stovetop burner. And no, you need not buy Hershey’s milk chocolate, Honey Graham crackers, or Jet-Puffed marshmallows; you can use whatever ingredients you like. Heck, for a really oozy treat, you can even make your own marshmallows.
It’s tricky to find online, but the Environmental Working Group has a page devoted to healthy home tips, focused largely on avoiding common chemicals found in food and drink. The latest: Buy organic and avoid BPA and PFCs. Easier to find is the nonprofit’s collection of downloadable health guides, covering everything from baby food to drinking water.
As Time magazine pointed out a while back, there’s a new form of consumer event out there known as the Carrotmob. The twist on the flash-mob concept? Shoppers swarm a store — a pharmacy, a deli, a bodega, a restaurant — that has agreed to plow a percentage of the profits from the deluge into greening the store (buying energy-efficient lighting, for example). Check out Carrotmob’s Organize page to see if there’s a Carrotmob near you.
Seems like you can’t pop open a beer lately without musing about the recent White House Beer Summit. Whether or not the cause of better race relations was improved by the powwow between President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Sgt. James Crowley, one thing’s for sure: the participants’ beer choices have been thoroughly analyzed.
As Eric Asimov noted in the New York Times, “Of course, each man may well have chosen the beer he likes best to drink, right? No way. Nobody would choose any of these beers because he likes drinking them.”
A glossary of "real food" terms on The Nourished Kitchen spells out the differences among all the labels that appear on packaged food, but not necessarily the food that is heavily processed. Shoppers who are still trying to sort out the differences between All Natural and Certified Naturally Grown will appreciate having the nuances spelled out, while the definitions for IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and Closed Herd might challenge even those who pride themselves on their real-food know-how.
Bring on the garlicky vinaigrette (and the breath mints). Reuters reports that fresh garlic — not garlic that’s been cooked or dried — may help increase heart health:
The researchers found . . . that garlic’s heart-healthy effects seemed to result mainly from hydrogen sulfide, a chemical-signaling substance formed after garlic is cut or crushed and relaxes blood vessels when eaten.
“Although best known as the stuff that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odor, hydrogen sulfide also acts as a chemical messenger in the body, relaxing blood vessels and allowing more blood to pass through,” said researcher Dipak Das in a statement.
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