Future famine

Feeding the growing masses on a shrinking planet

August 31, 2010

Will we become responsible planetary stewards? »

Eggs, recalled

Salmonella causes the nation’s largest egg recall ever

August 30, 2010

Half a billion eggs. But it’s still only about 1 percent of the nation’s supply. »

Farm as art

A blog documenting the loss of the family farm

August 27, 2010

On his website, Urban Plough, Matthew Moore tracks his days as the last farmer to farm his family’s land. Why last? Because the farm is on the outskirts of Phoenix, and will soon be engulfed by suburbia. As Moore explains on the home page:

In this site you can explore how I have documented and translated this development using art, in the form of earthworks, video, and installation. While the loss of my family’s land is not the sole focus of my work, it certainly has initiated my greater exploration of using art to address environmental and economic sustainability issues.

Click through the site for a series of aerial photos showing how the area’s land use has changed over a century, as well as info about Moore’s art installations. And check out his related blog, Lifecycles.

Hormone-free ice cream

Is that dairy dessert really “all natural”?

August 26, 2010

Writing on the Huffington Post recently, John Robbins called for a blanket ban on dairy products from cows given recombinant bovine growth hormone, better known as rBGH or rBST. More and more companies, Robbins noted, are going rBGH-free — but more should follow suit:

Starbucks now guarantees that all their milk, cream, and other dairy products are rBGH-free. So do Yoplait and Dannon yogurts, Tillamook cheese, Chipotle restaurants, and many others. But ice cream giants Häagen-Dazs, Breyers, and Baskin-Robbins continue to use milk from cows injected with rBGH, a hormone that’s been banned in Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and all 27 nations of the European Union. As if to add insult to injury, Häagen-Dazs and Breyers have the audacity to tell us, right on the label, that their ice cream is " All Natural.”

Given that Robbins is the son of a co-founder of the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream empire, that’s saying something.

Anti-antibiotics in animals

A call to ban them, now

August 25, 2010

The FDA’s taking public comment till August 28. »

Fish focus

Sunset Magazine goes coastal

August 24, 2010

The September 2010 issue of West Coast lifestyle magazine Sunset is titled “The Coastal Issue.” That means articles on how to cook with seaweed, anchovy fishing in San Francisco Bay, and fish tacos made with sustainable albacore tuna. (Alas, the magazine’s wine editor, Sara Schneider, also gives tips for pairing wine with sushi, including the very unsustainable unagi and slightly less problematic spicy tuna rolls.)

Also in the issue (but unavailable online) is the magazine’s annual roundup of Coastal Heroes, awarded to “people who have done amazing work in protecting and preserving . . . the Pacific Ocean and its thousands of miles of shoreline.” Awardees include actor Ted Danson and his nonprofit Oceana and Jane Lubchenco, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assocation. Interested? Check out what’s happening in your area for the international Coastal Cleanup Day, held September 25 this year.

Feeding the sick

Hospital food gets fixed up

August 23, 2010

So you can eat well while getting well. »

GM alfalfa and beets in court

Monsanto loses, sort of

August 20, 2010

Agricultural giant Monsanto has had a confusing summer. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down injunctions against the company’s genetically modified alfalfa seed, but simultaneously upheld a ban on planting the seed. Now a federal court has revoked the government's approval of Monsanto’s genetically modified sugar beets.

The New York Times summed up both cases: “In the alfalfa case, the Supreme Court indicated that the government might grant partial approval of a genetically modified crop. It seems that such an option might be available in the sugar beet case as well, which could reduce any hardship for farmers. It is also possible the Agriculture Department will appeal.”

Cathy Erway’s farm blog

On Saveur’s website

August 19, 2010

Best known for her Not Eating Out in NY blog, Culinate contributor Cathy Erway has also been keeping a farm blog for Saveur. The blog’s official description? “Every week, Cathy Erway shines the spotlight on some of the most important folks in the food industry: the growers and producers who make local and organic eating a priority.” That pretty much sums it up, including posts on grass-fed meat, berries, and chanterelles.

Take our jobs, please

An unusual suggestion for immigrant-labor concerns

August 18, 2010

Work on a farm — or not. »

Fish oil and PCBs

An omega-3 controversy

August 17, 2010

Which fish oils to buy — and not to buy. »

Kitchen gear

Blenders, food processors, shopping bags — and tables

August 16, 2010

Among the many fun recent posts on the sister blogs Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn — especially the posts on frozen desserts and adding nuts to said desserts — we’ve enjoyed the equipment entries, including a survey on whether a blender or a food processor is more useful in the kitchen and a roundup of reusable shopping bags.

True kitchen gearheads will dig the make-your-own-sustainable-wooden-table classes in Vermont, courtesy of The Naked Table Project. And the cash-flush can spring for the custom counters and tables made from salvaged wood produced by the Seattle firm Meyer Wells.

A rainbow of chemical colors

They’re pretty, but dangerous

August 12, 2010

And they’re banned in Britain. »

E. coli in flour?

And BPA in paper

August 11, 2010

On his blog, Food Safety News, Bill Marler recently ran a post about the latest possible source of E. coli in food: ordinary flour. Sure, the risk seems greatest for those consumers who eat processed raw cookie dough (and even raw frozen pizza), but don’t forget: Even when you’re baking at home, plenty of uncooked flour winds up on countertops.

Marler’s blog also recently posted a news item about the chemical BPA turning up in store receipts. Unlike the BPA that’s gotten so much press in the past few years — the BPA leaching out of baby bottles and can liners — this BPA flakes off grocery-store receipts. Get enough of it on your hands, and you can’t wash it off; it absorbs straight through your skin. Not good news for shoppers, and even worse for the clerks ringing up the goods.

Child-nutrition bill passes the Senate

Just in time for school

August 10, 2010

But will the House also pass the bill soon? »

From the kitchen to the world

The DIY food movement gets radical

August 9, 2010

Homemade jam for the masses. »

What we eat

Picturing our diets

August 6, 2010

The online magazine Good recently published a graph by Visual Economics of what an average American eats — and it’s hardly appetizing. Consider these nuggets: about a gallon of soda each week; 29 pounds of French fries each year; and 47 percent more sodium than is recommended.

For more depictions of what Americans — as well as people from dozens of other countries — eat, check out What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets, the soon-to-be-released book by the Hungry Planet team, Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel. Using photographs and text, the wife-and-husband team show what 80 people, from Illinois to India, eat in a day. (Just so you know: Set aside some time for this book, as you might not be able to put it down.)

Bananas: A low-carbon food?

By some measures, yes

August 5, 2010

In the department of unconventional stances, the Guardian recently ran a short piece arguing in favor of the banana as a low-carbon food. How so? No hothouses required, a long shelf life, and efficient cargo-ship transportation to market. Heck, the fruit even comes with its own biological packaging. But of course, there’s always a catch — or several:

None of which is to say that bananas are too good to be true. Of the hundreds of banana varieties in existence, almost all the ones we get to eat are of the Cavendish variety. The adoption of this monoculture in the pursuit of maximum, cheapest yields has been criticised for degrading land and requiring liberal use of pesticides and fungicides — sometimes at the expense of plantation workers. Furthermore, although land is dramatically better used for bananas than, say, beef in terms of nutrition per hectare, there are still parts of the world in which forests are being cleared for banana plantations.

Food agtivists

Grist’s new series profiles worthy activists

August 4, 2010

Environmental website Grist has a new interview series titled "The New Agtivist," profiling such food-reform activists as chef Vimala Rajendran, jam-maker Shakirah Simley, and chocolatier-turned-tofu-maker John Scharffenberger. Quotes? Try Simley: “I want to ensure that values such as ‘high-quality, local, and organic’ and ‘culturally appropriate and accessible’ are not mutually exclusive.”

Getting big — or not

The trouble, for farmers, with scaling up

August 3, 2010

Can better-food values really reach the masses? Or is “going organic” all wrong? »

Four fish, no fish

A new book about endangered fish species

August 2, 2010

The latest book in the endangered-fish genre, Four Fish, comes from New Yorker Paul Greenberg. A closer look at four popular edible fish — salmon, cod, tuna, and sea bass — the book rings alarms about the future of fish on the planet, a future that may not include wild fish at all. (An excerpt from the tuna section recently appeared in the New York Times, which also reviewed the book yesterday.) Check out NPR’s recent interview with Greenberg, in which he reveals some amazing stats about global fish hauls:

The global catch right now in the world is 90 million tons. It’s equivalent to the human weight of China removed from the sea every year. A third of that is what they call forage fish — herring, anchovies, little things like that. And incidentally, the weight of all of those taken out of the sea every year would be the equivalent of the human weight of the United States taken out every year.

Sift archive — August 2010

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