I'm as down on big organics as the next guy who makes homemade sauerkraut out of cabbage grown by his farmer wife. As Stephanie Strom details, the standards of organic certification could be much stronger, and most national organic brands are owned by the very mainstream companies they're standing in implicit objection to. Not exactly a recipe for systemwide reform. Still, I think Tom Philpott's right: Michael Potter of the independent holdout Eden's Organics, Strom's primary focus, goes too far in slamming the certified-organic label as a "fraud."
The post office called recently about a box of honeybees. The assault of insecticides means my sister can no longer overwinter her hives.
Eliminating food deserts isn’t enough. The nation’s diet problem calls for sustained community attention--and better federal policy.
Driving through a mini-snowstorm, I thought I might see a snowbow. But it never materialized--and once again, none of the snow stuck.
Something foul is brewing in the small-town Midwest, where I grew up: A few years ago, hog farmers throughout the Midwest noticed foam building on top of their manure pits. Soon after, barns began exploding, killing thousands of hogs while farmers lost millions of dollars. Wow, okay, so explosive pig-manure foam is a thing.
Life in Africa's Sahel region is precarious. There is little biodiversity, annual crops offer a meager harvest, and when the rains don't come famine does. But there is a way to break this cycle.
I should have seen my road to Damascus moment approaching. I’d been warned.
Today’s transcontinental head of lettuce, grown in California but eaten in Washington, D.C., is emblematic of our dysfunctional food economy. For every calorie of food energy this lettuce provides, roughly 35 calories of fossil fuel energy will have been burned to grow, harvest, process and ship it. Compare this to 60 years ago when one calorie of fossil fuel produced roughly two and a half calories of food. From the standpoints of energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness, we would be better off drinking the oil.
A breakfast frequently served at my son’s school—where over half the children receive government-supported meals—consists of commercially produced French toast sticks and syrup. The list of ingredients on the package for this meal is as long as this paragraph. It includes not only partially hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, but also more mystifying additives like gelatinized wheat starch, calcium caseinate, lecithin, guar gum and cellulose gum. The story of how these items arrive at a school cafeteria and are designated as food is a long and complicated one involving the interaction of farmers, government policy makers and the food industry. The modern story of why we eat what we eat begins in the 1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt faced the challenges of the Depression. He saw that many farmers were poor and that one in every five people in the country was undernourished. Farmers and other Americans were too vulnerable, he believed, to the cycles of boom and bust.