Ted Genoways overturns assumptions not only about industrial agriculture but also about the farmers who are part of it.
Nineteenth-century agrarians believed that community is more important than the individual and solidarity is more important than profit.
By summer, the plants are working overtime. It's a wonder we don't have as many words for green as the Inuit have for snow.
McMinn, a sociologist and co-owner of a small farm, presumes a certain level of privilege among her readers: choose heirloom seeds; eat only fair trade chocolate; avoid plastic food containers; and buy eggs “from a local source, if possible, and/or from chickens raised outside eating grass and bugs.” Still, this book is an enticing reflection on the sacramental nature of preparing and eating meals.
One of the characteristic idiosyncrasies of Americans is that they are always fretting about their identity. They are a people constantly asking themselves, what does it mean to be a “real American”? There are certain literary figures we can instantly associate with the issue of American identity.
It's been too long since Christmas, and most folks wish the winter were over. But this lingering not-yet-spring is a precious time.
I was a strict vegetarian for 10 years. Now I'm a sort of sometimes-meat-avoider: my wife and I keep a meatless kitchen but eat whatever when someone serves it to us and sometimes when we're out. As I've written before, the virtuous identity marker "vegetarian" is less important to me than it used to be. But I still think eating way less meat is the single biggest bit of lifestyle "greening" most Americans could do. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's dietary guidelines restrict their official purview to nutrition; they don't address the other considerations that go into food choices. But last week, AP reported that this year's update to the USDA guidlines might include a focus on environmental sustainability—specifically, as a reason to eat less meat.
Several weeks ago, Chipotle founder Steve Ells published a column headlined "Conventional vs. Grass-fed Beef." As you've probably heard, Chipotle prefers the latter—the fast-casual burrito chain has a lot to say about agricultural reform, ethical food, etc. But here the subject is more complicated than the title suggests: Ells was defending Chipotle's decision to stop buying exclusively domestic beef in favor of importing some of it from Australia, where the grass-fed supply is better. It's a classic food-ethics connundrum: should you go with the higher production standard, or the food produced closer to home? Chipotle chose the former, a perfectly defensible choice if you just have the two.
When you grow up with a grandmother who insists that you thank the hens every time you gather their eggs, gratitude becomes second nature.