Three years ago, an explosion at a West, Texas fertilizer plant killed 15 people and injured another 260. In January, the Chemical Safety Board, the federal agency that investigates chemical disasters, released their final report. The conclusions are sobering: More than a thousand communities nationwide are home to similar fertilizer production facilities that store fertilizer-grade ammonium nitrate—the agricultural chemical that caused the deadly explosion, and there are 80 facilities in Texas alone. Vanessa Allen Sutherland, the chairwoman of the agency, told reporters: “It’s possible for another type of incident like this to happen.” Read more
When Eric Schlosser pitched Fast Food Nation to publishers in 1999, they balked. No one would buy a food book that didn’t include recipes, they said.
Schlosser eventually found a publisher willing to take the leap and today, 15 years and more than two million copies later, Fast Food Nation has proven that there’s an appetite for powerful investigative reporting about the journey our food takes to get to our plates. Read more
In 2010, when I was on tour promoting my book Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do About It, I felt lonely. Not because no one was showing up for my book talks, they were. And not because I was alone; with my nine-month-old daughter in tow, I was never by myself. I felt lonely because, back then, there were very few of us talking about the connections between food and climate change, despite the fact that the global food system—from field to plate to landfill—is responsible for as much as one third of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
In just a few years that has changed. Somewhat. Read more
Andre Leu has been an organic farmer in Australia for 40 years. He is also the newly re-elected President of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), a worldwide network of more than 800 groups in 120 countries. In addition to traveling the world advocating for organic farming, Leu has spent the last few years thinking and writing about pesticides for his new book, The Myth of Safe Pesticides. Read more
Today, hundreds of thousands of people around the world will take to the streets to fight for our lives. People’s Climate Marches are being organized in dozens of U.S. cities and a whopping 158 countries, from Burundi to Brazil to Nepal. Marchers are demanding international leaders to commit to serious emissions reductions and polluting industries to clean up their practices. Climate-impacted communities–from Hurricane Sandy survivors in New York City to indigenous peoples displaced by rainforest destruction in South America–will put a face on the urgency of this call to action. Read more
The just-released synthesis report on global warming from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has prompted some to start name-dropping Thomas Malthus. Malthus, you may remember, was the 19th Century British economist and demographer who warned that population growth would inevitably lead to global food shortages. In a New York Times article just days after the long-awaited report was released, reporter Eduardo Porter wrote that the IPCC “rolled straight into Malthus’s territory, providing its starkest warning yet about the challenge imposed by global warming on the world’s food supply.”
So should we be stockpiling Chef Boyardee and plowing down forests for farms to forestall famine? Not so fast. Read more
What do beekeepers, oregano farmers, and poetic seed savers have in common? They’re just some of the amazing people profiled in the first Real Food Media Contest’s top 10 films. Read more
If you’ve been reading the running commentary over at Grist for the past six months, journalist Nathanael Johnson has been opining about genetic engineering in agriculture, diving into the debate and surfacing now with a final “what I learned” piece. His column has gotten a lot of attention from news media writing about his “exploration” of genetically engineered (GE) food or genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and has sparked heated comments on his blog, but his reporting has done little to help people understand what’s really at stake in the debate about this technology, which in my opinion, is a hell of a lot. Read more
In 1993, six farmworkers gathered in a local Catholic church in Immokalee, Florida, two hours northwest of Miami. Seated in a circle of folding chairs, they began to recount the human rights abuses they had suffered and witnessed while working in the tomato fields of Florida. Read more
Today, as we dig into our Thanksgiving leftovers–for us, that’s pumpkin pudding and my mother-in-laws famous nutloaf–we’ll be thinking about the Walmart workers around the country who are bravely stepping away from their jobs to bring attention to the paltry pay and poor working conditions by the country’s largest private employer. Read more