It’s Sustainable Santa, writing. Wee Barry Estabrook is preoccupied with putting together a new book proposal, so Santa thought it was a good idea to help him out (and lighten Santa’s sleigh) by stepping into this space to dash off a few words about Santa’s favorite books of food journalism for 2014—dandy gifts for the food lovers on your list.
Santa’s image consultants insist that Santa maintains the physique of a fat, jolly, old elf, so it should come as no surprise that he takes food ve-r-r-r-r-r-y seriously. And because Santa expects to be embarking on his annual sleigh ride for many more millennia, it should also come as no surprise that he has a vested interest in the long-term sustainability of our food system.
Which brings Santa to this year’s first book. (Always fair-minded, Santa will proceed in alphabetical order.) Read more
The struggle for labor justice in the fields of the United States—and perhaps far beyond—took an historic stride forward yesterday. At a folding table in a metal-clad produce packing shed beside a tomato field in southwestern Florida, two high-ranking executives from the giant retailer Walmart, which sells more groceries than any other company in the world, sat down beside two Mexican farmworkers and signed an agreement to join the Fair Food Program. Read more
My partner eyed me sternly when I announced that my next book was going to be an investigative look at pork production. “Does this mean that I’ll have to give up eating bacon?” she asked.
Deadly outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella in spinach and cantaloupes, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” connected to pork and chicken production, potent drugs that are banned in the United States in imported shrimp and catfish: Nothing has the potential to destroy your appetite quite as thoroughly as writing about industrial food production or living with someone who does. Somehow, I have remained omnivorous, more or less. But there are only five things that I absolutely refuse to eat. Read more
Provisions in the farm bill passed by the Senate this week have set the stage for Big Ag to win a monumental shell game. The hapless victims will be American taxpayers. Read more
The following is an excerpt from Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit.
My obituary’s headline would have read “Food writer killed by flying tomato.”
On a visit to my parents in Naples, Fla., I was driving I-75 when I came up behind one of those gravel trucks that seem to be everywhere in southwest Florida’s rush to convert pine woods and cypress stands into gated communities and shopping malls. As I drew closer, I saw that the tractor trailer was heavy with what seemed to be green apples. When I pulled out to pass, three of them sailed off the truck, narrowly missing my windshield. Every time it hit the slightest bump, more of those orbs would tumble off. At the first stoplight, I got a closer look. The shoulder of the road was littered with green tomatoes so plasticine and so identical they could have been stamped out by a machine. Most looked smooth and unblemished. A few had cracks in their skins. Not one was smashed. A 10-foot drop followed by a 60-mile-per-hour impact with pavement is no big deal to a modern, agribusiness tomato. Read more