Food and ag tech is hot. AgFunder recently reported that some 499 ag tech companies attracted $4.6 billion in investments last year, nearly double the $2.36 billion in 2014, and up from about $500 million in 2012. U.S. companies raised just over half that total, or $2.4 billion, and about $1.65 billion of the 2015 global total was for food e-commerce companies alone.

Last year, noting a whole host of investments risks and opportunities, we asked whether the tech industry’s “move fast and break things” approach can work for food? The same question is even more relevant a year later, as eggless mayo unicorn Hampton Creek seeks to raise $200 million at a $1.1 billion valuation, Soylent, a meal-replacement drink, has raised $22 million, and Juicero, a $700 juicer and the latest Silicon Valley darling, has raised $120 million. Read more

Note: We’re introducing a new series today, Digested, in which our editors go behind the news headlines to offer analysis and perspective on what’s happening in the food system. You’ll find this new column on Fridays, instead of the weekly news round up. And don’t worry, we’ll continue to share the week’s news live on our Twitter feed.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it will take to make independent media sustainable in today’s landscape. Read more

We’re thrilled to announce that Stephen Satterfield will join our team as part of the first cohort of the Culinary Trust’s Growing Leaders Food Writing Fellowships. The fellowships are designed to help cause-driven food writers early in their careers develop their skills and unique voice, learn more about food issues across the country, receive valuable mentoring, and publish strong work. Read more

Recently, a colleague asked me for a “food movement primer,” a sort of what-you-need-to-know about the world of food policy today. I recommended reading our stories, of course. And I also put together an essential reading list, including Marion Nestle’s books, especially Food Politics, and her blog of the same name; Mark Bittman’s recent collection of New York Times’ columns A Bone to Pick; and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, as well the resource list on his website, and his seminal article, “Food Movement Rising,” in The New York Review of Books.

This request got me thinking about how things have changed since Pollan’s essay appeared five years ago. If the public’s interest in food policy news is any indicator, the fact that Civil Eats’ stories are being syndicated by venerable publications such as TIME and The Atlantic, as well as by online giants like Yahoo!, seems to suggest that a much wider audience is becoming interested in the stories behind their food. Read more

Very few issues have larger implications for public health, animal welfare, and the environment than industrial animal agriculture. Over the past six years, we’ve spent a great deal of time reporting on animals, both about their welfare and also on the larger (and growing) implications around meat production, consolidation, and regulation (or lack thereof). In this month’s editor note, I share some of the stories we’ve covered on this intensely complex, political, and personal issue. Read more

It’s that time of year again. Kids are headed back to school and their lunch is on our minds. School food has been a hot button topic since 2010, when First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move!, her hallmark program to end childhood obesity, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its nutrition standards for school cafeterias. For the last five years, we’ve worked hard to shine a spotlight on this complex, highly political issue. In this month’s editor note, I’ll take a look at our stories as a quick primer of what you need to know. Read more

It’s high summer and we’re lucky to be reaping the bounty of the hard work that farmers did earlier this year. Having worked on several farms across the U.S., I know that this is serious crunch time. Farmers are not only harvesting the fruits of their labors, but they’re also planting fall crops.

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