What a Difference a Cage Makes: California’s Humane Egg Battle

Update: The 6-state lawsuit mentioned in this piece has since been thrown out by a U.S. District judge.

 

Ed Olivera is making a sizable investment in his San Jose, California-based egg operation this year. And just in time. He and other egg producers in the state now have less than four months to meet new, more humane standards for laying hens set to go into effect on January 1, 2015.

Olivera is “taking out partitions,” between the battery cages many of his laying hens live in, making the remaining cages larger. He’s also putting in a brand new building filled with an “enriched colony system,” or enriched cages, which will house 200,000 hens. Cal-Maine Egg Farm InvestigationThe standard battery cage is only 67 square inches (see the photo to the right), and has a footprint smaller than a letter-sized piece of paper, but the new cages hold more birds and allow around twice as much space (116 square inches) per bird. Now the legal standard for all laying hens in Europe, enriched cages are still a new concept in the U.S. (See an example from the EU below.) Read more

To Locavores’ Dismay, a Humane Meat Processor is Put Out to Pasture

In recent years, there has been a local meat renaissance going on in Wisconsin. At the center of the movement was a business called Black Earth Meats. The operation, owned by Bartlett Durand, or the Zen Butcher, included a retail space, a buyers club and a community-supported agriculture (CSA) subscription service, as well as a U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected slaughterhouse. Read more

Scaling up Local Seafood: Siren Fish Co. Brings Boat-to-Plate Eating to a Wider Audience

Anna Larsen makes a lot of calls to fishermen and keeps a closer eye on the weather than most of us. If it rains unexpectedly or the wind picks up or if the fisherman she works with aren’t able to land the salmon, halibut, or whatever she’s offering the members of Siren SeaSA, her community-supported fishery (CSF), Larsen has to think fast. She keeps abreast of what’s being caught and makes sure that whatever does come in to Northern California’s Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg–be it rock cod, Dungeness crabs, or sand dabs–makes it to her shareholders within 24 hours. Read more

Organic Checkoff: Is it What’s for Dinner?

Update: On May 12, 2015, the Organic Trade Association moved forward to “begin steps to conduct a vote on and implement a research and promotion check-off program for the organic industry.” 

 

Imagine an ad campaign for organic food as ubiquitous as “Got Milk?,” “Pork. The Other White Meat,” and “Beef: It’s What’s for Dinner.” That’s the idea behind a proposed federal program that would collect money from organic producers and put it in a single pot for promotion and industry research for the whole organics sector. Read more

Can Drones Expose Factory Farms? This Journalist Hopes So.

When Mishka Henner’s infamous feedlot photos made the internet rounds last year, they caught most viewers off guard. Filled with what looked like colorful pools of ink, smeared across beige canvasses, their captions made it clear that the black flea-sized dots in the photos were in fact cows, and the “ink” was liquid manure collecting alongside giant feedlots or concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

When Will Potter, the author, TED fellow, and journalist behind the blog Green Is The New Red, saw the images, he didn’t just feel nauseous, shake his head, and click on something else. He wondered, what else could we learn about CAFOs by documenting them from above? Read more

Marcy Coburn: A New Leader in The Town Local Food Built

Marcy Coburn might just have landed her dream job. After two years at the helm of Oakland, California’s Food Craft Institute (FCI), and a year running its affiliated sustainable food event, the Eat Real Festival, Coburn will begin next month as the executive director of Center for Urban Education About Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), the educational nonprofit organization that runs San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

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Dan Barber Takes a Radically Holistic Approach to Food and Farming With ‘The Third Plate’

Dan Barber’s book, The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food, was released this week, graced with blurbs by everyone from Ruth Reichl to Al Gore and Malcolm Gladwell. And if it feels like it was a long time coming, that’s because it was. The chef and writer spent over a decade visiting farmers and other food producers and ruminating about the role their work plays in the wider natural world. Meanwhile Barber was also running a world-renowned restaurant, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, part of a small constellation of other efforts, including Blue Hill restaurant in New York City, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, and Barber’s nearby family farm. Read more

Cooking up Change: Chefs Attend Advocacy Boot Camp

On a recent Tuesday, 12 chefs went out on a fishing boat in Half Moon Bay, an hour south of San Francisco. The group was hoping to catch a wild Chinook salmon, but they returned empty-handed.

“Sport fishing season opened in early April and the fisherman has only brought in three fish so far,” said Kris Moon, director of charitable giving and strategic partnerships at the James Beard Foundation* (JBF) after the trip. “It has been the slowest season he can remember.” Read more