Ric Brewer got his first taste of snails by gate-crashing a high-school French club field trip to a French restaurant in Seattle. He ate the escargots on a dare but loved them — so much so that somehow, decades later, he found himself quitting his job, moving out to the Olympic Peninsula in coastal Washington, and investing everything he had to launch one of America’s only snail ranches. Read more
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According to a study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), organic agriculture earns farmers more–often significantly more–than conventional farming. Read more
A farmer in Missouri is helping Chipotle take its “food with integrity” commitment one step further—to organic. Steve McKaskle, owner of McKaskle Family Farm, the only organic rice farm in Missouri, supplies a growing number of Chipotle restaurants in his region with organic long grain white and brown rice. Read more
According to Jean-Martin Fortier, it isn’t a farmer’s job to feed the world. And he finds it absurd that many U.S.-based food and agriculture companies tell farmers they should do so. “Feeding the world? People in Africa don’t need the U.S. to feed them.” What we need, the Canadian farmer argues, is small farms feeding their communities, and that task is difficult enough. Read more
When I moved to Portland four years ago and began frequenting the farmers’ market, it didn’t take me long to become obsessed with Gathering Together Farm’s vegetables. The farm’s stand drew me in with its bounty and its kaleidoscope of color: crisp peppers in green, red, yellow, and purple; fragrant bundles of fresh basil; and singular specimens that I’d never seen before, like watermelon radish and delicata “zeppelin” squash. Read more
Sales of organic food are exploding. In 2013, Americans spent $35 billion on organic foods, a 12 percent increase over 2012. Organic food sales in 2014, which haven’t been compiled yet, will likely top that number.
Major retail chains such as Kroger, Target, and Wal-Mart are making major commitments to sell more organic food. General Mills plans to double its organic product sales in the next five years. Even McDonald’s plans to serve organic items in its restaurants. Read more
Long time supporters of organic food need to realize that the ground is shifting beneath their feet. Rapidly. Ever since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was given control of the word in 2000, the integrity of the “USDA Certified Organic” label has been on a downhill slope. Read more
In the opening scene of the film After Winter, Spring a French farmer name Guy spots the stony edges of an ancient farm tool peeking up through the ground in his field. He holds the tool in his hand, proof that people have cultivated the Périgord region in southwest France for more than 4000 years.
“That does something to you, to know we’re a speck of dust to all that has come before,” he says.
Last fall, after wondering for years about whether I should buy produce from farmers who claim that they are “organic, but not certified,” I dug into some big questions about certification. That process led me to explore many other seemingly respectable food labels that—while much less popular than organic—seemed to offer a similar, if slightly different level of transparency between eaters and farmers. Read more
Eastern Washington is commodity wheat country; over 2 million acres of the grain grow in the state each year. Although researchers and farmers continue to explore alternative crops, today’s soft white wheat is remarkably easy and cheap to grow in this arid region.
Over a decade ago, however, two small Washington farms began embracing diverse varieties of wheat, growing hulled ancestors including spelt, emmer, and einkorn, collectively called farro. It’s often difficult to create demand for an unfamiliar crop—and these two farms took different, yet equally successful, approaches. Read more