What do grizzly bears, gray wolves, California condors, and coho salmon have in common? All are protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and all are likely to be harmed by three commonly used pesticides, according to a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In fact, these three pesticides—chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and malathion—are likely to harm 97 percent of the plants and animals listed under the ESA. Read more
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Pointing to a growing consensus in the scientific community about pesticides’ impacts on honey bees and other pollinators, beekeepers in the state have worked with environmental groups to effect local policy. Last week, the Maryland state legislature passed the Pollinator Protection Act, which would ban consumers from buying pesticides that contain “neonics” beginning in 2018. Read more
Jonathan Gold has long been known in culinary circles as the only food writer to have won a Pulitzer Prize. Now, the Los Angeles Times restaurant critic is the focus of a new documentary, City of Gold.
Filmmaker Laura Gabbert spent nearly five years accompanying Gold on his pickup truck ramblings throughout Los Angeles, visiting dozens of small, family-owned restaurants serving the panoply of world cuisines that Gold is famous for highlighting. The film is a beautiful meditation on Los Angeles, the role of the critic, and the importance of a vibrant food scene in a vast, diverse city. Read more
Patrick Holden has been talking about the “true cost” of food for years. And while he has engaged activists, scientists, and academics from all over the world in his role as director of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust (SFT), it is by no means a theoretical discussion for him.
Holden has also been a farmer since 1973, and his family raises dairy cows as part of a small and diverse organic farm in Wales. But, like many dairy farmers around the world, he can’t afford to sell his cows’ milk. Read more
All eyes have been on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but it is by no means the only city where the poorest residents face environmental damage and lax government oversight.
Further to the South, in rural North Carolina, another, less-known battle is taking shape. This crisis involves the lasting impact of pollution from large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) housing pigs. Now a group of citizens is claiming that the state’s $3 billion pork industry is disposing of its waste in a manner that disproportionately and negatively affects residents of color, and that the negotiating efforts are being stalled by the pork industry. Read more
Butter, prunes, and eggs. That’s what Mabel McFiggin, an unemployed factory worker and the first woman* to use food stamps, bought to feed her family 77 years ago. Today, some 46 million people rely on food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help put food on the table. Read more
It can seem like no one cooks anymore. Most grocery stores (and even some gas stations) have a wealth of pick-up options for hungry people at the end of a long day of work. Processed meals have made it into the organic aisle with brands like Amy’s and Annie’s. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that since 1970, the number of meals eaten away from home has risen from 25 to 43 percent of total food spending per household.
And if Michael Pollan’s new documentary series, Cooked, which begins streaming on Netflix today, is any further evidence, the spread of processed foods and Western diets is taking out cooking, one family at a time. Read more
Over the last few months, most of the presidential candidates have found their way to Bill Couser’s farm in Nevada, Iowa, where he raises more than 5,000 head of cattle, and grows corn and soybeans. Couser says he’s played host to all the Republicans vying for the Oval Office this cycle in the conference room he built at his feedlot specifically for the parade of presidential candidates.
“Carly Fiorina—I was with her yesterday,” Couser told Civil Eats. “I sat with Trump for a couple hours last week.”
But unlike in the lead-up to past Iowa Caususes, when Ben Carson or Ted Cruz arrive at the Couser farm, the candidates’ ears aren’t being bent on food production, land access, or even a specific wishlist for the next Farm Bill. When he’s with the candidates, Couser grills them on ethanol, or fuel made from corn byproduct. Read more
Americans eat a lot of chicken—around 60 pounds of it per person, at last count.
Meeting that demand has come at a price along Maryland’s Eastern Shore, one of the most concentrated areas for industrial chicken farming in the U.S. Here, farmers often raise tens of thousands of birds at a time, and spread their manure on the surrounding land in quantities the land cannot possibly absorb. As a result, over 200,000 tons of excess manure seeps into nearby waterways every year, and from there it washes into the nearby Chesapeake Bay. These high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus runoff can stimulate algae blooms, starving the water of oxygen, and killing fish and shellfish. The “dead zones” left behind also pose health risks to humans exposed to the contaminated water. Read more