All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Whole Grains Get the Axe, ‘Super Bugs’ Price Tag, and Sam Kass Says Goodbye

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Rain or shine, we’re serving up the week’s food news. Here’s what caught our attention:

1. The World’s Most Powerful Chef Hangs up His Apron (Politico)

As White House Chef Sam Kass prepares to retire, the Obamas aren’t just losing a chef, “the Obama administration is set to lose its behind-the-scenes food policy general,” writes Politico’s Helena Bottemiller Evich. Kass, who has been instrumental in preventing the GOP from completely degrading recent school lunch improvements (see below), is relocating to New York City just one year before school lunch reauthorization is set to take place. “Food and agriculture insiders are anxious to see where Kass goes next—he’s expected to stay engaged as he works on nutrition issues from the private sector—but they are even more curious to know who will replace him,” writes Evich. Read More

Seasons Greening: How Christmas Tree Farmers Are Cutting Down on Pesticides

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Each winter, tens of millions of Americans buy and decorate Christmas trees. Yet few of us think about what it takes to keep these trees looking so healthy and lush.

For most growers, it takes pesticides–and lots of them. It turns out that the majority of Christmas tree farms are plagued with destructive pests and noxious weeds that suck nutrients and moisture from the soil, leaving young trees sickly and ugly. As a result, the Christmas tree industry has become dependent on chemicals of all sorts. Read More

Organic Nearly as Productive as Industrial Farming, New Study Says

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Industrial agriculture has huge, unsustainable impacts on our environment. And while organic and other ecologically based farming systems (agroecology) have huge benefits, some have suggested that it will never produce enough food. Production is only one of the challenges for food security. But, according to new research, even by this measure, critics seem to have substantially underestimated the productivity of organic farming. Read More

Bringing Back the Grange, the Farmer’s Gathering Place

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I grew up visiting the local grange in the small town of Los Olivos, California. The lawn outside was always abuzz with activity. Picnic tables were laden with potlucks, babies lounged on blankets, and streamers were flying high. It was the place where everything in our town happened, at least that’s how it always seemed to me. We went to the grange to see films, attend dances, and sit through my parents’ boring grownup meetings. There was a close-knit spirit of support, collaboration, and family that I rarely see anymore. Read More

Is Farmed Salmon Losing its Omega-3 Edge?

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When Amanda West Reade was pregnant with her now two-year-old son, she started eating farmed salmon. As a vegetarian, she knew that getting enough protein, omega-3s, and folic acid to boost her growing baby’s development might be tricky.

“My doctor listed a few meal ideas and I thought I could handle the salmon,” says Reade. “She said to lean more towards farmed salmon because it was higher in omega-3s.” Reade followed her doctor’s advice and added farmed salmon to her diet three times a week. “It became something I really craved,” she says.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are good for the brain and eye development of growing babies and salmon has been a go-to meal for those looking for a reliable a low-mercury fish source. When it comes to omega-3s, the message is clear: All salmon is a good choice. Read More

Foragers’ Delight: Can Wild Foods Make City Dwellers Healthier?

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Less than a five minute walk outside his office on the University of California Berkeley campus, Thomas Carlson excitedly points to a towering wild fennel plant and strides towards it with a dozen eager students in tow. The plant’s leaves have grown tough, but he encourages the students to sample its seeds, which are vaguely sweet and taste of anise. For a few minutes, the group tentatively chomps down as he details the plant’s medicinal and nutritional benefits before moving on in search of the next discovery. Read More