5 Questions for an International Organics Expert: IFOAM’s Andre Leu

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Andre Leu has been an organic farmer in Australia for 40 years. He is also the newly re-elected President of the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), a worldwide network of more than 800 groups in 120 countries. In addition to traveling the world advocating for organic farming, Leu has spent the last few years thinking and writing about pesticides for his new book, The Myth of Safe Pesticides. Read More

Mostly Plants: New Science Says a Healthier Diet is Best for the Climate

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Good food advocates have long argued that what’s best for your health is also best for the planet, but new science now backs up the claim. A paper published today in the journal Nature by scientists at the University of Minnesota, presents hard numbers that suggest eating less meat, less refined fat, and less sugar will also reduce the climate change impacts of food production.

Using about 50 years’ worth of data from the world’s 100 most populous countries, UM Professor of Ecology G. David Tilman and graduate student Michael Clark show how current diet trends are contributing, not only to diet-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, but also to dangerously increasing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Read More

San Francisco Restaurant the Perennial is Facing Climate Change Head-On

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In the quest to shave off distance from field to plate, today’s chefs and restaurants have devised a range of creative solutions–from growing tomatoes on their own rooftops to sourcing fruit from their customers’ backyards.

The Perennial, a soon-to-open San Francisco eatery, plans to take the business of local sourcing several steps further. Many of the greens and herbs the restaurant serves will be grown in a closed-loop aquaponic system based across the Bay in Oakland. And when chef Chris Kiyuna wants to serve say, some sorrel or sprigs of purple basil, he’ll be able to harvest them from the “living pantry”–an area of the restaurant where the greens will float until just moments before they’re served. Read More

Breaking ‘The Chain': What’s at Stake in the Modern Pork Industry

Hogs at a confinement facility run by New Fashion Pork, one of Hormel Foods' suppliers. Photo by Mary Anne Andrei.

At first glance, writing an exposé on the pork industry might seem outside Ted Genoways’ wheelhouse. He’s the author of two books of poetry and has  penned a biography of Walt Whitman—not necessarily what one expects from someone writing about modern meat production in the U.S.

But Genoways, who has written on factory farming for Mother Jones and is the grandson of a former packinghouse worker from Omaha, Nebraska, brings his interests together by focusing on working class Midwestern life. His newest book, The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food, is a chilling indictment of today’s pork industry told through the story of one company, Hormel Foods. Essentially, it’s The Jungle for the modern era.

We recently spoke with Genoways about his new book, Hormel, and the fact that much of our food has become less safe over time. Read More

Children of Latino Immigrants Forge Paths in Agriculture

Melissa Garcia works with a classmate on a chicken-wing dissection in her vet careers class in the Des Moines public schools’ animal science program. (Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media)

In a dimly-lit lab on the Des Moines, Iowa, public schools’ agricultural science campus, students in aprons, safety goggles and plastic gloves poke and probe chicken wings. About 15 girls and just one boy in this vet careers class are looking for ligaments, tendons, cartilage and other features of this animal part that teenagers more often experience cooked and covered in barbecue sauce. Read More

Meet the Chemicals Lurking in Your Pizza Boxes and Take-Out Containers

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When you open a pizza or donut box, you know a guilty food pleasure awaits. But along with the extra calories, you may be getting a dose of chemicals known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). These chemicals are used to make the grease-proof coating on paper and cardboard food packaging–things like take-out boxes and containers and the paper used to wrap pastries. They have also been used to make nonstick cookware, waterproof rain gear, and stain-resistant coatings for fabrics. What makes these chemicals so good at repelling grease, water, and stains also makes them environmentally persistent and potentially toxic. Read More

Big Soda Suffers Historic Defeat After Berkeley Voters Approve Soda Tax

Photo credit: Rex Sorgatz via Flickr.

Berkeley voters overwhelmingly passed a “soda tax” yesterday despite a well-funded campaign battle by the soda industry. Hailed as an historic event, the approval of Measure D is being called a win for parents, public health organizations, and community food activists concerned with the link between rising Type-2 diabetes in Americans born between 2000-2011 and the consumption of sugary drinks. Dozens of communities, including New York, have tried (and failed) to take on the soda industry, but Measure D is the first of its kind in the nation to win. Read More

Gut Feelings: A Discussion about the Microbes You Can’t Live Without

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014 – 6:00pm to 8:00pm

Whether you like it or not, there are ten times more bacterial cells in your body than human cells. Come learn about the unseen yet indispensable world of microorganisms as we trace them from soil to food to gut. What role do these tiny creatures play in your health, and in soil health? How are gut microbes affected by what you eat? Why have fermented foods long been important to traditional cultures?  Read More