Quick, what comes to mind when you hear the word “spring?”
Let us count the ways we know spring has arrived… the sight of bright green buds, sturdy seedlings, a profusion of blossoms, song birds chirping away, and young farm animals frolicking in the mild weather. Around the world, spring is seen as a time of rebirth and renewal.
Of course, to experience all the many sights and sounds of spring, we count on a stable climate. And at the latest California Climate & Agriculture Summit, (hosted by the California Climate and Agriculture Network, CalCAN), we were reminded that climate change is making it so that the weather you expect is not necessarily the weather that you get. This increasing unpredictability makes farming a whole lot more challenging. Read More
In the livestock industry, heroes don’t always get their due. Perhaps that’s because the story of our modern animal agriculture system is so often so bleak—for farmers, animals, our health and the health of our environment.
In the U.S. pork sector, two-thirds of hog production comes from producers working under contract with mega-processors like Smithfield and Cargill. Processing is increasingly automated and farmers feel the pressures of high volume, low cost meat production. In confined animal feeding operations or “CAFOs”, pigs live by the hundreds or thousands in superbug-breeding warehouses, crowded with pens and gestation crates as far as the eye can see. Hogs are raised for maximum weight gain and routinely given antibiotics to speed up growth and prevent the very kinds of diseases that spread when so many animals live in such close, unsanitary and stressful quarters. Read More
We each own a secret weapon that weighs only a few ounces. If this was strategically deployed for one day, we could transform our world into a better place. We could end obesity and chronic disease, revitalize our children’s health, achieve academic excellence, topple corrupt governments, restore our depleted soils, replenish our vanishing aquifers and reverse climate change. What is this weapon? It’s your fork. Read More
Small-scale farming isn’t easy. The prices farmers receive for their goods are often low, the margins are tight, the days are long, and the chores never-ending. For farmers who don’t own their own property, land insecurity compounds financial instability. It’s tough to really dig in if you don’t know how long you can stay on the piece you’re farming. Read More
In the Pacific, eight island nations have recently come together to protect the world’s last healthy tuna populations from the perils of the lawless sea, the first agreement of its kind, reports Shannon Service in the Food & Environment Reporting Network (FERN)’s latest story, “The Saudi Arabia of Sashimi,” for Slate. Read More
Frederick Kaufman’s book Bet the Farm: How Food Stopped Being Food highlights the peculiar irony of our modern food system: While we produce more food than ever before, nearly one in seven people goes to bed hungry each night, and the hungriest people in the world are farmers. But, as Kaufman points out, this paradox didn’t happen naturally; it was aided by financial brokers and food manufacturers who view food as a commodity—a financial instrument to be purchased low and sold high. Read More
In the summer of 2010, Robert DuBois and Aaron Zueck headed out on a 100 day bike trip across the country to document the thriving local foods movement. In the YouTube video of this “potluck across America,” the two seem genuinely passionate about farmers and healthy food—and the movement they’re documenting. As the screen goes black, a voiceover says: “Every time you drink Pepsi you support the Pepsi Refresh project. Every Pepsi refreshes the world.” Read More
Last week, in what is yet another example of Big Food’s symbiotic relationship with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), McDonald’s Director of Nutrition, Registered Dietitian Cindy Goody, spoke to her fellow colleagues at the Utah Dietetic Association meeting about the chain’s new “healthy initiatives.” McDonald’s is such a good friend of AND that it is also a “gold sponsor” at next month’s California Dietetic Association meeting. Read More
Five weeks ago, my partner and I began a food stamp challenge with an unconventional twist: We use our food stamps to only buy organic food. I came up with this notion in part because I’m annoyed by the common perception that organic food is somehow “elitist.” Most recently, this meme was perpetuated by New York Times contributor Roger Cohen. (If you really want to know what I think of his line of thought, see here.)
The notion that only well-heeled Whole Foods shoppers care about organic food is misguided. As I’ve written about food justice organizations and urban farming projects over the past few years, I’ve met plenty of low-income people who go out of their way to find food that hasn’t been doused in pesticides. (What’s really elitist is the assumption that they wouldn’t want healthy food, too.) Read More
For many daughters, the kitchen contains their mother’s secrets. In the tumult of pots and pans, the pinches of sugar and salt, reside recipes perfected over time without cookbooks, experience and intuition the only guides.
For East African daughters in City Heights, a neighborhood that is a major West Coast portal for refugees, the opportunity to cook twice a month as a group with their mothers is a chance to steep themselves in Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean culinary traditions, passed down orally through generations. Read More