How Can We Get America Cooking? One Crumb at a Time

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To cook or not to cook.

It’s a question that writer Peg Bracken lampooned in 1960, with the publication of The I Hate to Cook Book, which sold three million copies. Three years later, Betty Friedan would challenge women to explore a world beyond the kitchen and other housework in her seminal work, The Feminine Mystique.

Fast-forward a half century, and it’s a question that we continue to ask ourselves, chew on—and in many cases—spit out. The most recent round in the debate surfaced last summer, on the heels of a study conducted at North Carolina State University. Based on interviews with 150 mothers, the authors of “The Joy of Cooking?” critique a recent school of thought that the feel-good benefits of home cooking outweigh its burdens, namely lack of time and money. Read More

New Science Confirms: If You Eat Organic You’ll be Exposed to Fewer Pesticides

Goran Bogicevic.

The recent debate over organic food has focused largely on nutrition. But the question of whether organic is better for you than food grown conventionally might have at least as much to do with pesticide exposure as nutrient value.

Or that’s been the theory held by many organic advocates. And while it might seem obvious that eating organic food is a good way to avoid eating pesticides, there hasn’t been a great deal of science to prove it—until now. Read More

Cooking Up Skills: The Portland Kitchen Gets Teens Job-Ready

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On a rainy November afternoon in Portland, Oregon, 21 high school students took the food handlers’ exam in a church basement. The usual chattering of nearly two dozen young people dropped to a silence as they worked. Sitting upstairs, I could tell when they had finished by the sounds of laughter coming from the basement kitchen.

These teenagers are participating in the Portland Kitchen, “Oregon’s only free culinary after-school program for youth,” according to founder Abigail Herrera. Read More

Food-X: An Accelerator To Grow The Food Movement

Launch Day-19

Tech business accelerators are sprouting up everywhere. In return for several months of mentorship, education, and access, many fledging companies are willing to trade a percentage of their equity for a quick infusion of cash from venture funders. And, given the explosive interest in food and farming, it should come as no surprise that some investors have finally applied the accelerator model to how and what we eat. Enter Food-X. Read More

Editor’s Note: Sustaining Civil Eats

In 2013, our readers helped us plant the seeds for a sustainable Civil Eats. Now we need your help keeping the vision alive.

I took this past month off from my paid consulting work to spend time focusing on the future of Civil Eats. It was also a necessary break to restore my own personal ecology after a very busy and productive 2014. In the effort to grow a movement, we often forget the need for self-preservation and well-being; I firmly believe we cannot sustain this work unless we sustain ourselves. On both fronts, it was a very fruitful month.

Civil Eats has grown tremendously from a scrappy, edgy “community-supported blog” to an award-winning, “go-to” reading resource cited on the pages of this Sunday’s New York Times’ Week in Review (thank you, Michel Nischan!). For six years, we’ve been reporting from the frontlines of the food movement because now, more than ever, people want to hear the stories behind their food. Read More

Rating the Politicos Shaping Our Food System

Photo courtesy of USDA.

Last November, Mark Bittman, Micheal Pollan, Olivier De Schutter, and Ricardo Salvador made the case for a national food and farm policy to improve American diets and the environment. In a collectively penned Washington Post opinion piece, the authors and food system experts identified a crucial roadblock for implementing system-wide change. They wrote:

…reforming the food system will ultimately depend on a Congress that has for decades been beholden to agribusiness, one of the most powerful lobbies on Capitol Hill. As long as food-related issues are treated as discrete rather than systemic problems, congressional committees in thrall to special interests will be able to block change.

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Will This Lawsuit Curb Extreme Air Pollution From Factory Farms?

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There are about 20,000 factory farms in the United States and together they produce more than 500 million tons—or 1 trillion pounds—of manure. These farms, also called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), altogether house billions of chickens, dairy cows, hogs, and other livestock. The waste from these animals adds up to more than three times the raw sewage produced by people in the U.S. and it emits significant amounts of harmful air pollutants [PDF] that include ammonia, methane, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Read More

All the News That’s Fit to Eat: Kids on SNAP, Struggling Butterflies, and Drones on Farms

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Here’s your recommended weekly allowance of food politics news.

1. One in Five U.S. Children Now Rely on Food Stamps: Census Data (Reuters)

According to federal census data, the number of children living in households that rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) jumped to 16 million last year, surpassing the number that was recorded before the recession. The data also revealed that 27 percent of the children in this country were living with single parents last year, and more than half of those were getting assistance. Read More

Maple Water: Fad or Lifeline for Forests?

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Stroll the aisles of your local health food store and our country’s love of “functional beverages”—drinks fortified with vitamins, minerals, and other “healthy” additives—becomes apparent. Products in this $17 billion industry claim to strengthen your immune system, flood your body with antioxidants, and boost energy. It’s faddish, yes. But one of the latest additions, maple water, may also help preserve North American forests and put some welcome cash in the pockets of small farmers. Read More