On the heels of California’s Proposition 37 and the national debate over genetically engineered (GE) food, pesticide companies are continuing to push to legalize new types of GE crops linked with powerful pesticides. Farmers like Indiana’s Troy Roush are objecting to such a shortsighted approach to agriculture. There are currently 13 new GE crops pending USDA approval, the most threatening of which may be Monsanto’s Dicamba Soybean. (Other crops include Dow’s 2,4-D Corn and 2,4-D Soybean, and the non-browning “Arctic Apple.”)
Why the need for new seeds? The first GE seeds were introduced in 1996 and adopted widely. Instead of having to rotate crops, farmers could spray the herbicide RoundUp to kill weeds while the GE plants survived. Gradually the weeds adapted and herbicide-resistant weeds now affect an estimated 12 million acres of farmland (about half the size of Indiana), and that number is growing rapidly. Read more
Last time we checked in with Civil Eats, we had just finished up an epic road trip around the U.S., documenting good food stories across the country. At the time, we didn’t think our job could get much better. Well…it has. Starting in September, my partner Mirra and I will be traveling around the world, telling similar stories, only with an international perspective. Read more
On May 9, 2011, my girlfriend and I set out from Minneapolis on a road trip across the country. The journey was not for sightseeing, instead we were on a mission: To tell stories about “real food” in America. From that moment on, every week for a year, we released a 5-10-minute video about sustainable food across the country for our online documentary series, The Perennial Plate. The last video from our road trip was recently released.
We haven’t just been profiling young farmers and back-to-the-landers, we have been engaging with folks who went organic because they had gotten sick from conventional food, or fished and hunted because it was their only option. Our broad scope of stories let us encounter every type of American that was in search of good food.
Along the way, we found no shortage of people to film. Upon our departure we called out to the interweb for ideas and were flooded with stories from across the nation. Armed with this catalogue and our own interests in experiencing the inspiring and the unique, we set off. Read more
In the event of a nuclear disaster, zombies taking over the planet, or industrial food collapse, you’d want to be friends with the subject of our latest film. It’s a meditation on survival and the beauty of doing things that are no longer necessary, but still worth doing. It takes place on a fall day in Andalusia, Alabama where we (The Perennial Plate crew) collected invasive Corbicula Clams with Jimmy and Sierra Stiles. After wading in the river looking for the creatures, we cooked them over a fire… made by hand. Watch: Read more
Americans eat more meat per capita than nearly any other nation in the world, and it shows. Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat-eater, it seems all of us agree that it would be better for public health, the planet, and animals if the Standard American Diet (SAD) incorporated more plants and fewer animals.
Fortunately, that’s what’s starting to happen, as Meatless Mondays are catching on all across the country. From school districts to hospital cafeterias to restaurant chains, more Americans are experiencing the benefits of meat-free fare. And now a great video from the Humane Society of the United States explaining the why, who, and how of Meatless Monday has been nominated for a DoGooder award! You can vote for the Meatless Monday video the “Large Organization” category here. Watch the video: Read more
The Just Label It campaign today launched a new video by Food, Inc. filmmaker Robert Kenner that empowers consumers to fight for their right to know what is in their food. The video, “Labels Matter,” is the result of collaboration between the Just Label It campaign and Kenner’s new project, FixFood, a social media platform that aims to empower Americans to take immediate action to create a more sustainable and democratic food system. Read more
Sometimes a spoonful of sugar does, indeed, make the medicine go down. Though you won’t find that catchphrase in the just-released hardcover edition of Food Rules, Michael Pollan‘s best-selling little eater’s manual.
Food Rules does sport the whimsical and witty illustrations of well-known artist Maira Kalman, however. And the new book also boasts 19 new rules—many gleaned from eaters around the country that Pollan wished he had thought of and included the first time around.
Take two is again full of commonsense kitchen wisdom such as If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably not hungry; and When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.
The takeaway message: food need not be complicated, and the act of eating is as much about pleasure and communion as it is about nutrition and health. In other words: lighten up a little and enjoy your dinner. Read more
Have you ever found yourself at Whole Foods shopping, for say, kale and quinoa, and felt the need to poke fun at foodie culture? Some people go even further, writing a rap song about it and posting the video on YouTube. Read more
Filmmaker Stett Holbrook will be happy if food reform advocates (like Civil Eats readers) respond favorably to “Food Forward,” a television series he cooked up with old college pal Greg Roden. But he’s really trying to reach an audience who hasn’t heard of Ann Cooper or Will Allen—let alone the rest of the cast of characters the pair have filmed in their travels around the country documenting food renegades changing the way people eat in America.
Holbrook wants his pilot on urban agriculture to appeal to people beyond Berkeley and Brooklyn. “To grow this movement I’m interested in reaching people who eat, say, McDonald’s to help them realize that fast food is lame,” he says. “I want them to see the show and think it’s cool to know where your food comes from, it’s cool to eat sustainable food, and there are lots of cool solutions out there.”
And he’s putting his money where his mouth is. This summer he’s sub-leased his home, taken a sabbatical from his job as food editor at Metro, a Silicon Valley alternative weekly, and he and his young family have hit the road to spread the word about the pilot (and hustle up some significant funding, he hopes, for a 13- part series.) Read more
Farming without soil has taken root in fish tanks and window frames. But above 10th Street in Manhattan’s West Village, John Mooney is hydroponically farming produce on the roof of his soon-to-be restaurant, Bell, Book & Candle. He is the first chef in the U.S. to grow all of his produce on a rooftop farm.
Eighty diners a night sample whatever is in season—greens, garbanzo beans, summer squash, lettuces, tomatoes, broccoli rabe—for 10 months out of the year. On the roof, hydroponic towers circulate water to plants through a closed circuit. At its base, each tower has a nutrient-rich reservoir which pumps water upward. As water trickles down from a center passage, plant roots receive their nourishment. The towers use 12 minutes of energy an hour, running on three-minute cycles.
Mooney’s produce is free of typical soil disease and pest infestation. Since he has produced it all himself, it’s also incredibly affordable. Start-up costs can be steep for hydroponic systems, but with their promise of efficiency and high-yield, “roof-to-table” hydroponics may provide New Yorker’s with another way to maximize their valuable, cramped real estate.
Check out Nightline’s report on the chef and his garden.