Digest: Why you should care about the Farm Bill, “good” vs. “bad” food, UglyRipe tomatoes, cornification counterattack

Farm Bill 101: Tom Philpott plans to analyze the political economy of farming and suggest a socially and environmentally sustainable farm policy. (Someone has to do it, and we're glad he's volunteered.) The 2007 Farm Bill will affect everybody who cares about what they eat, and/or about the environment, so if you're unsure how agricultural subsidies work and why/if we need them, this piece is a great place to start. Grist

Food prejudice: We promise this is the last link we'll do for a while about the supposedly heretical, blame-the-foodies new book "The Gospel of Food." This Q&A with author Barry Glassner reveals him to be instead quite a reasonable fellow, who believes we should "eat and let eat" instead of being reflexively moralistic about food. For example, he mentions one of his favorite studies, in which students were shown photographs of people their age and researchers told one set that the people in the photographs ate foods like whole wheat breads and chicken, and the other that the subjects ate hamburgers and French fries and hot fudge sundaes. The students ranked the same people very differently, with the latter group depicted as less likable and less attractive. Salon

Tomatoes in winter: Legal battles settled, the Ugly Ripe tomato from Florida will be allowed to be shipped out of state to markets across the country. Slashfood

Corn subsidies unfair: Argentina and Brazil have joined Canada in a WTO complaint against the United States over handouts to American corn growers, which unfairly affect prices for both corn as food and ethanol. The WTO already ruled in Brazil's favor that some U.S. cotton subsidies are illegal. Such trade pressure will be another factor in the 2007 Farm Bill negotiations. Int'l Herald Tribune

Ethanol takes center stage in D.C.: Bush is expected to call for a dramatic ramp-up of ethanol production in the State of the Union, and lobbyists are dancing with glee. This article does a good job of explaining the criticism of the current corn-based ethanol industry, and all the myriad political factors at work. New York Times

Go Midwest, young farmers!: Ready to farm but can't find land? In order to promote the raising of local, organic food, an Illinois organization is offering people the opportunity to purchase 10- or 20-acre lots of a 100-year-old, 80-acre family farm. Peoria Journal-Star

Have stunner, will travel: A former Vancouver chef has developed a mobile slaughtering unit that will visit farmers in remote parts of Canada where abattoirs are scarce. Meat Info (UK)

Light on bulbs: November floods caused more than $1 million's worth of damage to around 50 Hmong farmers who make their living growing flowers and vegetables in Washington State. Most troublingly, they can't afford to replant; donations are needed. Seattle Times

Thank ewe: The Netherlands has banned the practice of docking sheeps' tails. NIS News Bulletin

Swift for sale: Greeley meatpacker Swift & Co., the nation's third-largest processor of fresh beef and pork, may be on the block. Denver Post

Memo to Bush — Resistance is futile: Several Senate bills and a corporate coalition with some serious muscle may push Washington toward climate action whether Dubya likes it or not. Grist

One Responseto “Digest: Why you should care about the Farm Bill, “good” vs. “bad” food, UglyRipe tomatoes, cornification counterattack”

  1. Miriam says:

    Grist writes, "Food is such an important product, so critical to life, that it's in society's interest to promote a healthy, thriving farm sector." However, our current commodity payment system (subsidies) do not support the majority of our farmers. In fact, two-thirds of our nation's farmers receive no commodity payments at all. Furthermore, those payments go primarily to the wealthiest farmers, or those who need the least government support. The top 10% of farmers received 66% of commodity payments in 2005, for example. Growers of specialty crops - fruits and vegetables, for example - receive no government support, yet they are very competitive in world markets.