Ask the Weiss man: If you're at all concerned about eating cloned meat and dairy under the organic label, read this excellent Washington Post online Q&A in which excellent biotech reporter Rick Weiss takes questions from readers. Make time to read it all, if you can, as Weiss not only clarifies the science, but also ably tackles some of the philosophical objections. For example:
Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.: My initial negative reaction to all of this is purely visceral. Is there any scientific evidence that this may be a bad idea, or do arguments against generally skew philosophical?
Rick Weiss: The science (so far, at least) says meat and milk from clones is fine to eat. So yea, a lot of the negative reaction about food from clones is "visceral" (not sure I'd really use that word though...). But then we must ask: Are those emotional reactions not worth anything? Isn't food all about emotion? If it weren't, then we'd just be living off of high-nutrition pills by now. But people WANT to have a complex relationship with their food. So I don't think we can discount that part of the debate. In a perfect world, I guess, foods that don't satisfy us (nutritionally, emotionally, whatever) would leave the market for lack of demand. That's where the labeling question gets hot though. Because without labeling, you can't shun what you don't want. Which then gets us back to the "organic" question. Seems to me that if nothing else, that is going to be the way people can avoid cloned food, if they want to avoid it. Clones could be a great boon to the 'organic food' market share."
Annie's macdown: A breezy, funny article rips Annie's brand of "all natural" kid-friendly pasta for, among other things, being no healthier than the day-glo orange Kraft version. The writer is Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, who according to her tagline "aspires to be the bad girl of American food writing." She gets our vote, thanks to scorched-earth passages like these: "Annie's Homegrown out-bads McDonald's and Coca-Cola because it plants a corporate beachhead right there in your family's kitchen. …So, stand up, please, and receive a heartfelt thank-you from the American food industry. Where would they be without the culinary passivity and anesthetized palate you are so assiduously cultivating in the next generation?" Salon
Pollan protester: A SciAm editor pushes back a little on several assumptions Michael Pollan made in his cover story for the Sunday New York Times Magazine. Scientific American blog
Locavoracious: We've been meaning to post about Culinate, a new Portland-based website devoted to conscious eating, but just haven't gotten around to it. Launched earlier this month, the site already has a great collection of practical tips and personal essays. Today, there's an in-depth feature about people who attempt the 100-Mile diet — and why. (Disclosure: Editor Liz Crain interviewed us for a forthcoming Blog Feed column. But that's not why we like them.) Culinate.com
Obituary: Sharon Tyler Herbst, author of 17 books on food and wine — perhaps best known for "The Food Lover's Companion" — has died of ovarian cancer. San Francisco Chronicle
The bacteria buffet: The Center for Science in the Public Interest has just released a report ranking food service operations in school cafeterias around the country. The results are not pretty — and we're not talking about the tater tots. CSPI newsroom
E. coli's lingering effect: Spinach sales are still hurting. USA Today
More power for Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart has created its own electricity company in Texas, called Texas Retail Energy, to supply its stores with cheap power bought at wholesale prices. A spokesperson also mentioned the company would consider buying a renewable-energy power plant, such as a wind farm, if it can't find enough vendors to meet Wal-Mart's eventual goal of using only renewable power. Dallas News
Buy sun screen: Humanity has just 10 years to reverse surging greenhouse gas emissions or risk runaway climate change, according to scientists working on a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Gulp! Times (UK)