Blog snacks: Food security, nitrates explored, meat epiphany…

To explain why the personal posts have been a little sparse lately, several of the Ethicureans are on hiatus and I've been wrapped up in Operation Pork — a hog share I'll write about as soon as I've recovered from it — along with the ever-more-demanding Digest. (If only someone would pay to syndicate it. Grist, any chance?)

Meanwhile, here are some choice Ethicurean-related entries from other blogs to tide you over.

Weapons of mass digestion: The Government Accounting Office released a report adding food safety to its list of high-risk government programs, but the news "has not received the attention it deserves," says our new acquaintance Marc. He's right. In this post, Marc zeros in on key points of the GAO report documenting the fragmented, 15-agency (!) federal food-safety system, in which the USDA receives by far the lion's share of the money even though the meat and poultry it regulates makes up just 20% of the food supply. Bottom line: A unified food-safety agency would go a long way to cleaning up the mess …as long as it's not done as haphazardly as Homeland Security was. (Growers and Grocers) Marc also blogs for his own Mental Masala, where he currently has two mini-reviews of a books on major drinks and the history of spices. Check it out.

The N-words: Nitrates, nitrites, and Niman Ranch. Local Forage

V is for vegetarian victory: Environmentalist (and funny dude) David Roberts has an epiphany while eating chicken nuggets at Costco and decides to stop eating factory meat. The comments section has some useful links and insights into the eating-meat dilemma. Gristmill

Culinary cinema: Gourmet came out with its list of 10 favorite documentary films about food, and Culinate comes up with a related list of movies in which food figures prominently. I for one will never get over Helen Mirren shivering naked in a meat cooler in the Ptere Greenaway classic “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover." Culinate

Prions off the hook?: Defective proteins might not be the cause of mad-cow disease after all, a researcher suggests. The post does not mention whether the virus suspected to be the culprit has some connection with cows being fed cow parts.Wired Science

Mass appeal: Western Massachusetts residents know all about the economic and environmental benefits of buying locally grown food, thanks to the nonprofit group Community Involved In Sustaining Agriculture's “Be a Local Hero, Buy Locally Grown” campaign. I love the weekly newsletter from this beautifully photographed, airily brief yet thoughtful new blog. CookThink

Food shopping advice from Brokeass: You want to chew the right thing, but your wallet hurts. Grist's new advice column has some help for you. Gristmill

Meet the Ethicureans: Liz Crain asked us to ruminate on a few things. Culinate

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