Digest: Mutant rice, not-so-raw almonds, new GM guide, Mackey goes blogwild

In our never-ending quest to make the Digest more … well, more digestible, we’re going to start noting the stories we think are must-reads for their newsworthiness, writing style, or maybe just because they’re about one of our pet topics.
As always, we welcome suggestions for links to articles — send them to Dairy Queen, the Digest’s editor.


star“We burned and buried enough rice to feed 20 million people”: A riveting investigation by top-notch reporter Marc Gunther about how America’s rice farmers didn’t want to grow a genetically engineered crop, nor did their customers in Europe want to buy it … but it nevertheless ended up in our food. (Fortune)

Show us the studies: Biotech crops giant Monsanto has been ordered to withdraw an advertising claim made in a South African magazine that no negative reactions have ever been reported to genetically modified foods. (IOL New Zealand, via The Daily Table)

Harkin to play hardball?: Brownfield Network reports that Senate Ag Committee Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa told reporters Tuesday that the next farm bill will be different from the last one, despite last week’s proposed extension of the 2002 commodity title by a House Ag Subcommittee. Adds Reuters: Harkin said he favored “a smarter, fairer counter-cyclical system that places a strong focus on paying farmers when they need the help.”

Supersize that ticket, officer: A few big fast food chains in New York City will defy a city law requiring them to list nutrition information on menu boards. They claim that they are waiting for a federal court to decide, but some groups argue they just don’t want people to see just how many calories and grams of fat are in the food. (MSNBC (AP))

Organic milk suddenly a not-as-costly alternative to conventional (CNN Money)

China closes 180 food plants after inspectors uncover 23,000+ food safety violations (New York Times)

Bottled water an environmental disaster (Salt Lake Tribune)


star“A sledgehammer to kill a mosquito”: A LocalHarvest columnist bemoans the fact that all raw almonds sold in North America will have to be pasteurized after Sept. 1, either by quick-steaming the nuts (for organic-labeled ones), or spraying them with propylene oxide (PPO), a nasty chemical and carcinogen. () The Houston Chronicle adds that growers can still sell small quantities of raw, unpasteurized almonds direct to customers, but can face penalties if they’re caught selling more than 100 pounds a day to any one person.

No fish: A New York Times editorial says Japan’s sushi crisis may be just the wake-up call both the consuming public and the regulators need.

Subsidies are for hosers: Canadian columnist Barrie McKenna criticizes Congress for perpetuating a bloated and inequitable farm subsidy program, and the U.S. Trade Representative is scorned for blaming the failure of the Doha trade talks on developing nations. (Globe and Mail)

Two Americas of food: Anna Lappé, food justice activist and coauthor of “Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen,” sees the Food and Farm Bill as a way to help those who struggle to find money to buy food and those who don’t have access to healthy food. She lists some of her favorite proposals for the legislation. (Huffington Post)

A dating service only for farmers (Chicago Tribune)


star“Katrina on a plate”: Carol Ness gives a big thumbs-up to “Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food,” a new guide from Andrew Kimbrell of the Center for Food Safety that lays out the complexities of the case against GE foods in bite-size pieces that manage to be thoroughly researched and easily digestible. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Bay Area gloating: The Chronicle celebrates he local farmers market scene — the Bay Area alone offers close to 90 — and looks at how all over America, they are educating our taste buds, giving us exceptional examples of familiar produce and introducing us to new items, while becoming a force to be reckoned with in the American marketplace. (San Francisco Chronicle)

starFeeling sheepish?: Jon Katz on why most of his sheep are, well, sheep. But then there’s No. 57. Interesting aside on how some vets treat only animals with numbers, others only animals with names. (Slate Magazine)

starAny alcohol will do: Andrew Leonard reportis in How the World Works on how the European Union has a glut of wine and has been stockpiling it in huge “wine lakes” — the current backlog is equal to one year of normal production — and has begun to dispose of the excess through a process of “crisis distillation.” The wine is converted to nonpotable alcohol suitable for industrial purposes, and increasingly, that means ethanol. (Salon)

Local heroes: Seacoast, NH, is catching the local-eating bug, and saw fit to include “Ethicurean” as a term for their glossary. Woot! They even spelled it right! (Seacoastonline.com)

U.S. olive oil coming into its own (San Francisco Chronicle)

Robert L. Wolke’s last Food 101 column for the Washington Post ()


starAwesome, but um, don’t you have a company to run?: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey responds on his blog, individually and in depth, to the outpouring of comments he received regarding his opening the curtain on Whole Foods’ motives for acquiring Wild Oats. A sample: “Most of the media isn’t particularly interested in “truth” or “fairness” or “accuracy”. They are only interested in the “story”. Sensationalism sells. I knew the media would take the FTC complaint and sensationalize it (no doubt the FTC knew this too, which is why they wrote it like they did). My blog is my attempt to put it all into a fuller context so that our stakeholders can better understand what is really going on.” (John Mackey’s Blog)

Spawn of the devils: When the fate of some endangered salmon threatened Republican electoral prospects in Oregon, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney sprang into action. (TPM Muckraker)

How to get COOL beef: Parke Wilde updates yesterday’s posts about country-of-origin labeling (COOL) with information about how to submit comments to the USDA. (U.S. Food Policy)

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