Digest – Features & Blogs: A Portlander’s ethicurean dilemma, dark side of soy, the irradiation debate


starBest new coinage — "carbon foodprint"!: Zoe Bradley ruminates on the disconnect and guilt she feels putting a pineapple in her Portland shopping cart. She asks, "Why the reductionist, either/or mentality? Why not local and organic, and while we’re at it, grass fed, family scale, socially just, economically viable, carbon neutral, humane, culturally vibrant, community based, and ecologically renewing?" (Edible Portland, thanks Kim!)

COOL briefing: Andrew Martin gives a clear, concise explanation of the history of and what's at stake in the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirement for food, enacted as part of the 2002 Farm Bill but minimally implemented, under debate for the current bill. One little correction to this bit: "But origin labeling is not just about patriotism or a desire to help American farmers. Part of its appeal is better food oversight, and some proponents of the measure have played to consumer anxiety by calling into question the safety of meat from places like Mexico, Uruguay and Canada. China exports a negligible amount of meat to the United States." That's currently; the U.S. wants to open the doors to Chinese chicken, despite stomach-turning reports like this. (New York Times)

starYo soy un-serene-a: Is America's favorite health food making us sick? Or less simplistically, is soy the problem, or is it the handling and packaging and processing of the plant? (Utne Reader)

And you thought the FDA was lax: Canadian food inspectors conducted no tests on Chinese vegetable proteins last year, only beginning inspections after the scare over contaminated Chinese wheat gluten in pet food. (Globe and Mail)

Mark Bittman gets half a clue: We love The Minimalist, but we wish he'd take more of a stand. For example, here he advocates replacing yellowfin tuna for overfished bluefin (yay!), and tells how to help increase its tenderness and tastiness because "it needs some help where the superior bluefin does not, just as inferior cuts of beef or commercial chicken need help" (boo! tell people there are alternatives!). (New York Times)

Food falling really slowly from heaven: Manna is more than a literary anachronism -- it actually exists today in Italy, in a small corner of the island of Sicily. It drips from the ash tree and when exposed to the hot summer sun of Sicily, this Italian variety of maple syrup solidifies into white stalactites of spongy sugar. (ABC News)

Keep on voting with your wallets, and your votes Animal welfare is reaching a tipping point in consumer consciousness and by extension, the meat industry. (Los Angeles Times)

Life on Bedlam Farm: A review of Slate columnist Jon Katz’s “Dog Days,” a chronicle of recent doings on the farm where he lives in upstate New York. (New York Times)

Green potatoes really can make you sick (New York Times)


starYou mean like "Where's the beet?": Tom Karst, the national editor of The Packer, the produce industry's bible, says on his Fresh Talk blog that "Produce is the Pepsi that needs a Coke villain" — meaning that we need produce ads that might "tweak the other stodgy food groups with funny, well-aimed zingers." We're a lot less chuffed about his support for irradiation — that "healthy glow". C'mon Tom, if it's safe and effective, why not label food that's been irradiated (so any possible health effects can be tracked...just in case) and why permit the name change to "cold pasteurization"? We're not opposed to the technology, just the industry's desire to keep consumers in the dark because they think we're dumb and being fraidy-cats. If you or anyone else would like to refute the assertions against irradiation made by an environmental health scientist in this Living on Earth interview, we're all ears.

Big 4 Governors having a sustainable ball: NY Gov. Eliot Spitzer joined the leading men of California, Florida, and Texas in calling on the United States Congress to consider six priorities for the 2007 Farm Bill. Among their top issues: increased funding for specialty crop programs; funding for conservation programs; and support for organic agriculture. The “Big 4” states represent the largest agricultural economies in the country — representing more than one third of the nation’s farmers, more than 174 million acres of cropland, and more than $60 billion in annual revenue. ( NYC Farm Bill)

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