Water torture: Fast Company, of all publications, jumps on the anti-bottled-water bandwagon with an excellent look into how "a whole industry grows up around supplying us with something we don't need." Think you've read this saga before? Not in this well-explored detail — and not with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey defending it: "Why is the iPod okay and [bottled] water is not?" We can think of several reasons, and we bet readers can too. (Fast Company)
Beyond kosher: A budding movement, sometimes called "eco-kosher," is combining traditional Jewish dietary laws with new concerns about industrial agriculture, global warming, and fair treatment of workers. Soon it will have its own label. (Washington Post; thanks Leah!)
Hive free or die: After years in which they seemed like charming throwbacks, beekeepers and their bees are having a moment. The current national interest in locally grown and organic food and low-impact city living is inspiring people to look into ways to have their hands in their own food production, whether by joining CSAs (community-supported agriculture), raising chickens, or keeping bees. Even where it's illegal, such as in New York. (Salon)
Wild, wild east: Another story about how today's China resembles nothing so much as the United States a century ago, when robber barons, gangsterism, and raw capitalism held sway. (Newsweek) Related: Newsweek Q&A with Wang Hai, China's version of Ralph Nader, about the recent spate of dangerous exports from his country. Photo caption: "A laborer in a pork processing factory. China's government is subsidizing pig farming to offset pork price rises."
A cut above: A profile of partnership forged between a Santa Cruz-area hog farmer — the opposite of that horrid photo above — and a chef-turned-butcher. "Sometimes it's all about explaining to people, 'I'm Justin, I butchered all this meat and made this sausage. And this is Jim, he raised the pigs.'" (Santa Cruz Sentinel; thanks Lia del Rancho!)
"Hemp milk"?: Hemp products are flying off shelves, appealing to consumers for several reasons — as an alternative to soy products such as soy milk, which some people can't tolerate, and its impressive nutritional values. (Cincinnati Post)
Scratch that niche: A me-too piece about La Quercia and the boom in Iowa niche-pork production, plus the trend toward fattier, humanly-raised, and heritage pork. We do wish the pigs illustrating the trend looked a little more heritage and a little less imprisoned... (Des Moines Register)
"It's good business": Wolfgang Puck's restaurant empire, which has already banned foie gras, veal, and pledged to serve only "natural" meat, will switch to only organic and certified humanely raised meats by year-end. (Orlando Sentinel)
Lawn rowers: Growing local movements say using pesticides is a choice that affects the whole neighborhood. Still, most Americans don't like anybody telling them how to care for their lawns. (Free Wall Street Journal article)
ON THE BLOGS & MISC.
Suburban pressure: The organic and local movements are growing in Frederick County, Maryland, with a new film and website. With Frederick less than 50 miles from the U.S. Capitol, we hope that some of their enthusiasm wafts over to D.C. (Eat Local Challenge)
Label detectives: In a globalized age in which wild-caught salmon from Alaska is packed in Thailand, thus earning a "Product of Thailand" label, simple country-of-origin labels don't tell consumers enough. For example, if the fish is farmed, what were they fed? (Shifting Baselines)