Digest – Features: labels, life cycles, and legislation

Since it might be Food and Farm Bill week in the House (there is still time to phone or fax your Representative), we’ll break protocol a bit by starting the "features digest" with a blog post. Mulch has been busy this week, most recently with some stunning statistics about the so-called "reform." The millionaires’ cut-off for subsidies will affect just over 3,000 out of the over 1 million recipients of farm subsidies.

starWorld tour: Bread made from American wheat, Chinese honey, and Chinese vitamins. Fig cookies with ingredients from Austria and Mexico. Large scale production requires quantities of ingredients that domestic producers cannot satisfy, and therefore companies search the globe. Sometimes producers go outside the U.S. get away from undesirable practices. Fig Newmans, for example, use a small amount of corn syrup imported from Austria because it’s nearly impossible to find non-transgenic corn in the U.S. (thanks Diana!). (San Jose Mercury News)

Go O!: Organic milk production is booming in California–it had a 19.4 percent increase over the previous year, compared to 3 percent for conventional milk. The growth has led to some trouble, like a shortage of feed, angst over dairy CAFOs, and backlash from conventional producers. (San Francisco Chronicle)

starEating meets math: Researchers are applying the tools of life cycle analysis to foods, adding up each bit of energy from the farm to the fork. Now and then, they find examples of local foods that don’t use less energy. Lettuce grown in a greenhouse in Maine in December, for example, could use a lot more energy than lettuce brought from Florida on a train. Local and seasonal must go together, says Michael Pollan. (Boston Globe)

Label life: Writer Sara Bongiorni recounts her family’s year of living without buying anything made in China. Avoiding the labeled items was a sacrifice but unambiguious. It was the unlabeled items that brought the most grief. (Boston Globe)

Dems dithering: The 2007 Food and Farm Bill makes its debut before the full House of Representatives on Thursday. Washington insider newspaper The Hill taks a look at the politics on the Democratic side of the aisle. (The Hill)

A son returns to the soil: The future of Stoney Plains Organic Farm–one of Pike Place Market’s most successful organic farms–was in doubt after the family patriarch died suddenly. Patrick Meyer, the boy who hated the farm as a kid, had a change of heart and came back to take over the operation. (Thanks cookie jill!) (Seattle Post Intelligencer)

Can millions of Japanese be wrong?: Long-time NYT write Jane Brody sets out guidelines for eating during pregnancy. One of the don’ts: raw fish. Tipster Jack wonders if she missed this recent op-ed about Japanese women eating sushi during pregnancy. (New York Times)

Preventing overgrowth: Agritourism offers a chance to save open space, give farmers some extra income, but also to overwhelm fragile areas and Disney-ify agricultural areas. San Luis Obispo County (on California’s Central Coast) is preparing new rules to govern agritourism in the county.. (The Tribune News)

Two newly available Congressional Research Service reports of interest: Agricultural Research, Education, and Extension in the 2007 Farm Bill, Food and Agricultural Imports from China. Marc R. likes the reports because they provide basic overviews of complex topics without being too wonky.

Local eating in Denver (Denver Post)

Tips on preserving the summer’s bounty (San Jose Mercury News)

Ultrafine vegetarian dining in Boston (Boston Globe)

Finally, two items for Bay Area residents. First, the amazing film Manufactured Landscapes is playing in San Francisco at the Lumiere. The film shows the journeys of photographer Edward Burtynsky through China’s industrial lands. Highly recommended. Second, the Commonwealth Club is having a special lecture series about water in August. Speakers will explore how to make wine using less water, and what the commercialization of water means for our future.

One Responseto “Digest – Features: labels, life cycles, and legislation”

  1. Omniwhore says:

    I’ve eaten sushi several times during my pregnancy. When I asked my midwife if it was okay, she said, “Of course! What do you think women in Japan eat when they’re pregnant?” She also suggested going to a restaurant you trust, sushi or no sushi, and to tell the chefs: “I’m pregnant and I need the freshest fish you’ve got.” That’s when they told Ryder and I that we were going to have a Year of the Pig baby, and that s/he would be rich, smart, and fat…in that good sturdy way, apparently.

    This baby loves hamachi, extra wasabi!